Featured Photographer – Magnus Elander

IP is over the quota
IP is over the quota

When it comes to photography, I?m autodidact. My picture taking began purely as an amateur?s documentary. Often on bird and wildlife watching trips to odd places around the world. Does anyone still remember Pentax Spotmatic, Novoflex and Kodakchrome 64? My previous profession as a Ph.D. scientist in chemical multi-national industry kept me happy and satisfied until one day twenty years ago. Life then took me on a completely new trail: Wildlife photography became my new occupation. I was quickly “Nikonified” and turned digital in 2004. I work mostly in projects with a designated goal: A feature, an exhibition, a book or a combination of those. I believe my images still are ?story style?. Although I have set my foot on every continent, my heart has always been north of the Arctic Circle.

Website: www.magnuselander.com

Why nature photography?
it all began with my passion for Nature and bird-watching. Images are simply more powerful than words to pinpoint conservation issues and to share experiences with wildlife and wilderness.

What’s best about it?
Photography keeps taking me to the remote places where I like to be. And I often feel privileged to sit in a hide and watch charismatic wildlife at close distance. It gives me the opportunity to get to know individual photogenic animals of a certain species.

What’s worst about it?
The unpredicable Nature and to be under pressure to delivering images. And it is always a major challenge to try to transfer a moment of my own excitement and emotions to the viewers of my images.

Favourite species and places in Europe?
The Azores in July with Sperm Whales, northern Norway in November with Killer Whales, and eastern Finland in June with Brown Bears, Wolves and Wolverines. But also my home territory south of Stockholm in Sweden. Yesterday I saw White-tailed Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Great Horned Owl, Moose, Wild Boar, Roe Deers and Beaver near my house.

What’s in the bag?
Standard for a session in a hide is a 600 mm tele lens on a tripod with a Whimberly head. In addition I usually carry a 200-400 mm zoom which also may be handheld if necessary. Teleconverters are useful and I frequently use the 1.4x extender. Less often the 2.0x. Two Nikon D3 camera bodies, and shorter lenses ranging from 14 to 200 mm, including macro lenses for close-ups, more than fill up my backpack. Plus spare batteries, memory cards, back-up hard discs, 2 flashes, chargers and cables, cables and cables. I always bring binoculars to keep check on what?s going on.

Your specialities / skills?
I really enjoy action shots and thats?s what I try the most. Animal behaviour, birds in flight, and mammals moving for example. I often publish my material as magazine features or books and that require images that tell a story. Therefore I try to take a variety of shots, including portraits of animals as well as wildlife in their environment. But to freeze good action always puts me in a very good mood.

What will you do in your next life?
I think I would like be able to see things from new angles. To pick up diving and do underwater photography and also to be a pilot in an ultralight to soar with birds at their own flight level.

3 tips for beginners
1) Learn the behaviour of your target animal to ?know? its next move.
2) Be persistent and allow plenty of time your target animal.
3)Take warm-up shots now and then to check that your camera behaves the way you expect it to do.

My first mission for Wild Wonders of Europe was to find the spectacular Lammergeier on the Spanish side of the Pyren?es. It took me to two locations in Catalonia and Aragon, respectively. Both were remote high mountain slopes where this shy bird has its favourite habitat. November brought fresh snow to the mountain peaks and made my mission a chilly one. A bonus species was the Griffon Vulture that by far outnumbered the Lammergeier on the carcasses that were placed out to attract the magnificent birds near my hides.

My second mission was Andorra in the late spring for a second attempt on big vultures.

Best Picture
Two Griffon Vultures near Ordesa national park, Spain.

They were fighting for a piece of meat on a snowy mountain slope. It was a very windy day with a clear sky. Vultures are never “early birds” and light is often harsh before they decide to leave their sleeping rock.

What’s cool about it?
I like the action and the snow spray. The image illustrates very well the conditions I experienced on this particular day.

Could it be better?
The light could have been softer and warmer, had the Griffons arrived a few hours earlier.

Behind the Scene
I was in a small, uncomfortable hide with the gale winds blowing right through it and at sub-zero temperatures. Hot tea kept me going all day, however.

Date: Nov 14, 2008
Location: Ordesa national park, Spain
Gear: Nikon D3, 600 mm 4,0, F6.3, 1/800, ISO 400

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