Neil Fitzgerald

A little about me

I've had an interest in photography, birds and the outdoors since childhood. When given my first SLR (a Pentax Spotmatic) as a teenager it was only natural that I would try to combine these interests, so I set out to document the natural world surrounding home near the world famous Waitomo Caves. As is often the case, initial results were disappointing, to say the least. However, practice, patience and perseverance have led to a large and growing collection of quality nature images.

Bird photographer

New Zealand is famous for being a land of birds. We have very few native mammals, so birds are generally the most conspicuous of our native wildlife. Their mastery of flight, and the peculiarity of the flightless birds that have abandoned it has always appealed to me, and my photo collection reflects this. It might be fair to say I am a bird photographer, if we must be categorized, but my interests are much wider than that—I also love photographing our beautiful landscapes, and exploring the small world of the more easily overlooked but important and interesting components of New Zealand's fauna, such as spiders, insects and other invertebrates—the world of macro photography.

Photography has taught me patience, and I think patience is one of the most important skills of a nature photographer. Bird photography often tests it with long hours spent waiting uncomfortably in cold wet mud and the like, hoping for the opportunity to capture a wild bird expressing interesting behavior in beautiful light. The landscape photographer in me seldom has to contend with fleeing subjects, but getting all the elements of a successful scenic photo together can take years of trying.

My photography tools

I started photography with colour transparency film, but moved to a complete digital workflow in 2005. I currently use Canon camera bodies and lenses, and because of the huge range of subjects I photograph, I have quite a few of them. Despite what many people think when they see my kit, I don't collect gear for the sake of it. These are just tools.

Do I "photoshop" my images? Yes, all of them! Photoshop is simply one tool in the modern photography workflow, and one that actually allows us to make photos of greater veracity than chemicals ever did. I think it is sad that "digital" and "Photoshop" have to many people become synonymous with the creation of fictitious photo illustrations. The modern tools of photography give us the opportunity to produce images of the natural world of incredible quality, some which were simply not possible to capture at all with older technology. Paramount in the processing of all of my photos is the aim of producing an image that is faithful to the original scene.

My photographs have been used in magazines like New Zealand Geographic and New Zealand Gardener, as well as books, websites, calendars and more. I hope these images are able to convey some of the beauty in nature, in even the least likely of subjects, and ultimately instill in the viewer a greater appreciation of the need to conserve what we can of our environment.

I have a BSc in environmental science, and when not obsessively pursuing new photographic opportunities I work for a crown research institute on a wide range of terrestrial ecology projects.

— Neil