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Gledhow South

Andrei Nikulinsky

(Credit: Angela H. King)

Photographer: Andrei Nikulinsky

Speciality: nature, urban scenery

Biography: Andrei is a graphic designer, musician and keen amateur photographer. He has studied design, multimedia and audio engineering and taught these subjects at TAFE and SAE Institute in Perth and Melbourne.

Andrei currently lives in Perth and photographs its streets, people and the surrounding countryside of the South West.

Equipment: Nikon D200, Nikon F2, Nikon F100, Nikon 24mm f/2.8 non-Ai, Nikon 35mm f/2 AF-D, Nikkor-S.C 50mm f/1.4 non-Ai, Nikkor-S.C 50mm f/2 non-Ai, Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5 non-Ai, Nikkor-S.C 55mm F/1.2 non-Ai, Nikkor-H 85mm f/1.8 non-Ai, Nikkor-P 105mm f/2.5 non-Ai, Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4 Ai, Micro-Nikkor 105mm AF-D f/2.8, Nikkor 70-210 AF-D 70-210mm f/4-5.6, Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR, Nikon 200mm f/4 Ai, Nikon 300mm f/4.5 ED-IF Ai-S.

Quick Q&A

What sparked your love of photography?

There were always cameras around my house when I was a kid. Dad is a keen photographer and I have many memories of his treasured cameras and lenses and "helping out" in his bathroom or laundry darkrooms. Mum paints Western Australian wildlife and uses photographs as records of scenes, details and specimens to draw and paint from later. I like to think I absorbed my love of making photographs from the years of slide shows, sharing their trips for field-work and holidays and the photo-wall pin-ups in their lounge and dining rooms.

Tell us about your technique for macro shots of insects. What lenses are you using and how do you work around the creatures?

Hunting insects and spiders for photographs involves walking. Lots of walking ... and crawling, rolling, lying and being bitten by mosquitoes. A spider isn't just something dangerous to spray, a cockroach isn't just a pest to be squashed, they are amazing, interesting, beautiful creatures that live side by side with us in great, wondrous diversity.

I want people to see these creatures as they are, in situ, as much as possible. That means finding and photographing them without disturbing their lives too much. I guess you learn to pick out the shape of critters against their environment. Then once you find them, getting close enough photograph without scaring them off.

The lens I most use for macro photography is the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF-D Micro, though I was recently lent an older, manual focus Ai f/4 version which has a significantly different character that I am very much enjoying for making photographs of flowers. I also use the classic 55mm f/3.5 manual non-Ai. I have modified my D200 body so as to mount these old, classic lenses.

How does post-production affect your workflow, if at all?

Post-production is an intrinsic and implicit part of my photography process, but not a huge one. Digital raw images come out of my camera more or less "flat" and I am generally applying noise reduction, small tonal adjustments, sharpening and some cropping. For some "street" images, I have been converting to black and white or experimenting with some "split tone" effects.

I use Adobe's Lightroom and Photoshop software on my Mac to manage and edit my digital photos, and Dad's Nikon Coolscan 9000ED to digitise film.

What's your dream piece of camera equipment if money was no object?

I would very much like a medium-format DSLR with a macro and long telephoto, to shoot insects, spiders and birds. I'm not sure I'm over 35mm yet, but I'd sure like more pixels and resolution to play with! While I'm putting my order in, can I have a Leica M9.x and a couple of lenses for walking around with? Thanks. You have my address.

More of Andrei's work can be seen on his website.

The South Coast of Western Australia is an ever-changing wonder of weather and light. Every single morning is different. And this winter's morning, a heavy fog was just dissipating revealing the windfarm and some angry-looking weather arriving from the south.

Exposure: Nikon D200, ISO 320, Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR, 135mm, 1/80 @ f/4.8

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Australian Emerald

I just love dragonflies. Their size and speed make them a challenging subject for macro photography, as does their excellent vision. Sometimes stalking up close enough is quite a task! This Australian Emerald perched on this reed in high wind, and motion-blur combined with out of focus areas drew my eye pleasingly to the sharp features of its face.

Exposure: Nikon D200, ISO 200, Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF-D Micro, 1/60 @ f/11, SB-600 Speedlight

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Rainbow Lorikeet

Originally from Northern Queensland and the Kimberley, the Rainbow Lorikeet now has stable populations in most Australia cities. Other than being beautiful and brightly coloured, they are gregarious, noisy and engage in very entertaining antics. They make great pets too!

Exposure: Nikon D200, ISO 100, Nikon 300mm f/4.5 ED-IF Ai-S, 1/200 @ f/8

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Hover Fly

Sometimes a photograph of an insect becomes so much more.

Exposure: Nikon D300s, ISO 200, Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF-D Micro, 1/800 @ f/7.1

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Children in Fountain

Last summer, a fountain was erected in the space between PICA, the Art Gallery of WA and the State Library. It being very hot, it was of course a big hit with the kids. This late afternoon shot was observed by several worried-looking parents.

Exposure: Nikon D200, ISO 200, Nikkor-H 85mm f/1.8, 1/5000 @ f/4

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Advice to new and aspiring street photographers? Keep a camera with you at all times and have the lens cap off. See a potential photograph and make it within a second or two with as little fussing and setting changes as possible. Even if you were photographing an insect a few seconds before, like this shot.

