Interview with Wildlife Photographer Rob Pine

Rob Pine is a talented wildlife photographer who started taking photos at the age of nine. In addition to photographing the beauty of animals, Rob is a skydiver with an impressive history of 17,000 skydives. In this interview we talk about his early beginnings as a young photographer, why he loves taking photos of marine mammals, what every photographer should know, and more. Please enjoy this inspiring discussion!

Please introduce yourself to our community!

My Father was a Photographer in the RNZAF so I had an interest in taking pictures at an early age. I think I was 9 when given my first camera and that was back in the 60’s when owning one was a rare thing. I started Skydiving in 1974 and for most of my 40 plus years of jumping out of planes, I have carried cameras on my head which is an extreme way to take photos.

This was an expensive undertaking due to the cost of film plus the processing as well as the plane ride to altitude. So taking photos of other stuff was not as high on my agenda. It wasn’t until digital came along that I started to expand my range of subject. And that is when my passion went into overdrive. Aggggghhhhhh!

What inspired you to start taking photographs of wildlife?

After 17,000 skydives it was time for a break and for the past 3 years I have focused on Wildlife Photography. I guess the challenge of shooting subject that is unpredictable and usually moving at speed is on a par with the skills required for Freefall Photography. So these days I spend a huge amount of time chasing the wildlife of New Zealand and I am usually out on the water seeking the marine mammals that frequent our coastline.

Whales and Dolphins are my favourites. Apart from the photographic opportunity, it is simply a privilege to be in their presence and the more time you spend in their world, the more you want to know of how they live and survive in such an extreme environment. The photos are simply a bonus.

What does a typical Rob Pine photoshoot involve?

I shoot from the hip, travel light and have minimum gear. I hand hold a full frame DSLR with a 24 to 105mmm lens which gives me enough range for the marine mammals. Dolphins usually come in close to check things out, so usually, there is no need for a long lens. And shutter speed is the key for sharp shots since most oceanic wildlife are on the move. Not falling in the water is also a good option.

What's the most important thing photography has taught you?

Patience is a must if you want to get serious about shooting Wildlife. You can often spend hours, even days out on the ocean and see very little. Other times you can suddenly find yourself inside a David Attenborough Documentary, where nature is going nuts. These are the moments that make it all worthwhile. And understanding and observing the habits of the Wildlife is a huge advantage and part of the process for getting those quality shots. Although in reality, it is all about just being there!

So after a lifetime of taking photos I would have to say that observation and a passion for your subject is the key. And then it is all about training your eye to see the image within the bigger picture. When I am asked about what makes a great photo I usually respond with – ‘it is what fills the 4 corners’. And the challenge then is to bring as many of the elements such as light, background, angle etc together. The more elements the better the image.

Do you have any specific art-related plans for the future?

I am building a Wildlife collection to produce a book or two on these fascinating creatures. Are there any sponsors out there? I will be spending the summer in the Marlborough Sounds where there is a diverse range of mammals and birdlife. I am usually out on the E-Ko Tours Boat so if you want to join me, then track me down on Facebook. And just keep shooting!

You can connect with Rob on Facebook.

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