Street Photography

6 January 2024

People often ask me what sort of photography do I like to do. My usual answer, to keep it simple, is landscapes and people. Then the conversation changes to something else.

My websites theme is mainly Travel photography and that comprises mostly of  two parts- landscapes and people. I travel to do landscape photography or experience a different culture. I don’t travel to do street photography. That just happens because I’m holding a camera and I don’t have much else to do apart from trying the street food or waiting for someone to exit a shop. So in my case it is sort of a default position.

One of my favourite photographers died recently. Elliot Erwit was a fantastic street photographer. He had that eye that could spot something amusing or interesting in an ordinary, everyday street scene. Some photographers (like me)  feel they need to go somewhere exotic to get a good photo. Examples of this are littered on my website- South Island NZ, Myanmar, China, and other parts of Asia. If I was to be absolutely cynical (who me?) I would say if you go somewhere that is different, preferably more extreme that your normal living environment, and you know how to operate a camera,  there is a good chance you would get a photograph you like enough to publish or print. However good street photographers just go outside the front door and start clicking. They can capture things in that fraction of a second when random subjects come together to produce something amusing, or interesting to the eye that will never be seen again. However that image lives on forever thanks to silver halide, or a digital sensor.  This is one example on how I define a great photographer. It is someone who can produce an image out of nothing. By nothing I mean the mundane stroll through everyday life as opposed to standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon.  BTW did I tell you I added Morocco, and Patagonia to my list to try and get great photos?



Travel Portraits

6 January 2024

The theme of this months posting is street photography. Most times I prefer to do candid rather than someone posing. However there is a time and place for everything. Over the months I will add to this blog images from the past which I haven’t published before or are buried in the archives. This is a bit like the greatest hits album.


Back in 2010 I was taking my daughter down to Dunedin for university study. I forgotten where the cafe was but we came across this couple from Auckland who were taking a road trip in this Classic car.


This photo and the one below were taken in Vietnam. We took an overnight train to Sapa from Hanoi and did a days trek. The group of girls was taken outside a photographic studio and I think they were waiting for some prints. The before and after shows the value of cropping an image with digital enhancements using Adobe lightroom.


The last three images were taken at various times when I managed to get backstage during a Chinese opera performance. The opera is held annually (with the exception of Covid) in my wife’s village, New Territories, Hong Kong.




B & W Landscapes?

I was speaking to a photographer a while back, and I have forgotten who, but what he said has always resonated at the back of my mind- “I don’t get Black and White landscape photography”.

Maybe its because he sees the world in colour? I mentioned the greats such as Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier-Bresson. The argument followed that they only had B&W film at the time.

1.     Pig route

However on Googling the question Ansel Adams did shoot in colour. In fact over 3500 shots, but this represented a very small proportion of his work. He mainly used colour for his commercial work to bring in some income to support his family and his creativity.

However he found the colour medium frustrating as he had no control over the final print. It was definitely hit and miss those days. Even today if you get a digital print made the colours are never consistent if redone at a later date. Imagine what he could have done with a digital camera and photoshop at his disposal? And naturally he would have very exacting colour calibration tools as well!

B&W is the medium in which I started photography in the late 1960s. I had my uncles enlarger and printed in mums laundry with the windows blocked out with black plastic. I learnt to see the world in B&W. When I went to work in Hong Kong in the early 80s, only colour film was available. I had to learn to see the world in colour. To get control back in producing a print worthy of exhibition I taught myself colour printing . Those days it took over an hour and lots of test prints to produce one acceptable result!. B&W didn’t even feature much in my work apart from reproducing old work done in NZ. I was concentrating producing work without the usual colour imagery clich├ęs

Now when I do B&W it is after the fact rather than originally intentional. When the image has lots of contrast, emotion, texture, B&W can really emphasize the feeling the photographer wants to achieve.

Today, though, their is a pining for things retro.

Vinyl is back in truckloads. Film is back , why? That could be a topic for a blog another day. Over ear head phones are popular now as opposed to earbuds. Movie theatres are back, but alas no video stores. And of course B&W is back. One of my friends sent me some images taken with his Leica monochrome. Leica make a couple of cameras which only take pictures in B&W and normally retail north of $10,000 ! The blacks were gorgeous, and it had more shades of grey than the book – that made me blush ! Pentax have also brought out an SLR that only does B& W I was tempted for a few seconds….In home theatre the best projectors boast of the deepest blacks. Better whiskies have a black label. Black cars in movies have a sinister or aristocratic value. Black tie means formal and important. I love black jellybeans. Get the picture, Black is Back…….

Here are my interpretations of NZ landscapes in B&W taken on my South Island road trip 2022.


2.      Glenorchy
3.     Glenorchy


4.     Glenorchy
5.     Glenorchy
6.     Pig route
7.     Pig route
8.     Rangitata