The Timeless Snapper

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When he got the Series III, Stefan also knew he needed to get a big roof rack : credit: © Stefan Haworth
Sony digital imaging ambassador and ace photographer Stefan Haworth takes images that will stand the test of time. This might explain the likeable Kiwi’s working vehicle of choice – a Series III

Why a 1973 Series III and not something more modern? I do love old Defenders but my roots lie in Series Land Rovers, where bits fall off and you have to fix them yourself and you don’t have to bust the bank in the process. They are like Lego; everything rattles and you can just take the roof off for the summer.

Why do you use a Land Rover for your work? In Queenstown, New Zealand, where I live there are a heap of them around, one of the local tourist companies has several 110s and I always see them about. At the start of my career there was a part of me that wanted  a 4x4 as it would be able to get me to seemingly inaccessible places.

My mate has a Series II which has been used in big commercial shoots and when we used to drive around in that I knew that I too wanted an old Series Land Rover. I asked my sponsors for some help with buying a Stage One V8 and they agreed that this would help me to do more adventurous stuff.

First road trip in the Stage One, driving down from Auckland

What a great first Land Rover: The Stage One V8 was down in Auckland and when I went to fetch it I had zero mechanical knowledge; now, several years later, that is most definitely not the case. Land Rovers force you into learning how to fix things on the fly.

On one of my first trips we were about 20 km away from mobile reception, crossing a low tide line at the start of a 3000 km trip down the length of New Zealand. I hit a bump and the distribution cap came off. I was about to put on my shoes to run to get some help when my mate came along, found the fault, popped it back on and off we went.

Any more tales of things going wrong on that trip? Two days later the clutch bearing went, I managed to get it into gear somehow, but I was stressing about running out of fuel. It all went a little crazy as we approached a T junction. I had to build up speed and drive in the wrong lane to make the turn. We arrived in a little town and had to sleep in a factory where we did the repairs.

This was one of those moments Stefan couldn't have gone anywhere without help from a farmer

On the same trip I lost two tyres at the same time on some tough rocks. I did not have the correct equipment to change or repair them, but luckily a nearby superman came to our rescue. He used a tractor and forklift to raise the Land Rover and change the tyres. When I eventually got home I realised just how much gas the V8 3.5-litre uses.

I decided that it needed some modifications but then I found some other problems and decided that I wanted something a little smaller and maybe more reliable. Though the 1982 Stage One did have some mod cons such as the vents, door cards, winch and bullbar.

Why a Series III? A good friend had several Land Rovers (Series IIs and IIIs) and so I decided to go that route and got myself a 1973 SIII SWB which I have named Peanut. I have slowly collected all the correct bits for it. In the summer it is a rag top thanks to Exmoor Trim, while in the colder winter months I put the roof and hard sides back in place.

Celebrating together after pushing Peanut out of a hole that swallowed the truck with dirt to the windscreen

So how did you find Peanut? It was just through Facebook Marketplace and it was in Christchurch. I hitchhiked up and got a lift from a learner driver in a Toyota Corolla who made me drive the six hours. It was only $6000 and I could not believe all the extra space it had under the bonnet compared to my V8. About a year ago I blew the head gasket so I just ditched it for a month until I got a dude down south to work on it. I am lucky that not much has gone wrong with it.

It is my daily driver and I have been all over the South Island with it. I have done loads of trips in it. I fall asleep when I drive new, modern vehicles, but not so in Peanut, it keeps you on the edge of your seat and it feels like a workout.

Stefan soon learned that an open canvas makes for very dusty nostrils

What have you changed on Peanut? I have installed a proper truck horn as the standard horns are not very loud. I use my compressor to provide the air for the horn. Other mods include an overdrive. I have to say that the New Zealand Land Rover community are just amazing and it is so easy to find parts thanks to their Facebook group. There are lots of old parked-up Land Rovers in my town. I have had to replace other standard bits such as the radiator. I have toyed with the idea of fitting a bigger, more modern engine but that's just an idea for now.

Peanut is your work vehicle. It takes you to some great locations, right? If I have a shoot in the North Island then I fly there. For the rest I use Peanut. I have just been to the west coast, which is three hours away in a normal car; we took four hours. I took my almost 10 foot surfboard with me and it stuck out the back. Lots of fresh air but all good. Took us seven hours to get home with all the swim, fish and chips and ice cream stops. Trips in Peanut are an adventure and never boring because you see so much more when tootling along. Also Peanut puts smiles on the faces of those we pass.

