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A snapshot of New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year 2016

Oct 4, 2016 Art

Above: ‘Christchurch Red Zone’, Glen Howey.

Each year, amateur and established photographers submit their best shots to New Zealand Geographic under distinct category headings. 2016’s competition saw over 3000 entries whittled down to just 47 by a panel of judges. Now it’s up to the public; you can vote here for your favourite.

New Zealand Geographic will showcase the collection of prints, alongside photos from previous years, at an outdoor exhibition at Karanga Plaza (Oct 8-Nov 6), as part of ArtWeek 2016. Here three competition finalists talk about their entries and share tips and tricks for budding photographers.

Alastair Jamieson – ecologist and photographer.

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Magenta Highway, by Alastair Jamieson. 

“Aerial photography is really just an elaborate (and expensive) way to get a different view of a subject. Long before I had the opportunity to fly for my photography, I was interested in getting different angles on my subjects – often climbing trees and things to get a better view.

A year before I took this picture I’d glimpsed the Magenta Highway from the air, but at the time, had other city scenes to shoot. When I got another opportunity to fly this year, I’d developed a clear idea of the graphic composition I wanted to capture. There was only a brief period in which to get this shot, and the pilot had to turn the helicopter enough for me to look directly out of the open door, to the motorway below.

I got this picture within about a minute’s flying time over the location, but the most difficult aspect for me was getting the composition right. Getting a great picture meant having to block out distractions like the height and movement of the aircraft to make sure I pressed the shutter at precisely the right moment.

Move around and look for different viewpoints or angles to shoot your subject; it can make for more interesting pictures, and can help you visualise and understand your subject better, too.”

Lottie Hedley – “a kiwi photographer finding communities, telling stories and making photographs.”

photographer of the year
Bonspiel, Lottie Hedley.

“When conditions allow, the national Bonspiel (curling tournament) is announced and competitors from around New Zealand have 48 hours to rally their teams and travel to Central Otago. Usually held at the Idaburn Dam, 2015 was the first time in over 80 years that the decades-old curling competition had been called in Naseby.

I waited, and waited but when it finally got cold enough over 250 people from all walks of life hit the ice to compete. It took two days ice-side, photographing the players and camaraderie, to get this shot.

Trying to make a foothold in the industry can be exhausting. My advice to those people getting started is to explore why you photograph. I photograph to meet people and hear the stories they tell. As a documentary and editorial photographer I am privileged that many people allow me access to their lives. It means I’m able to collaborate with them and share their stories.

When I need perspective or need to refocus, I remind myself why I am a photographer and work hard to honour the incredible people I meet.”

Ron Enzler – keen tramper and nature photographer.

Nat Geo photographer of the year
Routeburn Track, Ron Enzler.

“I wanted to capture nature’s spotlight through the beech forest,” says Ron Enzler, finalist in the landscape category of the NZ Geo award. Tricky business, considering the sun is constantly moving and can create inconsistent shots. Ron spends several days a week photographing different sections of the Routeburn Track. An autumn morning at the Glenorchy end of the trail offered him the opportunity for this shot. With low wispy mist and the sun positioned between two trees, nature cast just the right shadow.

“Always have your eyes open for an unexpected moment or situation,” says Enzler, who’s been photographing in Fiordland since 2015.

New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year exhibition
Karanga Plaza, Wynyard Crossing
Oct 8-Nov 6, 10am-5pm daily
Free admission


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