My apologies for being silent here at Photography Life for over a month! I’ve been away on an extended holiday/field trip in New Zealand with my wife, and our busy schedule didn’t allow time to prepare any new articles for Photography Life. While the vast majority of our New Zealand photography focused on landscape images for our planned photography e-book, I did have the chance to capture a selection of photographs of various marine birds and mammals during our trip.
The biggest news while we were away was the serious earthquake that shook the South Island, causing massive rock slides on the east coast highway and cutting off the town of Kaikoura. Tremors were felt extensively on the South Island and up into the North Island. The capital city of Wellington is about 200 kilometers away from the epicenter of the earthquake and some buildings in the city sustained damage. Kaikoura has some of the best whale and dolphin watching in New Zealand and the earthquake has significantly impacted the local industry. The harbor in Kaikoura raised up about a meter due to the earthquake making navigation out to sea only possible during high tide for many of the tour boats. We hope that the reconstruction of the highway and dredging of the harbor is completed as quickly as possible so life can get back to as close to normal as possible for the wonderful folks in Kaikoura!
New Zealand is a truly remarkable country. Visiting it is like seeing the world condensed on two, beautiful islands. My wife and I have had the good fortune to visit twice before and we accelerated a third ‘bucket list’ trip when we stumbled upon some incredible flight deals.
The images of the New Zealand Fur Seals (by best guess on species pending further clarification) in this article were captured near the Royal Albatross Centre which is located at the tip of the Otago Peninsula on the South Island.
Equipped with a pair of Nikon 1 J5s and a pair of Nikon 1 V2s, along with five 1 Nikon zoom lenses we were able to easily fit all of our camera gear in a single Tenba Shoulder Bag. The 1 Nikon CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 mounted on one of my V2s was the obvious choice for any kind of bird or other nature images.
I was lucky enough to get some decent opportunities to capture some images of Australasian Gannets while on the Pelorus Mail Boat day tour.
That same tour also yielded some penguin photographs as well as some images of Fluttering Shearwaters.
These small, quick flying birds were a bit of a challenge to photograph from a moving boat and I ended up using the ‘Active’ VR setting on my Nikon 1 V2 – something that I have very seldom needed to do in the past. It worked well and I was quite pleased with the results. I used AF-C the majority of the time, shooting at 15fps with subject tracking for most of my moving subject bird and nature photographs.
As in many other parts of the world there are a number of cormorant species in New Zealand, although they are called ‘shags’ in this part of the world. Most of my images tended to be of spotted shags and pied shags.
I was even fortunate enough to capture a few images of the King Shag, one of the rarest species of shag in New Zealand.
It was quite common to see Oyster Catchers on the coasts of both the North and South Islands and many of them were somewhat acclimatized to people allowing me to get fairly close to them. The image below is from a good AF-C run that I captured at the harbor in Paihia on the North Island. If you are wondering about the EXIF data on some of the images of static subjects, i.e. fast shutter speeds and higher ISO – I was focused on capturing birds in flight and had my V2 set accordingly. I simply didn’t bother changing my settings just in case a BIF opportunity appeared.
Pied Stilts are also quite commonly seen walking along beaches. I was lucky that this specimen took flight just after we finished lunch at a beachside picnic table and I happened to have my camera in hand.
New Zealand is such a diverse and beautiful country that most photographers will find something of interest. Our photography e-book will focus on landscape photography, and like our recent trip out to South Dakota and Utah, the vast majority of our images were captured on a ‘catch as catch can’ basis, and mainly between the hours of 9AM and 5PM. We did this purposely in order to replicate the kind of shooting most folks on holidays actually do. We expect the e-book to be ready in early 2017.
Article and all images are Copyright 2016 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, adaptation or reproduction of any kind including electronic is allowed without written consent. Photography Life is the only approved user of this article. If you see it reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use.
I’m impressed with the quality of action pictures made with mirrorless camera’s! The first picture of the article reminded me of one I made in Kaikoura earlier this year: www.flickr.com/photo…571146764/
I’m glad you enjoyed the photographs – and thanks for sharing your image! The Nikon 1 bodies do have quite fast and accurate auto-focus performance and when teamed with the CX 70-300mm (efov 189-810) make a light kit for wildlife in good light.
