These are some of my personal favourite photographs from throughout each calendar year – one for each month. Higher resolution versions of all of these photographs can be seen on my portfolio website at www.jholko.com. None of my photographs are HDR (High Dynamic Range) or composite images. All photographs are captured from single exposures in the field. The majority of my photographs are processed in Adobe Lightroom.
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December 2010 – Selfoss Torrent
Just a short ten minute walk upstream from Europe’s largest waterfall ‘Dettifoss’ is the spectacular waterfall(s) ‘Selfoss’. Unlike the sheer might and power of Dettifoss, Selfoss consists of a large number of smaller waterfalls all cascading over a long rocky ledge on both sides of the ravine. It is as spectacular and awe inspiring as Detifoss and can be photographed from both sides of the river. This photograph was taken shortly after sunrise as the rising sun just kissed the lip of the rocky backdrop. This was probably the most challenging photograph I made in Iceland. I was standing in the middle of a huge plume of spray that had soaked both me and my camera gear. Everything, including my lens, camera and ND filter were wet. This was one of only a few frames that I managed to get where the LEE filter was not covered in water droplets.
November 2010 – Burning Berg
Taken as the midnight sun was setting behind the icebergs on the shores of the Jokulsarlon Glacier lagoon. A higher resolution version of this photograph is on my main Portfolio website under Iceland. Prints are available through Source Photographica.
October 2010 – Blue Berg
During one of my last few days in Iceland I drove back to the Jokulsarlon Glacier lagoon and the nearby black sand beaches to see if any fresh icebergs had washed ashore – as indeed they had. This iridescent blue iceberg, polished by the waves was beautifully back lit and was glowing from within when I set up my tripod and took this photograph. For scale, the iceberg is about the size of a small car. A higher resolution version of this photograph is on my main Portfolio website under Iceland. Prints are available upon request. This photograph won the 2011 World Extreme Environment People’s Choice Award and received a GOLD award at the 2011 Australian Professional Photography Awards in the landscape category.
September 2010 – Rainbow at Gullfoss
This photograph was taken during the last few days of the expedition to Iceland. I was travelling and shooting alone at this point in the trip. Daniel (my guide for the first twelve days I was in Iceland) had suggested that it would be worth my while making the drive to the waterfall ‘Gullfoss’ from the geothermal area at Hveravellir after the evenings sunset shoot and in time for dawn at the waterfall. As I have already blogged about that drive back from Hveravellir was horrendous due to not only the road conditions, but the thick fog that had rolled in reducing visibility to about ten metres.
I arrived at Gullfoss shortly before sunrise and grabbed a quick power nap in the car whilst I waited for first light. Dawn bought with it cloudy overcast conditions with no sign of colour in the sky; but I took the short walk down to the falls anyway in the hope something would happen – and indeed it did.
August 2010 – One Eye
This entry for photograph of the month is a few days early; but I am leaving for Iceland tomorrow for three weeks so it was now or never for an update. What I love about this photograph is the ‘gleam’ in this leopards eye – its a very natural, almost wild sort of moment in a very unnatural set of surroundings. I shot this at the Melbourne Zoo just on feeding time as it was beginning to rain. I deliberately used a wide open aperture to throw the background out of focus and to emphasise the critical focus on the eye. Leopards are stunningly beautiful animals I enjoyed photographing this Persian Leopard immensely.
July 2010 – Footprints on Mars
This second photograph from Perry Sandhills in New South Wales was taken the following morning about ten minutes before sunrise (although I never saw sunrise – the sun was buried behind layers of thick cloud). The morning was cold, with howling winds, racing clouds and regular rain showers – In short, weather that is far from comfortable (although quite conducive to good light) for outdoor photography. Nevertheless I persevered, stuck out the weather and came away with a second photograph I am very pleased with. I used a similar approach to the previous evenings shoot using a wide angle lens close to the ground with a three stop soft neutral density filter to darken the clouds. The twenty five second exposure has captured the clouds streaking across the sky adding a good deal of drama to the image. I could easily be accused of using LEE’s new Big Stopper ten stop ND filter for this photograph, but the truth is it just wasn’t necessary. The winds were pushing the clouds along at a rate of knots and any long exposure was going to blur them significantly.
