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 2011 – Green Ice and Pebbles
To state the palette of colour in Antarctica is extensive and extraordinary is to fail to do justice to Mother Nature. Many of the icebergs are the most incredible surreal deep blues above water and the deepest darkest fluroescent greens below the waves. This small piece of water carved and polished ice was lying on polished pebbles in around a foot of crystal clear water on one of our early shore landings. Its form and structure immediately struck me and I new I had an opportunity to capture a photograph with a slow shutter speed that would be quite different from most iceberg photographs. Other than the slow shutter speed – you don’t need to suspend your disbelief. As those who attended this trip will attest; the colours in Antarctica are quite literally unbelievable and no embellishment is required in post processing. The wind would have been a good 30-40 knots when this photograph was taken and you can see large plums of spindrift coming off the distant mountain peaks across the channel.
November 2011 – Dragon Eggs
My apologies; but I am a few days late updating the photo of the month this month. A rather nasty tummy bug has seen me laid up in bed for the last few days and I am only now catching up on my back log. The photograph of the month for November is from the Moeraki Boulders in the South Island of New Zealand. The Moeraki boulders are located on the East Coast of the South Island not far from Dunedin. The area is so named for the large and highly unusual spherical boulders which are grouped together on the beach. The boulders themselves are only a short five minute stroll from the car-park making them a very popular tourist attraction. I was fortunate during my visit to the boulders that I had the entire location to myself at both sunrise and sunset on two occasions – one of the benefits of shooting in the dead of winter I guess.
October 2011 – Highway to Hell
I realised a few days ago whilst doing some ‘blog housekeeping’ that I had neglected to give one of my favourite photographs from Iceland ‘Photograph of the Month’ status. This photograph; which I titled ‘Highway to Hell’ was taken in the geothermal Namafjall region of Iceland and was travel photograph of the week over at National Geographic a few months ago. For me, this is one of my personal favourite photographs from Iceland as it portrays a landscape that is truly alien and highly evocative. A higher resolution version can be seen both on National Geographic’s website and on my portfolio website at www.jholko.com under Iceland. This photograph also won a Silver award at the 2011 Australian Professional Photography Awards in the landscape category.
September 2011 – Godafoss
Sticking with the waterfall theme the photograph of the month for September is the waterfall ‘Godafoss’; which literally translated from Icelandic means ‘Waterfall of the Gods’. Godafoss is one of Iceland’s most beautiful and easily accessible waterfalls. The waterfall is formed by the cascading glacial waters of the river Skja’lfandafljo’t; which has cut a horseshoe canyon through the rock forming the shape of the falls. Despite the fact that Godafoss is smaller than many of Iceland’s famous waterfalls it is strikingly beautiful and was one of the many locations I had been really looking forward to visiting and photographing. As fate would have it the Gods would smile on my visit to Godafoss and deal an amazing hand with some of the most stunning light I have experienced for landscape photography. A higher resolution version of this photograph can be seen in my Iceland portfolio at www.jholko.com.
August 2011 – Selfoss Before Storm
Iceland is a country well known for its waterfalls. One of its most famous is Selfoss; a waterfall I made several repeat visits to during my 2010 trip. What makes Selfoss so unique and other worldly is the way it cascades down both sides of a deep rocky canyon. I have not seen such a geological feature anywhere else in the world and as far as I know it is unique to Selfoss and Iceland. The light was very different on my second visit to Selfoss and on this occasion a storm was building and dark storm clouds were racing across the arctic sky as I set up my tripod to take this photograph. The water has an almost chocolate colour as it is glacial and full of sediment from melting glaciers upstream. Not long after I made this exposure it began to rain heavily and I was forced to abandon any further shooting; but it didn’t matter as I had the photograph I wanted and an image I have titled ‘Selfoss before Storm’. A higher resolution version of this photograph can be seen on my primary portfolio website at www.jholko.com under Iceland. Limited Edition Fine Art Pigment on Paper prints are available of this photograph through Source Photographica in Brighton.
