In early May 2013 I lead an exploratory expedition into the Xinjiang Augur autonomous region in the extreme north west of China with my good friend Antony Watson (we returned home only a few days ago). This is an extremely remote part of northern China that is home to the spectacular Tian Shan and Altay mountain ranges as well as the Flaming Mountains, Kanas Lake, Gobi Desert and more. This part of rural China is also home to the silk road and other historical locations of importance including the thousand caves of Buddha (two – three thousand year old caves). The province actually borders Russia, Kazakstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Kurdistan, Mongolia, and India so there is a real cultural mix of minority people and a very heavy Arabic influence. At one point during our travels we were only 60km from the Kazakstan and Russian borders. Many of the locations we visited were hundreds of kilometres from built up infrastructure and were well off the beaten tourist path. This remote region of China is rarely visited by the outside world and on several occasions we were greeted by local Kazak people who had never before seen westerners in their lives. It was an extraordinary and fascinating expedition with some truly spectacular landscapes. I am still very much collecting my thoughts about this trip and will have a lot more to say about the landscapes, the people and our experiences over the coming weeks including in a more complete debrief report. In the meantime, (and to start the ball rolling) I just wanted to share one of the photographs I made at sunrise during the trip in an area known as the Ghost City in the Gobi desert. This was a wonderful location for photography in what is locally known as the Yardang landscape. A landscape comprised of unusual compressed earth formations and outcroppings that have been eroded by the wind over many hundreds of years. The area is so named for the eerie and unusual sounds the wind makes as it whips around the desert formations at night. It was just one of the remarkable locations we visited during our time in this remote part of China.
The photo of the month for May 2014 is also from Godafoss waterfall in the North of Iceland. This photograph was taken from the edge of the top of the falls with the Canon 17mm F4L Tilt and Shift Lens on the Canon 1DX Camera. I used a custom made adapter to hold a 3-Stop LEE graduated ND filter and the LEE Big Stopper 10 Stop ND filter. Exposure time was eight seconds at F5.6. In hindsight, I think I actually prefer this photograph from the top of the falls to the other one I posted last month. This photograph has a more dramatic feeling with the snow and ice in the foreground and I feel better emphasises the horseshoe shape of the falls.
In March/April next year I will be co-leading two trips with Andy Biggs to the Namibia desert in Namibia, Africa. The goal of these safaris is to photograph the breathtaking desert landscapes of Namibia in a different fashion than Andy has offered his Namibia trips in the past: in an overland fashion. This will be an overland photographic journey, and we have complete flexibility to stop to take photographs at any time along the way. We wanted to put these trips together that have a good balance between flexibility, photographic opportunities and comfortable accommodations. This approach will also enable us to carry more than enough camera baggage, so bring what you need!
Safari Dates: We will be leading two identical trips with different dates:
- Trip 1: Namibia Overland Photographic Journey – March 29th – April 7th 2014
- Trip 2: Namibia Overland Photographic Journey – April 8th – April 17th 2014
On the South Western Coast of Africa, where the icy Atlantic ocean meets the world’s oldest desert lies a place that is known for its landscapes as much as the Serengeti is known for its abundant wildlife. The unique combination of desert, grassland and cold ocean current form a one-of-a-kind terrain found only here. For this reason landscape photographers from all over the world flock to the Namibia Desert to try and capture its ethereal beauty.
In this captivating region of Namibia lies a maze of mountainous valleys that look like they were carpeted from slope to slope by ivory coloured grass, criss-crossed by ancient riverbeds and dotted with a collection of photogenic acacia trees. The final unique touch is added by the large snake like dunes that rise from the grasslands like the roof of some subterranean world. These stark and compelling landscapes are something to behold with the human eye, but when it’s sweeping meadows, barren mountains and blood red dunes are captured and transformed into a two dimensional image, it becomes obvious why this place is so beautifully addictive to photographers.
- – These private overland safaris cover fascinating attractions in Namibia while enjoying a relaxed pace along the way.
