Photoessay: last of the Queenstown landscapes

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Trailing moon

We leave Queenstown today with my favourite images from the trip – a few you’ve seen before, most you haven’t, and all I feel evoke some sort of emotion – for me, at any rate. I don’t always think photoessays need a lot of description, sometimes they can just be appreciated as-is. Of course, one has to bear in mind the limitations of the web and the fact that for most of these, you’re looking at 1% or less of the total image…an Ultraprint or very large conventional print is really the only way to appreciate all of the information at once. Of course, these images are available as Ultraprints (except Tree and River, which is sold out from a previous edition) – please drop me an email or comment if you’re interested. Enjoy! MT

This series was shot with a Ricoh GR, Pentax 645Z, and Nikon D810 with Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus APO-Planar. Files were processed with the techniques covered in Outstanding Images 5: processing for style and The Monochrome Masterclass

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Photoessay: Vertical alpine winterscapes

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Before sunset

Today’s photoessay is a sort of conclusion or coda to yesterday’s post from the Arrow River Delta; whilst it was shot in broadly the same area, it has a little more focus to the presentation, but a similar theme and somewhat more altitude. Enjoy! MT

This series shot with a Ricoh GR, Pentax 645Z, 55/2.8 SDM and 200/4 FA lenses, Nikon D810 and Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus APO-Planar.

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Photoessay: The Arrow River delta

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Curvature

This little gem of a location is perhaps one of the most photographically rich places I’ve ever been to. Firstly, an hour on an overcast grey day that yielded a couple of interesting images and very cold fingers, then the better part of an entire afternoon and evening in the gorge as the light fell and the mountains turned gold and the shadows a deep blue. I spent a magical few hours watching the light change, and towards the end of the day, running around like a madman trying to capture the last glowing tips of the trees before the sun went behind the ridge line for good.

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Photoessay: Monochrome landscapes from Queenstown

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Lake Hawea

As you might have gathered, Queenstown turned into a very landscape-photography oriented photography trip; the colors of the landscape were magical, but the variation in light and contrast was even more so – naturally lending itself to fantastic black and white images. Since it was winter, the sun traces an arc across the sky but never shines directly downwards from above – the upshot of this is you can shoot at all times of day. Naturally, I took advantage of it. I drove, stopped where the light arrested me, shot, and moved on. And on one day, spent most of the afternoon in the Arrowtown River delta – formerly the site of the Queenstown gold rush, but now the the home of some pretty spectacular trees – and a riot of colour that will be the subject of a future photoessay. Nevertheless, I felt black and white suited the subject matter quite well, as the trees in winter have this stark beauty to them that I felt was best captured without that sense of ‘life’ that colour imbues.

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Photoessay: On the slopes, Queenstown

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If you think about it, skiing must be one of the most pointless activities on earth – right next to motor racing. Both involve completing the same circuit (or piste) repeatedly. Sometimes with the objective of speed, sometimes with no objective at all. I’ve tried to figure out why we find it enjoyable, but honestly have no idea – perhaps it’s both the necessity of focusing on something to the exclusion of everything else, and the fact that it’s different enough from our normal activities that other parts of brains are stimulated. I remember having to work very hard at the basics before everything ‘clicks’ – and then you start moving at a much more intuitive level. I suppose it’s a sort of meditation, not unlike photography. Today’s photoessay is a series I shot at Coronet Peak, Queenstown, New Zealand a couple of months ago whilst taking a break from developing my landscape photography. I’m the sort of skier who learns off piste so he can fins something else to shoot; this time I used a Manfrotto Lino Pro field jacket to hold the gear – it’ll take a 645Z/55mm in one padded pocket, and a D810/Otus in the other. Enjoy! MT

Series shot with a Ricoh GR, Nikon D810 and Zeiss 1.4/85 Otus.

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FD Photoessay: Early large format landscapes

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These photoessays will have far fewer images than the usual variety, simply because the number of images taken is necessarily lower. I’ll shoot perhaps 12 frames in a productive day. To confess, I’ve actually been hesitating a little over whether to post these at all, because even though the loss from print to screen is enormous, there’s an even bigger loss between full digital files to web. There is simply no way to represent them in such a way that doesn’t throw away most of the tonal subtlety and immersive detail. I’ll do it anyway, for the curious. But upfront I will say that something is definitely missing…there’s a ‘digitalness’ to the images at this size that isn’t present in the full size images; I suspect it’s because once you shrink an image this much a lot of the subtle tonal and microcontrast cues that say ‘film’ are downsized into oblivion. Just so you know: you’re looking at an image that’s been reduced to about 0.5% of the original size. MT

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Photoessay: Autumn in Tokyo

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Today’s photoessay is a very special one for me: firstly because I’ve always wanted to photograph in Japan in the Autumn because of the extremely vivid colours and semi-perfected nature*; secondly, because photographing them was a very meditative and pleasant experience for me. I’ve actually never had the chance to shoot unhindered, unhurried, and unencumbered in this way before; I had the luxury of sitting, looking and just feeling the scene and the light before photographing; sometimes for hours. As a result, I was in a very different – not to be cliched, but ‘zen’ is a pretty apt description here – state of mind when creating these; as a result, they’re quite different to my usual work. In addition, the first six images in this set will go into the first ever ultra print run – to be announced in the next day or so. You’ll be able to experience these images in a way that puts you in the scene, with detail that’s immersive and colour that’s both transparent and saturated. All of these images were shot under ideal conditions, too – medium format digital back, great lenses at optimum apertures, base ISO on a tripod – which means image quality is really about as good as it gets. In all honesty, an 800-pixel jpeg doesn’t even come close – but such are the limits of the internet. I really don’t have anything else to add other than please enjoy! MT

*All of these images were shot in gardens and parks around Tokyo – the Rikyugien Garden, the Nezu Museum Garden, and the Edo Open-Air Architectural Museum. You may recognise some of them from the How To See Ep.2: Tokyo video – I discuss their creation and composition in significantly more detail there.

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Photoessay: the clouds of Prague

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I have a theory as to why we as a species seem to be universally attracted to things like clouds, fireworks, water, trees and flowers; that will be the subject of a much longer philosophical elucidation soon, but in the meantime, consider what all of these objects have in common. For today, just enjoy the clouds and their endless variety. :)

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Landscape photography, part two: applied landscapes

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In the previous article, we looked at some of the fundamental principles of landscape photography. Today, we’re going to question more of those assumptions and see how those principles apply equally to a very diverse range of subjects.

Let’s start with what is, on the face of things, a fairly obvious question: At what point does a landscape turn into a cityscape turn into architecture turn into urban reportage/ flaneur photography? If you have an expansive natural scene with one remote house on it, is it still a landscape? I think nobody would argue with you on that one. Two houses? A small town? Maybe it’s a question of scale, or visual dominance? What about a physically small scene with predominantly natural elements – that’s a landscape, surely. But what if the scene is man-made with merely the inclusion of natural elements? I’m sure a carefully-planned Japanese garden is definitely landscape material. Regardless of the answer, I think we can all agree that the lines become increasingly blurred.

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Landscape photography, part one: a few principles

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I’ll be straight up honest here: I’m not known as a landscape photographer. Far from it, in fact. But that hasn’t stopped me from experimenting, and as we all know, experimentation is the key to artistic development and evolution: applying what you learn in one discipline to your others can result in something unique, and vice versa. I think the relationship between landscape, cityscape and architectural photography is pretty obvious. Might I approach a watch or food plating as a landscape in future? Why not! Or treat a landscape as an abstract? Certainly.

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