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Watch the birdie: Wellington photographer Dillon Anderson recently won the Photographic Society of New Zealand's Youth award.
Photo: EMMA BEER
Fascination with wildlife pays off
By EMMA BEER
image of an
The trick to photographing
wildlife is to try to capture the
emotion of what you re feeling at
that moment, says a Wellington
photographer who has a lot to
smile about these days.
Dillon Anderson, a third-year
photographic design student, has
won the Photographic Society of
New Zealand s Youth award.
Anderson said he enjoyed trying
to photograph wildlife in a differ-
You ve got kind of an emotion
you re trying to get across, some-
thing the animal or subject makes
you feel, and you re trying to make
that come across through pho-
You re using composition to tell
a story, and finding new angles to
make that interesting, so people
take notice and get the emotion.
Anderson s winning photo of an
Emoia skink was taken in Raroto-
nga in 2010, when he was on hol-
iday. I was looking around for
skinks and geckos. I saw this
skink on a banana leaf, about 5
I crouched down, moved slowly
forward and took a couple of
pictures in landscape, then
realised portrait would look a bit
better. I took about three or four
in each format and then it moved.
I think I got a bit too close.
He said he didn t know at the
time that it would be such an
I felt something about it [when
I saw it on the computer screen],
like that it reminded me of some-
thing National Geographic might
like. But nothing over-the-top, or
This is going to win .
It turns out, it did. Anderson
also won first place in the wildlife
section of New Zealand Geo-
graphic 2010 Photographer of the
Anderson said he been into
wildlife and obsessed with
animals ever since he was teeny .
My grandma from America
used to send me VHS [videos] on
the Amazon and on desert wildlife
and Antarctica. I watched them
more than cartoons.
He bought his first camera, a
Panasonic Lumix FZ18, when he
As soon as I got it, I was fully
I got it because I wanted to get
closer to the wildlife, see what it
looked like from a perspective that
I couldn t get with my eye .
Although at the time he thought
he had some good shots, looking
back now, Anderson said they
weren t as great as he thought.
I think, Wow, my standards
have gone up! Now I can do some-
thing much better than that.
One of the things he enjoyed
most about photographing wildlife
was that you needed an under-
standing of them for it to work
well. Birds are very beautiful
because of their shape, but if you
spend enough time with any ani-
mal you find it interesting.
Though he mostly shot with a
digital camera, Anderson said he
enjoyed using film as well.
Film has a special feel, as if
you re actually freezing a moment
in some physical sense that,
strangely, digital doesn t have for
[Film] teaches me to think
about when that moment is in a
much stronger sense.
He said he also liked to shoot in
black and white film.
It helps me to learn to switch
the way I see to black and white.
If I shoot in digital, with the
notion that I can always convert it
to black and white, it is hard to
just focus on shapes and shadows,
as I do when thinking in black and
So I guess black and white film
can help train this, along with the
sensitivity a photographer has to
On top of studying, Anderson is
also working part-time for long-
time Wellington photographer
Photography is Anderson s long-
I m not going with any half-
hearted or backup options. It s
photography -- there s nothing else
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