Seeing Photography In a Different Light with Peter Maiden

Iceland, Peter Maiden

Peter, can you tell us a little about yourself and your photography?

I retired a few years ago and although I'd been frustrated taking photos over the years, thought I'd give photography another shot. With my sight problems, even point and shoot cameras were difficult for me to use, for instance, my classic shot of of Big Ben with only half the clock showing is still a family joke. But one day my daughter lent me her DSLR camera and wow! I found I could take proper photos. So my retirement hobby began. Modern DSLRs overcame all my past frustrations. Finally what I see through the viewfinder is what comes out in the photograph.

You say you have problems with your sight – Can you tell us more about that and how it effects your photography?

I suffer from retinitis pigmentosa which is basically tunnel vision and the inability to see much in both very bright and poor light. I have less than 5 degrees field of view which to the uninitiated is a bit like looking through the viewfinder with a 500mm lens on. Luckily what central vision I still have is quite clear and I can still see things in the distance but do live with the prognosis that one day I'll be totally blind.

One ‘advantage’ of having a very limited field of view is that you can frame a shot without being distracted by peripheral distractions. This does mean I may use zoom lenses more than I should. But on the other hand, when I use a wide angle lens, the resulting capture is not how I see the world - That gives me some wow moments like ‘is that how beautiful the world really is’. I suppose it’s all a matter of different perspectives.

Using normal computer screens for post processing is a bit difficult and I struggle with the likes of Lightroom so most of my post processing at the moment is done using Snapseed on an iPad. It is my next big challenge to master the likes of Lightroom to add further sophistication to my photos.

What's your favourite photo that you have taken?

That’s a hard one to answer as I have so many favourites. If I had to choose one it would have to be the one I took when we visited the Standing Stones of Stenness in Orkney just after heavy snow storm. The photo is very simplistic (almost minimalistic) but captures the serenity and the beauty of this spot as well as the mood of the day. I sometimes wonder what it would have looked like if some of the people were in bright red jackets.

Scotland, Peter Maiden

Another favourite is the Blessing of the Boats that you kindly included in readers submissions of Issue 6 of NZ Photographer.

You obviously like to travel... Where's your favourite place you've visited so far?

Besides a few holidays in New Zealand we’ve been to the UK a couple of times recently. My favourite places so far are Scotland (especially Orkney) and we also spent some time in Iceland last year. Both of these places are very rugged but very beautiful and photogenic.

Scotland, Peter Maiden

Iceland, Peter Maiden

Where are you off to next?

We are planning to do the Darwin to Adelaide trip by rail on The Ghan with a side trip to Uluru. Also on the list are Canada and Alaska. All seem great places for photography with outback sunsets, Uluru in all its glory, icebergs and whatever else comes up.

You obviously don't let your eyesight stop you – What encouraging words can you share with others?

No matter what handicaps or disabilities one may have one just has to make the best of what ones got and keep challenging oneself. There are many blind photographers around the world who do amazing work. Someone who inspires me is David Katz who is a professional photographer for several British newspapers and has taken some amazing photos over the years. David never let on to anybody that he was legally blind until he was over fifty but reminds us all that with passion and dedication (and perseverance) anything is possible.

You can follow Peter on Instagram and enjoy seeing his photos on your phone screen with Excio.

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