Queenstown: Emotions are what make us click

By Kate Roff

Pictures speak a thousand words, but for rookies the first word is "m for moron", finds Kate Roff.

Mike Langford (left) and Jackie Ranken 'make' a photo with Kate Roff (centre). Photo / Jim Eagles
Mike Langford (left) and Jackie Ranken 'make' a photo with Kate Roff (centre). Photo / Jim Eagles

Everyone seems to have a fancy camera, but they need to learn how to use it," says our photography guide Mike Langford.

That, evidently, is where Mike and his wife Jackie Ranken come in, taking clients of all ability levels on their photo safari.

As Mike drives us out of Queenstown and into a valley called Paradise he explains why he takes his novices here. "If you can't make a decent photo in paradise, then I'm no help!"

He says we are "making" (rather than taking) photos, while also insisting we switch our cameras to manual. Mike believes that if the camera is on automatic then the camera is taking the photo; if it's on manual you are "creating" a photo.

"Put the camera on m for moron," says Mike, "because that's how you feel when you first use it."

Mike's says that photography isn't all about exact science. "It's based on emotions," he emphasised.

Paradise turns out to be the perfect spot to learn how to shoot the scenery and it is soon apparent that anything can be a great subject, from the tiniest plant life to the waterfall rapids.

We weren't alone in seeing this area's photogenic potential, as we made our way into the stunning beech forest Mike pointed out where Prince Caspian fell off his horse in the latest Narnia film, as well as the barn-site that was blown up in X-men Origins: Wolverine.

"A lot of customers go and buy an SLR camera after the safari," Mike says, and I can see why.

"He lent me a camera with a name (and price) I could hardly fathom, but I did notice the increase in picture quality.

Photo Safaris run very small groups, which I was grateful for. Both Mike and Jackie have worked in the industry for years and have an awards list as long as your arm. For us that meant that both I, as a basic photo snapper, and the professional lifestyle photographer who joined us, could equally learn a thing or two.

By the end of the day I was happily chatting away about aperture, colour saturation and ISO, feeling for the first time like I was in control of my camera, rather than the other way around.

Mike wisely provides notes for people like me, who forget half of their new-found skills by the time they get back to their hotel room in Queenstown.

CHECKLIST

More information: Queenstown Photo Safari.

The luxury apartments at the Glebe, with their views over Lake Wakatipu, are a great place for photography practice.

Kate Roff ravelled courtesy of Photo Safaris and The Glebe Luxury Apartments.

- NZ Herald

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