Brent Bergherm over at Latitude Photography has just published another Podcast episode on my Polar Photography. This podcast covers cold weather shooting, how I prepare for the cold, how to dress, what to take and what cameras and equipment to use. Listen to the Podcast.
Multi-award-winning Arctic photographer Joshua Holko talks polar travel essentials and his love affair with the world’s coldest destinations.
Did you always want to be a photographer?
Yes, but it took me many years to work out what I really wanted to photograph. In the early days, when I was shooting slide film, I was mostly shooting rock climbing and the landscapes of Australia; it was not until I first visited the polar regions that I really found my calling and knew what I wanted to photograph full-time.
Can you tell us the story behind your winning shot, Protecting the Kill?
The photograph was taken on the frozen Templefjord, north of Longyearbyen, during a personal snowmobile expedition to Svalbard, Norway, one winter. It shows a female polar bear backlit by the setting winter sun. Her breath was steaming in the freezing air as she guarded a recent
bearded seal kill.
What photographic gear do you usually take on an expedition?
I usually bring at least three camera bodies as I like to photograph with multiple bodies at the same time. This can be really helpful in photographing quickly moving wildlife, where a lens change would result in a missed shot. I also take an assortment of lenses with me, from an ultrawide angle (11mm) all the way to super-telephoto (typically 600mm).
Can you give us some tips on how to capture the Arctic world?
The Arctic is incredible for its grandeur and scale, but it can be difficult to capture in a single image. I tend to focus more on details and look very hard for objects that help give a sense of scale to the photograph. Wildlife is fantastic for this, but I might equally include an expedition ship in the image or perhaps even a solitary bird on an iceberg. I also like to photograph wildlife in the context of their environment. It’s very important to get down low to eye level with your subject in order to connect with it and to create more intimate images.
Capturing the decisive moment was a term coined by Henri Cartier-Bresson to refer to waiting to hit your shutter at just the right time in order to capture something special. His book on that very topic is studied enthusiastically by photojournalists and street photographers alike. However, the idea carries over just as well if not more so into wildlife photography. If you’re looking at the photos you’ve taken and wondering what it is that could take them to the next level, keep reading.
We sat down with Joshua Holko to get a few tips from him to help you prepare to capture the decisive moment in wildlife photography.
I want to kick off my photo of the month series for 2021 with an image I shot in January of 2020 of an Emperor Penguin on the sea ice in the Ross Sea Region of Antarctica (Read the Trip Report). This was one of very few Emperor Penguins we encountered on this expedition and the only Emperor we were actually able to photograph on the ice at eye level. Although we saw quite a few during the expedition almost all of them were either in the water or were at too great a distance to photograph. In this example, we landed on the frozen sea ice with our zodiacs for evening drinks and serendipity stepped in and provided a wonderful photographic opportunity. The Emperor penguin, curious about all the people on the ice, jumped out of the water onto the ice and proceeded to provide us a wonderful half hour session on the ice.
I wanted to wish all of you who may have travelled and photographed with me either past, present or future, who follow my blog and photography or even just stumbled across my work somewhere, a very happy and safe Christmas and festive season. It has been a tumultuous year, and I wish you good health and happiness and all the very best for the festive season and New Year. Roll on 2021 and the Vaccine!