Wai-O-Tapu through the eyes of a beginner

During our recent trips to the western USA and New Zealand my wife has started capturing quite a few photographs, mainly using a Nikon 1 V2 fitted with a 1 Nikon 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom. This article will give readers a glimpse of Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland through the eyes of a beginner.

I’m obviously very biased, but I think Rosemary did a really good job with her photographs at Wai-O-Tapu, especially given her lack of experience.

Beginning with our trip to the western USA we had many opportunities to chat about photography fundamentals. Since September we have spent over 7 weeks together on two extended photography tours, ‘talking shop’ and capturing images every day.

I’m not sure if I’ve unleashed a monster or not, but during our New Zealand trip Rosemary became even more engaged. Every day she asked lots of questions, showed me numerous images on the rear screen of her V2, and consistently asked for feedback.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/20, ISO-160

After more than 40 years of marriage we have both learned to value each other’s perspectives and she never took offence to any of my comments. Whenever I gave her a suggestion on an approach she could try to enhance her composition she was always game to ‘give it a go’. We chatted about the impact that contrast and colour can bring to an image and I love her photograph above. My only regret is that I didn’t notice this beautiful scene myself.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-160

Giving a landscape image depth with a foreground element is something she experimented with quite a bit during the trip. I like how she included some branches on the right hand side of the frame in the image above of the champagne pool at Wai-O-Tapu.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @23mm, efov 63mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-160

She’s heard me drone on about how creating a corner exit can add flow to an image and she did a nice job using the technique in the above image.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-160

We also chatted about how using a ‘bottom bar‘ can help to give a photograph a solid base and direct the viewer’s eye over it and into the image. I like her choice of subject matter in the above image and the sense of mystery it creates.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @ 27mm, efov 73mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-160

Looking for leading lines and incorporating them into compositions is something that she became very conscious of doing as you can see in the image above, and in the two that follow.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @11mm, efov 32mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-160

I thought she very effectively used some of the walkways at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland in her images.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @14mm, efov 38mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-160

Another concept we discussed was using a reveal to direct the viewer’s eye into a photograph and create depth in the image. I like how she did that in the image below and also included the unusual colouring of the water in her composition.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @13mm, efov 35mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-160

One of the things that we both really find intriguing at Wai-O-Tapu is the bubbling mud pool.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @16mm, efov 43mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-160

We’re just like two little kids watching the mud percolate. Hmm… I guess we don’t get out much!

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @11mm, efov 30mm, f/5.6, 1/320, ISO-160

If you follow any of the lens and camera reviews done by DxO, you will be aware of the fact that lenses can perform quite differently depending on the body with which they are used. I’ve not been much of a fan of the 1 Nikon 10-30 mm f/3./5-5.6 PD zoom, but while I was processing Rosemary’s RAW files I must say that I really like how that lens performs with the Nikon 1 V2.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-160

I found her RAW files pretty easy to process and I was surprised by the amount of detail that the V2 and 10-30 mm PD combination delivered.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @11mm, efov 30mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-160

During our trip to New Zealand Rosemary shot in Aperture priority with matrix metering, and used single point auto-focus. I would adjust the ISO setting on her V2 from time to time as required.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @123m, efov 62mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-160

Getting started with photography can be daunting. The most important thing is not to rush and to take baby steps as not to get overwhelmed. Rather than get too engrossed in a lot of the technical aspects related to gear, I think time is best spent working on composition fundamentals like Rosemary did during our time in New Zealand.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD @10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-160

She also showed incredible bravery photographing strange beasts walking about in the thermal haze…oh wait…that’s me!

Technical Note:
All images in this article were produced from RAW files using my standard process of OpticsPro 11, CS6 and Nik Suite. All images were captured hand-held in available light.

If you enjoyed this article you may want to have a look at New Zealand Tip-to-Tip. This 250 page eBook features 89 locations in New Zealand and over 400 original photographs. You can use the link to see more detailed information about the eBook. The cost of New Zealand Tip-to-Tip is $12.99 Canadian.


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10 thoughts on “Wai-O-Tapu through the eyes of a beginner”

  1. Nice work Rosemary!! I have a similar experience. When my wife and I travel, she shoots a J5 with the 10-30mm PD-Zoom. The lens surprises me with very nice results. I’ve found she’ll notice something I didn’t or get a perspective that I wouldn’t have thought to try. Importing our images and reviewing them sorted by capture time regardless of who took them has become a favorite activity. On a very recent trip to France and Germany to visit the Christmas markets, she began to play with the 18.5mm in low light. It’s been fun to see her discover a “nifty fifty” equivalent.

    1. Thank you for the compliment Eduard. Tom and I have only recently started doing photography together so we don’t have the same amount of experience as you and your wife. I am becoming more comfortable taking pictures and it isn’t quite as intimidating as it was a few months ago.

  2. Beginner — you would never know it! But then she had a GREAT teacher and it looks like Rosemary is a very good student! Lucky lady. I am glad you two can spend quality time together like this.

  3. It seems you’re getting some wonderful time together.
    But you better watch out because it looks she could catch you up…

    1. Hi Antonio,
      We did see some incredible locations during our photography tours this year and working together doing some photography made it even better! I think Rosemary is developing a good eye for composition. We’ve never been competitive in our relationship, but who knows I may have ‘unleashed a monster’. 🙂

  4. Congratulations on the fine results to your wife ☺
    I agree on the 10-30 mm zoom, it is not bad at all. I used it quite a bit with my new Nikon V3, which was mainly bought for use with the 70-300 mm.

    1. Hi Anders,
      I was very surprised when Tom asked me if he could use some of my pictures for an article. It was very kind of you to give me a compliment.

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