Russian amateur photographer, Oleg Ershov, has won the top prize at the sixth International Landscape Photographer of the Year competition (ILPOTY), for four vertical landscape images.
A total of 840 photographers from around the world entered over 3400 images, with Ershov winning due to a demonstration of ‘both skill and imagination with an inspiring series of brilliant landscape photos’.
The hobbyist landscape photographer funds his photography passion by working for a food distribution company in Moscow.
‘My interest for photography began in 2007 when I bought my first DSLR camera and signed
up for a photo tour to the Southwest USA,’ he said. ‘I was struck by the tremendous variety of
landscapes, colours and textures found in nature. Since then, I spend all my free time
improving my skills and knowledge in landscape photography. I usually spend six weeks a
year on photo trips, sometimes in groups, often on my own.’
He began shooting HDR and multi-row panoramas, but was inspired to try new things after meeting British photographers Joe Cornish, David Ward, and Bruce Percy. Ershov shoots with a Canon EOS 5DS R and his go-to lenses are 24-70mm, 100-400mm zooms and three Zeiss Otus prime lenses. He then prints images using a Epson SC-7000.
‘I try to get an almost finished shot right from the camera and limit myself to minimal edits. I
usually do 95 percent of the processing in Adobe Camera Raw, taking maybe 10-15 minutes,
including panoramas and HDR,’ he said. ‘Finally, I’ll use Adobe Photoshop for content-aware removal of fellow photographers from the foreground or focus stacking, and sometimes I’ll do the finishing touches using the Color EFEX Pro and Silver EFEX Pro from Nik Collection 2 filters.’
Russian food distro must be good business, as the photographer has travelled to Iceland 15 times, including two visits in 2019.
‘I always return to my favourite places because this allows me to get to know the country better and to find new scenes and places to shoot. When I immerse myself in a familiar environment and slow down the pace, my productivity increases many time over.’
The winner of the International Landscape Photograph of the Year (a single image) is French photographer, Magali Chesnel, for her aerial image titled, The Harvest of Road Salt, captured at The Salin de l’île Saint Martin in Gruissan, France.
‘I thought it would create an amazing abstract aerial photo, with the white of the salt contrasting against the bright pink colours, thanks to the proliferation of a red alga, the Dunaliella salina,’ she said. ‘From the ground, this scene doesn’t look glamorous at all, but from a bird’s eye view, it becomes unexpected, beautiful and like a painting.’
Chesnel, who works full-time as an executive assistant in Geneva, captured her first aerial photos with a Nikon Coolpix P7700 and advanced to a Nikon D500, but now enjoys the ease of capturing stills with a DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone.
‘I am always carrying my drone in its shoulder bag with five extra batteries, so I never miss a
photo, even when I’m in the middle of nowhere, with no electricity to re-charge my batteries,’ she said. ‘The drone is my favourite tool so far because it allows me to discover and to immortalise
inaccessible landscapes and to express my style from above, my favourite viewing angle.’
Chesnel is a landscape purist and attempts to shoot everything in camera to keep images looking natural as possible. ‘I may also be one of those rare people who is not dependent on photo editing’, she said, and doesn’t post-process images with Photoshop or Lighroom.
‘Before travelling, I find the locations on Google Earth so I can understand what the best angles are likely to be and what the light and weather conditions could do,’ she said. ‘I understood very quickly that this increases my chances of capturing the perfect shot I have in mind.’
A couple of Australian-based photographers also won ‘special awards’ – Ricardo Da Cunha with the Wildlife in Landscape Awards, and Ignacio Palacios with the Abstract Aerial Award.
This year the judges were New Zealand photographer Kaye Davis, American photographers Jim Goldstein and David Burnett, UK photographer Tim Parkin, and Canadian photographer Adam Gibbs.