- – We will enjoy four amazing destinations on each safari in central and southern Namibia: Sossusvlei, the Namib Rand, the deserted mining town of Kolmanskop and the ancient quiver tree forest near Keetmanshoop.
- – The Namib Desert may well be the world’s oldest desert. The apricot-colored dunes at Sossusvlei are some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth. Herds gemsbok and springbok roam the area.
- – In all the locations you will have the opportunity to spend quality photographic time.
- – Finish on a high note in the magnificent sand dunes of Sossusvlei.
- – Each trip Limited to only 10 participants (due to prior interest there is only limited places remaining on both trips before they will be sold out).
The cost of this all-inclusive trip is U.S. $7,950 per person (but not inclusive of airfare to Windhoek, Namibia). The same rate applies for each participant regardless of whether they are doing photography and participating in the workshop, or not. This fee includes all in-country ground and air transportation as well as hotel accommodation (double occupancy) and all meals.
A 30% deposit of U.S. $2,325 (per person) will be required when you register. A second payment of $1,500 will be due on October 1, 2013 and the balance of $3,925 will be due no later than February 1, 2014. If we have to cancel the trip for any reason you will receive a full refund of all monies paid to that date.
Please note: This trip is designed for photographers. Though non-photographer spouses are of course welcome, and alternate activities will be scheduled if possible, our primary emphasis will be traveling to the best locations for the best light, and this will often mean long days of both travel and shooting.
You should therefore only consider joining this expedition if you are a passionate photographer willing to put yourself out a bit. This is not a vacation sightseeing trip, but rather is a trip designed for those who’ll go the extra mile (or kilometer) to get the images they’ve been dreaming about.
I had been planning to announce that the 2014 Iceland winter Aurora workshop I am leading with Daniel Bergmann was open for bookings this week. However, due to the waiting list for the 2013 workshops and pre-registrations for next years workshops the 2014 trip is already completely sold out. If you are interested in joining you can still register to be put on the waiting list by sending me an email to email@example.com. We are looking forward to frozen waterfalls, spectacular glaciers, icebergs, precipitous mountains and with a little bit of luck the spectacular natural phenomena ‘Aurora Borealis’. 2014 is predicted to be another strong year for the Aurora on the cusp of the eleven year solar cycle and it will be very exciting to see and photograph the Aurora over the spectacular and primordial Icelandic landscape. If you would like to read more about this workshop and register to be put on the waiting list please visit the workshops page on my website at www.jholko.com
I have just had a cancellation on my summer Iceland workshop this July which has freed up a place for anyone who would like to experience the awesome majesty of the Iceland landscape on a dedicated photography workshop. This trip is unique in that it is limited to just six people in total. The workshop is ten days / nine nights and has been designed to take in the very best of Iceland. We will be headed into the spectacular geothermal highland regions as well as to iconic locations such as the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. We will photograph massive waterfalls, glaciers, icebergs and precipitous mountains. We will be travelling in a Icelandic modified four wheel drive super jeep and will be able to access areas normally inaccessible to cars and standard road going four wheel drives. Because we are travelling in such a small group we will be able to move and work quickly to really maximise our time at each location. To get an idea of the sort of photographs you will be able to make on this trip please visit the Iceland Portfolios HERE.
