Travel Photographer of the Year 2018 Highly Commended

A couple of days ago I received the exciting news that one of my photographs that made the finals in the 2018 Travel Photographer of the Year competition was subsequently Highly Commended in the final round of judging. The photograph is actually a self portrait taken in Svalbard in Winter a few years ago. I used the light from my snowmobile to back light the scene and throw up warm light into the blowing snow.

Travel Photographer of the Year remains one of the few remaining competitions I will enter these days as it actually judges the print in the final round of judging (rather than a compressed jpeg – which is not even a finished product in my book). I have now totally abandoned all competitions that do not judge the printed photograph – including the big names such as BBC, National History Museum and Australian Geographic. Although I enjoy looking at the entrants images in these competitions I personally no longer wish to partake in competitions that are basing their decisions solely on digital files. I will of course continue to enter both the VPPY’s (Victorian Professional Photography Awards) and the APPA’s (Australian Professional Photography Awards) here in Australia since both are print competitions near and dear to my heart.

Wild and Scenic Film Festival Creston 2019 Features Ghosts of the Arctic

Join the Creston Valley Branch of Wildsight for the 5th annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival, an evening of outdoor adventure, at the at Prince Charles Secondary School Auditorium on Sat. Feb. 2, 2019. Show starts at 7pm. Door prizes galore. A variety of films featuring stunning cinematography, exotic adventure, and sometimes frontline activism are to be shown—there is something in nature for everyone. The Wild and Scenic Film Festival visits over 150 locations on its North American tour, entertaining and inspiring viewers to make the world a better place. Here is the line-up of films:

1. Ghosts of the Arctic

Follow the grit and determination of polar photographer Joshua Holko as he traverses the frozen landscape of Svalbard, in the high Arctic, to encounter polar bears on foot. Taking place during one of the coldest periods in the last few years, the crew suffered frostbite and camera failures during the filming process. The aerials featured in the film do great justice to the stark beauty of the arctic landscape.

2. Return from Desolation

For Garrett Eaton, a remote and rugged section of the Green River called Desolation Canyon is more than a river; it is a place that brought him back from the brink to reclaim a life he almost lost. At his core, Garrett is a river guide, but his story doesn’t start here. Returning to the wild rivers and canyonlands of his youth, Garrett found true freedom. With each pull of the oars, Garrett reclaimed his faith, his sobriety and most importantly — his family.

3. Love of Place

When an invasive species plant threatens to take over a beautiful desert river, an obsessive park ranger sets out to kill it

4. Irreparable Harm

The Tlingit people have called the vibrant coastline of Southeast Alaska home for over 10,000 years, and continue to practice a way of life intimately tied to the ocean and the largest remaining temperate rainforest on earth. Now, contamination from industrial mining is threatening the safety of the wild food sources that make Alaska so unique. Irreparable Harm gives powerful voices to the Alaska Native communities and conservation groups standing up to protect the cultural and ecological values that make this magnificent marine ecosystem an irreplaceable treasure.

5. Wildlife and the Wall

Filmmaker Ben Masters (Unbranded) goes into the heart of the Big Bend, the last true wilderness in the state of Texas, to consider what effects building a border wall might have on wildlife dispersals, migratory corridors, and access to the Rio Grande, the only water source in a harsh desert environment.

6. Life Coach

When conditions became unfavorable for a first ascent of Alaska’s Ruth Gorge, Alex Honnold turns the camera on Renan Ozturk for a strangely beautiful discussion about life’s big questions.

7. Lost in Light

Lost in Light is a short film on how light pollution affects the view of the night skies. Shot mostly in California, this piece shows how the night sky view gets progressively better as you move away from the lights.

8. The Curve of Time

Due to climate change, ski seasons will be markedly shorter by 2050. Lower elevations will receive significantly less snowfall. Professional skiers Greg Hill and Chris Rubens peer into the future and have a conversation with their future selves, contemplating the sobering forecast and the impact their thirst for adventure has on the very environment that sustains and fulfills them. With an eye on the clock, they launch themselves into an experiment: can they each remain committed skiers while significantly reducing their carbon footprints?

9. Rupununi: Fight for El Dorado

In the late 15th century, Sir Walter Raleigh set out on an ill-fated quest for El Dorado, the lost city of gold. Today, biologists are uncovering what the indigenous people of Guyana have known all along – that Rupununi is a place of untold riches, not only in minerals and oil, but in unrivaled biodiversity. Thanks to well-orchestrated efforts from indigenous communities and conservation biologists like Dr. Lesley De Souza, the Rupununi has the potential to become Guyana’s largest protected area (3 million acres). See this incredible landscape through the eyes of Macushi elders as they fight to protect the forests, rivers and seasonally flooded wetlands from unchecked development and habitat destruction.

10. My Irnik

A young father teaches his son about the value of shared adventures, exploration and his ancestral Inuit heritage.

