AIPP Silver Lining Awards 2020 Finalist Wild Category

A few days ago I received notification and blogged that the five photographs I entered into the inaugural 2020 AIPP Silver Lining Awards had all made the Semi-Finals.  I am delighted to announce this evening that four of the five images I chose to enter have now moved onto the final round of judging. All the finalist photographs can be seen online HERE. With almost 3000 entries into the Silver Lining Awards, the Finalists represent the very top few percent of entries into the competition. The winners will be announced Thursday evening next week.


Nature Photography is about Capturing the Extraordinary in Nature

Earlier today, fellow photographer and editor of Better Photography magazine, Peter Eastway sent out an email blast to his subscriber base titled “Nature Photography with No Limits.” The short op ed. opinion piece is really a call to arms to enter the Better Photography competition, but it had me at odds with its very first sentence. The piece demonstrates a lack of understanding of the genre of Nature photography and reads as follows:

There are many wonderful nature photography competitions around the world, but I suggest they are more about nature and less about photography. And that’s fine! I realise this is a controversial statement, but look at it this way: the only photos that can be entered into these nature competitions are those with minimal post-production, and so the expressive photographer with a love for nature can be left out. 

Yes, there are many great Nature photography competitions around the world, but the suggestion that they are more about Nature and less about photography is a nonsense.  This statement demonstrates a lack of understanding of what Nature photography is about and what Nature photographers strive to achieve. Nature photography is about representing Nature as it truly exists on our planet through the vehicle of photography. Nature photography competitions are about recognising and rewarding the skill of the photographer in the field to capture something extraordinary that exists in Nature. Nature photography at its best is about capturing the so-called decisive moment, the perfect frame when subject, light and gesture all come together in the perfect image in the real world (not created in a computer). The very best Nature photographs show the viewer a side of Nature we either see infrequently, or did not know existed. Nature photography competitions are about highlighting these photographs and recognising the skill, time and patience of the photographer to capture such an image in the field. As a Nature photographer myself, I express myself through the photographs I choose to share that I captured in the field (out in Nature). I do not choose to express myself through creativity on the computer (that would be a different genre of photography). I do not want to misrepresent Nature and I do not want to have to be a Photoshop technician. Photographers who wish to be more liberal and creative with their post production are of course free to do whatever they wish. However, we must be clear that such creations are not Nature photographs. They may consist of elements found and captured in Nature, but they are most certainly an artificial construct of something that did not exist in Nature and are therefore by definition not a Nature photograph. All we need do is look up the definition for Nature:

Nature – The phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations.

Perhaps I can sum up my thoughts on Nature photography with one simple image. The photograph below was captured at Gould Bay in Antarctica in November of 2018. It is of an Emperor Penguin family. Two adults and a chick. There was gentle snowfall and the light was soft and ethereal. I watched this family through the 400mm lens on my camera as I lay on the frozen sea ice waiting for the perfect moment. I wanted just the right sense of gesture from the two parents. I was searching for a sense of family intimacy and in a split second the stars aligned and the penguins were to my mind and eye, perfectly positioned and I took the photograph. How hard, how long I waited and how cold I was at the time are irrelevant. The camera and lens I used to take the photograph are irrelevant; as is the computer on which I processed the RAW file (which is also included below so you can see how little was done). What is relevant is that this Nature photograph is a real scene from Nature. And when the viewer looks at this or any one of my Nature photographs they can rest comfortably that what they are looking at is a slice of life from Mother Nature and not a computer creation.

In summary, with the myriad of options out there for all photographers to pick and choose their photographic competition of choice; do we really have to corrupt the genre of Nature photography with artificial creations that don’t even fit the definition of Nature? Food for Thought….

AIPP Silver Lining Awards 2020 Semi-Finalist

2020 has been a year unlike any we have experienced in our lifetime. Circumstances have forced us to change the way we work, play, behave and interact. One thing that has not changed, however, is our need for creative expression. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both the AIPP Epson State Awards and the Australian Professional Photography Awards (APPA) were unfortunately cancelled. This was really unfortunate as they represent some of the very last print award competitions still running today. However, the AIPP Awards Committee saw this as an opportunity to do something special, to channel the challenges now facing us all into a communal outpouring of creative energy. As art critic and winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for criticism, Jerry Saltz, says, “Isolation favours art”. So, appropriately, the AIPP decided to ignore the clouds and focus on the silver lining.

The AIPP Silver Lining Awards aimed to do just that, with an online program incorporating image critiques and feedback sessions, judge training and a national competition culminating in a multi-state print exhibition. This new silver Lining Awards members-only program was been designed to engage as many AIPP members as possible – in a demonstration of members collective imagination and expertise.

I am delighted to announce today that of the five images I chose to enter into the Wild category of the Silver Lining Awards that all five of them made the semi-finals and have now moved onto the final round of judging. All the semi-finalist photographs can be seen online HERE. With almost 3000 entries into the Silver Lining Awards, the Semi-Finalists represent the top 10% of entries into the competition.


Australian Geographic Magazine July Issue Cover Shot and Iceberg Feature

The July / August 2020 issue of Australian Geographic magazine features one of my Emperor Penguin photographs on the front cover as well as one of my Iceberg photographs (Fortress) from Antarctica as a double page feature spread. Although I have had work published before in Australian Geographic magazine this is the first time I have scored the cover. Scoring the front cover of any Geographic magazine is always a real thrill and I am really happy to have added this to my portfolio of magazine covers. The magazine includes a special feature on Antarctica and can be downloaded via the Australian Geographic APP in either the Apple or Google stores. The magazine is also available to purchase in traditional paper format.

Gerlache Strait Antarctica

Photo of the Month March 2020 – Yellow Eyed Penguin

The photograph of the month for March 2020 comes from my recent expedition to the Ross Sea region of Antarctica (Read the Trip Report). The photograph was actually taken at Enderby Island in the Sub Antarctica islands on our way to the Ross Sea and is of a very rare and highly endangered Yellow-eyed penguin. I watched this penguin for a long time in trying to figure out how I wanted to photograph it and what it was I wanted to try and say about the Penguin and its environment. In the end, I opted for a very shallow depth of field with a 400mm f2.8 lens that really put emphasis on the striking yellow eye but still maintained a sense of the environment in which the penguins live. It is estimated that there are now fewer than 8000 pairs of Yellow-eyed Penguins left in the world; making them the worlds most endangered penguin.