Unless you have been living under a rock (or lost on an iceberg) you are probably already aware of MacPhun’s new photo editing software Luminar (available only for the Mac). I have been using Luminar more or less since its release as a plug in for Photoshop and have been extremely impressed with its workflow and speed (and layers support). It has already completely replaced the Nik filters in my workflow and has greatly simplified my post production work. In short, I am a pretty big fan of Luminar. If you are not yet familiar with Luminar then its well worth taking some time to check it out and download the free trial. You can run Luminar as a stand alone application; or as a plug in for Lightroom and/or Photoshop. In my own workflow I find I prefer to run it as a Photoshop Plug in; but your mileage may vary. I may do a full review on Luminar at a future date if I get the time; but if you want to get a head start there are already a great range of videos on the power of Luminar HERE. Luminar already offers touch bar support for owners of the new MacBook Pro and later this week the new Pluto update will launch (free upgrade for existing users) with additional filters and features.
I have had several emails over the last couple of weeks asking me why I have not as yet (after two visits to the interior of Antarctica and the remote sea ice for Emperor Penguins) shared or posted a single photograph of an Emperor Penguin. It is a fair question (as well as an astute observation) and being completely and totally upfront I decided more than two years ago that I was not going to post a single image of an Emperor Penguin until I had completed my second trip with clients this year. I felt the clients who accompanied me on this dedicated and unique expedition deserved to have the stage and spotlight for their images first and I have been thoroughly enjoying seeing their work on social media since our return this November. Seeing their photographs has been an inspiration and a wonderful trip down memory lane of the incredible experiences we shared together in such a remote area of Antarctica whilst we camped with the Emperors. Reading their comments and thoughts on the expedition that have accompanied the photographs has been for me wonderfully fulfilling and I want to take the opportunity to thank each of the participants once again for putting their faith in me to pull off this expedition.
The second reason is more selfish in that I wanted (and needed) some time to work my way through my images with a really critical eye and heavily vet them for only those photographs I felt that were absolute stand out. This process has been (and still is ongoing) extremely time consuming. I shot over 15,000 images alone in just three days on the sea ice in blizzard conditions this year and finding the best of the best in so many is no small task. Especially when you are looking for minute gesture changes and subtle differences that take a photograph from great to extraordinary. It takes a lot of time to properly edit a shoot such as this and I find I need to live with my selections for quite a while before they make the final selection. The good news is I will soon be sharing my work from this expedition and I plan to release all of the photographs simultaneously in a new portfolio on my website at www.jholko.com. I will also have a full trip report with many behind the scenes photographs. Until then, I wanted to share another Penguin photograph – This time its Adelie Penguins riding a large piece of fluted blue ice during a heavy snowstorm in Antarctica. This was my favourite photograph from the expedition I lead to South Georgia Island and the Peninsula post the Emperor Penguin Expedition. Conditions were difficult with freezing wind and blizzard snow; but the results were well worth the cold fingers.
A single place has just become available on my New Zealand South Island Masterclass workshop in May next year. The workshop runs from the 1st of May until the 12th of May and is fully inclusive of all in country transport (private 4WD’s), food, helicopter flights, tuition and more. If you are interested in travelling to New Zealand and photographing in the spectacular South Island you can register you interest in this last available place. Like the 2015, and 2016 workshops, the 2017 Masterclass workshop also includes extensive use of helicopters for accessing some of the most remote and spectacular country as well as aerial photography of the spectacular Southern Alps and glaciers. Full details of the workshop are available on my website as a PDF HERE. You can read a trip report from the 2016 Masterclass HERE.
On the eve of my departure for South Georgia and the Antarctic peninsula this November I received the very exciting news that a number of my photographs had been selected for the finals in both the 2016 Travel Photographer of the Year and the 2016 Outdoor Photographer of the Year competitions. This is the fifth year in a row I have made the finals in Travel Photographer of the Year (with multiple photographs) having first entered back in 2012 and subsequently 2013, 2014 (winner in the Wild and Vibrant category) and 2015. This year I am honoured to have two photographs in the final round of judging (currently underway). I 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 several 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.
I first entered Outdoor Photographer of the Year back in 2012 and subsequently won the Spirit of Adventure category in the same year with my photograph of mountain climbers near the summit of a spectacular Antarctic peak. I went on to make the finals again in 2014 (commended in the Wildlife insight category), 2015 and now again in 2016. I am especially thrilled to have had a total of thirteen (out of fourteen entered) images shortlisted this year in the competition. I cant as yet share which images are in the final round of judging for Travel Photographer of the Year, but I look forward to doing so in the coming days.
This morning I returned home to Australia after two incredible back-to-back expeditions to the Emperor Penguins in a remote part of Antarctica and a South Georgia / Antarctic Peninsula expedition on board Polar Pioneer. I will have full trip reports on both expeditions in the coming weeks (once I catch up on my back log and overcome another bought of jet lag). In the meantime, I wanted to post up the belated December photograph of the month (and final image for the 2016 year). This particular photograph was taken on my South Georgia expedition last year (November 2015 – Read the Full Report) and is of King Penguins all in a row and on the march (or belly slide) to the water. It was snowing heavily when I made this photograph. What really appeals to me about this image is not just the gesture and position of the penguins, but also the abstract nature of the mountain snow patterns in the background and the monochromatic pallet. There is just the slightest hint of yellow in the Penguins to give away that this is a colour photograph. I chose the background when I was composing the photograph and made a series of images as the King Penguins moved through the scene. The photograph scored a coveted Silver with Distinction at the 2016 Australian Professional Photography Awards.