The cost of the workshop is $6,050 USD and is fully inclusive of food and accommodation (excludes flights and alcohol). A detailed itinerary and information form is available for download HERE. If you would like to join please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
I am very excited to announce that I will be joining forces with New Zealand’s most well known and respected photography tour company ‘Capture New Zealand Photography Tours‘ over the coming months. Phillip Bartlett from Capture New Zealand has been at the forefront of the best and most exclusive photography workshops in New Zealand over the past decade and has been responsible for opening up and unlocking some of New Zealand’s most magical locations for photographers. I was fortunate to travel with Phillip through the South Island of New Zealand in 2009 to many stunning locations that are well off the tourist track and that would otherwise have been impossible for me to find. His local knowledge of the best locations in New Zealand has elevated Capture New Zealand to the forefront of photography tours in his beautiful country and makes him the perfect guide for those photographers looking to get the very best images from their travel.Partnering with Phillip and Capture New Zealand is allowing us to offer an exclusive workshop for a limited number of photographers (just 9 people) in the late summer of 2014 (February – exact dates: TBA). This workshop will combine the critical local knowledge of Phillip’s life-long experience in New Zealand along with my own workshop style and New Zealand experience. Local knowledge is a critical key ingredient to any photography trip to the South Island of New Zealand. The ability to read and understand the local weather and light is the key difference to being in the best locations when the ‘magic’ happens and being caught in poor conditions for photography. We will be using dedicated 4-wheel drives outfitted for photography and getting into the back country, where the very best locations are to be found. We will have access to a privately chartered helicopter that is going allow photography over the southern Alps (with the doors removed) and a privately chartered boat in Kaikoura for marine wildlife including dusky Dolphins. We are not quite ready to start taking bookings, but if the idea of a twelve day exclusive landscape, nature and wilderness photography tour that lets you experience the very best the South Island is exciting to you, then you can register your interest by sending me an email to email@example.com. No obligation at this point.
The magazine business is a constantly changing and evolving organism. With the rise of e-readers, iPads and tablet devices the era of the ‘Digital Magazine’ has most definitely arrived. The true potential of digital magazines is just starting to be explored with a range of new offerings that are starting to leverage the full and previously untapped potential of digital interactivity. One such magazine is ‘Extraordinary Vision‘. Available exclusively for the iPad, Extraordinary Vision is a free magazine that features interactive content for both professional and amateur photographers alike. The current issue features one my photographs on the cover from the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon in Iceland as well as a feature article on Photography in Extreme Latitudes. Did I mention its Free?
In case you were unable to attend the webinars I did yesterday on Tips and Techniques for working with images with Snow and Ice the good folks at X-Rite and Nik have archived the webinar online for on demand viewing.
Coloratti Joshua Holko spends a lot of time out in the ice and snow of Antarctica and Iceland. His photographs have won worldwide acclaim and give us a glimpse into another world that exists in some of the most difficult climate conditions on earth. Taking photographs in these conditions poses particular issues with light, reflection, shadow, glare, and more.
Born in Melbourne, Australia, Joshua is a full-time professional landscape, nature and wilderness photographer who runs workshops and expeditions for other photographers and travellers to some of the world’s wildest and remotest regions. Specializing in the Polar and sub-Polar regions of the globe, his work celebrates the extreme latitudes of the Polar environment. An ambassador for the Polar Regions he gave up the corporate world to pursue his true passion for photography.
In this webinar Josh will show us his workflow using X-Rite ColorChecker Passport to solve some of the special issues that arise from shooting in these extreme conditions. This subject matter that can pose some difficult challenges for photographers. Josh also uses i1Display Pro to keep his monitors calibrated and profiled so that changes he makes using Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 4 and Viveza 2 can be properly evaluated.
Josh will share some of his favorite techniques using ColorChecker Passport and Nik Software for capturing and finishing beautiful images that you’ll be proud to hang on your wall. Even if you’ve never been to Antarctica or Iceland you’ll learn valuable problem solving techniques to help you in special lighting conditions.
Be sure to watch this webinar co-sponsored by X-Rite and Nik Software.
I will be giving a couple of free webinars with X-Rite and Nik Software next week on processing and working with images shot with snow and ice. There are two sessions available on Wednesday April 10th at 6pm EDT and 8pm EDT. You can register online at X-Rite for either the First or Second session and places are limited.