July 2011 – Waterfall Drill
Some of the most enjoyable photography I have done in the South Island of New Zealand has been by small mountain helicopter. There really is no better way to see, experience and photograph the Southern Alps and glaciers than by helicopter. With the doors removed for better photography, warm clothes and cameras ready I spent just an over an hour this trip photographing the spectacular landscape. One of the goals of this trip was to try and get a photograph of the waterfall drilling down into the side of Fox Glacier. I had flown over these falls several times on previous trips, but had not been able to get the shot I wanted. My pilot from this trip was Mike from Mountain Helicopters. Mike is as good as they come and he was able to position the helicopter in the ideal position for me to lean out and take this frame with a wide angle 24mm lens on the full frame Canon 1DS MKIII. We were less than 30 metres off the deck when I took this photograph.
June 2011 – Landmannalaugar
May 2011 – Well of Life
There are certain photographs that are immediately ‘other worldly’ emotive and I think this one may qualify. Located at a remote location called Hveravellir, deep in the interior of Iceland this geothermal pool is well off the beaten track of bitumen roads and civilisation. The seventy mile rocky track into Hveravellir from Gullfoss is about as rough and bone jarring as any in Iceland. Liberally sprinkled with blind corners, rocks the size of soccer balls and deep ruts its a challenge for even the hardiest of 4-wheel drives. I passed two broken down cars on the way into Hveravellir and I dont think my rental Jeep’s suspension will ever be the same; there is also a serious question mark over the ‘check engine’ light.
I first saw a photograph of this deep blue geothermal pool several years ago and since that moment have wanted to visit this amazing location. I took this photograph just after sunset – you can see there is still a faint glow in the distant sky over the glacier. The sulphurous steam rising off the pool and silica growth around the pool give an appearance not of this world – indeed the whole landscape is quite alien. This photograph was a finalist in the 2011 World Extreme Environment Photograph of the Year Awards and received a Silver award at the 2011 Australian Professional Photography Awards.
April 2011 – Blue Ice Fog
Without a doubt my favourite two subjects for landscape photography are Icebergs and Glaciers; and this photograph from the Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon in Iceland last year has both. Icebergs have a magical ethereal quality that I find extremely appealing and photogenic. I made a special effort whilst in Iceland to spend extra time at the lagoon so that I could photograph the many icebergs that have carved off the Vatnajokull glacier.
March 2011 – Birth of a Rainbow
Rainbows are just about one of the most interesting atmospheric phenomena a landscape and nature photographer can hope to capture when out making images in the wilderness. They usually form at the ‘edges of weather’ and are almost a guarantee of great light. The combination of arctic sunset light and passing rain showers at Landmannalaugar provided a wonderful opportunity for me to capture some stunning light at the beginning/end of a rainbow. The combination of soft whimsical light, rainbow and volcanic landscape has an ethereal other world quality that is quite evocative. Landmannalaugar is one of my favourite locations in Iceland and I am very much looking forward to going back – Sooner rather than later.
February 2011 – Walls of China
This photograph was one of the last exposures I made at the Walls of China during my end of January trip and is subsequently one of my favourite images from the trip. Whilst wandering around the features I was immediately attracted to the curving line of sand leading from left to right that I have used in my composition to draw the eye into the photograph. I am always looking for leading lines in Nature as they help convey a sense of depth to a photograph that greatly enhances the viewers experience. The natural formations of the Walls of China really add a sense of drama to this photograph that I find very appealing. This photograph was taken around ten minutes after sunset. You can still see a very faint glow in the Eastern sky. The sandstone features of the Walls of China are softly illuminated by reflected light off the high cloud.
January 2011 – Pot of Gold
This photograph was taken from the summit of one of Landmannalaugar’s highest mountains looking toward the distant rain showers and rainbow as the sun threw beautiful golden cross light across the volcanic mountains. Even now, I get a real visceral thrill looking at the photographs from this shoot. For me, this photograph captures the essence of the magical translucent light Iceland is capable of. You can read about the making of this photograph HERE on my Blog.