Posted by Paul Giles
A few days ago I was looking through our bookcase and deciding what should stay and what could go - things you do in retirement!  Anyway, I came upon ‘Focus on New Zealand'.
It's a pictorial essay of New Zealand that was the outcome of a photographic event that I attended in the autumn of 1985.  Some of New Zealand’s leading photographers of the day, Brian Brake, Matheson Beaumont, and Brian Enting, were in the process of establishing the ‘New Zealand Centre for Photography’.
‘Focus on New Zealand’ was a tour organised by the trio, bringing  together some of the world’s leading photographers – amateur and professional.  For me, this was the opportunity of a lifetime to rub shoulders with photographers whose images I admired and appreciated.  One hundred and sixty-nine people took part from 20th April to May 8th, 1985.  With two other like-minded friends from the Lower Hutt Photographic Society, we began our adventure at the main seminar location of Queenstown, whilst Milford Sound, the West Coast glaciers and Mount Cook were also included.
It was an amazing time – walking, talking eating and sleeping photography.  Daylight hours were spent searching around the wonderful number of locations that exist in Central Otago and Fiordland.  Evenings were mainly spent in seminars discussing composition, technique, colour versus black and white and ‘debating’ photography.
At the completion of the ‘Focus on New Zealand’ event we hired a car (Mitsubishi Mirage) and spent a few more days soaking up the South Island landscape.  We took that little ‘Mitsi’ to places that it was never built for – notably a four wheel drive track into the ‘Old Man Range’ near Alexandra and even the ‘Skippers Road’ (I think we missed the ‘no hire cars beyond this point’ signage).
All in all it was a most memorable adventure.  Our photographs were submitted for judging by Brian Brake and he chose the images for the ‘Focus on New Zealand’ book.  I felt very privileged that one of my images was selected for publication.
With a little more time on my hands, I hope to rekindle the enjoyment that comes from a rewarding image of a special time or place.  So I guess that one can stay on the bookcase !
A quote from Matheson Beaumont:
Photographs are made in 125th of a second, usually less, and are often made by casual photographers who are out ‘taking pictures’.  The photographer who understands the landscape takes time to contemplate and actually feel what is going on in front of the lens.  The skill is in ‘making’ rather than the predatory ‘taking’ which leads to success.  The great landscape relies on a fine union of trained eye and imaginative mind.