I had planned to post daily updates to my blog during my back-to-back Iceland winter workshops. However, that plan quickly went the way of the Dodo once I realized I was just not going to have any spare time. Any down time I did have between shooting, eating and driving was quickly eaten up with catching a few hours sleep or planning the next day’s shooting schedule with my friend and guide Daniel Bergmann (winter workshop locations are flexible based on prevailing weather). I am only just now starting to eat into my back log of thousands of emails (I will get even with the spammers one day) and catching up on missed items and upcoming events – more to come on some upcoming events in a future post. In the meantime, I have had little time to do more than import the 3000 images I shot during the month in Iceland into Lightroom and give them a cursory glance. One image that immediately jumped out at me was a photograph I made between the two workshops in the north of Iceland at Goðafoss. Those of you who are regular readers of my blog or who are familiar with Iceland will already be aware of Goðafoss waterfall. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this waterfall: Goðafoss is located in the Mývatn district of North-Central Iceland at the beginning of the Sprengisandur highland road. It is not the largest or most dramatic waterfall in Iceland, but its in my opinion the most beautiful and probably the most spectacular. The water of the river Skjálfandafljót falls from a height of 12 meters over a width of 30 meters in a horseshoe shape that forms the falls; which are easily approached along a short walking track from the car park. The falls can be approached from two different sides although I personally prefer the hotel side away from the tourist car park.
Like many good photographs there is a back story to this image and although the story does not make the photograph it is worth recounting for the sake of posterity. Daniel Bergmann, Andy Biggs and I had just completed our first ten day winter workshop and were scheduled to have three days off recovering and catching up on much needed sleep before we commenced our second workshop. One of my friends (Mark Farnan) who had participated in our first workshop convinced me however that sleep was not a requirement for the human body and that significant periods of rest were overrated anyway. He suggested that we were far better off piling into the 4-wheel drive and driving six hours from Reykjavík to the north of Iceland to photograph Goðafoss in winter. Since both of us wanted to capture images of this beautiful waterfall partially frozen it was not that difficult for Mark to twist my arm. There was only one problem with this plan and that was the blizzard that was hurtling down from the Arctic on a collision course with our target location. After much back-and-forth discussion, some time spent looking over weather maps and forecasts and a little gnashing of teeth we pulled the trigger and decided to go for it – snow storm be dammed.
We were hedging our bets that Iceland’s fickle and constantly changing weather would cut us a break and at least give us an opportunity to photograph the waterfall in winter even if conditions were not ideal. Five hours later we had made good time and were only an hour or so away from the town of Akureyri and our accommodation for the evening when we quite literally ran into a wall of blinding snow. The snow had started to not just fall but slam into us in a blinding torrential snow storm that reduced our speed to little more than walking pace – ‘Welcome to Iceland in winter’ I said to Mark with a grin.
The temperature outside had plummeted to a frigid -9 degrees Celsius and the wind was whipping up the golf ball sized snow flakes in great flurries that made seeing (let alone driving) nearly impossible. On top of that the air was so dry that the snow already on the ground was being picked up by the wind and hurled around us; which all contributed to visibility of barely ten feet. The road had long since disappeared under the snow and I was navigating solely by the roadside markers placed every ten feet or so along the sides of the road. With our speed reduced to a crawl and straining to see I was pretty exhausted from concentration by the time we finally arrived in Akureyri. We checked into our hotel, had a late dinner and agreed to rise at 5am and drive the remaining hour and a half to Goðafoss for sunrise. Outside our hotel the snowstorm continued.
By 5am the snow had finally stopped falling as the storm continued its journey south and we set off up the mountain pass headed for Goðafoss with big smiles on our faces. That was until we realized just how much snow had fallen during the storm. The mountain pass that lay between Goðafoss and us was completely impassable. The road was buried under not less than three feet of snow and not even our 4-wheel drive with studded tires was equipped for that sort of challenge. As we sat near the beginning of the mountain pass with sad and bewildered looks on our faces I was quietly cursing myself for not taking Daniel’s modified Super Jeep with 40 inch tires that would have allowed us to simply drive up onto and float over the snow.
Faced with a wall of impassable snow we were just about to cut our losses, admit defeat and head back to Akureyri in search of another shooting location (and breakfast) when I had the idea to wait by the side of the road for one of the snow ploughs we had passed on the way out of town. The snow ploughs work relentlessly through the winter in the north of Iceland to keep the main Highway One ring road open as much as possible and I was hoping the one we had passed was going to make its way up to us and subsequently clear the mountain pass between us and Goðafoss. Having driven so far it seemed worth the wait and we sat patiently by the side of the road for half an hour or so. The decision turned out to be the right call and shortly thereafter one of the snow clearing machines made its way up and past us and proceeded to clear away the worst of the snow. We simply tucked in behind it as it churned through the snow; spitting it off to one side in billowing clouds. Whilst our pace was reduced to the speed of the plough we were at least making forward progress and a couple of hours later we were finally at Goðafoss.
