Travel Photographer of the Year Winner 2014 – Wild and Vibrant Category

I have just returned home to Australia after spending the last two months in South Georgia Island, Patagonia and Antarctica. Two months photographing in these incredible wilderness areas was as always a fantastic experience that was wonderful to share with so many like-minded friends and participants. I will have photographs to share and a lot more to say about these expeditions over the coming weeks once I get a chance to catch up on email correspondence, jet lag and family Christmas celebrations. Celebrations have at least started a few days early as I was very excited to learn on docking back in Puerto Williams from Antarctica that I had just won the 2014 Travel Photographer of the Year award in the Wild and Vibrant category. I only learned I was even in the TPOTY Finals a few weeks earlier after I docked back in Ushuaia from my first expedition to South Georgia Island and Antarctica. In fact, it was a mad panic and rush to get the prints made remotely and submitted by the deadline for the final round of judging. I only had a few days between expeditions and had to engage a third party company to make the prints on my behalf. Had I the time I would have much preferred to make the prints myself but given my printer was more than several thousand miles away I had to settle for a high quality lab in the UK. Travel photographer of the Year is one of the few remaining competitions that still judge the printed image and it is a massive thrill and honour to have won the Single Shot Wild and Vibrant Category with one of my Polar Bear photographs from Svalbard in the Arctic.

The judges said “In a time of environmental change the polar bear has become a powerful symbol of man’s impact on our climate. The wildness of this image is evident but the image also conveys vibrancy, both in colour and in the sense of power and energy. The elegance of the setting contrasts with the gruesome natural way of life in this harsh environment of Svalbard while the two splashes of red connect death with survival.”

The winning photograph has subsequently been featured by the UK Daily Mail, National Geographic Itlay, The Guardian, The UK Telegraph, the German news website Spiegel Online and more. Winning Travel Photographer of the Year in the Wild and Vibrant Category has topped off for me what has been a truly incredible year in the competition arena. The standards in these competitions are incredibly high and it an immense honour to win the category.VPPY - Gold Award

I am very much looking forward to returning to the pack ice north of Svalbard later this year in search of more Polar Bears on two separate photographic expeditions – Wild Polar Bears and Kingdom of the Ice Bear. Due to a recent cancellation there is now a single place available on the Wild Polar Bears expedition. If you would like to take advantage of this opportunity to travel to the edge of the permanent pack ice and photograph Polar Bears just a few hundred miles south of the North Pole then just drop me an email for more information or to register your interest. You can also download a PDF information flyer from www.jholko.com

Read more.. Saturday, December 20th, 2014

Spirit of Antarctica 2014 Complete – Heading Home

After nearly two months of solid photography in South Georgia Island, Antarctica and Patagonia I am finally headed home later today in time for Christmas with my family. The last two months has been nothing short of a phenomenal experience that was as always a sheer pleasure to share with so many like minded and passionate photographers.

I am currently in Puerto Williams in Chile having just docked a couple of hours ago after returning from my last Antarctica expedition of the year. We were fortunate to have a relatively mild Drake crossing on the return which was a pleasant and welcome surprise. Another pleasant surprise has been I just learnt that I have won the 2014 Travel Photographer of the Year Award for the Wild and Vibrant Category. The winning photograph was shot last year in Svalbard.VPPY - Gold Award

I admit to being pretty shattered at this point having existed on little sleep over this last two months. With so much exposure to the midnight sun so far south my body clock is a bit of a mess. The one benefit of this state of exhaustion is that I am likely to at least catch up on some sleep on the long haul flights home. I quite honestly have no idea when I will get a chance to process some of the photographs I have made during this time away as my time at home is very limited before I next head overseas. In the meantime, I am very much looking forward to walking in my front door, seeing my family and spending Christmas with my kids.

If you have been following along on my blog you will know that I will only be home for a two weeks before I will head back to South America and Antarctica for a scouting trip to photograph the mighty Emperor Penguins at the beginning of 2015. I am super excited about this new opportunity and am looking forward to heading deep into remote Antarctica where the Emperors make their home. The intention of this scouting trip is to spend a week camping and living on the sea ice with the Emperors in order to ensure everything is in place for a future small group photographic expedition in 2016. I will have more to say about this expedition soon. For now, if you are interested in a future expedition to visit, camp, photograph and live with Emperor Penguins you can drop me an email to express your interest – no obligation at this point.

Now, its time to head to the airport in Puerto Williams and start the long trek home. See you in Australia.

