PHOTO OF THE MONTH 2014

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 2014

One of my favourite Polar animals to photograph are Arctic Fox. They are incredible animals, with an amazing ability to adapt and survive. This photograph of a large male Arctic Fox was shot early this year in March in the extreme northeast of Iceland. It was taken from a snow blind where I spent the better part of a week sitting in a snow hole photographing these animals going about their daily lives. This male was keenly focused on a Gull that was hanging around the snow blind. It was photographed with the Canon EOS 1DX and Canon 600mm F4L IS MKII ISO400 wide open at F4.Arctic Fox AttackNovember 2014

It feels appropriate to post up a Penguin photograph as the image of the month for November as I am currently making my way from Australia to Ushuaia in South America in preparation for two back-to-back expeditions to South Georgia Island and Antarctica. This photograph was taken at Petermann Island in Antarctica in November last year during a fourteen day expedition. Shot near midnight we had been photographing pretty much non stop for more than twenty four hours. This was one of the last images I made that day of a male and female Penguin watching the Antarctic sunset. It was an interesting decision how to expose this shot and in the end I elected to go for more of a silhouette look and let the Penguins go quite dark. The Penguin shape is so distinctive as to be instantly recognisable irrespective of detail. I probably shot two or three dozen different frames of this scene as the Penguins moved around – but it is this one with the outstretched flippers from the male and with the female looking up at him that really worked for me.Penguin LoveOctober 2014

I have been late for the last two months (as I have been on the road) updating my photograph of the month, so I am trying to stay ahead of the curve this month and post early. This photograph was taken on my recent Greenland expedition (a trip report is in the works) from zodiac of a large iceberg off the Greenland coast. This is the first image I have processed from this expedition since I returned. With over 3000 images shot on this expedition alone the process of editing is tedious and laborious. I like to do a quick first pass and grab an image or two that really jumps out at me – in this instance this wonderful iceberg juxtaposed against the dark skies is very evocative for me of what the conditions can be like in the Arctic. These kind of dark and ominous overcast conditions are actually my preferred choice for photographing icebergs. Greenland IcebergSeptember 2014

One of the most anticipated and exciting events of my last trip to Iceland was the scheduled super moon that I had hoped would coincide with clear skies whilst I was in the highlands of Iceland. As luck would have it we were blessed with absolutely perfect conditions and just about ideal light under the midnight sun. My friend Antony and I hiked up to the top of one of Landmannalaugar’s highest peaks where we were able to watch and photograph the rising super moon set against the incredible rhyolite mountains with spectacular light. I have lost track of the number of times I have been to this location now – but this was only the second time I have ever experienced such magical light in the highlands.August 2014

Due to recent travels I am more than a few weeks late with updating my photograph of the month for both August and September. I hope to get to September in the next few days; but in the meantime my photograph of the month for August is of an Atlantic Puffin I photographed at Ingólfshöfdi in Iceland on my first Ultimate Iceland Summer Workshop in July this year. Photographed with the 600mm F4L IS MKII Canon lens on the 1DX during driving rain and wind I used a shutter speed of 1/1000th of a second with a wide open aperture to partially freeze the action. Puffins are like missiles in flight and even at 1/1000th of a second there is blur in the furiously flapping wings.  I could easily have raised the ISO further and frozen the entire Puffin, but I decided after some experimentation on the day that I really liked the sense of movement created in the image with the motion blur in the wings. In this instance the strong wind worked in my favour as it made landing on the cliff edge difficult for the Puffins which forced them to slow down earlier than usual. This photograph was taken just a fraction of a second before this Puffin landed on the cliff edge. The image is full frame and uncropped.July 2014

My photograph of the month for July is from the desert of Namibia in Africa. I shot this image on my recent overland Safari workshop by the roadside at Sossasvlei late in the afternoon. I recall being instantly drawn to the incredible texture and folds in the giant red sand dune juxtaposed against the fossilised dead trees.  I was fortunate to also have some wonderful afternoon light and blowing sand to add atmosphere. This is one of my favourite photographs from my recent trip to Namibia. I used the Canon 200-400mm F4L IS Lens with inbuilt 1.4 Teleconverter at 1/400th of a second at ISO200 on the Canon 1DX.June 2014 – White Angel

I have been retrospectively trolling through some of my photographs from the Arctic last year and came across this one of an Ivory Gull coming into land on an ice flow north of Svalbard. This was one of half a dozen or so Ivory Gulls we encountered last year whilst we were photographing Polar Bears at the edge of the pack ice. Ivory Gulls are incredibly angelic birds with pure white plumage and jet black feet.  With a little luck I hope to see them again this year in August when I lead my Arctic expedition to Svalbard and Greenland. This is one of those photographs I have absolutely no recollection of taking and I am not sure why it did not jump out at me on my initial and subsequent pass through edits. Nevertheless, ‘White Angel’ is my photograph of the month for June.May 2014 – Bear Reflection

