Epson Victorian Professional Photographer of the Year 2015

Over the last few days the 2015 Epson Victorian Professional Photographer of the Year competition has been running here in Melbourne at 1140 studios. I attended both days to watch the judging and it was fantastic to see such a high standard of prints again this year (as well as a record number of entries). Although I won multiple categories, the highest scoring print and the overall title of 2014 Epson Victorian Professional Photographer of the Year last year I put no expectations on myself for my entries this year and decided I would enter just for the sheer joy of the print making process. Quite honestly, removing any expectation of my potential results was really quite liberating and I think I enjoyed the entire process from capture to print and competition entry more than I ever have in the past.

From my previous post on these awards: The AIPP National and State awards are two of the few remaining competitions to actually judge the finished print and they do so using a panel of judges all deemed experts in their respective genres and accredited as Masters of Photography through their years of success in this arena. Prints are judged in a controlled lighting environment and assessed for their content, originality as well as technical craftsmanship. The judging is enthralling to watch and can be quite nerve wracking if you are a first time entrant as the standard of work is incredibly high. In brief, prints are scored out of 100 with images judged less than 70 being deemed not of professional standard. Prints judged between 71 and 79 are considered strong professional practice. Images judged 80-84 are awarded a Silver and are considered strong professional practice of an award standard. Scores of 85-89 are given a Silver with Distinction and demonstrate superior imagination, craft and skill. Prints judged 90-94 exhibit excellence in visual communication, craft and skill. And finally those rare few images that reach 96-100 are considered to have exceptional vision, creativity, innovation, master craftsmanship and skill. Very few prints score Gold awards in these competitions and even fewer reach the top tier of Gold with Distinction. 

This year I entered both the Landscape and Science, Wildlife and Wild Places categories. Entering the Landscape category was a really tough decision for me as this category has an anything goes post production mantra that is in conflict with my own ethos and ethics for image manipulation. I decided I would enter anyway just to see how my prints would fare against others in this category. As it turned out – they fared remarkably well. Two of my landscape images scored solid Silver with Distinctions with scores of 86 and 86 respectively. My remaining two landscape photographs also scored solid silver awards with an 81 and 83. Three of my Science, Wildlife and Wild Places photographs (my preferred category) scored Silver with Distinctions with scores of 89, 89 and 85 respectively. Two of those three were just one point removed from a Gold Award. My fourth image in the category scored an 84 Silver Award.

All of the prints were printed on Moab Somerset Museum Rag. This wonderful paper has continued to remain my all-time favourite stock for fine art photography prints.

Arctic Fox Snow Storm – 89 Silver with Distinction Award Science, Wildlife and Wild Places CategoryHornvik-9491-Edit-Print-MoabSMR-RelCol32015

Arctic Foxes Sparring – 89 Silver with Distinction Award Science, Wildlife and Wild Places CategoryHornvik-9988-Edit42015

Abandoned Baby Ring Seal – 85 Silver with Distinction Award Science, Wildlife and Wild Places Category

Arctic Fox Attack – 84 Silver Award Science, Wildlife and Wild Places Category

Dune on Fire – 86 Silver with Distinction Award Landscape Category_MG_0383-Edit12014

Fiery Fingers – 86 Silver with Distinction Award Landscape Category


Dunes and Light – 81 Silver Award Landscape Category_MG_1037-Edit-232014

Golden Dune – 83 Silver Award Landscape Category_MG_1050-Edit42014Now its time to put the 2015 VPPY Awards behind me and get some sleep. In just a few hours time I will be headed to the South Island of New Zealand for my 2015 Masterclass Workshop.