11. Chasing Wild: Journey into the Sacred Headwaters

Three friends set off on a 400km bikepacking and packraft expedition – pedaling through vast boreal forest, paddling frigid whitewater, battling monster trout, outrunning a grizzly – through the heart of the sacred headwaters in northwestern British Columbia, birthplace of three critical salmon rivers, and home to the Tahltan people. In the wake of the devastating Mount Polley Mine disaster, the team’s goal is to understand what is at stake as a wave of new mines are developed across this remote corner of the province.

BenQ ScreenBar e-Reading Lamp

Over the last week since I returned from Antarctica I have been testing a clever new product from BenQ called the ScreenBar e-Reading Lamp. In a nutshell the idea of ScreenBar is to reduce eye strain by softly lighting the screen and surrounding area without introducing any glare. Although the design concept is extremely simple, the problem ScreenBar tries to solve is actually quite complex and has been tackled in various forms and with varying degrees of success by different manufacturers over the years.  This is the first time however, that I have seen a solution that offers not only a soft dimmable glare free light, but that also offers colour temperature control, auto dimming and is powered solely by USB.

Wether its working late hours, watching online videos, extensive word processing or any other kind of non-critical colour work a task light can help reduce and even prevent eye strain. When we sit in front of our computer we look directly into the monitor and our eyes are subsequently affected by the reflected glare. This where the ScreenBar changes the game. The video below show just how simple and easy it is to set up and install ScreenBar.

Personally, I spend a lot of time in front of my computer dealing with email, websites and general running of a business (not to mention time I spend processing and printing photographs) and as a result I often suffer from eye strain after extended sessions in front of my display. To be clear, I don’t use the ScreenBar light when I am editing, processing and printing my photographs, but I have been using it extensively for all my other computer work and I really like the way it eases eye fatigue. I also love the simplicity of the design, the ability to dim the light, set a colour temperature and power the entire device from just a single USB port. Currently I have the Screen Bar installed on my BenQ 4K monitor and a second unit on my iMac.  For general day-today computing needs I have found I prefer to have the light on all of the time and am only turning it off for colour critical work and printing work. In short, I have found significant reduction in eye fatigue with the ScreenBars and I am therefore keeping both lights (although I am going to have to order a third as my son has already stolen the one from my iMac for his own computer).

Screen Bar Key Features

Auto Dimming. Optimal Brightness Instantly: Thanks to the built-in ambient light sensor, ScreenBar adjusts the brightness level automatically and instantly. It can be manually dimmable with the touch sensor control as well.

Space Saving. No Lamp Base, More Desk Space: A specially designed clip makes the attachment onto monitors easy and stable. No need for screws or tape that damage monitors. The clip fits any monitor with thickness from 0.4” to 1.2” (1 to 3 cm).

Screen Bar is available to purchase from Amazon the following countries: (these are not affiliate links)

US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076VNFZJG

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07GGVNXSW

DE: https://www.amazon.de/dp/B0785D93KD

AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B076VNFZJG

JP: https://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B07D7PDF8L

Greenland Expedition Announcement September 2019

It has been some time coming but I am pleased to now formally announce my 2019 expeditions to the spectacular Scoresby Sund fjord system on the east coast of Greenland with good friend Daniel Bergmann. For 2019 Daniel and I will be leading two back-to-back ‘fly-in, fly-out’ expeditions that will depart from Reykjavik via charter plane and land at Constable Point in Greenland. Flying to Greenland saves us two days sailing across open ocean in either direction and means we have more time for exploration and photography.

A few words on Greenland: Home to some of the most extraordinary geology to be found on earth, the red and orange glacial scarred landscape of Greenland stands in stark contrast to the electric blue icebergs that carve off its many glaciers and drift slowly down its precipitous fjords. It is a remote land of untamed and unbridled beauty that is rarely visited and even less rarely photographed. It is an incredible place to inspire the imagination and fuel your photographic desires.

The landscape and geology of the East Coast of Greenland is both stunning and extraordinary. Photographing this incredible landscape under soft golden Arctic light is our main objective. In fact, our entire expedition has been planned around us being on location at the best time of year for soft golden light. We will also see and photograph incredible castellated icebergs that have calved off the many glaciers of Greenland. Dramatic glaciers, plunging cliffs and beautiful drift ice formations will be present as well.

These expeditions have been more than two years in the planning and have been structured on our extensive experience in the region to provide the very best possible opportunities to photograph the incredible landscapes of the remote East Coast of Greenland in the Scoresbysund fjord system. With the sun low in the sky and at an oblique angle, late September and early October are the ideal times to photograph this region of the Arctic. Working during the best light of the day we will maximise our time for photography with daily shore excursions with plenty of time to scout, setup and photograph under the midnight sun.

