Personal project 2 – Light in the New Zealand landscape

I love light.

I have never been to any country where light feels quite the same as it does in New Zealand. Because of this I’m totally fascinated by the quality of light we find here.

It’s a combination of its purity and its interaction with some of the most stunning landscape in the world.

New Zealand light is not always easy to work with, but it is extremely rewarding.

Dramatic light illuminating the hills around Lake Tekapo, Mackenzie Country, New Zealand
Lake Tekapo, Mackenzie Country, New Zealand.




Personal project 1 – People in the New Zealand landscape

To me New Zealand is defined by its landscapes and the outdoorsy nature of kiwis.

As a photographer I’m interested in how New Zealanders interact with their natural spaces.

Personally I’m attracted to the wider landscapes that we have here. The changing nature of the sea, the emptiness of the high country, the quietness of the lakes and the rawness of the mountains.

Those characteristics, I think, define our role within the landscape. We’re not insignificant, but we are often just a small part of the bigger picture.

I feel that in New Zealand we like to be part of the landscape and that there is enough space for everyone to feel a little unique and awed by what nature provides.

Evening activities on Pohara Beach, Golden Bay, New Zealand
Evening activities on Pohara Beach, Golden Bay, New Zealand.



Feeling sheepish – but finding peace

I can move on.

It has been a long time coming, 25 years to be exact.

Over the years I have tried to get what I consider to be the perfect sheep shot. On every attempt I failed.

Each time I lifted my camera the flock turned to show me their bums in a seemingly considered and choreographed gesture.

Maybe sheep sense that I wasn’t born in sheep country, that I don’t speak their language, don’t get their culture or their social habits.

Perhaps I give them too much credit, but I have a feeling that sheep are more deliberate than most people think.

I suppose they got bored with me trying and in the end relented.

Peace at last.

Near Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay, New Zealand
Near Wharariki Beach, Golden Bay, New Zealand.



A new vision for my sis

It’s been a while since I updated my blog and much has happened during the summer. While I fully intend to upload some of my own new images over the next few weeks, I first like to start with a tribute to my sister.

Norma has been a painter ever since I remember. Over the years her style and subjects have changed but she has had an artistic streak ever since she was very young.

In recent times she  started dabbling in photography. It hasn’t taken long for her to apply the painterly eye to create beautifully composed and lit photographs.

The below shot is one of those images, taken while walking her dog through the forest near her home in Germany.

I haven’t spent a lot of time in Germany over the last 25 years but this image strongly resonates with me.

Looking at the image I can smell the forest and feel part of it.

©Norma Wirtz/2012
©Norma Wirtz/2012



I had a dream (albeit a rather short and insignificant one)

Last night I dreamed that champignons are dangerous. That’s right, newsflash.

Now, before you inflict your kindness by sending me interpretations of my dream please realise that I’ve heard of Freud and Jung, and that I have no particular need to be analysed.

What I found most interesting about my dream was the quality of images and story I was experiencing. It was all fully believable. It was realistic to an extend that it took a second or two after waking up to realise that the mushroom was an illusion, and that my mind got tricked.

This reminded me of the mysterious ways in which our brain functions, and how we often see what we want to see or don’t see what we don’t want to see.

Those of you who have studied photography, or other forms of art and design, will be aware that it is our brain that sees, not the eye. The eye is a highly developed arrangement of lens and sensor that allows for signals to be send to the brain. There the information is interpreted and assembled in a rather complex process involving a range of areas within our brain.

The result is a stream of images that is a fairly good interpretation of our actual surroundings. But it is not perfect, and the brain is working hard to keep our world relatively steady and balanced. In the process some information – colour for example – may be radically misinterpreted to ensure that we do not suffer from visual overstimulation.

I have no idea how the processes of dreaming and seeing are connected, but I do know that our interpretation of what we see is often not consistent with what is in front of us. Sometimes the brain seems to make things up even when we are awake. So it comes as no surprise that it also does so when we sleep.

I often do eye/mind exercises when working with 1st year photography students. The tricks are intended to show students how fallible our senses can be, and how this knowledge can be of importance when designing with colour, tone and perspective.

Here’s a little gem for you that fools just about every photography student. It often takes them a little time to accept that they’ve just been fooled by their brain. If you have Photoshop or know how to find your computer OS colour meter, you will find that squares A and B are identical in tone. But most people – no matter how hard they look – won’t see it that way.

Checkerboard and shadow illusion by ©Edward H. Adelson/1995
Checkerboard and shadow illusion by ©Edward H. Adelson/1995