I pulled the 4-wheel drive over into the parking lot and promptly bogged it in the deep snow. It did not matter however; we had arrived and from our vantage point we could see the waterfall was partially frozen and in perfect, pristine condition. There were spectacular icicles hanging from the rocks and the ground was covered with soft fresh snow. Translucent aqua water tumbled over the falls and raced down the canyon and the whole scene was lit with soft diffuse morning light of the sort only Iceland can deliver. These are the moments I live for as a nature photographer. We quickly donned our micro spikes, grabbed our camera bags and stomped through the snow to the waterfall.
This was not the first time I have visited Goðafoss and as such I new exactly where I wanted to position myself to photograph it (there are three favorite locations I like to photograph this waterfall from). This first image was shot looking back up at the falls on an outcropping of rock that looks over the canyon’s edge. I had previously photographed the waterfall from a similar location in 2009 and I have included the photograph I made at that time as the juxtaposition may be of interest. Both were shot with 24mm lenses although I shot this new winter image with the 24mm F4L Tilt Shift lens in lieu of the 24mm F1.4L MKII.
We spent a couple of hours photographing Goðafoss in the soft diffuse light before we freed the 4-wheel drive from its temporary imprisonment and headed for Mývatn and a relaxing soak in the steaming geothermal baths.
Higher resolution versions of both these photographs can be seen on my website at www.jholko.com
Australia’s top selling Pro Photography magazine ‘Capture’ has an interesting article on colour management titled ‘Hues in Control’ in their latest March / April 2013 issue. I was invited to participate in a phone interview to discuss the role of colour management in my own photography and workflow and have been quoted at various points in the article. One of my photographs from Námafjall in Iceland (‘Highway to Hell’) of geothermal features belching sulphur at dawn was chosen as the lead image for the article. A high resolution version of this photograph can be seen on my website.
One of the great joys of photography for me other than the actual taking of the photograph is the processing and printing of images in my studio. Every now and again I revisit photographs from a shoot that have to date languished in my Lightroom library and very occasionally I unearth a gem that I had previously overlooked. Sometimes it takes the passage of time and a fresh set of eyes (and a step ladder) to pluck the plumbs that were previously hanging out of reach.
With the temperature in Australia a cross between scorching hot and roasting for days on end I have tucked myself away in the studio with the air conditioner and spent some time going over images from the last trip to Antarctica. This photograph was taken from the deck of the Ocean Nova ship as we slowly cruised past this unusual iceberg during heavy snow fall. Many of my favourite photographs from this trip were shot when it was either snowing or overcast and ominous. Although Antarctica can look truly brilliant when the sun is shining I personally find it far more evocative and dramatic with some weather. I am looking forward to returning this year in November on the Antarctic workshop I am leading with Daniel Bergmann. In case you missed it Kevin Raber, Vice President of PODAS at Phase One is also joining us on this expedition and we are looking forward to photographing in one of the most remote and beautiful locations on the planet with the highest quality digital medium format camera equipment available. You can read the full post about Phase One and Antarctica HERE. Please visit the Antarctica Portfolio on my website for a higher resolution version of this photograph.
Australian magazine Better Photography recently featured Blue Berg from Iceland as it’s keeper photograph for the December / January 2013 issue. If you are interested in photography in Iceland there is also a very good day by day account of Peter Estway’s Phase One PODAS Trip last from year that is well worth a read.
