World Photography Day 2021 – five ace photographers salute the beauty of nature

From technique to timing, these photographers capture the joy of their craft. Here are some stunning images and creative insights.
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Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 540 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festivaltelecom expomillets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.

In this pictorial essay, photographers from five countries share their creative journeys and tour experiences in New Zealand. They are based in India, Japan, Sweden, Australia, and New Zealand.

See also our photo-essay on the winners and finalists of the 62nd World Press Photo contest, and our compilation of 200 inspiring quotes on the art, mission, and impact of photography.

“It all started when I got a camera back in 2013 and started shooting random pictures – not artistic or anything like that, just random images. Then I slowly started developing a little niche for landscape,” explains Bengaluru-based photographer Navaneeth Unnikrishnan, in a chat with YourStory (see earlier showcase here).

Witnessing the Milky Way from his house terrace then drew him further into the photography field. “I never like to capture a picture as it looks, I always like to add my own creativity into the picture,” he adds.

“I like to plan an image first, then shoot the image and execute it. Most of the time, it is on location,” Navaneeth says. Improvisation and doing what feels right play a major role in his work.

He finds success through travel and making beautiful art. “Traveling around the world has been one of my dreams since I stepped into the realm of photography,” Navaneeth enthuses. He rates countries like New Zealand, Iceland, and Norway as having some of the best landscapes in the world.

As one of his favourites, he describes a photo of a mountain called Kirkjufell in Iceland, with the Aurora Borealis on top. “There’s a very small water body there. I was able to get the reflection of the mountain and the aurora,” he recalls.

An Intricate Painting by Navaneeth Unnikrishnan

He also describes his colourful aerial shot of Orakei Korako Geothermal Park in New Zealand as almost like an artistic painting. “This location deserves a lot of study and realisation to understand Nature’s own wonder in creating a unique landscape like this,” he suggests.

The pandemic lockdowns and restrictions have been tough for many travel and outdoor photographers. “I have been playing video games and chilling in my house. When things opened up, I went to Spiti Valley for a while just to get over the hangover of all the lockdowns,” Navaneeth says. His next project involves travel and shoots in Ladakh.

“With any camera, you can still capture your perfect image,” he advises aspiring photographers. “The camera isn’t the whole thing, please don’t think that an expensive camera is going to give you a really good picture,” he adds.

Shooting and processing are equally important. “Fifty percent of success goes to technical knowledge and 50 percent to post processing,” Navaneeth describes.

Creative journeys for artists also change over time. “The pictures that I took back in 2014 versus a picture that I took right now are different. It is the same for any kind of artist – their work changes with experience and mindset,” he adds.

Beautiful lupines blooming in November & December around Lake Tekapo in the Mackenzie region of New Zealand by Junji Takasago, Japan

“The brilliant floral colours of lupines match with the color of Lake Tekapo and the sky above,” says Japanese photographer Junji Takasago, describing one of his shots. Lake Tekapo has been approved as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary by the International Dark Sky Association. Junji waited until late in the night for the Milky Way to appear behind the lupines.

“We were about to climb Mount Hikurangi and be the first to catch the rays of the new day's sun. We weren't disappointed,” recalls Lukasz Larsson Warzecha from Sweden, describing their ascent at 2 am along with the Epic Trails TV show crew.

“Fiordland in the South Island is my home, a wild land of unlimited inspiration and areas to explore,” says William Patino. There are great views of sea stack formations, towers, caves and arches for seascape photography, aided by changes in weather and light.

Fraser Mcdougall skiing first light at End Peak, Mt Aspiring National Park by Mark Clinton, Australia

Winter sunrises can be particularly dramatic, according to Mark Clinton from Australia. “Snow camping in July can be brutal but the potential of scoring the soft, winter light even if only for a few seconds can make it all worthwhile,” he says, describing a memorable shot at Mt Aspiring National Park.

Now, what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and find new avenues for your creative core?

Valley Of Secrets by William Patino, New Zealand

A camping site in the Coromandel Peninsula by Junji Takasago, Japan

Beautiful sunset light on the Raukumara Range in the Waiapu Valley by Lukasz Larsson Warzecha, Sweden

A forest near Rotorua by Junji Takasago, Japan

Lake Lochnagar in Mt Aspiring National Park by Mark Clinton, Australia

Kaikoura, the best place in the world to see Dusky Dolphins by Junji Takasago, Japan

Lightning by Navaneeth Unnikrishnan, India

Sunrise over Mt Hikurangi, Tairawhiti. Credits - Lukasz Larsson Warzecha

Looking down on Mt Cook during a moving storm by Mark Clinton, Australia

Looking down onto Matukituki Valley near Wanaka in Winter by Mark Clinton, Australia

Lost And Found by William Patino, New Zealand

Moonrise by William Patino, New Zealand

Mount Hikurangi by Lukasz Larsson Warzecha, Sweden

Ski touring across the Franz Joseph Glacier in Spring by Mark Clinton, Australia

Straight from the Sun by Navaneeth Unnikrishnan, India

The Loner by Navaneeth Unnikrishnan, India

The Surreal Wai-O-Tapu by Navaneeth Unnikrishnan, India

Through The Storm by William Patino, New Zealand

Treasures Of The Forest by William Patino, New Zealand

Above The Darkness by William Patino, New Zealand

See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.

Edited by Teja Lele Desai

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