Panorama crop

Back in D-Photo no. 55, Mike Langford looked at three different images submitted for critique that could best be improved with a panoramic crop:

1. Lindis Pass

Lindis AOriginal

There is great atmosphere in this image, helped by the mist rolling in from the corners. All the same, two things are very distracting, the cyan colour of the sky and the brightness of the sky itself.

Lindis BCropped

If we crop out the sky altogether both problems are no longer there. What we get instead is this wonderful rolling valley, with mountains that are as high as your imagination wants them to be. I have added a little contrast just to increase the visual drama of it all. Great shot.

2. Glacial Pool

Glacial Pool AOriginal

What is distracting in this shot is the commonplace inclusion of the side of the road and the people walking. Take these away and your eye starts to explore the unusual. The rock and its reflection now becomes the dominant part of the image, and the fluoro green of the algae in the water becomes more obvious.

Glacial Pool BCropped

By using a curves layer in Photoshop, I have increased the black point so there is now black in the image, which helps create more visual depth. I have also reduced the mid point in the curves, making the overall appearance of the image just a little bit darker while leaving the highlights where they were.

3. Tekapo Road

Tekapo Road AOriginal

I love the simplicity in this image, with the obvious shape of the road being the key element. But again the grey sky just isn’t necessary. Take it out and the landscape becomes stronger, and the shadows from the clouds more interesting. I have used my dodging and burning tool on a layer mask with a 50-per-cent grey fill in Photoshop, so as to highlight the road and darken down the shadows without degrading the print.

The way I always work when making an image, is to describe to myself what it is I’m photographing. The first word in that description is always the subject, followed by the other lesser elements. If I haven’t mentioned an element in my mind, such as the sky in the cases above, they aren’t included in my picture.

Tekapo Road BCropped

I have three chances of getting this right. Once when I take the image (sometimes I leave things in the frame at this point, as I know I’ll crop it into a different format later, in the computer). The second time is when I process the image in the computer. The third time is when I print the image and put it into a frame.

If it gets to this point and I still haven’t cropped out all the things that weren’t in my mind at the time of shooting, I have failed myself three times. Remember, just because the shape of your camera is a certain format, it doesn’t mean your final image has to be that format. Make your images the way you think them.

Mike Langford, of the Queenstown Centre for Creative Photography, is here to offer you free advice to help you take a better picture.

Mike has been an international awards judge for over 20 years. He has twice won Australian Landscape Photographer of the Year as well as New Zealand Professional Photographer of the Year. 

Free advice

If you would like to submit a photo for Mike to critique, simply email your image (around A5 size at 300dpi) to with the subject ‘Critique’, along with any information or queries you care to include

New stock photo opportunity for New Zealand's young photographers

TheShutterClub_Release1OctoberFinalA leading organisation in the stock photo industry is set to launch a new youth-focused project that will give talented young photographers the chance to make money producing fresh images of New Zealand. The Shutter Club is an initiative from leading local stock image library, Photonewzealand, which aims to compile a new image collection featuring aspects of New Zealand life and culture as seen through the lenses of the country's younger professional photographers.

Applications to be a part of The Shutter Club are open now; successful applicants will contribute "expressive, emotive, spontaneous and genuine" images to a final collection of mid-to-high priced images, rather than a low-cost 'microstock' library, that will be launched to clients in early 2015.

Photonewzealand already represents some of New Zealand's leading photographers – Craig Potton, Mike Langford, Peter Quinn, Becky Nunes, Arno Gasteiger, to name a few – and the organisations says The Shutter Club represents an ideal way for emerging pros to earn a revenue stream while continuing to explore creatively.

D-Photo catches up with Kathryn Edwards from Photonewzealand to a get a few more details on The Shutter Club:

D-Photo: How will the Shutter Club photo collection differ to that already offered by Photonewzealand?

Kathryn Edwards: The Shutter Club is a new stock collection aimed specifically at a younger creative target market.  It will be solely royalty-free with three tiers of pricing ranging from $100 -$500 according to file size. Our vision is that through the eyes of these younger photographers the collection will evolve and capture the ‘new New Zealand’ in a fresh and current way, with the content more spontaneous, edgy and reflective of our target audience.

What sort of photographers are you looking for in terms of age and experience?

We are looking for emerging photographers, perhaps still working towards completing their studies, working in other creative areas, assisting more established photographers or perhaps not yet experienced enough to establish themselves as a full-time professional. We are wanting to attract young photographers who are creatively competent but who perhaps need more support from a technical, licensing point of view or that simply want to maximise revenue from this additional stream whilst pursuing their other creative interests.

How big will The Shutter Club be, both in terms of photographers and image library?

We have no limit to how many photographers, although we won’t be taking on large numbers and applicants will have to apply and be accepted based upon the quality and relevance of their work. We plan to launch the collection with between 3000-5000 images early in 2015.

What sort of payment scheme should those joining the Club expect?

Photographers that are successful in their applications will earn a 40 per-cent return per image sale from The Shutter Club, paid monthly into their accounts.

What sort of clients will the Shutter Club collection be aimed at? 

The Shutter Club will be available to all of our clients but we expect the most interest to come from the advertising and design sector particularly from the younger creative market.

Head to The Shutter Club website for more information

Image: Julie Cooper

Workshop Wednesday 26.03.14

There are a wealth of photography workshops available these days across a wide array of subjects — for Workshop Wednesdays we round up a list of upcoming events from the photographers D-Photo trusts to deliver an exciting and educational experience.

Natural, naked indulgence

Ken's work 1

Celebrated Australian photographer Ken Ball returns to our shores in October for the second annual Creative Photography Indulgence workshop event, this time focussing on impressionistic nudes and nature photography.

Local art photographer Eva Polak will join Ball in hosting two three--day workshops on Waiheke Island, one beginning October 25 and the other October 29. Last year's Creative Indulgence sessions sold out, so get in quick if you're keen; email for details.

Wild talk


Trevor Penfold, one of New Zealand's most esteemed nature photographers, will be giving a talk in Hamilton about animal photography on the morning of Tuesday, April 1.

The event, hosted by Hamilton's Continuing Education organisation, costs a mere $3 for entry and promises to be an entertaining time, with Trevor recounting some of his many adventures and sharing his considerable expertise. It's at the Hillcrest Baptist Church and starts at 10am, get in early for a good seat.

Lodge with a view


If you're in the market for a scenic getaway, May might be the time to do it, especially if you want to combine the experience with hands-on tutoring from two of New Zealand's top photographers.

Mike Langford and Jackie Ranken of the Queenstown Centre for Creative Photography host an intensive multi-day photography workshop at Kinloch Lodge on the northern shore of lake Wakatipu from May 15 to 19. The workshop is suitable for all level of photographers, with both tutors on hand to offer immediate feedback to help attendees further develop their camera skills and craft.

Prices vary based on accommodation options, check the website for details. And if you'd like to sample the photographers' teaching style first, check out their new Field Guide for Creative Landscape Photography II.