The big empty

Ice Berg

Adrian Hatwell talks with photographer and film-maker Anthony Powell, one of the few people to ever experience Antarctica’s sublime winter months

Though the pockets of unexplored mysteries around the globe shrink day by day, the forbidding environment of Antarctica remains an experience never fully comprehended by most. We’ve read the scientific reports and met the penguins, coverage gathered during the continent’s months-long summer. But when the sun goes down and the land descends into 24-hour darkness, just a skeleton crew remains to keep the fires burning.

Anthony Powell is one of those few, living through a half-year winter on the coldest, driest, windiest place on earth. Initially as a telecommunications technician and photography hobbyist, later as a documentarian and film-maker, he has spent more than 100 months of his life on Antarctica. His aim is to bring back images, stories and experiences from one of the last true spots of mystery in the world.      (more…)

Middle Kingdom DIY: John Lake

Wellington photographer John Lake has been shooting his own self-directed documentary art projects for 15 years, using both photography and video to explore particular social groups and the community activities they participate in. The longest-running example is his exhaustive Up The Punks project, in which he has been building an archive of the underground punk scene in Wellington through the decades, comprising photos, recordings, interviews, and various other artefacts of interest.

Recently Lake was afforded the opportunity to take the project international via a three-month residency in Beijing, where he immersed himself in China’s punk subculture despite not having any contacts of grasp of the language. The photographer chats to D-Photo about the similarities and differences in documenting the radical scenes at either end of the Asia-Pacific region:

Outside Old What? Bar central Beijing. October 31, 2013

D-Photo: How did your trip to China come about?

John Lake: The trip to China was funded through a partnership between Asia New Zealand and Wellington City Council. They offer an exchange programme between Beijing and Wellington for one artist from each country once a year. ...full story

Working with Smart Objects

Digital imaging expert Hans Weichselbaum examines the clever ways you can use Photoshop’s Smart Objects in your workflow

There are lots of smart things in Photoshop, but Smart Objects was first introduced in Photoshop CS2 and nothing much has changed in the ensuing few generations, so you don’t need the latest incarnations of Photoshop to make use of this feature.

In short, a Smart Object is a container-like layer into which you can plop all sorts of stuff, such as other layers, whole PSD files, RAW files and even vector files from programs such as Adobe Illustrator. In contrast to bitmap files, vector images are not made out of pixels, but of geometric elements, points, lines, curves and other shapes. Graphic designers use them all the time when they work with drawings and icons. We photographers also use vectors when we place text into our images. You might remember that you can resize, rotate and distort text without losing the sharp edges, until you turn the vectors into pixels by rasterizing the text.

Image 1 – A Smart Object in the Layer paletteSmart Objects and resizing

Smart Objects behave very similarly to vectors: you can use the ...full story

Video — the easy money?

Luke White of Kingsize Studios looks at a few of the many ways photographers can quickly and effectively grow their income by shooting video

Photography is the second most popular hobby in the world. After fishing.

That’s why the prefix ‘professional’ is often required before the word photographer. If your job is doing something that millions of other people choose to do for fun, then the prefix is necessary (see ‘professional skateboarder’ and ‘professional chocolate-taster’). Yes, you got into photography for the love of creating images, but the reason you can keep doing it is because you get paid. A point which many non-creatives miss is that being a freelance photographer is a job, just like being a civil engineer or a barber. Most of the work photographers find themselves doing doesn’t have them doing backflips with excitement, but those are the jobs that pay the bills, and they sure beat working for the IRD or as a checkout operator. In this column we’re going to discuss what is probably the easiest way to start making more money immediately — shooting video.

Many photographers have taken up video as ...full story

New in town



The continuing saga of commercial photographer Brett Stanley’s move from Wellington to LA

Starting up afresh in a new country was never going to be easy. I knew that from the outset, but I was prepared to take my time, and was not expecting anything amazing to happen straight away.

Before moving to Los Angeles in December 2012 I had been quite hectic with my business, and the act of packing two people’s lives into a three- by one-metre storage locker the night before I flew out took its toll. I pretty much slept until Christmas, and in-between the sleeping I ate. Badly. The food in America is amazing in its awfulness: the perfect mix of addictive and deadly that makes it so hard to quit. You can eat healthily but it just takes more effort, and I was here to experience the American way (for a time) so doughnuts, tacos, burgers, and pizza it was.

I don’t regret a thing. (more…)

Novel prophecy: Gavin Hipkins

This year’s New Zealand International Film Festival is bolstered, as always, by a strong array of locally produced films, and for audiences with an interest in photographic art, cinema, and literature, there’s one release of particular note – Gavin Hipkins’ Erewhon. The Auckland-based visual artist has been exhibiting his photography throughout the globe over the past two decades and, after turning his attention to film in recent years, has now produced his first feature-length project.

The film, described as a moving-picture essay, made its world debut at the Auckland leg of the festival this week, and travels down the country in coming weeks. D-Photo catches up with the artist to ask him about the transition from still photography to feature film:

Erewhon (Origins)

D-Photo: Can you tell us what your film, Erewhon, all about?

Gavin Hipkins: My film is an experimental adaptation of Samuel Butler’s anonymously published 1872 novel Erewhon: or, over the range. The book has been described as a utopian satire. The film charts the narrator’s journey from a Canterbury high country sheep farms to a fictional society where vegetarianism is ...full story

Learning the art of authenticity

© Daniel Bilsborough

Has digital post-processing killed authenticity in photography? It’s a common enough claim, but one workshop is looking to refute that, offering to develop software skills in line with the time-honoured processes of the darkroom.

Melbourne-based photographer Daniel Bilsborough has created The Art of Authenticity, an online one-day workshop aimed at teaching beginner- to intermediate-level photographers how to develop their photographs in Lightroom using the kind of processes and reaching the same outcomes you’d expect from working in a darkroom.

With the feeling that more and more people are skipping photographic fundamentals in favour of simply “finding the right app”, Bilsborough has developed his Lightroom curriculum through Djb Photography School to teach core skills like composition and creating a connection through imagery. (more…)