My photograph of the month for May is of a large female Polar Bear I photographed in late July last year at the edge of the permanent pack ice north of Svalbard. I was fortunate to be in the right position when this bear wandered up to the edge of the ice and peered down into the still waters and her own reflection. In terms of distance this Polar Bear was less than thirty feet from the boat when I made this image and I used Canon’s new 200-400mm F4L IS lens with inbuilt 1.4 Teleconverter. This photograph scored a highly coveted Gold Award at the recent VPPY Awards and was one of the photographs in my Creative Folio and Science, Nature and Environment Folio.April 2014 – Penguin Rookery at Petermann Island Antarctica

I returned home late last night from an incredible two months spent in both Iceland and the oldest deserts in the world in Namibia. Both my Iceland winter 2014 workshop and Namibia 2014 workshops were incredible experiences and I will have a lot more to say about both trips over the coming weeks including complete debrief reports here on my blog. In the meantime, whilst I was away I learned that several of my photographs had made the finals in both ANZANG and Nature’s Best Photography competitions for 2014. Both of these competitions are two of the most respected amongst outdoor photographers today and I am extremely honoured to be a finalist for the third year running in Nature’s Best Photography. Judging is still underway for both competitions but I can reveal that one my finalist images for ANAZNG is from my last trip to Antarctica – Penguin rookery at Petermann Island. This photograph was taken around 11pm in the evening under perfect conditions, magical light and the rising moon at Petermann Island on my 2013 Antarctica expedition. This photograph is also my photograph of the month for April 2014.March 2014 – Aurora over Hellnar

Whoops.. I have been busy packing for my annual winter workshop to Iceland and almost let another photo of the month slip through the cracks before I board the plane tomorrow. It seems only fitting to post an image from Iceland in Winter as my photo of the month for March given in a couple of days I will be back in my favourite country for photography. This was a photograph I made in March last year whilst leading my winter workshop with Andy Biggs and Daniel Bergmann of Aurora Borealis over the church at Hellnar. This wonderful little church was just a short walk from our guest house accommodation and proved the ideal subject to include beneath the Northern Lights. I am very much looking forward to abandoning the heat of Australia and photographing more Aurora in just a few days time.February 2014 – Petermann Island, Antarctica

My photograph of the month for February is of a Penguin rookery high on the mountain side at Petermann Island in Antarctica. Petermann Island is one of those incredible Antarctic locations where it is possible to go ashore and wander amongst the many Penguin rookeries making photographs. In this instance, we landed late in the evening via zodiac at Petermann Island and spent several hours photographing the landscape and penguins as the sun slowly set in perfect weather conditions. This photograph was taken around 11pm at night and illustrates just how much light is available this late in the evening in Antarctica. We were very fortunate during this landing to have just about perfect conditions with wonderful light and atmospherics. Dedicated expeditions for photography such as this one (Read the Report) are the key difference between capturing images such as this in ideal lighting conditions and just snapshots taken in the middle of the day. If you are interested in travelling to Antarctica for photography I am running two expeditions to the great white continent this year. The first is an extended expedition to South Georgia Island and Antarctica. The second is a shorter expedition to the Antarctica peninsula. Full details, including an itinerary is available for download on the workshops page of my website atwww.jholko.com There are only very limited places remaining on both expeditions. If you want to get more of an idea what it is like to travel on a dedicated photography expedition be sure watch the Polar Experience Video I produced late las year.January 2014 – Seal Kill

I am kicking off 2014 here on my blog with my photograph of the month for January. An image I made in the Arctic in August last year of a large female Polar Bear on a kill on the pack ice north of Svalbard. We were fortunate to spot this Polar Bear on a fresh seal kill and to be able to manoeuvre close in our small ship M.S Origo. Incidentally, this is the same ship I have chartered for a dedicated Polar Bear photography trip in late July in 2015 and I will soon be announcing the details of this expedition here on my blog. M.S Origo is widely regarded as the best ship in the Arctic for photographing Polar Bears due to its low decks and operate portholes a mere fifty centimetres above the waterline. This enables the photographer to get down to eye level with wild Polar Bears living and hunting on the pack ice. I made this particular photograph with the Canon EOS1DX and Canon’s new 200-400 F4L IS with inbuilt 1.4 Teleconverter and photographed the bear through the open porthole in my cabin. By shooting down low through the open porthole I was able to get down to eye level with the bear and create a far more intimate photograph than would have been possible from a larger ship. There is simply no substitute for being able to get down to eye level with the target animal in wildlife photography. In this instance I used the inbuilt 1.4 teleconverter and this image was shot at 560mm full frame.

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