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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This particular photograph was taken on my South Georgia expedition last year (November 2015 – Read the Full Report) and is of King Penguins all in a row and on the march (or belly slide) to the water. It was snowing heavily when I made this photograph. What really appeals to me about this image is not just the gesture and position of the penguins, but also the abstract nature of the mountain snow patterns in the background and the monochromatic pallet. There is just the slightest hint of yellow in the Penguins to give away that this is a colour photograph. I chose the background when I was composing the photograph and made a series of images as the King Penguins moved through the scene. The photograph scored a coveted Silver with Distinction at the 2016 Australian Professional Photography Awards.November 2016
The photograph of the month for November 2016 is of a teenage polar bear on the frozen Templefjord north of Svalbard. The image was taken during a winter snow mobile scouting trip in March last year with a Canon EOS 1DX camera and Canon 600mm F4L IS MKII Lens. What I really love about this photograph is the simplicity and balance in the image. The bear is walking into the frame with it’s paw nicely curled mid stride (we can see all four legs clearly) and is nicely balanced with the exposed ice covered rock on the left. There is also some really nice blowing snow around the feet of the bear that give great context of how cold it was when I made this photograph (around -20 Celsius). October 2016
The photograph of the month for October 2016 was taken on my Polar Bear expedition to Svalbard this July (read the trip report). I actually made this photograph through the open porthole of my cabin as I wanted to be as low down to the water as possible (wildlife photographs are almost always stronger and more powerful when you get down to eye level with the subject). I had been photographing the bear from the deck of the ship with a 600mm lens. When he started to approach closer to the ship I grabbed a wide angle lens and ran downstairs to my cabin as I new there would be an opportunity to capture a dramatic image of the bear in the landscape from a low perspective. We were fortunate to have some really dramatic cloud and lovely soft arctic light under the midnight sun. September 2016
The photograph of the month for September 2016 is of a blue morph Arctic Fox on the prowl for something to eat during high winds and blowing snow on a remote Iceland peninsula in winter. Taken during my three year project on the Arctic Fox this is one of my favourite images in my new book ‘Melrakki’ on the Arctic Fox. The photograph itself was taken with a Canon EOS 1DX and a Canon 600mm F4L IS MKII lens from a snow hole . The snow hole allowed me to get down to eye level with the fox to create a more intimate image than would otherwise have been possible. I have particularly vivid memories of this day because of the cold and because of the constant need to shovel the snow out of my snow hole as built up around me. The light and blowing snow created fabulous atmosphere though and it was worth the effort for the resulting photograph.August 2016
Following on from my Lofoten photograph of the month for July is another image from the Island archipelago. This time its a midnight photograph of the Aurora Borealis over the Lofoten mountains. Taken during my March winter workshop earlier this year (Read the Trip Report) we were fortunate to encounter some pretty good aurora on a clear evening. The landscapes of the northern islands of Lofoten are really quite something to behold. Precipitous and ominous peaks rise straight out of the ocean and make for the perfect back drop for the Aurora Borealis. With a dusting of fresh snow and arctic winter light the entire scene is akin to a fairy tail location and subsequently the photographic opportunities can be truly superb. I have found over the years that one of the keys to Aurora photography is to vary your shutter speed. The lights can come and go at varying speeds and its important to keep shape and definition in the patterns. In this instance, I settled on a shutter speed of 15 seconds after some experimentation as I felt this yielded the best balance of shape and color blur. I am looking forward to returning to Lofoten in March 2018 for a second winter workshop.July 2016
In March this year I led a new winter landscape workshop to the Lofoten Islands in Norway (Read the Trip Report) with long time good friend and fellow landscape photographer Martyn Lucas. If you are unfamiliar with Lofoten let me assure you that the landscapes of these northern islands of Norway are really quite something to behold. Precipitous and ominous peaks that rise straight out of the ocean loom over small fishing villages that comprise of small bright red houses lining the shorelines. With a dusting of fresh snow and arctic winter light the entire scene is akin to a fairy tail location and subsequently the photographic opportunities can be truly superb. This particular photograph is in no-way unique (It has been shot countless times ) but it is for me ‘iconic’ and captures the splendid beauty of this fairy tale like location.June 2016
The photograph of the month for June 2016 was taken this February during my Antarctica expedition to the Peninsula. We planned our arrival at the entrance to the Lemaire Channel for very first light and were fortunate to experience one of Nature’s truly great light shows. Over the course of about an hour and a half we cruised and drifted slowly though the brash ice of the Lemaire Channel as the sky exploded in a fireball of orange, red and magenta all around us. I have been fortunate to travel through the Lemaire channel many times over the last few years and these conditions were without doubt the best I have ever experienced.May 2016
It feels only fitting that the photograph of the month for May this year should be from the South Island of New Zealand (where I am currently leading my 2016 Masterclass workshop). This photograph was taken on my 2015 workshop and was one of those ‘drive by shootings’ when one is fortunate to see some really spectacular light, slam on the brakes and be able to grab a photograph before it disappears. In this case, early morning mist burning off a lake. The scene was quite far away from me so I used a long lens and the panorama format (something I rarely do) to capture the scene. It was pouring with rain when I made this photograph. A timely reminder that its well worth getting out to take photographs in inclement weather. April 2016
It seems appropriate that the photograph of the month for April 2016 should be one from Africa; as I currently in Namibia leading a small group workshop to photograph the incredible landscapes of this country. This photograph of the golden sand dune was taken near Dedavlei in the late afternoon as we were returning to our camp for dinner. I took a short hike up into the dunes to gain a more top down perspective and then focused on the play of light across the dune. The wind was whipping the sand off the top of the dune and was beautifully illuminated against the dark backdrop. In many ways this is an iconic photograph for me that really captures the feeling of the desert here in Namibia.March 2016
I am currently in Iceland and have just completed another ten days in the remote north of this amazing country gathering images for my project on the Arctic Fox. This was most likely my last visit to this very difficult to reach area of Iceland in winter as I now have all of the photographs I feel I need to complete the project (the project will be released later this year in book form and a portfolio of prints is available to purchase now). I am going to miss spending time in the field with these incredible animals, but am looking forward to completing the book project when I get back to Australia. This particular photograph is of a male and female Arctic Fox pair that were play fighting in fresh snow about fifty metres from my snow blind. This was also one of my winning photographs in the 2015 Global Arctic Photographer of the Year Award. This photograph is also available to purchase as part of the newly released Arctic Fox Portfolio collection. Details are on my website at www.jholko.com.February 2016
The photo of the month for February 2016 was taken on my first workshop to the desert of Namibia back in 2014 with Andy Biggs. We were driving back from an afternoon photography session at Deadvlei and pulled over by the side of the road to explore a sand dune area. I chose to take a short hike up into the dunes and was rewarded with some really lovely golden light in the late afternoon. I was fortunate that there was also some strong wind blowing the sands around which has created a nice surreal sense of movement in the image. I am very much looking forward to returning to Namibia in late March this year for a small group workshop. I am particularly looking forward to more time to explore and photograph in the giant sand dunes at Sossusvlei.January 2016
The photo of the month for January 2016 is of a male bull Elephant seal at sunrise at Saint Andrews Bay in South Georgia Island. Photographed with the new Canon 5DSR 50 mega pixel camera and the new Canon 11-24mm Ultra Wide Angle Zoom lens this photograph was made by creeping toward the edge of the river and catching the bellow of the seal as he rounded up his harem. If you look closely you can see the expulsion of breathe in the cold morning air.