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Featured Photographer Gallery

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Elio della Ferrera

I usually photograph species and places less known but yet threatened.

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Featured Photographer

Elio della Ferrera

About

I started photographing nature when I was 16, as soon as I could buy my first photo equipment, working hard during free school time in summer. In 1990, when I was 25, I won “Scholarship Naturalia”, a national photo contest for photo features. I participated with a portfolio of pygmy owl, and obtained my first important prize. From 1997 I have won lots of other prizes in important national competitions, and 6 pictures have been prized in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

From 1990 to 2003 I published several photo features in Oasis magazine. Among more recent collaborations are Airone, BBC Wildlife, BBC Books, Geo Italia, and the series Canon Advertising “Wildlife as Canon sees it” in National Geographic. I have also worked on assignments for editors, local governments and protected areas of the Italian Alps. All along my career I have taken photos in several countries of the world, especially in Asia , while photographing the nature of the Alps .

Interview

Why nature photography?
Since I was a child I have liked to observe, explore and know the nature regardless of photography. In this I have been helped by living in the countryside, just next to the woods and near high mountains. The first documentaries I watched on television, especially those of Felix Rodriguez de La Fuente, brought me to think about nature photography until the age of 16, when I was able to buy my first camera. From that moment I couldn’t stop taking portraits of the nature.

What's best about it?
Nature photography is a fundamental means to make know to public opinion the incredible variety of the nature that surrounds us, and alert people about the safeguarding of our planet. Day by day, the number of threatened species increases and the surface of the really natural places decrease. For this reason I think my work is ever so useful.

What's worst about it?
Travelling and photographing around the world makes you notice that a huge part of the world population lives in misery (material and moral) and sometimes in great danger too, as in the places filled of mines, for example.

Apart from these general considerations, there is a side of the natural world not so pleasant for a photographer: the infinity of mosquito and ticks and all the things they carry. They accompanied me on most of my trips!

Favourite species and places in Europe?
Concerning the species, they are undoubtedly the nocturnal birds. It was with a feature on pygmy owl I won my first important first prize in a competition, and I’ve been working on eagle owls with my friend and photographer Adriano Turcatti for 15 years.

Concerning the places, the Alps are my favourite subject: These mountains are the place where I live and I’ve been travelling all around them for more than 20 years.

What's in the bag?
Even though I care a lot about the weight of that I carry with me, I can never be able to be light enough. I decide what I can carry with me on the basis of what I’m going to do. When I go to the mountains I always bring with me at least a 16-35 and a 70-200 lens, accompanied by a 24-105 IS lens, really useful on some occasions when I don’t use the tripod. When I work on alpine animals I use a quite easy-to-handle 300 2,8 IS with related converters.

Your specialities / skills?
In Europe , undoubtedly the Alps . I usually photograph species and places less known but yet threatened. But for example, even though I spent almost a year in India , I never photographed a tiger… But maybe now the moment has come! On every journey I always spend part of my time photographing primates. I started with gelada baboons, which I photographed the first time in 1995. One of my favourite is the leaf monkey or langurs of Asia . All in all I have photographed lots of species.

What will you do in your next life?
Be a nature photographer again: one life only is not enough to photograph all that one wish.

3 tips for beginners
1) If one wants to be a nature photographer, one has to have good knowledge and understanding of what he wants to portrait, from the field and from books.
2) You have to have good knowledge of the equipment, the techniques and the art of photography.
3) If you want to have success, as well, you have to make new things.

Mission

My European speciality are the Alps , but my missions will be in lowland, in the riverine oak forests of Lonjskoje Polje and Livansko Polje, in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

I am enthusiastic about the idea of a mission about subjects to which I never dedicated time before. I imagine these places probably resemble some rivers and wetlands where I worked in India . I suppose it will be a very “wet” mission… And also less exciting to know is that in Bosnia there are about a million of unexploded mines, too!

Best Picture

Best Picture

Pisgana glacier near Adamello glacier, Adamello Park, The Alps, Italy, 2005.

What's cool about it?
I like this picture so much because the strong contrast resembles it to a painting more than to a photograph. The light orange of sunset perfectly accord with the colour of the sky and of the clouds. It seems impossible that these rocks, made of a kind of granite, during the day are of a brilliant white.

Could it be better?
Yes, of course. I would have liked that the sun would have set more crosswise so that it could make a more three dimensional summit in the centre of the picture. The only problem is that the sun doesn’t go more to the North. So, in this case I am enough satisfied for this picture as it is.

Behind the Scene
When taking this picture I had been spending a hard day on the Adamello glacier, at more than 3.000 metres of elevation, with sunglasses to protect myself from the strong light reflected. With an area of more than 18 square km, this glacier is the largest of the Italian Alps. Close by its edge I could experience this magic situation just for a short time, little more than a minute before the darkness. I tried to frame just that corner of the landscape, so that it isolates and emphasizes the light of that spectacular moment without the use of any coloured filter.

Date: 2005
Location: Glacier near Adamello glacier, Adamello Park , The Alps, Italy .
Gear: Canon Eos1N, 70-200 mm lens, Fujichrome Velvia, tripod.

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