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Feature Image by: Mike Langford

Inspiring the photographic journey of landscape and travel photographer, Mike Langford

Mike Langford lives in a town named Twizel, which is in the middle of no-where in the south of the South Island of New Zealand. He is a landscape photographer, travel photographer and photographic book photographer/publisher, with over twenty-six books to his name. He has been a Professional Photographer for over thirty-five years and an international photographic awards judge and presenter for over thirty years. Together with his wife Jackie Ranken (who is a fine art photographer), they run photographic workshops both in New Zealand and internationally. They are both Canon Masters, Grand Masters of both the AIPP and the NZIPP and EIZO ambassadors.

As a travel photographer, book producer, landscape photographer, educator and awards judge, the one thing you need to be is visually literate. Hence all the books in my office. Some are art books, some travel, others social documentary but all have a collective thought, which is to pass on knowledge to other like-minded people like myself.

Research and reference is a large part of what I do. Without it I would go into a project blind, so it's best to find out as much as possible before I go anywhere, even if it's just down the road to photograph a landscape. What is the best time of the year or day to visit, what angle provides the most interesting viewpoint etc.

All this knowledge means that when you arrive at your destination, you are already well on the way to finding the optimum starting point.

Other photographer’s ideas are also very important – the inspiration if you like. It's good to know what has already been done and by who. It allows me to then go beyond that and to create something new and different.

Photography for me is as much about the journey as it is about the destination.

I tend to make many of my photographs while travelling to and from a destination as well as at the destination. Photographing the transport, I'm on and the people I meet while travelling, are all relevant to my travel experience and need to be captured to communicate the bigger picture of that adventure.

I find It's important to always have my camera with me and in a mode that is ready to go: By this I mean already having my camera set up to capture an image, given the lighting conditions at any one time. I'm constantly reassessing my shutter speed, aperture and ISO for the conditions at hand. This way, as soon as I see something or something happens, I'm ready to capture it.

I tend not to use Auto settings, as I like more control than this. Sometimes I want a slight blur and other times I prefer the frozen moment. Equally I like the selective focus as much as a huge all-encompassing large depth of focus. It all depends on what I'm trying to communicate.

I also always have a tripod with me, which on occasions does get in the way of moving around easily. When moving about, I keep it attached to my camera bag on my back - which keeps my hands free to photograph. Otherwise it's always in the back of the car. The tripod allows me to capture images that can’t be captured if I don't have one and makes the range of images on offer just that much more expansive and expressive.

After all 'Technology is the tool and creativity the purpose.'

  • CAMERA: EOS 5D MK IV: The best camera I have ever owned. It has more than enough pixels for my output and a great dynamic range. The next step will be a new mirrorless Canon.
  • LENS: Canon 24-105 f/4 IS II USM: This lens lives on the lens and records mostly what I think about when out shooting.
  • LENS: Canon 100-400 4.5-5.6 L ISII USM: This is an incredible lens that lets me focus in on the subject no matter how far away it is. It also unites subjects through foreshortening.
  • LENS: Canon 24 T.S. This is my creative lens that lets me see in ways the eye can't
  • LENS: Canon Extender EF 1.4 x MK III: This is very small and lightweight piece of equipment that takes you places you have never been before without suffering something big and heavy.
  • LENS: Canon 16-35mm f/4L IS USM: A great lens for telling stories - it gives you a who what where communication and shows where you are more than any other lens.
  • TRIPOD: Induro Tripod head BHMI & Induro Tripod legs: Quick to use, lightweight and fits into my checked-in luggage.
  • CAMERA BAG: F Stop Lotus Camera bag: Large enough to fit all my gear. Comfortable enough to wear for long periods of time and is acceptable for carry-on luggage when travelling on aircraft.
  • MONITOR: EIZO ColorEdge CG277
  • COMPUTER: MacBook Pro w/ 2.9 GHz Dual-Core Processor 8 GB 1867 MHz DDR3: Hasn't missed a beat for five years and is great for use both in the office when attached to an EIZO screen or when travelling internationally on assignments. I only really use the 8Gb drive when travelling (when I must use computer memory as part of my backup). When in the office, I tend to use my external drives so the computer processing speed is kept to a maximum. 
  • BACKUP & STORAGE: Drobo 17.59 TB external drive, 2 TB Seagate portable drives: I back up everything on several drives all with the same reference folders. As with my travel external drives, one of these is always kept in a fireproof safe. When travelling I make sure that these drives are all kept in separate places - one in my checked-in luggage and the other in my camera bag. Both are also separate from my computer, which is my third form of back up when travelling.
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