Whatipu Track. Photoshoot. Behind the scenes.


People only get to see the final images from a photoshoot. That’s fine. But with so many images flooding our senses day in day out, it’s easy to not appreciate the entirety of an image, from concept to completion. Here is the first story in a series ‘behind the shoot’ that tells you the full story, and what it is to be a professional outdoor photographer.

On the weekend I headed out solo in the heat of the day to the Hillary Trail, and go explore a potential location for an editorial running shoot I had in mind for an article over at Good People Run. It was a challenge to find the Karamatura Valley to Whatipu track, but once I had it worked out, off I went exploring. I had heard and seen some amazing photos online during my research and really fancied the ocean views for scale with a runner.

The running and walking was hard going with minimal flow and steep ups and downs, rooty sections, rocks and a stinking hot shadeless day. Coming into the season with an injury is never a good start for an outdoor photographer, but thankfully I’m back upto a reasonable level of fitness which is a necessity- when you don’t have the luxury of chopper rides.

I got to the Whatipu camp grounds thirsty and sun burnt, but happy to have connected to the area. I then headed on and once more steadily upwards to Karekare and half way there decided to turn back due to feeling the effects of the heat. With a long and more intense climb back to the car I was being wise.  I had made the right call. Boy oh boy the climb upto the high point was HOT and near vertical. Three steps up. Rest. Three steps up… repeat.

On getting back to the car I had worked out the best spots for a shoot, captured them on my pocket sized Fujifilm X1ooT for reference and had a great workout. Once home I organised Tim who was the feature of the article for the shoot a few days later and also had luck with Ethan being able to assist. A rare luxury may I add, which really does make for a great experience on location. With my quads hating me, Monday came around to soon and after work we all headed back to the Whatipu camp ground where I had worked out on the previous visit, that this start up the trail was the quickest to get to the spot. With a 30ish minute climb up with gear we were ready to roll!

Here are a few behind the scenes images (A few courtesy of Ethan).

I carried my trusty FStop Satori pack with gripped 2 x Canon Mark 3’s and 16- 35mm / 70- 200mm lenses. A 600 Canon flash, Odin wireless triggers, cards, spare AAA batteries, water, jacket, and a Lastolite 28inch modifer. The plan was to shoot some natural light stuff and off camera flash using a single light source and Ethan helped by holding the flash when required. Human light stands save so much time! Thanks Ethan!

We were out roaming the trail from about 6.30 – 9.00pm and lucked out with some great light diffused by cloud. Also some great golden light pockets too. There were the normal wireless trigger gremlins too- that always show their ugly face when shooting off camera flash. The terrain was tricky to navigate, Tim the runner was working like a dog, and the heat once again was borderline repressive. We got some amazing images up on the trail due to a mixture of planning, understanding the location, working as a team and years of practice making a visual idea come to life. This shoot rates highly for fun too. Sometimes every minute of an outdoor session can be painful, but not this one. Ultimately heading out a few days prior even though it was costly, time consuming and physically demanding is part of the process as an outdoor shooter, and what made everything come together on the night. So for maybe 2 hours of photography there were approx 16hours behind the shoot in total- including  the post processing.

Here are a few images from the shoot used in the editorial.

Full set viewable here.

Paul Petch
Director of Good People Run, pro photographer, tutor and a recovering 'runaholic'. Based in Auckland City, my work is at www.paulpetchphoto.com
Paul Petch

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