The photographic opportunities in the Scoresbysund fjord system are limitless and we intend to take maximum advantage of our time in this area. We will use zodiacs to make daily shore excursions for contemplative landscape photography as well as utilise zodiacs for iceberg photography as we cruise amongst the icebergs and brash ice. At this time of the year we are likely to also experience the first sea ice of the coming winter.

The Scoresbysund fjord system is home to some of the most incredible iceberg formations to be found anywhere in the world. As a result of the constant thawing and freezing of the glaciers there is an abundance of icebergs of infinite variety to be found drifting in the fjord system. Many of the icebergs are heavily castellated with electric blue cracks and fractures that are a photographers dream come true. The juxtaposition of these natural sculptures against the orange and red rock scarred landscape is not only awe inspiring in its primordial nature but completely unique. Nowhere else in the world can this combination and beauty be found on such a scale. In photographic terms the landscapes of the Scoresbysund fjord system are virgin ground. Very few expeditions venture into this area of Greenland and even fewer carry photographers.

The maximum number of participants on these two expeditions has been capped at just eleven people. By limiting the number of participants on the ship we ensure sufficient room for photography equipment, shooting positions and zodiac photography for all participants without having to compromise.

If you are excited by the idea of traveling to the remote East Coast of Greenland to photograph the incredible landscapes of this country with a small group of dedicated and passionate photographers now is the time to secure one of the few remaining places. Due to the initial registrations and bookings there are already only four places remaining on the first expedition and only three places on the second before both expeditions will be completely sold out. Full details including dates, costs and a detailed PDF itinerary can be downloaded from my website at www.jholko.com.

Departing for Emperors Expedition 2018

It is hard to believe it has already been two years since I was last camped on the sea ice of Gould Bay in Antarctica to photograph the mighty Emperor Penguins (Read the Trip Report). Time has simply evaporated and in less than two days now I am really excited to again be starting the trek over to the bottom of South America to begin my 2018 expedition to the Emperor Penguins. Camping and living with the Emperors on the sea ice is one of the most amazing experiences I have been fortunate to have in my photographic travels. Like the previous expedition we will be flying down to land on the naturally occurring blue ice runaway at Union Glacier. From there will be taking a smaller twin-otter aircraft several hours out to the sea ice where we can establish a remote tent camp.

I am planning to try and shoot a bit of video this trip and will be taking a new Go Pro Hero 7 Black as well as an extra Canon EOS1DX MKII (just for video) as well as a dedicated microphone. I don’t pretend to be a videographer and I wont be shooting the sequel or follow up to Ghosts of the Arctic, but I would like to capture enough video to show just what its like to camp with the Emperor Penguins on the frozen sea ice in Antarctica.

My equipment for the Emperors expedition will be all too familiar to those of you who regularly follow my travels, workshops and expeditions. I am teaming up with a friend of mine for the video component (who is also a Canon shooter) so between us we will have just about everything covered. I will re-pack my camera gear on arrival into Punta Arenas into a back pack that will travel down to South America in my checked luggage. If you are wondering why the 300mm 2.8 and 400mm 2.8 its so I can share both lenses with the other Canon shooters.

Lightroom Roller(Carry on Luggage)

2 x Canon EOS 1DX MKII bodies (my friend is bringing a third for video)
1 x Canon 16-35mm F4L Lens
1 x Canon 11-24mm f4L Lens
1 x Canon 24-70mm F4L IS Lens
1 x Canon 70-200mm F2.8L MKII IS Lens
1 x Canon 400mm F2/8L IS MKII Lens
1 x Go Pro Hero7 Black w/ various accessories and spares
1 x Rhode Microphone

Gura Gear Chobe (Carry on Luggage)

1 x Apple MacBook Pro 15″ Retina
1 x Apple laptop charger
1 x Canon 300mm F2.8L MKII IS Lens
2 x USB 3 2TB external portable Sandisk SSD Drives
1 x  Thunderbolt CFast card reader and CF card Reader
1 x Sunglasses and sunglasses case

Etcetera Case #1 (Inside checked luggage)

1 x Canon 1-Series camera charger
1 x Power Adapter
2 x Canon 1DX spare Batteries
3 x Go Pro Spare Batteries

Other #1 (Inside checked luggage)

1 x Sachtler Flowtech 75 Carbon Tripod
1 x Sachtler FSB-6 Fluid Head

I had thought that this would be my last expedition to the Emperor Penguins but due to multiple requests I am confirming that I will have another expedition to the sea ice of Gould Bay for Emperors in November of 2020 (exact dates TBA – but it will be going ahead with several spots already spoken for). For those of you keen to get the jump and pre-register you can drop me an email to secure one of the remaining places. For now, I am keen to get my final packing done and get the long haul travel out of the way.

There will be minimal to no updates (other than a couple of scheduled posts) whilst I am in Antartica as there is no internet access out on the sea ice. Camped on the sea ice of Gould Bay we are about as remote and disconnected from civilisation as its possible to be. See you in South America and then onward to Antarctica!