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 2013 – March of the Penguins
I have been notoriously late to update my photo of the month throughout 2013 and I am again more than two weeks late with my final photograph for the year. Unfortunately my hectic travel schedule this year has played havoc with website updates and I have not been quite as timely as I would have liked with updates here on my blog. Nevertheless, I am pleased to close off my photographs of the month for 2013 with this image of Penguins marching across the sea ice in Antarctica. This is my favourite photograph from my recent expedition to Antarctica and really needs to be seen in large print to appreciate the full grandeur, splendour and scale. What I love most about this image is the sense of scale and of the environment in which these hardy creatures survive. I was also blessed with some wonderful polar light at the time we spotted these penguins marching in the distance. This photograph was made with the Canon EOS1DX and Canon 200-400mm F4L IS with inbuilt 1.4 Teleconverter and was shot at 560mm at ISO200 F8 1/500th of a second handheld. A higher resolution version of this photograph can be seen on my primary website at www.jholko.com in the Antarctica Portfolios.November 2013 – Lemaire Channel Reflections
I recently returned from my 2013 photography expedition to Antarctica and have started to edit and process the images I shot during this remarkable trip. I will have a full report on this expedition over the coming days here on my blog but wanted to share this photograph from the Lemaire Channel in Antarctica as my photograph of the month for November. The Lemaire Channel experience on this expedition was nothing short of breathtaking with incredible reflections in the dark still Antarctic waters. This was our longest day of shooting during the trip and saw us up rise before 4am and shoot through until after midnight. The conditions on arrival at the entrance to the Lemaire were anything but ideal. Low cloud and clagged in conditions had me more than concerned as the sun began to rise. Then as if someone flicked a light-switch the cloud lifted and we were greeted to an incredible experience as we glided through the Lemaire Channel where we were treated to an incredible photographic display of light and reflection. To top it off we were the first ship of the season to navigate this amazing passage of water.October 2013 – Feeding Frenzy
One of the most amazing wildlife encounters I experienced during the two months I recently spent in the Arctic was whilst cruising around the base of one of Svalbard’s largest glacier fronts -Lilliehöökbreen. As we cruised slowly along the glacial front we discovered a wonderful archway shape in the deep blue ice with thousands and thousands of Kittiwakes engaged in a feeding frenzy at its base. The glacial face at Lilliehöökbreen is extremely active with chunks of ice the size houses and cars regularly calving off into the water below. These ice chunks stir up the marine life near the surface where the birds take advantage in a massive feeding frenzy. We were fortunate to have some wonderfully overcast skies which really makes the blues iridescent in the glacial ice. The Kittiwakes also help give a sense of scale of the massive glacial front.September 2013 – Top of the World
During my recent time in the Arctic I was primarily focused on wildlife photography – specifically Polar Bears, Arctic Fox, Walrus and sea birds. My photograph of the month for August of the large female Polar bear strolling on the pack ice under the midnight sun is one of my favourite wildlife images from these recent trips. I did however, also shoot landscape images and one of my favourites and my photograph of the month for September is this image I titled ‘Top of the World’. Photographed from the crows nest of the M.S Origo as we cruised slowly north into the pack ice around 80º North of Svalbard. I used a Sigma 15mm Fish Eye lens for a super wide angle of view and to create a feeling of curvature of the earth. I feel that this photograph captures the essence for me of what it is like to be on board ship high in the Arctic – a truly incredible experience.August 2013 – Midnight Stroll
The observant amongst you may have noticed that I have been a little slack of late in updating my photo of the month here on my blog. I did have the best intentions to update the photo of the month whilst I was in the Arctic but the little down time I did have between workshops and expeditions was spent catching up on email correspondence. This photograph of a large female Polar Bear is my photograph of the month for August (Yes – September is coming soon!) and was taken at approximately 80º North of Svalbard at the edge of the pack ice around midnight. We were fortunate to come across this bear on a fresh seal kill and we spent a couple of hours making photographs of this incredible animal. This particular image was shot with the Canon EOS 1DX and the new Canon 200-400mm F4L IS lens with inbuilt 1.4 Teleconverter and was actually shot through the open porthole of my cabin window on M.S Origo. M.S Origo is a wonderful ship for polar photography – with operable portholes that are only 60cm above the pack ice it provides the perfect vantage point for photographing these incredible animals. You can see a higher resolution version of this photography on my Live-Books website at www.jholko.comJuly 2013 – Svínafellsjökull Glacier
One of the things I love most about photographing glaciers and icebergs is the incredible colour and textural detail to be found in the ice. On my last winter workshop to Iceland earlier this year I made a conscious effort to really focus on the intimate landscape much more than the grand vista and the glaciers were the ideal subject and source of inspiration (as they always are). I have always been attracted to glaciers, but as I spend more and more time with them I find myself drawn more and more by the details and seductive beauty of an ever-changing ice landscape. There is an incredible beauty in glacial ice that is bought about through time, immense pressure and environmental considerations. This intimate photograph from the Svínafellsjökull Glacier in Iceland I feel illustrates the beauty and color to be found in just this single rapidly disappearing glacier in the south of Iceland.June 2013 – Ghost City