A curious Kea, a native New Zealand mountain parrot, checks out the hardtop

Who else has worked on Peanut? I do all the basic fixes myself, then when I can’t fix stuff it goes to Central 4WD, an old school mate’s dad runs it. They know Peanut well. Also when stuff goes wrong on the road I can call them and describe the problem to them and they tell me what to do.

What else do you use Peanut for? I like to go away with my mates and like-minded people where we go to beautiful places, make a fire, cook some venison and come home. I don’t do Land Rover meets where there is a lot of standing around and people asking ‘what engine do you have in yours’. I would rather just head off and do something cool in my Land Rover. I have been doing a bit of research on pop-top conversions. I like the classic X-Panda camper sleeping conversions that open to the front and not the back and it does not raise the height of the roof like some of the more modern pop top conversions.   

Taking Peanut through the mud pits

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How did you get into photography? It was all learnt though experience stuff, no formal photography lessons. I have been with Sony as an ambassador for six years now. I try and travel around the world and create imagery for Sony and other sponsors. Now it is locally, of course. So I am exploring more of my back yard in Peanut. My backyard is excessively easy to photograph, which certainly helps.    

And what about your current job? I am a Sony digital imaging ambassador which basically means that I go around the world and take photos for them. I have been doing photography for about 14 years now and mainly do adventure, sports and commercial stuff. Since owning a Land Rover I have tried to shoot landscape and lifestyle stuff with it.

We have these Speight beer ads here in New Zealand and they have this timeless look about them, you can’t tell when they were shot as they have livestock, horses and beer in them. The cool thing about a Series Land Rover is that if you take a picture of it in beautiful landscapes with my old-school military canvas tent then that image too can be timeless. I am a big fan of keeping things as simple as possible.

In winter this drive becomes of the most dangerous in the world: a one-lane road with solid blue ice slanted towards huge cliffs

Photography has changed. You don’t need bulky lenses any more:  I used to be with another company and yes it was all DSLR and massive lenses and camera bodies and heavy packs. The mirrorless revolution has certainly led to a scale down in size; things have changed hugely.

I do still need to get something more waterproof to save the cameras from rattling about. I don’t want to do too many mods to Peanut as that is just another thing that might need future fixing. The less I have in the back the more I can utilise that space for chucking people, firewood or my mountain gear such as skis in the back. A little backpack with a couple of lenses is normally sufficient.

Southern lights near Queenstown, the South Island, New Zealand

Any tips for LRM readers who would like to improve their photography skills? Light is the most important thing in photography. I shoot into the sun a lot; there is this classic rule that says don’t shoot into the sun, don’t listen to that rule. The reason I switched to Sony is because of their sensors which just have an insane dynamic range. I had to re-learn how to edit a photo because there was just so much data to work with.

I get loads of people asking me how do they do similar trips to what I have done. If you need a guide then the adventure is lost. Just go and figure it out for yourself. The stories of the bad times make the good times.

At road's end, but still able to cross the river and drive another 30km to a much greater location, thanks to the SIII

Best place you have ever been to? It has to be Mongolia for sure, it’s a developing country and things do go wrong. I remember us driving an old Russian pick-up truck that was falling apart; we had to pull out and repair the gearbox in the middle of nowhere. I am sure that Land Rover owners can relate to that.

I went there to learn how to ride a horse as I am afraid of horses (Ed: do check out his website for the most incredible blog about his time in Mongolia). I wanted to ride with the eagle hunters. There is no English spoken there at all so I would show the family that I was staying with videos of me doing things in other countries, so they could experience my world. I didn’t just go there to take photos, I went there to live and do what the locals do. I worked alongside the family and took part in their daily chores. The place had such an impact on me I went back a second time. Riding with the eagle hunters to a local festival was a very special moment.

Roads over there are lines in the ground, they only have a few paved roads. When one road gets too bumpy they just move over to the left and create another road. It is a very raw place. Riding with the eagle hunters to a local festival was a very special moment.

Camping in the heart of New Zealand's Southern Alps rainforest

Any funny travel tales? I wanted to get a sunrise photo of the pyramids in Egypt  and at night it is all gated and locked up. So I went there in the day, hid in a hole and waited for the place to shut at night. I was freezing in the desert that night. In the end I was in the wrong position to get the right sunrise shot. By the time I got the pic I wanted the gates were already open so I didn’t really have to sleep in the cold.

Stefan enjoying one of those moments of stunning light over Lake Te Anau, New Zealand​

A final word about Peanut and her working life: Peanut allows me to get to places other vehicles can’t get to. It might be a 1973 Land Rover but it is still very capable. From rainforests to deserts and big Alpine mountains, and I can capture all of those, right here in my back yard.

 

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