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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The photograph of the month for April 2021 comes from my scouting trip to Mongolia in Winter of 2019 to photograph the Pallas Cat (Read the Trip Report). One of my main goals for this field trip was not only to find the Pallas Cat, but to be able to photograph it in the snow. Generally, Pallas Cat do their best to stay out of the snow when possible. Their short legs makes it difficult for them to move quickly in deep snow. This photograph was taken right at the very end of the expedition on my very last day. When exposed and out in the open like this, Pallas Cat will often make itself very flat on the ground to make itself as inconspicuous as possible. Although the Pallas Cat is a predator, it is not at the top of the food chain and can end up as prey for some of the large Eagle species found across the country.
The photograph of the month for March 2021 comes from ‘no-mans’ land between northern Finland and Russia and is of a young wolf slinking across the water logged landscape during a late Autumn snowfall. This photograph appeals to me on multiple levels. There is a wonderful ‘hunters’ glean in the wolfs eyes that has both purpose and focus. The soft grasses in the foreground and the out of focus forest area in the distant background really add wonderful context and the first snows of winter add that wonderful touch of drama. Ultimately, this photograph works because it was taken at eye level with the subject, which draws the viewer into the wolfs world. Anytime you can photograph wildlife at eye level you have a strong chance of creating a far more intimate photograph than would otherwise be possible.
The photograph of the month for February 2021 comes from my last Emperor Penguin expedition to Gould Bay in Antarctica (I am really looking forward to returning in late 2022). One of the challenges with Emperor Penguin photography is being able to effectively isolate one or two penguins from the main colony (often easier said than done). As I have often quipped, Penguins have little respect for composition.
In this photograph, an isolated adult was in the process of feeding its young after returning from a fishing expedition. This was one of the photographs I was really hoping to capture during my last expedition. This is a moment that only lasts a few seconds and was something I made a very concerted effort to capture. Typically, one of the adults walks miles across the sea ice before spending its time fishing and subsequently returning to feed its chick. The actual feeding process lasts just a second or two before the other parent takes their turn to take the long walk across the sea ice to go fishing.
I want to kick off my photo of the month series for 2021 with an image I shot in January of 2020 of an Emperor Penguin on the sea ice in the Ross Sea Region of Antarctica (Read the Trip Report). This was one of the very few Emperor Penguins we encountered on this expedition and the only Emperor we were actually able to photograph on the ice at eye level. Although we saw quite a few during the expedition almost all of them were either in the water or were at to great a distance to photograph. In this example, we landed on the frozen sea ice with our zodiacs for evening drinks and serendipity stepped in and provided a wonderful photographic opportunity. The Emperor penguin, curious about all the people on the ice, jumped out of the water onto the ice and proceeded to provide us a wonderful half hour session on the ice.