It is perhaps not common knowledge that Europe’s largest glacier (the Vatnajökull) actually resides in Iceland. This massive glacier sits more or less in the centre of Iceland and has many different glacial tongues that snake down toward the coastline around its circumference. It is the Vatnajökull glacier that was responsible for the creation of the Jökulsárlón Glacial lagoon where ice that has carved off the glacier now wallows in a large lagoon before being washed out sea. This lagoon is perhaps Iceland’s most famous attraction and is one of the natural wonders of the world. It has become an icon and mecca amongst landscape photographers the world over. The glacier itself is sadly in rapid retreat and the carving face is now several miles back from the beach. On my trip to Iceland last year I attempted to walk to the carving face along the side of the lagoon but gave up after a few hours slog when I reached an impasse. The only viable way to reach the face near the lagoon is now via zodiac, which can be hired at great expense near the car park. The glacier is nevertheless a remarkable subject for landscape photography and in many ways offers countless opportunities for composition with remarkable form and texture.
This particular photograph is my personal favorite from the glacier and was taken several years ago as I drove toward the lagoon from Reykjavik. A fog was descending across the glacier and I pulled the 4 wheel drive over to the side of the road where I took this image with the 70-200mm F2.8L IS lens at the 200mm end. I am hopeful that we will be able to get up to the glacier in a few weeks time during our winter workshops for some ice-cave photography.
The photograph of the month for February was taken toward the end of my last workshop to Iceland. We had risen before dawn and driven into the highland region of Veiðivötn in the hope of some magical light at sunrise. What we discovered was a sea of fog had descended over the area during the night and reduced visibility to near zero. Exhausted from ten days shooting with no real sleep we pulled the four wheel drive super jeep over and decided to grab some shut eye in the hope the rising sun would burn off some of the fog. An hour or so later the sun had risen and the fog had started to lift revealing the alien landscape of Veiðivötn where iridescent green moss spreads its tendrils across the black volcanic sand landscape.
This photograph was taken only a few metres from where we pulled the car over and was shot looking back across the road on which we had just driven. Shot with the Canon 1DX and Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS at ISO100 F8 1/13th of a second on a tripod.
I recently blogged that I had received email notification that one of my photographs from Antarctica had been selected as a finalist in the 2012 Outdoor Photographer of the Year ‘Spirit of Adventure’ category. This was the first time I have entered Outdoor Photographer of the Year and I was thrilled to have been selected as a finalist. I was subsequently very humbled a few days ago to receive news that I had not only been selected as a finalist, but had won the 2012 Outdoor Photographer of the Year competition in the ‘Spirit of Adventure’ category. The winning photograph was shot on my last expedition to Antarctica and was of mountain climbers nearing the summit in rapidly deteriorating weather. It was photographed from the deck of the Ocean Nova with a 300mm F2.8L IS lens at F7.1 1/2500th of a second hand held with the Canon 1DMKIV. The announcement of my win was officially made on the 16th of January on the Outdoor Photographer of the Year website and will also appear in the March issue of Outdoor Photography magazine. There was an awards ceremony on Saturday the 19th of January at the Outdoors Show in ExCel in London. An exhibition of all the finalists work, including my own winning photograph was on display from the 17th – 20th of January. I am told the quality and quantity of images entered was exceptional across all categories. Unfortunately I was unable to attend the exhibition and awards ceremony due to other commitments. If you stopped past please let me know what you thought. I admit to feeling really inspired and re-invigorated with the news and am very much looking forward to returning to Antarctic this November. A higher resolution version of this photograph can be seen on my website in the Antarctica Portfolio.
One of the most spectacular features of Antarctica we are looking forward to visiting on the expedition I am leading this November aboard the Polar Pioneer is the Lemaire Channel. This natural, narrow channel is flanked on both sides by high mountains and snow dusted rock spires and rates as one of the most wondrous and beautiful places I have ever had the pleasure to photograph. Slowly cruising through the channel is akin to what I imagine it would be like aboard a space ship gliding between towering and precipitous mountains on an alien world. Whether you are on the bow, aft, port or starboard the landscape is equally awe inspiring and impressive. On my last trip the conditions were overcast with frequent heavy snow and dark brooding clouds as we made our way slowly through the channel. Whilst a few photographers were bemoaning the lack of clear skies for sunset colour I was secretly thankful for the dark and ominous atmosphere. Antarctica is so often depicted for its brilliance that I find it refreshing to see images that depict a more ominous and portentous landscape.Frequently clogged with icebergs and pack ice the channel is really only safely navigable early in the season in an ice hardened expedition class ship such as the Polar Pioneer. Later in the season when the weather warms and the ice thins the channel is frequently visited by larger tourist based cruise ships; although the danger of ice bergs to their thin steel skin always remains. One of the real benefits of a photographic expedition to Antarctica aboard an ice hardened ship is the ability to not only get close to very large icebergs, but also to push pack ice out of the way greatly increasing the photographic possibilities in locations such as the Lemaire Channel. Although passage through the Lemaire Channel is never guranteed we do plan to sail through it (weather and ice conditions permitting) this November. I am secretly hoping for more dramatic weather and evocative atmospherics.