Extraordinary Vision Magazine : Landscape & Nature Photography with Emotion

The latest issue number #28 of Extraordinary Vision magazine features Part One of a series of Articles I recently penned on creating Landscape Photography with Mystery and Emotion. Look for Part Two and Part Three in subsequent issues. Extraordinary Vision is a free magazine available for mobile devices and can be downloaded from iTunes or Google Store.extraodinaryvision2015

New Zealand South Island Masterclass Workshop 2015

Time has snuck up on me and in less than a week I will be flying to the South Island of New Zealand for my 2015 Masterclass workshop. Quite honestly, it feels like only yesterday I walked in my front door after two months on the road in Yellowstone, Iceland and Svalbard and it is quite a surreal feeling to be heading overseas again so soon. It has been a whirlwind time at home split between my family and the office and I feel like I have really only just started to catch up on my backlog of office work. I have no regrets about pushing the office paperwork to one side, but I had hoped to get a few more images processed from my recent travels before I ran out of time.

I am however, really excited about this new Masterclass workshop to the South Island of New Zealand. We have extensive use of helicopters during this workshop for accessing very remote areas and they should provide us some really unique and fantastic opportunities for photography. Early May is my favourite time of the year to visit New Zealand. The Autumn colour will be in full swing and the weather is often ideal with cold, crisp mornings and beautiful sunrises.

I have run out of time for a dedicated packing list post for this trip, but our emphasis is on landscape and as such I will be leaving my longer lenses at home this time. I plan to take my two Canon EOS 1DX cameras along with the 16-35mm F4L IS, 24mm F3.5L TSE MKII, 24-70mm F2.8L MKII and 70-200mm F2.8L IS MKII lenses. I also plan to take a 1.4 TC with me just in case I need a little more reach. I had hoped the new Canon 5DSR would be available by now but unfortunately a thorough and rigorous test of the new high resolution 50 mega pixel camera will have to wait until my Iceland Highlands Expedition in August this year. I am also packing my graduated neutral density filters and my tripod.

Before I leave for New Zealand I will be attending the Epson Victorian Professional Photography Awards that kick off this coming Tuesday the 28th of April and run for two full days at 1140 Studio in Malvern. I was fortunate to win both the Creative Photographer of the Year and Science Nature and Environment Photographer of the Year categories as well the Highest Scoring Print Award and overall grand prize and title of Epson Victorian Professional Photographer of the Year last year; which was a pretty comprehensive sweep and an incredible thrill and honour. I have put aside any expectations on my entries this year and entered solely for the sheer joy and pleasure of the print making process. The craft of fine art printing is really at the core of why I enter both the VPPY Awards and the APPA Awards and its a wonderful experience to watch prints being judged and to be able to view the prints in person. If you are outside Melbourne the VPPY awards this year are being live-streamed and can be watched online:

Room 1 –
Room 2 –, if you are in Melbourne I encourage to come down to the judging in person so that you can view all of the award winning prints as they are judged and displayed. Entry is free and there is an espresso machine on site if that adds any motivation!

VPPY 2014 WinnerThere is an awards cocktail party being held on the Thursday evening and I will then be leaving for New Zealand first thing on Friday morning. As always, I hope to post an update or two from our workshop as we travel through the South Island.

At the conclusion of the Masterclass workshop I will be staying on in New Zealand for an additional couple of weeks of personal photography with my good friend Martyn before I return home.

If you are interested in travelling to the South Island of New Zealand and photographing in this spectacular country I will soon be announcing my 2016 schedule. Please email me to express your interest. There is no obligation at this point. Please just be aware that some places are already spoken for and I do recommend registering interest early to avoid disappointment.

