In print again

This is another post that is a little overdue in being completed, but is part of my New Year resolution to get more content on the site.

The completed “Buzz at the Hive” image

Each year the Photographic Society of New Zealand publishes a hard copy book that profiles images submitted from its members. The number of submissions always exceed the available space so it is quite an achievement to get an image selected.  Each year the book includes a special section where your are asked to submit to a theme. The theme for the 2018 edition was “Kiwiana”.

For my overseas readers New Zealanders refer to themselves as “kiwis” (coming from our national bird and not the shorten version of kiwifruit). Kiwiana is a set of images that depict those things that we would instantly recognise as part of the culture.

When the theme was announced I know instantly what I wanted to submit. A classic Kiwi toy is a wooden pull-along called “Buzzy bee”, and our parliament building executive wing is called the Beehive. Therefore all I had to do was capturing buzz at the hive.

The Buzzy Bee

The process was relatively straight forward. I figured out the angle I wanted with the camera on a tripod and then shot a blank plate of the buildings. As I wanted the image reasonable in focus across a wide range the camera was set at f20. I had to take several images so i could remove the tourist who were milling around it.

The Parliament complex with the Beehive in the background

I had originally planned to attach the bee to a cross pole by way of fishing nylon, but my wife rightly pointed out that this would be very hard to control. We therefore settled on clamping it underneath to the boom pole. She then proceeded to wave the bee round as I took multiple shots.

Once back at the office I downloaded the images and then went through and worked out which worked best. It was then a relative simple matter of loading the images into a stack in Photoshop and masking out what I didn’t want. As the images had all been shot in the same location this was a relatively simple process with the only area requiring more work was were the pole had attached to the bee.

Then to make the image more realistic I add shadows to the ground under the bees closest to the camera.

I had high hopes that the image would be selected and was really pleased that it was. That made the third image selected over the years for the publication.

Pugs and strippers

Occasionally a job comes along that sounds to both have the potential for a lot of fun, but equally stressful.

Venus Star is a Wellington entrepreneur, who has a range of business ventures, one of which is organising male strip reviews. The original brief was to shoot the show on the Saturday night, and then on the Sunday to shoot the performers with a group of pugs.

As it turned out I had to pass over the show to another photographer but decided to keep the shoot with the boys and dogs.

Venus had booked a hall for the shoot, which I had not seen so it meant that the car was loaded with a while of gear just in case. As it turned out it had a large stage with black curtains at the back.

I set up three lights all in the row across the stage so that it would have fairly even lighting while the dogs raced around.

I thought that we may have had problems with the dogs but as it turned out they were really easy to deal with.

We shot both individual and group images with them, and the advantage of the lighting position was that I didn’t have to move them. This was a major bonus as it meant the whole shoot was fairly quick.



Back to the waterfall

It has been nearly three years since i made the trek up the Birchville dam track to my favourite waterfall. I would have to say that after the events if this shoot it is likely to be my last there, as the day turned up one issue after another.

I had some free time so I hooked up with Katy and we decided to do a shoot with various outfits and drapes. We got to the location on a beautiful day to discover a family already then and swimming in the hole at the base of the top waterfall. That meant that we had to go further down the hill and start shooting at the bottom.

I had decided to wear a pair of water shoes that had not been worn in a while and I had not realised that the rubber in them had perished. No sooner as  I started working out at the bottom then they started to fall apart. That meant for most of the shoot I had to struggle over rocks in bare feet.

The light in the lower area was very dappled and therefore it was a struggle to keep the highlights from blowing out while still having enough detail show up in the darker areas. In the end I positioned a flash set on high speed sync to add a bit more light to Katy’s place.

One of the fabrics we had brought was a 5m length of white lace so we decided to sit Katy on the rocks on the first level and drape it down and shoot it from above.

The pose and position was great but with the strong back lighting I could not see Katy’s face so I climbed up the rocks at the side to position the light on the same level as her. I was just about at the top when i branch i grabbed gave way and I fell about 2 metres onto rocks below hitting on the my right side just above the buttocks. The areas instantly swelled up but I continued to work through and get the shots.

By the time the family had left so we moved back up to the top and shot around the top waterfall. Fortunately I had been able to find out from them how deep the water was at the base of the fall so we were able to get Katy in fairly close.

We finished up with another material draped over the large rock at the top of the area.

Overall I was pleased with the results of the shoot. However over the next couple of days the bruising on my back really came in and it took nearly a fortnight for it not to be sore.