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Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Star shooters

In this series, we interview some of the finalists from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year about their winning shot and more... 

Danger Man
In this interview, Wildlife Photographer of the Year finalist Alexandre Hec talks about his globe-trotting adventures to capture volcanoes in their fiery glory.
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Danger Man

Wildlife Photographer of the Year finalist Alexandre Hec has a penchant for photographing volcanoes in action. In this interview, he talks about his globe\-trotting adventures to capture them in their fiery glory.

KickerThis is a kicker.

"Since I was young I have always been interested in photography, images of nature and landscapes. One of my strongest memories as a kid was borrowing my parents Kodacolor camera and returning it when the film was finished!"

 

 

 

Is this the first time that you have entered the Wildlife Photographer of the Year? Why did you decide to enter?

 

 

I started sending my pictures into the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition about 3 years ago. I wanted to show my work and see the result. While remaining humble and modest, being a part of this exhibition showed me that it was absolutely necessary for me to continue on this path :-)

 

 

My work has been rewarded several times as part of international competitions, but being selected for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year remains a unique experience. From the 50,000 pictures received, only a hundred are selected, so this recognition has touched me incredibly, since wildlife photography is something that I am really passionate about. This recognition has put me in contact with nature enthusiasts from around the world and drives me to continue my work.

 

 

 

"I love the silence...getting out of our urban world and finding myself in the middle of nature, in the quiet,listening and observing. And if you can take beautiful pictures, well thats absolute bliss for me!"

 

Can you tell us about your photo in the exhibition?

 

 

This photo of Mount Klauea was taken in Hawaii, I absolutely wanted to take pictures of the fight between the molten lava and the ocean. I went to the site several times and despite taking hundreds of photos, I wasnt happy with the result, so I decided to go back one last time. Everything had changed, instead of flowing below the level of the sea, the lava flowed directly out of a small crater. The boat pilot said that he had never seen anything like it. My small inflatable boat was being tossed around on the waves though I managed to hold tight and I finally got the right shot! Photo right: Alexandre Hec/Wildlife Photographer of the Year

 

 

 

 

Volcanoes are nature in its raw state. It is colored, it moves. They change form and mood at each visit. They will never be tamed...

 

How do you think your pictures can alter peoples view of the world?

 

 

We must remain modest but I am convinced that photographers can sensitize people to respect and preserve our planet. Our planet is unique, it is beautiful, without it we would not exist, and yet we treat it so badly ...

 

 

What qualities do you think a wildlife photographer needs?

 

 

 

Patience, sense of observation, knowledge of ones environment, photography is more the result of a quest than an end in itself.

 

 

What advice would you give to any budding photographers out there?

 

 

Make the photos you like, work hard, make progress, and if your pictures please you, they will certainly end up pleasing to others!

 

 

Alexandre's work is featured in our Wildlife Photographer of the Exhibition which showcases 100 stunning wildlife images from across the globe. To see more of Alexandre's work, see here:www.alexandrehec.com

 

 

 

 

Wild Beauty
New-Zealand born Wildlife Photographer of the Year finalist, Lance Van de Vyver travelled to South Africa to follow his passion for photography and guiding. In this Q & A, he talks cameras, conservation and more ...
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Wild Beauty

New Zealand\-born Wildlife Photographer of the Year finalist, Lance Van de Vyver travelled to South Africa to follow his passion for photography and guiding. In this interview, he talks cameras, conservation and more ...

KickerThis is a kicker.

 

How long have you been a photographer? How did you first get into photography?

 

 

I first started taking photos eight years ago during my zoology degree at Massey University - I was trying to find a better way of photographing insects down a telescope. My first lens was a specialised macro lens which only worked at distances between 4 and 10cm from the front of the lens!

 

 

What do you love about wildlife photography?

 

 

 

I love the fact that you have very little control. Nature moves to its own rhythm, and although you can predict animal behaviour and movements, in the end you have no real say in what you will witness and capture. Each photo that you take is a moment that will never happen again, so if you miss it - bad luck!

