24 September 2012

Awesome video footage from our Ultimate Bears photo tour

We have some awesome footage to share with you, shot by Daryl Godkin, one of our participants on this year's Squiver photo tour to Alaska. We are happy to tell you that both Daryl and the GoPro survived this close encounter :-) You can view the video on my Facebook page or by clicking the image below. Want to join us next year? You can find more information about our bear photo tour on our website.

19 September 2012

Eye to Eye

Icons. Most people love them, many landscape photographers hate them, and both groups for the same reason: because they're icons.

Arches NP in Utah is full of icons, and most of them have been photographed to death by millions of people who were all equally excited when they were standing right next to one of them. Especially the ones close to the parking of course ;-)

I like photographing these iconic places, because they're usually worth seeing with your own eyes, and because they provide a challenge to any serious photographer: how on earth am I going to create something different here? I've been to many places that few people have ever visited before, and to shoot something original in those places is very easy - just point your camera in any direction, and you're done. Well, maybe not like that, but you know what I mean. When you're standing in a spot from where many thousands, or even millions of photographs have been taken before you, it makes you think a little more about what you're going to do.

Before my first visit to Arches I had seen many pictures of Turret Arch shot through North Window, and never had I noticed that North Window was actually this big. It wasn't until I walked towards this giant opening and noticed it's position relative to Turret Arch that I realized that I had been completely wrong. It's a way more impressive scene than the photographs I had seen ever suggested.

The first thing I therefore did was to add a human element (who else?) to the shot to give a sense of scale to the image. It's still the same icon that's been shot to death, but the combination of the human element and the snow in the background make it just a little more different from the rest, which was all I was after.

I also shot another version of this scene without the person and with very different lighting conditions that I will post later.

If you would like to join us on our next Utah workshop, please check out our website for more information, pictures and tour impression video clips.


12 September 2012

Nature Photographer Of The Year - again!

I am very proud to announce that, for the second year in a row, I won the title Nature Photographer Of The Year at the prestigious International Photography Awards (IPA), as well as several other prizes.

My entry The Valley Of Death was awarded 1st Prize in the Nature-Trees category at this year’s edition of the competition, and it was chosen as the overall winner of the Nature category. The winning series consists of five landscape photographs that I shot in my favorite country, Namibia.

When we first visited Namibia many years ago, few people had heard of the country, let alone seen pictures of it. Countless times I've heard comments like 'is this for real?' or 'that must have been photoshopped' every time I showed the pictures that I had shot of the surreal Namibian landscapes. But things change. Over the past years, Namibia has become a popular destination amongst landscape photographers from all over the world. As a result, there is a steady growth of images of this stunning country, and each year I visit Namibia it's getting more and more difficult to return with original shots. And that's a good thing. It has pushed me to try harder, to find new viewpoints, new perspectives, and to experiment with different techniques. This winning series is the result of that hard work, and I am extremely happy that it all paid off. I consider the IPA to be the most inspiring photographic competition on this planet, and I am honored to see my name amongst those of many great artists who have all raised the artistic bar with their photography.

One of five images from the series 'The Valley Of Death', featuring dead camelthorn trees in Deadvlei,shot on a rare foggy morning in Namibia. 1st Prize in the Nature category and the overall winning entry.

But that's not all - I also won 1st Prize in the Nature-Other category for my entry Dwarfed, a series of landscape photographs shot at various locations, featuring small human figures in awe-inspiring scenery. I like to do this in my wildlife photography as well, and as a result an English photo magazine once called me 'a wildlife photographer who thinks like a landscape photographer'. And although I don't consider myself a wildlife photographer, I see what they mean, and I think they're right. It's the landscape that I often value more than the subject itself. The winning shots were taken in Libya, Iceland, Algeria and the US. Special thanks to Daniella for posing for me in three of the five pictures - you may only be a few pixels high in each shot, but they wouldn't have been the same without you.

Bizarre rock structures in the Algerian desert are towering over Daniella after sunset.
1st Prize in the Nature-Other category.

And it doesn't stop there, because I also won 2nd Prize in the Travel category for my entry ‘Iceland’. Earlier this year Daniella and I spent quite some time in Iceland to set up a new photo tour there, and we were amazed by the untamed beauty of this incredible island. It is a landscape photographer's paradise, and it's basically impossible to take a bad photograph when you're surrounded by so much awesomeness. No matter where you point your camera, there is always enough potential for a great shot. My winning series consists of five photographs that were shot in the South and the North of Iceland.

A large chunk of ice on a black lava beach near Jökulsárlón, shot at sunrise. 2nd Prize in the Travel category.

And the good news continues, because I also won 3rd Prize in the Wildlife category for my entry ‘Close Encounters’, featuring a series of 5 images of, well, close encounters with various wildlife. And I received two Honorable Mentions - one for a black and white pano landscape shot from Namibia, and one for a black and white series of elephant shots. This puts me in the top of the most awarded photographers in this year’s competition, and it's a surreal experience.

African elephant, photographed from a few feet away. Part of a series of
five images, and 3rd Prize winner in the Wildlife category.

As a category winner, I am still in the race to win the title International Photographer Of The Year. During the tenth Annual Lucie Awards gala on October 8, one of the eight finalists will be crowned overall winner, earning one of the coveted Lucie statues and a cheque for 10,000 USD. Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend the event as we will be in Zambia hosting our Beyond The Great Rivers tour, but please wish me luck!

All the winning photographs are available as fine art prints. For prices and sizes, please have a look at the shop section on our website.

And if you would like to learn how to shoot images like this yourself, why not join us on one of our photo tours? For an overview of the tours we currently offer, please visit the photo tours section on our website.