The recent earthquake that damaged Kaikoura happened while we were in New Zealand. We had visited Kaikoura a number of years ago and did not have it included in our plans for this trip. I hope the road repair and dredging of the harbor is going well.
Hi Tom, I echo the sentiments of the earlier posters here. I find each of your posts a treat, visually and idea-wise. Really goes to show there’s truth to the “It’s not the arrow that matters more, It’s the person aiming it” adage. Shoutout from the Philippines, Oggie Ramos
I’m glad you enjoyed the post – and thanks for the kind words!
Really Fab article with Fab pics..Thanks for Sharing your trip by images.
Thanks Ranender – glad you enjoyed them!
I really enjoy your articles, superb images and your realistic approach to photography.
I am an old dog, 83, but you are still teaching me very valuable “new tricks”.
I was very pleasantly surprised also that you are the only ace photographer I know of, who appreciates us lesser aspirants, who can afford only the “catch as catch can” world of travel photography and I can’t wait for your forthcoming book. I am sure it will be a much appreciated work and will ease our pain of not being able to chase those perfect lights and moments.
I am truly thankful,
Thank you for your supportive comment – it is much appreciated!
As photographers each of us brings our own perspectives and approach to the work we do. One approach is not necessarily better than another…just different. I have always been more of an experiential and experimental kind of guy…rather than technical and precise. I suppose cutting my teeth in the newspaper business many, many years ago could have played a formative role. Back in those days we had to grab our images very quickly and try to get them right the first time as we had no opportunity because of press deadlines to go back for another attempt at it another day. “Catch as catch can” was how we lived each day when providing service to our advertising clients.
Thanks Anders – glad you enjoyed them!
Awesome article, being from NZ I recognize all these species, marine birds are my favourite, and you have captured them perfectly. a shame you didn’t post any shots of the Albatrosses. im going to be going to Dunedin this summer hopefully I see lots of cool species.
Great article keep up the great work
If I would have been successful in capturing any images of Albatrosses I would have gladly posted some…unfortunately during the time that I was in the area I did not have any luck! Thanks for your comment, it is much appreciated!
As always, stunning beautiful photos, thanks you.
I appreciate your supportive comment Tzotz!
Wonderful! Thank you!!
Fabulous images and beautiful captured Thomas. My eyes were alerted when I read the intro line in the email mentioning New Zealand as that’s where I live! Pleased you enjoyed your holiday down here and love our country.
I don’t do much nature photography myself as I concentrate more on portraits, landscapes and travel photography, but I do partake when the opportunity presents itself.
My husband and I (also a photographer) are travelling to your beautiful country next May, and will spend nearly 6 weeks based in Montreal. I’m currently researching side-bar trips to Nova Scotia and ??, where we can experience the culture but also capture good landscapes, seascapes and some wildlife, particularly on the coast of Nova Scotia.
Thanks for sharing your images and post.
Thank you for your supportive comment! My wife and I have had the good fortune to visit your wonderful country three times and have enjoyed every visit. During this most recent trip we focused on a few areas that we had not visited in the past and spent some time visiting such treasures as Slope Point, Cozy Nook, and a few other spots not frequented too often by tourists. The product of our New Zealand travels will be an photography e-book we are planning to launch early next year.
Six weeks in Canada should give you some time for some productive explorations. Nova Scotia is an excellent choice for seascapes. If you can you may want to allow some time to do the Cabot Trail on Cape Breton Island. Fort Louisburg and the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck are also a couple of other spots to consider on Cape Breton Island…it is one of my favorite parts of the province. If you like history and architecture the Old Town in Quebec City is also a beautiful location. The Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick also make great photography subjects…but be sure to plan your visit during low tide!
Doing a circumnavigation of Nova Scotia is on our ‘bucket list’…I’m sure you and your husband will enjoy your trip.
whenever one of your posts shows up I know we are in for some extra-ordinary images. And I have to confess that I find them even more extra-ordinary knowing that you are shooting with a compact camera and not a bigger full frame or something equally large and heavy. There is so much detail in your subjects that it requires some time to examine each image. Thanks for taking the time to share these images.
Thank you very much for your generous comment – it is most appreciated! I’m glad you enjoyed the images!
After spending almost a month shooting in New Zealand I have a ton of material to go through…and with any luck I’m hoping to have another posting here at Photography Life before the end of the year. If you pop onto my photography blog you’ll see a few new pieces there.