The photograph of the month for June is one I recently made at sunrise during my trip to the Gobi Desert in remote China. This was a wonderful location for photography in what is locally known as the Yardang landscape. A landscape comprised of unusual compressed earth formations and outcroppings that have been eroded by the wind over many hundreds of years. The area is so named for the eerie and unusual sounds the wind makes as it whips around the desert formations at night. It was just one of the remarkable locations we visited during our time in this remote part of China.May 2013 – Goðafoss #2
The photo of the month for May 2014 is also from Godafoss waterfall in the North of Iceland. This photograph was taken from the edge of the top of the falls with the Canon 17mm F4L Tilt and Shift Lens on the Canon 1DX Camera. I used a custom made adapter to hold a 3-Stop LEE graduated ND filter and the LEE Big Stopper 10 Stop ND filter. Exposure time was eight seconds at F5.6. In hindsight, I think I actually prefer this photograph from the top of the falls to the other one I posted last month. This photograph has a more dramatic feeling with the snow and ice in the foreground and I feel better emphasises the horseshoe shape of the falls.April 2013 – Goðafoss
I had planned to post daily updates to my blog during my back-to-back Iceland winter workshops. However, that plan quickly went the way of the Dodo once I realized I was just not going to have any spare time. Any down time I did have between shooting, eating and driving was quickly eaten up with catching a few hours sleep or planning the next day’s shooting schedule with my friend and guide Daniel Bergmann (winter workshop locations are flexible based on prevailing weather). I am only just now starting to eat into my back log of thousands of emails (I will get even with the spammers one day) and catching up on missed items and upcoming events – more to come on some upcoming events in a future post. In the meantime, I have had little time to do more than import the 3000 images I shot during the month in Iceland into Lightroom and give them a cursory glance. One image that immediately jumped out at me was a photograph I made between the two workshops in the north of Iceland at Goðafoss. Those of you who are regular readers of my blog or who are familiar with Iceland will already be aware of Goðafoss waterfall. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this waterfall: Goðafoss is located in the Mývatn district of North-Central Iceland at the beginning of the Sprengisandur highland road. It is not the largest or most dramatic waterfall in Iceland, but its in my opinion the most beautiful and probably the most spectacular. The water of the river Skjálfandafljót falls from a height of 12 meters over a width of 30 meters in a horseshoe shape that forms the falls; which are easily approached along a short walking track from the car park. The falls can be approached from two different sides although I personally prefer the hotel side away from the tourist car park.
March 2013 – Ice Diamonds
Photographed at the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon in Iceland.
February 2013 – Road to Oblivion
The photograph of the month for February was taken toward the end of my last workshop to Iceland. We had risen before dawn and driven into the highland region of Veiðivötn in the hope of some magical light at sunrise. What we discovered was a sea of fog had descended over the area during the night and reduced visibility to near zero. Exhausted from ten days shooting with no real sleep we pulled the four wheel drive super jeep over and decided to grab some shut eye in the hope the rising sun would burn off some of the fog. An hour or so later the sun had risen and the fog had started to lift revealing the alien landscape of Veiðivötn where iridescent green moss spreads its tendrils across the black volcanic sand landscape.
This photograph was taken only a few metres from where we pulled the car over and was shot looking back across the road on which we had just driven. Shot with the Canon 1DX and Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS at ISO100 F8 1/13th of a second on a tripod.January 2013 – Half Moon Bay Antarctica
It has been sweltering hot the last few days in Melbourne Australia with temperatures today peaking at an oven roasting 40+ degrees Celsius. Those of you who know me well know that I would much prefer to be caught in a snowstorm unprepared than stuck in this kind of weather. With the mercury at a summer high the only way I could find to cope with the heat was to crank up the air conditioner and think of icebergs. So with the air conditioner working overtime in my studio I have been reviewing some of the images I shot in Antarctica in 2011 and found one I had not yet processed from Half Moon Bay. This photograph was taken during one of our early shore landings and was one of around a dozen frames I shot of this particular iceberg. This was one of the few images on the entire trip that I utilised a tripod for as I wanted a very slow shutter speed to soften the water and to better emphasise and juxtapose the chalky blue iceberg against the distant soft fog and snow. This frame was also the only sharp frame from the series as the iceberg was imperceptibly moving with the current which resulted in the rest of the frames suffering from motion blur. I used the Canon 70-200mm F2.8L IS at the 200mm end at F11 with a 10 second exposure and the LEE Big Stopper. A higher resolution version of this photograph can be seen on my website at www.jholko.com