Exposure: Nikon D200, ISO 400, Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF-D Micro, 1/1000 @ f/2.8

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Flower Spider

A very small ambushing Thomisid spider that sits in the centre of a flower and dusts its feet and pedipalps with pollen as camouflage. I am yet to see one actually catch prey, but I hope to one day!

Exposure: Nikon D300s, ISO 200, Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF-D Micro, 1/320 @ f/16, SB-600 Speedlight

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White-breasted Sea Eagle

We had the great fortune to share an afternoon with a mother and two juvenile White-breasted Sea Eagles at Thomas Fishery, Cape Arid National Park as they foraged and scavenged amongst the rocks and on the beach. This juvenile had decided it had had enough of the two Pacific Gulls that were coveting the fish-frame it was feeding on.

Exposure: Nikon D200, ISO 320, Nikon 300mm f/4.5 ED-IF Ai-S, 1/1000 @ f/8

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Pacific Gull

Seemingly all too happy to have his portrait taken, this Pacific Gull was waiting for fisherman's scraps at the Esperance town jetty.

Exposure: Nikon D200, Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR, 300mm, 1/1000 @ f/9

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Burying Mantis

Drawing attention to itself by moving is often the only reason I spot insects while walking. This mantis waved its forelegs high in an aggressive/defensive manner, allowing us to make several photographs. The "pupil effect" or the pupil-like black dot on its compound eye is an optical effect and not a pupil at all.

Exposure: Nikon D200, ISO 100, Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF-D Micro, 1/60 @ f/13, SB-600 Speedlight

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Araneid Spider

Spiders are a wonderful photographic subject, but their shapes and activity make them very difficult. You must get close enough to show detail and yet stay far enough away to maximise depth of field, while keeping it well-lit enough to photograph at a narrow aperture and high enough shutter speed to freeze its motion. This beauty dropped on its line into full sun and hung there during a break in the breeze.

Exposure: Nikon D200, ISO 200, Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF-D Micro, 1/180 @ f/8

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Carpet Wolf Spider

A wonderful inhabitant of many of Western Australia's granite outcrops, the Carpet Wolf spider lives below granite slabs and rocks, but can be found by torchlight, hunting at night, as their eyes reflect brightly.

Exposure: Nikon D200, ISO 400, Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF-D Micro, 1/80 @ f/14, SB-600 Speedlight

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Slow step, freeze. Slow step, freeze, shoot. Slow step, slow step freeze. Slow step, freeze, shoot. This Darter let me get quite close across the open river bank and even went back to grooming itself. Moving slowly and taking "just-in-case" photographs as you close with a subject is a good strategy for animals, especially if you don't have a big telephoto and hide.

Exposure: Nikon D200, ISO 250, Nikon 70-210 mm f/4-5.6 AF-D, 1/1000 @ f/5.6

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Laughing Kookaburra

...well, laughing! Great backyard birds these, a careful step-freeze-step-freeze-shoot got me right up close with a monopod, just in time to catch its iconic laugh.

Exposure: Nikon D200, ISO 200, Nikon 300mm f/4.5 ED-IF Ai-S, 1/200 @ f/8

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St Andrew's Cross Spider

These can be found all over Australia and overseas, though St Andrew's Cross refers to several different species in the genus. If you approach too fast, they will drop off their web onto the ground or scrub beneath. Cape Arid National Park.

Exposure: Nikon D200, ISO 200, Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF-D Micro, 1/60 @ f/16, SB-600 Speedlight

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Red Bullant

You really don't want to be bitten by one of these. Or really get too close at all really. They have no qualms at all about attacking something as huge as a person.

Exposure:Nikon D200, ISO 200, Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF-D Micro, 1/160 @ f11

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Marbled Gekko

It can, on occasion, pay to leave your gear set up when you go to bed. I had gotten up, as one does, in the middle of the night, to find this gorgeous feller crawling directly across where I had been photographing earlier.

Exposure: Nikon D200, ISO 22, Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5, extension tubes, 1/50 @ f/45, SB-600 Speedlight

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Goods Inwards

Some scenes leap out at you, some grow on you. This is one of the former. I was struck by the pastel, corrugated tones contrasting with a vivid sky and many lines not quite allowing themselves to be horizontal or vertical.

Exposure: Nikon F2, Nikkor-H.C 50mm f/2, Fuji Superia Xtra 400 (expired), 1/2000 @ f/11

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Sunset Over Claremont Train Station

I crossed this footbridge twice a day for years.

Exposure: Nikon D200, Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-D, 18mm, 1/3000 @ f/3.5

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Reading Man

Though sometimes it seems there are more street photographers than their subjects on the streets of Perth's CBD, I was very glad to have a camera with me for this moment.

Exposure: Nikon D200, ISO 100, Nikkor-S.C 55mm f/1.2, 1/250 @ f/8

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Afternoon Arcade

I walk through this arcade in Claremont regularly. And it is almost never the same twice. Though I have made many photographs here, this one represents how I see the space best.

Exposure: Nikon D200, ISO 200, Nikon 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 AF-D, 18mm, 1/3000 @ f/3.5

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