June 2010 – Snow Leopard
The third photograph in my 2010 Wildlife Portraits Project is a of a Snow Leopard in profile. Probably my favourite of the big cats for its cute factor alone; I have had several attempts over the years to get a good photograph of a Snow Leopard. Unfortunately, they have not eventuated for various reasons; usually because the Leopard was in hiding or at least partially obscured. The Melbourne Zoo enclosure for the Snow Leopard is not what I would call photographer friendly (or even Leopard friendly for that matter) with its thick bars and dense undergrowth it presents a challenge requiring a degree of patience (and luck). This photograph was one of the last I took for the day as the light was fading. I like it very much for the clean overall profile and the keen glare in the Leopard’s eye.
May 2010 – Cloud Warp
I scouted this location more than a year ago and had kept it in the back of my mind for its beautiful lake with the old rowing boat set against the vine yards. I used my 24mm lens in combination with the LEE Big Stopper to give me a 13.0 second exposure in bright sunlight at F8/ ISO 100. Contrary to how it might appear I did not use a polariser. The long exposure has captured the clouds streaking across the sky and has added a good deal of drama to the image. A higher resolution copy of this photograph is also in my Australian Portfolio on my website at www.jholko.com
April 2010 – Alpine Valley
The road and drive up to Mount Buffalo in the Victorian Alps is one of my favourites in Victoria. The road snakes around the mountain and at various points provides excellent views to both the East and West for Sunrise and Sunset photography. There are lots of opportunities for landscape photography at Mount Buffalo, but some of the best in my experience are actually on the drive up the mountain. This photograph was taken just before sunrise looking into the Buckland Valley filled with fog. When I left my hotel in the pre-dawn dark and started the drive up the mountain I was unsure if there was going to be any opportunity for photography as visibility was so poor. After climbing half way up the mountain I emerged above the fog and cloud just as the sun was about to rise and was able to take this photograph literally from the side of the road. The swirling cloud and fog in the gum trees in the lower left hand corner of the frame provides the depth and dimensionality that make this photograph enjoyable for me. The orange and yellow glow of dawn adds a wonderful warmth and contrast to the cold blue of the fog. A higher resolution copy of this photograph is also in my Australian Portfolio on my website at www.jholko.com
March 2010 – Where the Elves Lived
I was going through my image library having a sort of semi yearly clean out of shots that I no longer wanted and re-discovered this photograph, which was taken back in May 2008 near Marysville in Victoria – Near the Beech Forest on Lady Talbot Drive. It immediately jumped out at me as this area was completely devastated in the 2009 Black Saturday Bush Fires that ravaged Victoria. As a result of those fires (in which more than 150 people lost their lives) this area no longer exists in this pristine, natural state. After the fires this area was nothing more than a blackened and charred moon scape, devoid of vegetation and animals. Now just over a year on there are signs of vegetation regrowth across the landscape, but it will be many many years before the area fully recovers. The boulders that bear the blackened scars of the fires will serve as a reminder of how badly this area was damaged in the fires for decades to come.
February 2010 – Last Light
This photograph was taken from a chartered helicopter flight with the doors off (for better photography) at an altitude of approximately eleven thousand feet just as the sun was sinking below the horizon. Mount Tasman can be seen on the left and it’s taller brother Mount Cook (the tallest mountain in New Zealand) to its right. Fox Glacier can be seen in the lower right hand corner of the frame. There is something quite magical and elusive about Alpine Glow. The normal crisp clean whites of the snow and ice are cast in pink and mauve hues that add a wonderful dimensionality and colour that exists for only a few brief minutes when the conditions are perfect. I was very fortunate to be in this spectacular location with perfect weather in the dead of winter and to be able to photograph a wonderful example of Alpine Glow.
January 2010 – Drought
This photograph was taken at what used to be Mitre Lake at Mount Arapiles near Natimuk and Horsham in Western Victoria. I scouted this location on a previous visit and new it would make a great photograph with the right light. The composition works for me with the parched land and dead wood in the foreground leading the eye off to the distant Mount Arapiles and dawn sky. In the end I took this photograph just before sunrise as I felt it would offer the best light. The colour in the sky was greatly enhanced by smoke from the bush-fires that ravaged Victoria in Summer 2009.