It has been sweltering hot the last few days in Melbourne Australia with temperatures today peaking at an oven roasting 40+ degrees Celsius. Those of you who know me well know that I would much prefer to be caught in a snowstorm unprepared than stuck in this kind of weather. With the mercury at a summer high the only way I could find to cope with the heat was to crank up the air conditioner and think of icebergs. So with the air conditioner working overtime in my studio I have been reviewing some of the images I shot in Antarctica in 2011 and found one I had not yet processed from Half Moon Bay. This photograph was taken during one of our early shore landings and was one of around a dozen frames I shot of this particular iceberg. This was one of the few images on the entire trip that I utilised a tripod for as I wanted a very slow shutter speed to soften the water and to better emphasise and juxtapose the chalky blue iceberg against the distant soft fog and snow. This frame was also the only sharp frame from the series as the iceberg was imperceptibly moving with the current which resulted in the rest of the frames suffering from motion blur. I used the Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS at the 200mm end at F11 with a 10 second exposure and the LEE Big Stopper. A higher resolution version of this photograph can be seen on my website at www.jholko.com. This photograph is also my photograph of the month for January 2013.
I received notification via email yesterday that one of my photographs from Antarctica has made the finals in the 2012 Outdoor Photographer of the Year Competition. I feel I have been very fortunate this year as I was also a finalist and highly commended with 3rd place in the Travel Photographer of the Year ‘Single Shot Water Category’ and was a finalist in the ‘Fine Art Photographer of the Year’ competition in Paris a few months ago. This was the first time I have entered Outdoor Photographer of the Year and did so more or less on the spur of the moment as one of the category titles (‘The Spirit of Adventure’) really struck a chord with me whilst browsing their website. I had a particular image from Antarctica; which I felt really summed up ‘The Spirit of Adventure’. The photograph in question was taken from the deck of the Ocean Nova near the Lemaire Channel and is of mountain climbers nearing the summit of one of Antarctica’s precipitous mountains in rapidly deteriorating weather. The truth of this photograph is that I did not see the mountain climbers (or at least I do not recall seeing them) when I took this photograph. I do recall being attracted to the sinuous ridgeline, dark sky and swirling clouds as we cruised slowly past and perhaps on a subconscious level I did see the climbers; but my memory of this particular photograph is a little foggy. It was, after all, just one of more than 13,000 images taken on the trip.From the exif data I know I used the Canon 300mm F2.8L IS lens on the Canon EOS 1D MKIV body, which gave me an effective focal length of 390mm for this capture; which should help give an idea of just how far away these climbers were when I made this photograph. It was shot at ISO400 F7.1 at 1/2500th of a second. You can’t see it on this small jpeg; but there are two large sea birds perfectly sharp and frozen to the right of frame. A higher resolution version of this photograph can be seen on my website in the Antarctica Portfolio.
Footnote: Unfortunately, Outdoor Photographer of the Year is not judged on the ‘Print’; but rather on the submission of digital files. To their credit they do require the submission of the original RAW file as proof the photograph has not been significantly tampered with. As I have previously blogged however, I far prefer to have my work viewed in Print, which I regard as the ultimate output. Nevertheless I am very honoured to have made the finals of this prestigious competition and look forward to seeing the winning entries when they are announced early next year.