The 2011 Australian APPA Awards have now come and gone. The awards dinner was held this evening in Sydney at Darling Harbour; unfortunately I was unable to attend as I only arrived home from New Zealand yesterday morning and had much to do on my return. I doubt I could have made it there regardless since flights have only now returned to normal due to the volcanic ash cloud from Chile (that must be because I have stopped flying for the moment!). I was shooting up in the wilderness near Arthur’s pass in the South Island when the judging from the APPA awards was being live streamed so was unable to tune in; but was thrilled to learn on my return to Christchurch that I had won a Gold award and three Silver awards for the four prints I had submitted. Gold Awards in the Landscape Category at APPA’s are extraordinary and I feel very privileged to have had my work judged to such a standard. The APPA awards are somewhat unique these days in that all judging is done of actual prints by a panel of highly experienced photographers (rather than by submission of digital images). The craft of the print is as important as the image itself and its fantastic to be a part of such an event. All of my prints were made on my absolute favourite paper Moab Somerset Museum Rag. Photography after all “Is all about the Print”. The photograph and print that won Gold was ‘Blue Berg’; which was photographed in Iceland last year near the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon. My print received scores of 88, 90, 92, 92 and 93 from the five judges; giving it an average of 91 – a Gold Award.A higher resolution version of this photograph is available to view on my portfolio website at www.jholko.com under Iceland. This print is also currently on display as part of Nillumbik prize at Montsalvat in Eltham until the end of July. It will be part of an exhibition later this year at both Source Photographica in Brighton and at the Wilderness Gallery in Tasmania.


The Chile volcano is continuing to spew ash into the atmosphere and disrupt air travel and last night my flight home from New Zealand that was scheduled to leave this morning was cancelled by Virgin (yet again). I seem to be somewhat magnetic to volcanic eruptions. First it was Iceland last year and now New Zealand on the way in and out of the country. Two of my friends are now saying that you don’t need to ask if a volcano is going to erupt; just ask “Is Josh flying soon?”

Thankfully it appears as though Air New Zealand are again going to come to the rescue and after more phone calls I have been able to secure a ticket home at crack of dawn Sunday morning. Why Air New Zealand can fly and everyone else can’t makes little sense – very frustrating.

It has been a whirlwind trip and I feel like I have crammed in a huge amount of photography all over the island into a very short period of time. The weather and light has been a real mixed bag with everything from patches of brilliant sunshine to torrential rain; and just about everything in between. In point of fact, the weather has been remarkably warm for this time of year and as yet there is still no fresh snow (there are some really grumpy looking skiers around the place at the moment). In terms of light it has not been great; although there was some good sunrise and sunset light yesterday (the best of the trip). Most of the time the skies have been quite overcast at both sunrise and sunset which has lead to very grey and drab light – ce’st la vie.

Rather than sit around in my hotel room I have been invited out to go shooting today with a fellow local photographer who is also accompanying me to Antarctica in November this year. We went out shooting last night near Port Levy and had some wonderful sunset light. The volcanic ash particles in the air reflect the light beautifully and seem to extend sunset for what seems much longer than normal. Last night’s sunset was definitely the best light of the trip so far.

I returned my Maui camper van yesterday on my return to Christchurch. I did just over 2,500 kilometres in seven days and have shot just over 2300 frames – so I have a lot of sorting, editing and processing to do when I get back to Melbourne; which hopefully is tomorrow morning…


It is wonderful to be back in the small alpine village of Fox Glacier in the South Island of New Zealand – This really is a stunning part of the world for photography and I was very much looking forward to coming back. It has almost been two years since I was last here in winter 2009 with Capture New Zealand Photography Tours. There was a lot more snow around in 2009 and it was a lot colder, but the town is otherwise much as I remember it.

After a cloudless sunrise this morning at Matheson’s Lake I decided to hike up to the carving face of Fox Glacier for some more photography. The hike is relatively short these days (roughly 30 minutes from the car park to the terminal face viewing area) since the new track has been built. I was totally unprepared for the amount the glacier has receded upon reaching the viewing area – it is almost unrecognisable. I would estimate more than 200 metres has simply vanished (melted) from the glaciers length and I am told that the glacier is now retreating at an ever increasing rate – a clear indication of global warming at work.


With the bad luck getting a flight to New Zealand I was ready for a bit of luck to finally go my way and thankfully I did not have to wait very long. On arrival to pick up my rental camper van the good people at the hire centre took pity on me and upgraded me to a top of the range Maui camper van – thank you! After the wasted travel time and time spent at Christchurch (what a mess the city is in from the recent earthquakes) it was very refreshing to get underway in a high level of comfort.

Speaking of earthquakes, I was awoken this morning in my hotel by quite a large after shock; it gave me quite a start.  You just have to feel for what the poor people of Christchurch are going through with these continual aftershocks – they must really fray the nerves; especially since the news is now reporting that another large or even larger quake is possible in the foreseeable future. I am glad to be out of the city and moving on. Tomorrow I hope to head to Fox Glacier weather permitting. At the moment its very cold and snow is forecast for tonight.