The Big Issue : Edition 450
FROZEN IN A MOMENT, THE BEST WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHS REQUIRE TIME, PATIENCE...AND SOMETIMES A DEAD RODENT. Acting Naturally ROVING EYE » SERIES FROM WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR, 2013 ATTENTION ALL PHOTOGRAPHERS: there is still time to get that once-in-a-lifetime shot that could scoop the pool at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Entries close on 27 Feb. And while it’s tempting to say “So hurry up!”, the crucial quality shared by the best nature photographers is patience. Oodles and oodles of patience. Plus resourcefulness. Finding a subject is just the start; capturing the subject in the desired manner – with everything just right, including lighting and composition – often means an awful lot of waiting. In the world of humans, supermodels are notorious for being both temperamental and expensive. But at least you can tell a supermodel your intentions. This is seldom possible when the subjects are an elusive owl, or elephants, or a fox. Everything must be done on their terms. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, now in its 50th year, is like the annual Oscars for nature photographers. It includes non-animal categories such as ‘Wildscapes’, which in the 2013 competition was won by Sergey Gorshkov from Russia, for his picture called The Cauldron. Gorshkov had been waiting for more than three decades to get this shot. Late in 2012, he got the long-awaited news that Plosky Tolbachik, one of two volcanoes in the Tolbachik volcanic plateau in central Kamchatka, Russia, had begun to erupt. “I’ve gone to the area many times, but it had been 36 years since the last eruption,” Gorshkov has explained. For an assignment involving a volcano, one of his problems – ironically – was having to wait until it was warm enough for a helicopter (the only way into the area) to take off. Then, as he approached the crater, the cloud of ash, smoke and steam was so thick he couldn’t see the crater. Every so often, however, a strong wind blew the clouds away, and he could see a 200m-high fountain of lava spouting out of the crater and molten rivers of lava running down. Canadian photographer Connor Stefanison was able to work closer to his home in Burnaby, British Columbia. He didn’t need a helicopter to pursue a female barred owl, which favoured a flight path in his region. After observing her movements for some time, he set up several flash units and his camera (triggered by a remote-controlled shutter system – a boon for wildlife photographers), then waited for the owl to swoop. His masterstroke was a dead mouse placed just above his camera. Not only did the usually shy owl take his bait, but she also began calling to her mate – “one of the most exciting calls in the wild”, says Stefanison. The prestigious title Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 went to Greg du Toit of South Africa. He also used a remote control on his camera to capture what he called Essence of Elephants. After staking out a waterhole in Botswana favoured by elephants, du Toit set out to portray “their special energy and state of consciousness”. He used a slow shutter speed (1/30th of a second), which caused a young animal passing close to his camera to be a blur, “to depict these gentle giants in an almost ghostly way.” by Alan Attwood » See more images at nhm.ac.uk.