Wilderness Photographer Dennis Harding – Interview

We met Dennis at Kitchen Hut, near Cradle Mountain in Tasmania a few weeks ago and following a quick exchange of contact information caught up by email and arranged this interview.

Dennis is the author of eight Tasmanian books and each year releases two calendars – “Spectacular Tasmania” and “Classic Images”. Of course there is also a DVD (which looks pretty cool) so you could say Dennis is a professional photographer who is lucky enough to wander around in some of the best scenery in Australia taking pictures.
You can check out all this at his site: Dennis Harding Photography

We hope you enjoy this insight into Dennis and the fantastic wilderness images from Tasmania he has generously shared.

Mt Wellington - Tasmania

Mt Wellington – Tasmania

How about a bit of background on yourself. Live where? Work where?
I was born in Launceston,Tasmania and worked in two retail type jobs for 14 years. I managed a one hour photo processing lab for a year before working for a local newspaper as a commercial product photographer. I have lived all of my 54 years in Tasmania.

How did you first get into bushwalking / backpacking? Any particular mentor or group?
I joined the Deloraine Bushwalking club in my late teens and I was greatly influenced by both the late and great Tasmanian wilderness photographers, Olagus Truchanus and Peter Dombroskis.

Hartz Peak - Tasmania

Hartz Peak – Tasmania

You are a full time wilderness photographer. How did it all start? What was the transition like from amateur to professional?
While I was working full time I walked and photographed in my spare time before opening my own Photographic Studio. I worked for over ten years as an all rounder, weddings, portraits, commercial, you name it I have photographed it. Twelve years ago I decided to change direction dedicating all of my time to photographing and publishing Tasmanian books, calendars etc.

Western Arthur Range at sunset - Tasmania

Western Arthur Range at sunset – Tasmania

When we met you at Kitchen Hut you had a significant back pack that seemed to be jammed full with your photographic gear. What is your standard kit if you are heading out to “work”?
A Canon 5d mark11 full frame camera with lenses 17-40 mm, 24 mm Shift Tilt, 28-75 mm, a light carbon fibre tripod and a range of neutral grey graduated filters.

How much manipulation / editing do you generally do with your images before they are released for sale or included in a book?
Very little, I strive to get it right in camera while shooting and when I convert my images using Adobe camera raw I try to achieve as pleasing reproduction as I can, never overdone.
All master photographers know that photography is not about realism but about personal interpretation.

Mt Olympus from Lake Oenone

Mt Olympus from Lake Oenone -Tasmania

Solo or with someone? When you are “working” are you usually alone, setting shots up yourself or do you take along a “helper” on occasion?
Over the past 30 years I have photographed 99% of the time alone. I find that I am easily distracted when someone else is around and it helps me feel much closer to my subject.

When we are hiking the vistas are often fantastic. Have you got 3 tips for us amateurs on how to get a great “landscape” shot?

  • Look for a good foreground and then try to match it up with an interesting background or vice versa. Then combine them both together within the same composition.
  • On fine days start looking for photographs in early morning or late afternoon light when colours are warmer and the shadows are longer. On cloudy and wet days head for the forests.
  • Always carry a tripod, it frees you up from the camera and guarantees better sharpness and greater depth of focus.
    .
Highland stream - Tasmania

Highland stream – Tasmania

Do you ever get out into the bush just for the fun of it or do you always have a camera at the ready hoping for the perfect shot?
I always carry a camera into the bush but I have been on many a trip just because I love being in the outdoors.

Are there three places in Australia you would love to photograph? (or just hike and check out)

  • Karijini Gorge.
  • Carnarvon Gorge and
  • Lord Howe Island.

A very hard question because I have a long list.

Pandani ( Richea pandanifolia ) - Tasmania

Pandani ( Richea pandanifolia ) – Tasmania

How about internationally, what are the three places you would love to capture for work or fun?
Yosemite Valley, California. Canyonland, Utah and Fitzroy Range, Patagonia.

