Gathered in a darkened boardroom, three of the finest editorial photographers in New Zealand pressed their noses to a screen and pored, one-by-one, through nearly 2000 images submitted for the New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year competition. Each was examined for content, composition, technical expertise, light, depth, and the very individual contribution that each photographer made to the subject before them.
There was the point-and-shoot fraternity who had invested a minimum and blazed away, but others had positioned themselves, timed the moment, measured the distance, exposure and composition with care to create a photograph that stood apart from the rest. And those photographers prepared to go the distance could make an equally compelling portrait of a native heron as they could a dirty rat. Those entering the culture category caught the judges’ attention for studies as diverse as para-sailing and window frames, each subject examined with visual literacy and attention to detail.
The landscape section, for instance, was particularly well-subscribed to, hardly surprising given the affection Kiwis have for their environment. But we were slower to turn the camera on ourselves to examine our society and culture through the lens—there were just 200 entries in the culture category. Perhaps we are camera-shy as a culture, perhaps private, perhaps simply confused about what New Zealand culture is. Those who rose to the top in this category were worthy winners, but we look forward to more photographers fixing their focus upon our people next year.
PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR 2009: TOBIAS BERNHARD
Tobias Bernhard, the 2009 New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year, demonstrated a remarkable consistency of technical expertise and vision in his image-making.
His photographs were stark studies of life above and below the waterline, illuminating his subjects and lifting them from the background with judicious lighting.The image of a Galapagos shark at the Kermadecs is arresting in its simplicity, the snapper in kelp a cleverly constructed mosaic that requires the viewer to look on the underwater realm with fresh eyes, and the tui on flax, of which there were so many entries in this competition, is bathed in the ethereal glow of the day’s last light. Ultimately, the entries told us much about what moves New Zealand photographers.
The perfect synch of the juvenile fuseliers and the Galapogas shark in combination with the sun-rays caught my attention and the shark approached very obligingly over and again.
Trampers who choose the unconventional land route to Cape Brett are treated to spectacular coastal views.
Will and Zoe at Group Day
Not all alien invaders are bad for the ecology. These huge fig trees are awesome in their scale and their twisting roots writhe like serpents from the ground.
A shot of the Beach Haven wharf, at Larkin’s Landing, taken just before dawn in September. With no wind the water is like glass and the thick fog provides a lovely ambience.
Pastel colours of the twilight above the highest NZ peaks—Mt. Cook 3754m, Mt. Tasman 3497m. Franz Josef Glacier emerges on the left. Taken from Okarito Lookout in May 2009 and I like a combination of the foreground chill evoking mist with the soothing twilight pastel colours of the sky.
New Brighton Pier taken at dusk, around 7pm. Due to the long exposure the colours have intensified, and I love the movement in the water and clouds.
During the late winter I was entranced by the heavy morning mists hugging the valley as I drove to work, I resolved to capture this one weekend by racing the rising sun up Te Mata Peak—the Sleeping Giant. The Elements that make this photo special are; The heavy sea of mist shrouding all but the tips of the hills. The cool tones of the morning shadow contrasting with warm highlights as the sun climbs aloft. The movement of the mist as it flows over the land, gifting an eerie quality to the image.
The image was taken at Watipu at low tide giving a good range of reflections and tidal marks along the beach. The panorama was converted to black and white to give a more moody feel.
The sunset was a little bit of a let down, but once in a while a touch of brilliant red kissed the clouds. Blink and it was gone. Maori Bay, Muriwai, West Auckland, New Zealand.
On a side road between Lake Pukaki and Tekapo, cloud like ribbons mingled with last light on the landscape below.
Early morning mist hangs over Auckland City and Rangitoto Island as viewed from Mt Atkinson, Titirangi, Waitakere City.
A rare bottlenose dolphin leaps across the disturbed bow wave of the Fiordland Navigator into the pristine waters of Doubtful Sounds.
I was there for five hours and got what I was looking for after hundreds of shots as the Gannets came in to roost for the evening.
Birds feeding on scraps scatter as a Blue Shark Prionace glauca chases them while off the Coast of Whakatane.
A Blue Shark (Prionace glauca) 17 miles off the coast of Napier Hawke’s Bay New Zealand.
On the beach at Okarito on the West Coast of the South Island. It took about 3 hours of patiently crawling along on my belly and both the birds and I endured a West Coast downpour. The intimacy between this chick and its mother make this a magic moment. There are three other chicks under the hen and I waited patiently for one to pop out like this.
I waded very slowly and quietly along the shoreline getting bitten by sandflies. I ended up right underneath the white heron’s perch and watched him preening himself. After ten minutes ignoring me the bird finally took flight and I was ready.
This capture was taken at Nga Manu Nature Reserve on the Kapiti Coast on New Years day. I find it special as I have tried to capture in this portrait both the exquisite feather detail and lively character of these birds.
It was a particularly difficult shoot, trying to capture in a single frame the NZ Falcon (Karearea) approaching a target less than 10cm from the lens at 100 km/h.
Waxeye or Silvereye taken in my backyard in Christchurch. The birds are caught the second they interact with each other after taking off from a bird feeder.
A rat scampers across a stretch of road in National Park.
Rachel Lowrie peers into the Mangawhai estuary as her stepfather Michael Brown rows towards the township after their outboard motor broke down at the end of a day’s fishing.
This photo was taken at the top of the Tararua ranges in April 2009. The farmer was just moving the sheep from one paddock to another as I was driving by. I thought it was a great opportunity to capture a part of New Zealand’s cultural identity—agriculture vs industry, working towards a sustainable future.
Predawn—ANZAC Day 2009 Dawn Ceremony, Wellington Cenotaph “Servicemen (rtd) and supporters”
“The Onahau Villa Ladies” prepare to say goodbye to the Hebberd Homestead that has been in family ownership for 150 years. The unique property is located in Marlborough’s Idyllic Queen Charlotte Sound and is currently up for auction. Sister’s Margaret Gould (in Blue) and Gwen Hounslow (in Pink) are moving on with many happy memories.
New Zealanders certainly love outdoor pursuits and this photo looking down from the Gondola viewing platform above Queenstown on a very cold winter’s afternoon is a good example of this.
A group of men were having a drink among a small cluster of Kiwi baches & caravans and this man was keen to pose, with his foxy, infront of his bach. For me it portrayed simple old-fashioned pleasure. Kaikoura Coast October 2008.
The window of Minniesdale Chapel, Wharahine, north Kaipara Harbour was brought to New Zealand on the sailing ship Matilda in 1867 to build this, the first real church for the settlers. The scene through the window tells their story; of the harbour they loved and sailed from the other side of the world to live near, of the land they tilled to establish their farms and their gravestones, marking the end of their dreams in this new green and pleasant land. The church is still used every Sunday by their descendants.
Joe Fleet’s passion for trout fishing is passed on with patience and joy to 4 year old Tama who experiences hooking his first ever trout.