Photo: Lucy Dixon
Barney Brewster is a landscape photographer based in Nelson.
My first recall of the beauty of light was as a 5 year old, watching the autumn sun go down at Tokomaru, but I did not pick up a camera until I was 13. At that age I borrowed my mother’s Diana camera and a roll of 127 film – and the art of capturing light has intrigued me ever since.
At 18 I began a long and intense relationship with an Asahi Pentax. Entirely self-taught, I became absorbed in the craft of available light, and from this immersion came hundreds of portraits, nudes and landscapes. A selection of these I placed in four large red velvet albums, which I made myself (alas, I used double-sided tape to mount the prints!).
A solo exhibition in the Taj Mahal Gallery, Wellington was followed by audiovisual shows to small audiences, in a series of house concerts. In the early 1980s I travelled the country, taking large format photos for conservation calendars for Friends of the Earth and Royal Forest & Bird. Later I produced greeting cards and postcards through Nikau Press, but in the early ’90s my cameras were put aside as the commitments of family life grew larger and as more profitable work in the book trade beckoned.
When at last I discovered digital photography in 2009 it opened up some grand horizons in creativity, with long exposure. My earlier interest in using just moonlight was now within easy reach, and with a Lumix LX3 I gathered a great gamut of 60 second shots, over many full moons. A year later I graduated to a full frame Nikon D700, began my long-running photo blog and published my first two calendars.
My favourite lens is the mighty (but weighty) Nikkor 85mm telephoto, but the key thing really of course is not the lens but in the quality of light and how it graces my subject matter. I continue to find unexpected angles on the great New Zealand landscape, and to see deeper meanings in the iconic, the rustic or just plain tonic, in scenes of “New Zealand-ness”. With this interest I have found what feels like my true calling, by day or night.
Photo books (self published):
Night Visions, Reflections for the moonlight hours 2012
36 Views of Mt Taranaki 2015
Perfect Evenings, The joy of long exposures 2017