On the couch with landscape photographer Peter Walton

A bird flies over still water in the afternoon sun | Peter Walton
A bird flies over still water in the afternoon sun | Peter Walton
We are excited to be working with Peter Walton in 2018, who is leading a Photography Walking Tour to some of the most spectacular highlights in Kakadu. We sat down with Peter this month to pick his brains on his secrets behind the lens; how he frames shots, where he gets his inspiration from, and what you can expect on his photography tour to Kakadu in May 2018.
 

 

Peter Walton is acknowledged as one of Australia’s finest landscape photographers. He’s been romancing Australia with his camera for well over 40 years. His iconic images have been widely used by advertising agencies, the travel industry, in Australian landscape calendars and coffee table books. Unleash your inner photographer while exploring the Northern Territory's pristine Kakadu region with acclaimed landscape photographer Peter Walton. Rather than technical camera talk, this tour will focus primarily on the 'artistry of photography', delving into composition, lighting, focus / interest points and choosing your lenses. Find out more about the trip here. 

Find out more about Peter Walton here. 
 

1. Was photography your first choice of a career? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?

Yes, very much so!

2. What are 3 tips for taking great landscape photos?

  1. Think about what it is about this scene that has drawn you to it.
  2. Try to find a viewpoint that will provide the best possible rendering of this scene, taking account of the relationship of, and separation between, the various elements within the scene.
  3. Where possible try to include some attractive element/s in the foreground to lead the eye into the picture.

3. Is there something you always ask to yourself/think just before you push the button ?

Yes three things in particular … Is this particular viewpoint going to give me the best possible presentation of the scene, or would it be better if I moved a bit to the right or left, or slightly higher or lower? Have I framed the subject or scene too tightly, or am I not allowing enough space around it? Also, am I holding the camera level so that my horizon will be level?
 

 

4. What kind of animal or landscape is your favorite to photograph and why?

I don’t actually have a favourite animal … (or maybe I do?) … horses because everyone loves them. Favourite landscapes? … ones that include water, because it seems to have a universal attraction.

5. What kind of people have you met as a photographer in landscape?

Mostly people with a love of their environment … often they too are keen photographers

6. What percentage of photos from a trip is pre-planned versus spur of the moment photos that you were inspired to take along the way?

More and more I’m finding that my best pictures, probably 90% of them, are those that simply present themselves unexpectedly, whereas only about 10% are pre-planned.
 

 

7. Do you feel as though being a landscape photographer has changed the way you view the world?

Absolutely … the more I pursue photography, the more I seem to notice things that other people have missed. Photographers tend to become expert observers.
 

8. Can you tell us about the gear you use for your photography? What is typically in your camera bag?

In a previous life, when most of my work was done in a studio, I used mostly heavy, large format film cameras. When I first gravitated toward landscape and travel photography I was using heavy high-end Nikon and Canon cameras. But the advent of much smaller, lighter, high performance mirrorless cameras have made it possible to travel much lighter without compromising quality. My current camera of choice is the superb Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark ll. Their 12-100mm lens, which is equivalent to a 24-200 on a 35mm film camera,delivers excellent image quality at every focal length. It makes an ideal “take anywhere” lens. When I need to shoot wider I often use the super compact Olympus 9-18mm lens (18-36mm equivalent), also a little known, but excellent quality Chinese 7.5mm Laowa lens … (15mm equiv) … it’s great for very expansive landscapes. Before switching to the Olympus system I used to carry everything except a tripod in a large camera bag, it’s no wonder I developed shoulder problems! Now I can fit everything into my multi-pocket photographer’s vest. ‘Everything’ includes: ND filters, a spare battery, a small Sennheiser shotgun microphone for capturing video with good quality sound, a notebook and pen, business cards with a model release form on the back, a cleaning cloth and a light waterproof jacket in case it rains. Wearing the gear is much easier and more convenient than accessing it from a camera bag. Nowadays, thanks to my camera’s excellent performance at high ISOs, and its incredible image stabilisation, I find I can manage very well without a tripod for almost everything, so I don’t carry one around with me all the time. However, I do pack one each time I travel in case I want to shoot night skies or fluid motion images with very dark ND filters … for these shots a tripod is a must.
 

9. What can people expect to discover with you on your upcoming trip in Kakadu in May?

Hopefully the main thing they’ll get from this tour will be learning how I think about photography. I intend doing a lot of thinking out loud about the picture possibilities we come across and what implied messages I hope to convey through them. This is something that National Geographic photographers often refer to as ‘The Visual Narrative’. Find out more.
 

10. How do you plan to incorporate photography into all the sightseeing and tour activities?

Each day we’ll be visiting and photographing Kakadu’s iconic locations. I’ll be helping and advising anyone who needs help with the operation of their camera, offering my thoughts on the ideal choice of lens for a particular situation, and in particular, my thoughts on the ideal composition. On three of the five evenings I’ll be presenting illustrated talks. The first of these will focus on helping beginning photographers gain an understanding of their camera’s basic operations, even if it’s being used in fully automatic mode. This basic information is a must for everyone wanting to anyone wanting to truly master the real art of photography. The second session will be about the all important aspect of good composition and how small differences in the way we compose our images can vastly improve them. I will also demonstrate the way I use image editing software, including Photoshop, to maximise the three C’s of an image … namely it’s composition, clarity and colour. Step by step notes will be provided for this session. During the last session we’ll view of a selection of images we’ve taken during the tour. If you’re willing (and we hope you are) you’ll be invited to supply around six of your best images on a memory stick that we’ll provide, so that we can see how each of us have interpreted our Kakadu experience. You’ll be able to take the memory stick home with all of the presented images on it as a souvenir of the tour. 
 
This Kakadu Photo Tour will be great sightseeing and photographic learning experience. 
 
Photography

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