Read more.. Thursday, December 18th, 2014

Departing on The Spirit of Antarctica Expedition 2014

My friend Antony Watson and I recently finished up ten days trekking and photography in the back country of Patagonia and have spent the last few days in Ushuaia at the bottom of South America. I admit, that at this point South America is starting to feel like my home away from home and that my Spanish is now about as good as my Icelandic! Later today we depart on our final Antarctica expedition for the year to the Antarctic Peninsula where we hope to encounter more amazing icebergs, landscapes and polar wildlife. We have a ship full of keen and passionate photographers all eager to get underway and get some polar frames in the can. The enthusiasm of a ship full of photographers about to embark on an Antarctic odyssey is a fantastic energy resource and one can’t help but get swept up in the excitement. 20141125_Patagoniaiphone_02073111As expected Patagonia was a mixed bag of weather and light (or should I say wind, wind and more wind!). The scenery of this amazing location is breathtaking – the precipitous peaks, the plunging mountains and wild terrain is really phenomenal. Hiking through this terrain really puts a perspective on the sheer scope and scale of the geological uplift. I have personally found Patagonia a challenging place to photograph in the past and this trip was no different. The scenery really needs just the right combination of weather and light to really create great images. I have seen a lot of photography from Patagonia over the years and those images that really stand out for me are those that have captured the most dramatic weather and light. Patagonia remains for me one of those places that is dramatic to behold but photographically elusive. I am sure I have some good images from Patagonia, but I am not sure I have any definitive ones as yet. I need to look at my photographs with fresh eyes in a couple of months to really get a feel for what I did or did not accomplish. I took a laid back approach to my photography in Patagonia and was happy in many instances to simply take it in and leave the cameras in the bag.  I did very much enjoy our long days of hiking through Patagonia and was very appreciative of the light weight 5D MKIII loaned to me by my good friend Martyn. The thought of schlepping one of my Canon EOS 1DX’s up some of those mountains would have in all likelihood seen me choose to stay at the bar. In fact, it is worth noting that the hiking was fairly arduous and I am not ashamed to admit I arrived at our campsite several evenings tired and sore. Hiking the back country of Patagonia with good friends was one of those life experiences you never forget and the memories from this trip will I hope stay with me forever. I hope to write more about our experiences in Patagonia over the coming months as my thoughts congeal from both our hiking and photographic experiences. Until then, its time to turn my attention again to Antarctica.

We will be sailing down the Beagle Channel in a few hours and making our way across the Drake Passage bound for Antarctica. No two Antarctic expeditions are ever the same and I am looking forward to seeing what this one has in store for us. As always we will chase the weather and light for the best possible photography opportunities. Sleep will as always be kept to an absolute minimum as we search for spectacular midnight sun polar light. This will be my final post for the next two weeks before we dock back in Ushuaia. Bon Voyage.

Read more.. Saturday, December 6th, 2014

December Photograph of the Month: Arctic Fox Attack

One of my favourite Polar animals to photograph are Arctic Fox. They are incredible animals, with an amazing ability to adapt and survive. This photograph of a large male Arctic Fox was shot early this year in March in the extreme northeast of Iceland. It was taken from a snow blind where I spent the better part of a week sitting in a snow hole photographing these animals going about their daily lives. This male was keenly focused on a Gull that was hanging around the snow blind. It was photographed with the Canon EOS 1DX and Canon 600mm F4L IS MKII ISO400 wide open at F4.
Arctic Fox Attack

Read more.. Saturday, December 6th, 2014

InFocus Australasia Magazine 25 Tips from Pro Photographers

The latest issue of InFocus Magazine was released late last month whilst I was in Antarctica, South Georgia Island and Patagonia and includes 25 Tips from some of Australia’s top professional photographers including one of my own tips for photography in inclement weather. InFocus is a free magazine available through the iTunes store for iPads. Thats code for it costs you nothing to subscribe and enjoy. Enjoy. Infocus25

Read more.. Saturday, December 6th, 2014

Exhibition News from Fellow Photographers

In such a highly competitive world it has become somewhat of a rarity for photographers to promote the work of other photographers but I want to row against the tide for a moment and dedicate this post to three upcoming exhibitions from three individually talented photographers with whom I have been fortunate to travel with over the last few years. Martyn Lucas, Sam Krisch and Louisa Michelin are having individual photographic exhibitions over the coming weeks across the USA that will be well worth attending for those you who may be living nearby or in the relevant area.

