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Blog Archive

Check out some of my recent work, and my essays on Photographing The Arts!

Photographing the arts: how do I choose which images a client sees?

In all my photographic estimates, I include a short list of what happens after the actual photography takes place - it always surprises me that most people think images are finished the moment they're taken, so I want to outline how much more goes into making something better than just an in-camera .jpg.

Those are fine some of the time, don't get me wrong; but when you're working in the performing arts, most often you're working in low light, at the ragged edge of what cameras are capable of; and the images often need a little help to look their best, after the fact...

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Lost & Found #49: Aboard the Rocky Mountaineer, Canada 2014

It's a funny feeling being able to take a picture of a train, FROM the train itself; but sometimes, it happens.

Last summer I was aboard the Rocky Mountaineer, travelling from Vancouver to Calgary on some of the original tracks laid by the founders of the Canadian National Railway, and took this image out the side of our car of the front of the train heading off into the distance, and dragging us along with it...

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In Praise Of The Camera You Have, at the Kage Collective

Just wanted to briefly mention a new essay of mine over on the Kage Collective site, that went up this week - it's about some of the issues that go with upgrading or changing your camera, which I must admit I've fallen victim to many, many times over the years...! But, as always, it touches on a few other issues as well.

Also, thanks to ArtsHub here in Australia for publishing one of my Photographing The Arts series over on their site this week, too! Nice to see a few new visitors here on this site, and glad that it's resonating with people.

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Lost & Found #48: Mt. Victoria Summit and Breaker Bay, Wellington 2007

Just a quick entry in the Lost & Found files today - this one was captured on film (yes, film!) a few years ago when I owned a wonderful camera, the Hasselblad X-Pan, which I've written a bit about before.

The great thing about those was that they were compact rangefinders, like a Leica - but also that they took double-frame panoramic images right in the camera. None of this digital sweep-panorama iPhone stuff, you actually saw the frame the way it was going to be!

But gradually, I was absorbed into the digital world, and when I found a digital rangefinder - at that time, the Epson R-D1s - I sold the X-Pan; and I haven't had a film camera since.

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Photographing the arts: how do I keep my images safe?

As a photographer, my images are important to me; not just when I take them, but for years afterwards, whether it seems that they have any future use or not. I can't count the number of times I've had a call, years after an image was taken, to see if I still have the file anywhere - often because one of the people in it has passed on, but mentioned that this was their favourite photo of themselves at some point.

Or, as has happened, when someone I photographed has won a major award - say, the Man Booker Prize - and suddenly, the world's media needs an image I took.  And, of course, sometimes it's just a matter of wanting to find something for historical purposes: that time someone performed here before everyone knew who they were, and so on...

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Lost & Found #47: Sydney Biennale at Cockatoo Island, 2012

This week's Lost & Found is a perfect example of why I started posting these - images I was very happy with, but that only I have seen. And even saying that, I saved them to my hard drive that week, and never looked at them again until now!

The 18th Sydney Biennale was held in July 2012, before I moved here from New Zealand; but while here on a visit I took a ferry to Cockatoo Island to see both the site and the installed works. It was a thoroughly impressive collection - and a beautiful sunny day, right in the middle of winter, which Sydney does very well I must say.

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Lost & Found #46: Drive-In, Port Douglas 2010

This week's Lost & Found is from a trip I won (on Twitter!) to Cairns quite by accident, when I was living in Wellington in 2010. If I recall correctly, Air New Zealand was adding direct flights to Cairns for the first time, and asked people to tweet something about how they'd get there. I sent a slightly snide reply (along the lines of 'in a plane, duh!') without actually intending to enter, and somehow or other wound up winning!

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Photographing the arts: how do I make everyone happy?

When I was photographing a theatre production recently, I had a quick conversation before the dress rehearsal, which went something like this: "Hi Robert, I'm the designer on this show - could you make sure you take some wide angle shots for my portfolio?"

Now, that's a perfectly normal, common and reasonable request - and one that raises an interesting question in terms of this sort of work: who exactly am I working for, or responsible to, when I photograph a show? And, how can I make them happy?

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Lost & Found #44: Trinity, Newfoundland 2010

Not long after visiting the Adirondacks in 2010 (as seen in last week's Lost & Found post), I went to Newfoundland for a few days, just to see what it was like.

[Actually, I wanted to go to Iceland that year, but something something volcano something something, so Newfoundland and Nova Scotia were the backup plan...]

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Photographing the arts: what makes a great production image?

The work I've been doing recently with Apocalypse Theatre and Pinchgut Opera got me thinking about what I try to achieve in production stills photography; so I thought I'd have a look at a show that epitomises my favourite kind of images from this sort of work - New Theatre of Riga's production, The Sound Of Silence, which I photographed for the New Zealand International Arts Festival in 2010...

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Lost & Found #43: Adirondack State Park, New York, 2010

'Whatever you do, don't go off the trail!'

That was the last thing the helpful lady at the information centre told me, before embarking on a walk for a couple of hours near Lake Placid, in upstate New York a few years ago. Don't go off the trail. Noted.

Oh, that - and it may get a bit marshy at one point...

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