One on one with Dr Andrew Peacock in isolation

24/07/2020 3:51 PM

Now is the time to refine your photography and focus on subjects local to your area.

We ask our Ted's Master DR Andrew Peacock about his photography journey through isolation. Read on to receive some helpful tips and tricks to growing your photography at this time.

Andrew Peacock

What has the extra time over isolation allowed you to achieve?

Andrew Peacock

In my role as a photo instructor and leader with Lindblad Expeditions I had a busy schedule of overseas small-ship based work booked for much of 2020 so with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic all of that work evaporated in an instant. I’m usually pretty organised from a photographic perspective so it’s not as if this ‘down’ time was useful in terms of catching up on editing, archiving etc! Instead I’ve been extremely lucky to be able to add extra medical work in my role as a doctor in the emergency room and at a general practice into my schedule. That has kept me busy and feeling useful trying to help others in this difficult period. Extra time beyond that has been all about exploring and photographing locally in my area around Noosa Heads in Queensland. It’s been fun to find and expand on subjects that excite me photographically but that I didn’t have the time to work on as much in the past.

What are some tips and tricks to improve your photography locally?

I like to photograph a wide variety of subjects but primarily with a nature theme. So that’s where I started when looking at more local subjects to photograph. When ‘stuck’ around home it can be useful to try out new techniques, camera settings etc by photographing flora in the backyard as an example but in the end if that’s not a subject that gets you excited then your more likely to have fun and produce more interesting results by seeking out subjects that do grab your attention.

Intentional camera movement (ICM) is something that I like to play around with as a creative outlet and the beaches here offer an opportunity to find different colour tones at all times of the day so I have spent time experimenting with that technique and have created some nice new abstract work. This is definitely all about having fun with your photography and not taking any of it too seriously!

Drone photography is seen everywhere these days but an ability to take to the air with a camera doesn’t automatically make for a better photo and a lot of what is shown on social media is pretty generic and not very creative so I have been challenging myself to look for ‘art in nature’ and try for some more interesting compositions both at Noosa and on a couple of hiking and climbing adventures in SE QLD. You can decide from these photos if I’ve been successful or not, but I have certainly enjoyed the process and the challenge and have come up with work that is a bit different, for me at least.

Andrew Peacock

Have you had many local photography adventures recently? Do you have three recommendations for where to go?

Andrew Peacock
Andrew Peacock
Andrew Peacock

The iconic point breaks in Noosa National Park are a draw for longboard surfers from around the world and in late summer and autumn there were plenty of waves on offer and often with stormy skies as a backdrop. I really enjoy heading out late in the day to see if I can shoot surfing images while showing off the landscape as well and there were some good opportunities to do that as you can see from the images here.

Perhaps the main ‘project’ I’ve been working on during this time has been to document the behaviour of our local small flock of glossy black cockatoos. These endangered birds have some fans and supporters in the form of the staff1 and students at Sunshine Beach State High School. These birds have a strict feeding requirement for the seed pods of speci1fic casuarina tree species that exist locally but which are at risk from continued land clearing for development as has occurred widely elsewhere. The birds also have preferred water sources for drinking that can run low at times of drought. Some birds have identi1fied a puddle in a depression in the car park surface at the school as a spot to grab a drink in the evening. When it hasn't rained, I have watched a staff1 member create a puddle with water poured from a bucket to ensure the birds can find water easily if they need to. There is a strong relationship between this speci1fic bird species and the school community as a result of targeted education by a small cadre of local environmentalists, in fact a local artist has loaned the school a beautiful outdoors sculpture installation of human sized glossy black feathers that sits beside the school entrance in recognition of the importance of the school maintaining an environment that supports the Glossy Black Cockatoo.

For the photo of two birds at the puddle I pre-placed my camera with a wide-angle lens right next to the puddle well before the birds flew in. I fired the shutter remotely while standing 10 meters or so away. There was de1finitely a short ‘adjustment’ period when the birds approached more slowly than usual as they weren't sure about this strange object sitting by the water, but they soon forgot about it and their behaviour while drinking was normal.

Andrew Peacock
Andrew Peacock
Andrew Peacock

Now is the perfect time to boost your social presence. Do you have any suggestions for fellow photographers trying to grow their following?

Ha, I wish I knew the secret to that! I don’t think social media is the best place to focus your efforts photographically because the rewards aren’t there unless you can hone your photography output to exactly what the ‘online crowd’ will react visually to in the one or two seconds they take to swipe past and on to the next image. I think the horse has largely bolted in terms of building up a huge following that could enable a business case to be made for pursuing social media exposure. Having said that it is of course fun to share your work online somewhere and it’s nice when you get positive feedback so there’s no reason not to have a social presence but my advice would be not to get caught up in it and to continue to photograph what excites you not what you think others will respond to. Entering photo competitions such as the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year or the Birdlife Australia awards are more worthy of your time and a better way for your photography to be objectively reviewed.

How has this period of isolation changed your perspective on photography?

Andrew Peacock

I’ve become a bit of a birder as a result of all the time spent with the glossy blacks and I now love trying to capture decent bird portraits. It’s not a subject I ever thought would really appeal to me but it’s so fun, and of course a challenge too. I’ll continue to incorporate that as an aim going forward no matter where I travel. I’m really looking forward to getting back to the polar regions and my usual work with Lindblad. I enjoy being at home and am always learning photographically here but there’s nothing quite like the landscapes and wildlife of Antarctica and the Arctic to point your lens at

Do you have any recent photographic projects that you'd like to share?

I’ve teamed up with the excellent team at Riptide Prints to offer a print store online which is an exciting new project. You can find my work here and I can make any of my online images available there. If there is a particular photo you’d like to purchase as a print, please get in touch and I’ll sort it out for you

Andrew Peacock
Andrew Peacock
Andrew Peacock
Andrew Peacock
Andrew Peacock
Andrew Peacock

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