My three favourite bits of bushwalking gear are? Why?

  • My 25 year old Trangia fuel stove, it’s ever reliable and works well even in low temperatures.
  • My full length gortex jacket , it’s light, folds up well and keeps me reasonable dry most of the time.
  • I always carry a good polar fleece jacket because I do feel the cold.

I really hate it when I am bushwalking / backpacking/ photographing and …..

it gets very windy! Only the rocks stay still and it’s difficult to photograph in the Mountains.

Mt Geryon from Lake Elisia, The Labyrinth

Mt Geryon from Lake Elisia, The Labyrinth

I knew we were in trouble on that trip when …….
my companion dislocated his knee on Mount Elisa in Southwest Tasmania. It was very cold at the time and after several attempts to put his knee back in I decided that it was best to splint his leg and use my tripod and a tree limb for crutches.

It took me over 4 hours of sliding and falling backwards before getting him to the safety of a small hut. I set out for help in the near darkness and because the weather was so bad it wasn’t till the the next afternoon before my friend was airlifted to Hobart

What trips have you planned in the next 12 months?
Cooloola Walk, a 5 day 100 kilometre walk in Queensland,  and a series of shorter walks around Central Australia.

What is your favourite outdoor website?
None – correction, yours now that I have found it. (ed, boy that will get you a spot here anytime!)

Your favourite photography site?
Muench Photography Inc

Reynolds Falls - Tasmania

Reynolds Falls – Tasmania

Many thanks to Dennis for taking the time to answer all our questions and share some of his wonderful work.

If you would like to see more, there is a whole Fagus (deciduous beech) series here: Fantastic fagus Foto’s from a fabulous photographer and don’t forget to visit his site: Dennis Harding Photography

Over to you dear readers:

What camera gear do you take when you are hiking or bushwalking?

Are you a point and shoot or a bit more serious about it?

Do you carry a tripod? What type? (we are in the market)

Comments

  1. Georgie says

    Wow, what great shots, thanks both of you for sharing them and the stories.
    As an aside, does Dennis ‘do’ video photography lessons – for aspiring video photographers? (ha, ha)
    G

    • Frank says

      Ah Georgie,
      Always a pleasure to have your witty comments grace these pages…
      I do know when I met him he had a few blokes with him show them how to take “stills”, not video (sorry )

      btw, I am going to blame my equipment a bit, was sent a freebie in exchange for a few blog posts on their site , would not buy one of them (unnamed) I just can’t work out how to reduce the glare and over exposure!

  2. says

    Nice shots and article! I wish I could afford a DSLR! Not saying that the shots are all about the camera but it would definitely make my outings more pleasurable for me… Alas, the apartment deposit is more important right now (as will be the mortgage once we have it). Maybe one day!

    Thanks Frank & Sue

    Neil

  3. says

    Awesome pics! I think pics usually tell a better story than words most of the time. Makes me want to visit each of these locations. Nice interview. I want to be Dennis! If even for just a day or two.

  4. Frank says

    @Neil – welcome to the land of having a mortgage! yep, a DSLR would be great, my only issue for trips is the weight and my total lack of understanding of photography outside “automatic” mode. Good luck with your apartment, nice to “own” your own place.

    @Tim – Geday mate! Long way from Las Vegas to Tasmania but highly recommend you put it on your “bucket list”. Yes, Dennis is able to capture some fantastic images, would like to follow him around and watch him work.

  5. says

    Just beautiful! Would love to do some walking on my own as I can relate to how relaxing it is to shoot on your own. Dennis might have just inspired me 😉

  6. says

    Thanks Frank! Can’t say I’m excited about having to pay something off but my wife and I have been dividing our time living between my parents house and her parents house for 8 months now so we’re well and truly ready for a place of our own (soon I hope!)

    I’m not much chop with anything other than auto mode myself but a DSLR would force me to learn I think…

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