Yellowstone Winter Workshop Trip Report 2015

In early February 2015 I led a small photography group to Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons for an exploratory winter workshop. This was my first time to Yellowstone in winter and very much a preliminary scouting trip for future workshops in the area. Winter is a wonderful time to visit America’s first national park; tourist numbers are very low by comparison with summer and the combination of snow and geothermal features offers outstanding landscape photography opportunities. There is also an abundance of wildlife in Yellowstone and many opportunities to create really unique imagery in the snow covered landscape.Yellowstone-7096-Edit12015Our plan was to photograph both the landscape and wildlife found in the park and take advantage of the winter snowfall. When visiting Yellowstone in winter there is a sense that you have almost crossed to another planet. The landscape is hushed by a thick blanket of snow. The trees are wreathed in frost and loom like wraiths against the ominous winter clouds. The crisp, icy air enhances the effect of the geothermal features. There is an exotic combination of mist-shrouded hot pools, bubbling paint pots and steaming fumaroles that is the ideal setting for winter landscape photography.Yellowstone-7127-Edit22015During this trip we explored the northern part of Yellowstone in the Lamar Valley as well as Mammoth Hot Springs, Old Faithful, Madison Valley and the Firehole River Basin. We also journeyed into the Grand Teton National Park. We had planned to also visit the national Elk Refuge, however the lack of snow this particular season worked against us and we decided to give this a miss and focus on areas with better snowfall instead.Yellowstone-726012015During our time in Yellowstone we spent several days in the Lamar Valley area photographing both the landscape and wildlife. We were fortunate to see and photograph the Lamar Valley wolf pack on several different occasions as well as Big Horn Sheep, Red Fox, Coyote and Moose. Although the wolves kept a respectful distance it was still a wonderful experience to watch wild wolves in the snow covered landscape. Just as an aside, It was almost as interesting to observe the cult of wolf watchers with their spotting scopes that prowl the Lamar Valley road in the hope of even a glimpse of these elusive animals. I am still sorting through the images I captured of the wolves and I hope to share a few in a future post.

Yellowstone-9034-Edit32015During the workshop we also spent several days in the Old Faithful area visiting and photographing many of the geothermal features. Geothermal features photograph extremely well with snow and ice. There is a wonderful contrast between rising steam and a snow covered landscape that adds that magic element and wonderful contrast to a photograph.Yellowstone-889112015

Travel inside the park during winter is restricted to snow coaches and snow mobiles and as of a few years ago you now cannot enter the park in winter without a guide provided by the parks service (Private vehicles are also not allowed in winter). This new requirement necessitated the need for us to hire a private snow-coach that enabled us to go at our own pace for photography free from the burden of regular tourists. A normal tourist visit just does not allow sufficient time at each location during the best light of the day.

Winter in Yellowstone can be brutally cold with temperatures plummeting well below -20 degrees Celsius.This year however was quite mild with little snow fall compared to past years. As a result we rarely saw temperatures dip below -10 Celsius with most days hovering around 0 Celsius. As a result of the unusually mild weather the wildlife was more active than usual and there were already clear indicators of bear activity in late February during our visit.Yellowstone-706712015

In terms of wildlife Yellowstone has a wonderful diversity and during our time in the park we saw and photographed Bison, Elk, Red Fox, Big Horn sheep, Moose, Coyotes, Bald Eagles, and Osprey. We also spotted and photographed the Canyon wolf pack alongside some of the geothermal features just after sunrise. We searched hard for both Bobcats and Great Grey Owls but did not see them despite a few recent reports of sightings along the Madison river. We did however photograph a Bobcat a few days prior to the workshop in the Montana area (But this was a controlled shoot).AnimalsMontana-474012015Yellowstone in winter was a fantastic experience and is a truly remarkable place that offers limitless possibilities for photography of both wildlife and landscape in winter. I will be leading a future workshop to Yellowstone for a small group of people in Winter in January of 2017. This workshop will also include an extension into the Grand Teton area that will also take us to the spectacular and iconic Mount Moran area. If you would like to get the drop on the option of securing a place when details are finalised then please just drop me an email to register your interest. There is no obligation at the point.Yellowstone-370312015

Testimonial – Fine Art Print of the Month Winner

Every month this year I am giving away a 13″ x 19″ inch fine art pigment on paper print of my photograph of the month. The first four prints for the year have already been won and given away – January, February, March and April. They are now either framed and on the wall in a home or office or shortly to be framed. Keep an eye out for the May photograph of the month and if you comment here on my blog on why you like the photograph and share it on social media you could well be the next winner.
Hi Josh,
I collected the print yesterday from the post office and it is FABULOUS!  Thank you so much again, I can’t wait to get it framed and hung on a wall somewhere at home.
Best regards,