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GOLDEN TURTLE 2014 – Finalist in Landscape and Animal Portrait

Blast Off

A huge flock of Black-Legged Kittiwakes blasts off escaping massive calving of Lilliehookbreen (Lilliehook Glacier) in Lilliehook Fjorden on Spitsbergen.
Kittiwakes and other birds use to feed in the nutrient-rich waters in front of the glacier. The frequent calving of glacier face disturbs the water and causes small fish and plankton to rise to the surface becoming an easy prey for the birds. After big calving feeding frenzy starts immediately with thousands of birds sharing the party.
We were fortunate to have very active glacier under overcast skies which really makes the blues very bright in the glacial ice. Add to this lots of patience and a bit of luck and here is the photo.

Big Boss

Very territorial Walrus, photographed on our last trip to Svalbard in August 2014

Unseen Cordilleras

In Patagonia, the Andes mountain range shows its true beauty with some of the most spectacular mountains on the planet. The sheer granite faces of Fitzroy Massif and erupting out of the Patagonian ice-cap rock spires of Cerro Torre always were my main subjects in Argentinean part of Patagonia.
I have been to Patagonia several times leading photography workshops. Good view points and, are somehow limited, and as a result, most of the photos taken here looks alike, and just differs in weather and lighting. This time I have decided to find “New Angles”. We did a lot of hiking and camped in the mountains for three days and also planned several photo-flights.
Main idea of aerial photo-shoot was to capture Cerro Torre and Cerro Fitzroy Massifs with mountain valley in-between and Lago Torre in the foreground. This kind of composition is possible only from the air.
It is not easy task to find reliable services for aerial photography in this remote part of Argentina. As a matter of fact I first tried to arrange photo-shoot here in 2008 and again in 2010 with no result. This time we were more lucky but not without some problems. We first booked Robinson 44 helicopter, as an excellent platform for this kind of photography. Three days before the date of our first flight I was told, that some replacement parts for our helicopter are deadlocked at customs and and that this situation is not going to change anytime soon. We were offered high wing Cessna 172 instead. Cessna 172 is not an equal substitute for Robinson 44 if talking about serious aerial photography. It is possible to remove doors from the helicopter and the air speed is much slower up to a complete hover. But we were eager to complete what was planned and decided to take the offer. When Cessna came for the first flight we have discovered that there is no window on the passenger side of the aircraft. Very unusual setup for aerial photography, but we have found the way to beat this obstacle also. Two of us took a back seat of Cessna and were shooting in turns from pilots side window behind the pilots seat.
It also was an array of smaller things, like jammed hangar door, air traffic controller absent from control tower etc. But the worse of all was The Wind. Almost constant and extremely powerful it has blocked most of our planned flights. We have managed to make two flight out of 8 planned and even this has happened only thanks to our extremely brave and skilled pilot German.
After making several circles and taking decent amount of single shots I decided to take multi-frame panoramic images to get extremely high resolution resulting image. This particular image was combined from 5 vertical frames.

Waterfall at Arroyo Del Salto

Los Glaciares National Park gets its name from the many glaciers that flow from the Southern Patagonian Ice Fields into Argentina. Mt. Fitz Roy, the highest mountain in the park at 11,171 feet (3,405 meters), is on the northern extreme of the park composed of extraordinary granite peaks, lakes, woods, and glaciers.
After a long day of hiking in the Andes, I arrived just in time to catch the last beam of sunlight. The lighting conditions came together perfectly, creating a magical feeling. As I photographed the scene, the sun created a glowing lens-flare effect, so I shaded my camera. When I reviewed my images at home, I ended up preferring the shot with the glowing effect.
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