 

 

 

Is this the first time that you have entered the Wildlife Photographer of the Year? Why did you decide to enter?

 

 

I had entered once before a few years ago, but entering this time I know the standard of my image was so much stronger due to having more photographic experience. I decided to enter as a way to get my name out there in the photography world, and as wildlife photography is my passion - nothing ventured, nothing gained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you tell us about your photo in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition?

 

 

This image was all over in seconds. We were watching the lions playing with the pangolin through thick vegetation. I noticed the cubs were getting more rambunctious with the pangolin and slowly pushing it towards an opening in the branches and up the side of a termite mound. We all readied our cameras and waited. We had about three seconds of shooting before the pangolin was rolled past the opening and the photographic opportunities were over. Most DSLR cameras shoot anywhere up to 16 frames a second these days and I managed to get 20 images in the sequence, which tells me it was very quick!

We were lucky to watch the scene unfold over an hour or so, but the poor pangolin had to put up with the lions for over 14 hours and eventually succumbed to heatstroke. It was mid-January when the poor guy was captured and temperatures in the Kalahari can reach well over 50C. This image was taken just after 7am and we had already reached the mid 40s. Research is suggesting that pangolins cannot regulate their body temperature due to their scales.

During these months they are deep underground during daylight hours where it is much cooler. With the stress of capture and the heat this poor animal really didnt stand much of a chance. I knew I had witnessed something very special that day, but didnt know if I had captured it perfectly on film. It was only the next day reviewing the images that I realised I had got the shot.

 

 

 

"Nature moves to its own rhythm, and although you can predict animal behaviour and movements, in the end you have no real say in what you will witness and capture."

 

 

 

Looking back on your career, what is your most prized photo? Why?

 

 

Of all my images, this has to be my most prized picture. The subjects are some of my favourites (pangolin sightings are rare), it was a once in a lifetime kind of shot and because of the publicity is has brought me. I am in the photographic guiding business, so getting my name out into the public eye with my images is a dream come true.

 

 

How do you think your pictures can alter peoples view of the world?

 

 

I am a conservationist at heart. I hate what we are doing to the planet and how animals are the first to suffer because of human greed and overpopulation. Photography is an amazing way to bring conservation messages to the public. Almost everybody has some form of social media these days, so to add images to a conservation story is a great way to get the message across.

At present I am working as a photographic guide. I take clients from all over the world on safaris to the wildest places in the world, with the goal of teaching photography in the field and ensuring they take the best images possible. There is nothing that beats seeing wildlife in person, however for my clients to be able to re-live the moment over and over again by looking through their images is a very special thing for me.

 

 

What qualities do you think a wildlife photographer needs?

 

 

Patience. Some images can be chanced upon, others can take months of sitting in confined spaces without making any noise before you get your one shot.

Knowledge. There is no point having the best gear in the world if you dont know how to use it. The same can be said about knowing your subject. To improve your success rate you need to know about your subject - at the very minimum where and when it is most likely to be seen.

 

 

 

What advice would you give to any budding photographers out there?

 

 

Learn about your gear. Read your manual, then read it again. You need to know exactly what each setting does, when to use it and why. Without knowing these things you cannot properly prepare yourself when a fast-paced situation arises. Once you have this down, practice makes perfect. If its a partner, a pet or a cake it doesnt matter take lots of images and try lots of settings and effects. This is the best way to learn.

 

 

 

 

Lastly if at all possible try to get to Africa. Africa is an incredible place which I genuinely believe should be on everyones bucket list. It is incredible to go back to the birth place of humanity, where the wildlife still roams free and nature can touch you in the deepest part of your soul. You will be forever richer for the experience.

 

 

Lance's work is featured in our Wildlife Photographer of the Exhibition which showcases 100 stunning wildlife images from across the globe. To see more of Lance's work, see here: www.lancevandevyver.com

All images are copyright to Lance Van de Vyer and may not be reproduced without permission.

 

 

 

 

All images are copyright to Alexandre Hec & Lance Van de Vyver and may not be reproduced without permission.