Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013: Wildscapes
Winner: Sergey Gorshkov, Russia
On 29 November 2012, Sergey received the call that he had long hoped for. 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,’ he says. ‘So I dropped everything and went.’ The only way to approach it was by helicopter, but extreme cold (-40°C) meant Sergey had to wait until it was warm enough for the helicopter to take off. Flying towards the volcano, the cloud of ash, smoke and steam was so thick that he couldn’t see the crater.
But every so often, a strong wind blew the clouds away, and he could see a 200-metre-high fountain of lava spouting out of the crater and fast-flowing, molten rivers of lava running down it (some of these would travel 10 kilometres, sweeping away everything in their path).
As gusts of hot air buffeted the helicopter, Sergey worked fast, strapped to the open door. ‘I just kept shooting, kept changing lenses and camera angles, knowing I had this one chance, hoping that I’d take one image that might do justice to what I was witnessing.’
That was indeed his last chance. At 1am a new explosion happened, the ground rumbled, huge lava bombs threatened the campsite, and a heavy rain of ash and smoke made it impossible to take pictures. Says Sergey, ‘I have been to many places and I have seen many extraordinary things, but witnessing the Plosky Tolbachik eruption deeply impressed me.’
Nikon D4 + 16-35mm f4 lens; 1/40 sec at f8; ISO 800.
PAGE 1 – Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 winners revealed
PAGE 2 – Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013: The Eric Hosking Portfolio Award
PAGE 3 – Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013: Animals in Their Environment
PAGE 4 – Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013: Behaviour: Birds
PAGE 5 – Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Behaviour: Mammals
PAGE 6 – Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Behaviour: Cold-blooded animals
PAGE 7 – Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013: Wildscapes
PAGE 8 – Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013: Creative Visions
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