We're pleased to reveal Ales Krivec as the monthly winner (June) of the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards. His image of a storm passing through Slovenia's highest mountain, Triglav, was chosen by our editors because of its impeccable timing, and dark, brooding atmosphere. Ales is a web designer and photographer based in Slovenia.
Entry to the Open competition of the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards is free for all and anyone can be in with a chance to win the monthly prizes.
We caught up with Ales to find out more about the winning image and to showcase a selection of images from his incredible portfolio of landscape photography...
Hi Ales, congratulations on winning the June monthly #SWPA competition. Please tell us a little about you and your photography. And tell us about the winning image - where was it taken, what were the conditions. and how did you capture it?
The image was taken from a local hill called Ajdna, which I often visit when I don't have time for longer trips to the Alps. It offers great views towards Julian Alps and Slovenia's highest mountain, Triglav. When I got to the top the storm was just passing above Mt. Triglav. I wanted to catch the lightning so I set up my camera on intervalometer (1 second intervals) and captured about 500 images this way. Luckily, on one of the photos, the lightning was captured perfectly. There was a lot of drama in the sky, that's why I went with a dark blue post processing to really emphasize all that was going on.
When and why did you first get started in photography?
I started with photography about 3 years ago when I bought my first DSLR. The reason why I started is probably a bit unusual. I develop WordPress Themes and that is my primary profession. I was buying images from different stock markets like Shutterstock to use in the Themes. One day I thought it would be nice if I could make my own images and use them in my Themes. That's how I got into photography, but this soon evolved from making just a few stock images to an obsession with landscape photography. And I believe the Theme which uses only my landscape images turned out great.
What does photography mean to you?
It's an obsession that is driving me to the mountains, to visit new places and admire beautiful landscape all around me. I visited a lot of new places just because I wanted to photograph them and that's a big plus in my opinion. A drive to visit and explore new locations. A negative impact is that sometimes instead of just enjoying the spectacular views I am obsessed with finding the best location and composition for the next shot. But I guess I can live with that!
Do you have any tips for aspiring landscape and nature photographers?
I believe most of the tips that I can offer were said a hundred times before. I can only share a quick tip that helped in achieving the image that won me the monthly competition: I was hesitating whether to take my camera with me or not since I have been to Ajdna hill a 100 times before and already had all sorts of images from the top. I only wanted to go on a short "training" hike to the top. In the end I decided to take my camera with me nonetheless, since you never know when and where the conditions will turn from ordinary to great or to even "once in a lifetime" which was exactly what happened in this case.
Tell us more about Slovenia, the "hidden jewel of Europe" - what is like photographing in this beautiful landscape?
The most significant information from a photographer's point of view is that it offers so much in a very condensed space. From high Alpine environment to sea, lakes, emerald rivers, vineyard countryside and flatlands in just about 150 kilometres range. Start your day hiking in the Julian Alps, drive down to the Adriatic coast for a swim (through the amazing Soca river valley), and wine and dine in the vineyards of Goriska brda in the evening.
There are also more than 11,000 caves in Slovenia. The famous Skocjan Caves are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Postojna cave is one of the biggest caves in Europe and Predjama castle (which is part of the cave system) is an amazing fortress taken directly from fantasy world (Game of Thrones look). The cave system behind the castle leads outside and was used to provide food and resources during the sieges. The Legend of Erazem Predjamski is definitely worth a read. Slovenia is also one of the most "green" countries in the world, forests are covering almost 60% of the territory.
Do you have a photographic philosophy?
My philosophy is nothing special or in other words it's the same as with most photographers that like to shoot landscape. I really enjoy sunrises (much more then sunsets) as they have an extra mystic amotsphere (especially on a misty autumn or winter morning). So my philosophy is very simple: experience as many sunrises on beautiful locations as possible.