Martyn Lucas’s Exhibition Ends of the Earth will run from the 10th of January until the 29th of March 2015 at the Bascom Centre for the Visual Arts. Sam Krisch’s Exhibition Elements will open on Friday the 5th of December 2014 at the Centre for the Visual Arts in Virginia.  Louisa Michelin’s exhibition will open on Thursday the 18th of December 2014 at Sotheby’s International Realty in Poletto. If you live nearby I would encourage you to attend and enjoy the fruits of their artistic endeavours.

martyn_lucasSamKrisch

LouisaMichelin LouisaMichelin2

 

Read more.. Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Capture Magazine the Annual 2014 Features Epic Sense of Scale

I am fortunate to be enjoying a few days down time in Ushuaia at the bottom of South America at the moment before I head back down to Antarctica for one more expedition before Christmas. I have been catching up on a plethora of email and web correspondence as well as enjoying some good coffee at my favourite South American cafe: ‘Ramos’ (and letting my legs recover after a weeks hiking in Patagonia – more to come on Patagonia at a later date). If you ever find yourself in Ushuaia be sure to stop in at Ramos – the rustic charm is as as inviting as the coffee aroma.

Whilst I was in Patagonia the annual edition Capture magazine was released and I was pleased to subsequently find one of my photographs ‘An Epic Sense of Scale‘ was featured. This is the third year in a row I have been fortunate to have some of my photography featured in the annual and it is always a pleasant surprise to flick through a magazine and see your work in print.Capture2014Annual

Read more.. Thursday, December 4th, 2014

Curated Canon 2014 APPA Exhibition News

For those of you in Melbourne Australia in November and December this year, Eleven 40 photographic Gallery in Malvern is presenting a curated exhibition of prints from the 2014 APPA Awards that opened on the 25th of November this year. The exhibition will run until the 19th of December.

This exhibition brings together a selection of the high scoring images from this year’s Canon AIPP APPA awards. Held at the Digital Playground in September, The Canon AIPP Australian Professional Photography Awards bring competing photographers world wide together who are interested in, not only presenting their images for competition, but also advancing their professional development. 

This exhibition brings together a collection of these images considered the best by the judges across all categories – ranging from commercial, advertising and weddings, through to travel, portraiture and the creative category. 

 Eleven 40 Gallery is proud to have partnered with Canon AIPP APPA to highlight the works of these esteemed photographers. APPA-VIC-Exhibition

My winning photographs from the Science, Nature and Environment Category will be on display as a part of the exhibition.

Australian Professional Photography Awards: Science, Environment and Nature Category Winner 2014

Australian Professional Photography Awards: Science, Environment and Nature Category Winner 2014

Dates: Exhibition open from Tuesday 25th November until Friday 19th December 2014

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm

Location: Eleven 40 Gallery, 1140 Malvern Rd, Malvern, VIC

Entry is Free.

Read more.. Monday, December 1st, 2014

Photo Review December / February Issue Now on Newsstands

The new December / February issue of Photo Review ‘Inspiring Australian Photographers’, is now on sale and includes a feature article ‘Ice Work‘ on my polar photography as well as one of my recent photographs from Antarctica on the cover. The cover shot was taken last November during a photographic expedition to the Antarctic Peninsula and is of a Gentoo Penguin calling its mate during a heavy snow fall. I had forgotten the exact location this was taken – but thank you to friend and participant Clemens for remembering it was in fact Cuverville Island. It was shot with a Canon EOS 1DX and the new Canon 200-400mm F4L IS lens with inbuilt 1.4 Teleconverter. Magazines rarely  advise you prior to publication that you have made the cover so it is always a wonderful surprise to see the issue for the first time. You can click on the image below to download the full article or HERE to download as a PDF. The full issue of Photo Review is available now in both print as well as digital editions for the iPad or PDF for other electronic readers.PhotoReview-Cover

Read more.. Sunday, November 30th, 2014

Travel Photographer of the Year Finalist 2014

It was a pleasant surprise to receive an email on docking back in Ushuaia a few days ago after twenty-one days in South Georgia and Antarctica that several of my photographs have been selected for the final round of judging in the 2014 International Travel Photographer of the Year competition. I took third place and  was highly commended in the Single-Shot Water Category in 2012 with the ‘Blue Berg’ photograph from the Jökulsarlon lagoon in Iceland and this is now the third year in a row I have made the finals of this competition. This year I have photographs in the finals in the Earth, Air, Fire, Water Portfolio category (four photographs), Spirit of Adventure Portfolio (four photographs), and the Wild and Vibrant Single Shot category. As final judging has not yet taken place I am unable to share the photographs at this point, but will do so once judging is complete.TPOTY 2014 finalistBlue-BergI am continually inspired to enter the Travel Photographer of the Year competition as it is one of the few photographic competitions remaining today that still judge the ‘print’ rather than a compressed jpeg. I wrote a couple of years ago of my disillusionment with so many of the photography competitions that make their judgements solely on a compressed jpeg file. The craft of producing a beautiful fine art print is one of the most enjoyable aspects of photography for me and is how I prefer to have my work viewed.

Read more.. Monday, November 24th, 2014