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Featured Photographer Gallery

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Peter Lilja

Animals can never be directed so you never know what you will get to see in the viewfinder.

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Featured Photographer

Peter Lilja

About

I was born in 1966 in Skellefteå, northern Sweden . I still live in that area, in a small village located close to Skellefteå with my family, wife and three children.
I work as a full-time freelance photographer and writer, specializing in wildlife and nature.
I have photographed since I was 18 years old on an amateur basis alongside another job. Ten years ago I made the decision to do it for a living – a decision I have never regretted.

In 1996, I won the Swedish Nature Photographers and Kodak awards and I am now a member of the association The Swedish Nature Photographers/N.

I have twice been awarded first prizes in the BBC global contest "Wildlife Photographer of the year". In 2002 in the category "In Praise of Plants" and 2004 in the category "From Dusk to Dawn".

I´m working worldwide and have visited a lot of countries during the years. I like travelling, it gives me great inspiration to my work as a photographer. This past summer I went on a two-week trip to Iceland. When I return from a trip abroad it´s much easier to find image ideas in my backyard, I see it all with new eyes. On my leisure time I like to be out with the boat on the sea with my children and to camp on a small island, without computer and mobile phone.

Website: www.peterlilja.com/

Interview

Why nature photography?
Nature has always fascinated me, and as a child I spent a lot of time outdoors. I bought my first SLR when I was 18 and from then on I was hooked.

I like most motifs from macro to landscape, but I also enjoy photographing animals and birds. Animals can never be directed so you never know what you will get to see in the viewfinder. It gives an incredible joy when you have spent hours, sometimes days in a hide, and you finally get the type of images that you had been hoping for.

What's best about it?
The freedom to fully manage your own time and the privilege to work with what you like the best. To have the chance to be outdoors and at the same time channel one’s creativity. Travelling both home and abroad is very inspiring, and to convey one’s experiences to others will hopefully help in creating more interest about the nature around us, and that it is worth preserving.

What's worst about it?
With the digital technique, which has its advantages, I have also discovered that the image processing after that the image ”has left the camera” is very time-consuming. I find the process of RAW-files and the process of digital files to be quite boring.

Despite having contact with colleagues I sometimes miss having the everyday, face to face contact with work colleagues.

To ”miss” good motifs and opportunities can be very frustrating.

Favourite species and places in Europe?
I like owls, especially the Great Grey Owl, a species that I have, quite literally, just around the corner. It radiates such tranquility and dignity. I also like having the predators we have here up in the north in front of my lens. I very much enjoy the nordic taiga and its inhabitants. It’s a place where I was brought up and which I feel very much a part of.

What's in the bag?
I work with Nikon D2x and lenses between 10,5 - 600 mm. Flashes and graduated filters. Angled viewfinders are very useful for macro and plants. Beanbags and tripod equipped with a sidekick. Computers and hard drives.

Your specialities / skills?
I am a photographic allrounder and I like challenges. Animals, birds, plants, and landscapes are all frequently in front of my lens. To photograph plants with tele lenses which lay bare the surroundings is something I can easily spend hours doing.

What will you do in your next life?
That which I am meant to do!

3 tips for beginners
1) Find your own style.
2) Look at, study, and be inspired by the images of other photographers.
3) Have patience - to photograph often can be very developing, analyse your result, ask yourself ”what could I have done different?”

Mission

My mission is to go to Crete and Malta . On Crete , I will be photographing tulips, orchids, wild peonies, and olive trees. My knowledge when it comes to plant photography will very much be tested - that inspires me, and I am looking forward to it. On Malta , apart from some plant photography, I will also be doing some work on the stretches of birds of prey and passerine (perching birds) over the island.

The time for my mission is in April 2009, and a hide for the bird shooting will definitely be one of the things I will bring with me. I will contact people locally to try and find the exact right time and the right place. Then all I can do is to hope for the right light and the right weather!

Best Picture

Best Picture
Two mating bears and a third watching, Northern Finland

What's cool about it?
It was a unique moment and it’s got a funny touch to it as a third bear was watching.

Could it be better?
Images can always be better.

Behind the Scene
A few years back, my uncle and me visited a bear hide in northern Finland . We had three days booked and needed to be back home for Whitsunday. Three days passed without a single bear in sight, so we decided to stay on an extra night. Still not a single bear in sight. With the fifth night ahead of us and with no chance to stay on we were losing hope of seeing any bears. At 9.30pm we suddenly heard grunting and panting outside the hide. A small female appears with a big, rutting male in tow. They stop right outside the hide and the female starts eating the carrion while the male marks his territory by trashing a couple of small-sized pine trees. After a while they disappear into the forest, but appear again half an hour later out on the bog. The two bears mate for half an hour, and suddenly a third bear appears in the background during the act. It rises on its hind legs, watches the mating pair from a distance in a funny, jealous-like way and then suddenly disappears. My Nikon F5 was working away like never before during this magical moment, an evening that also spread a beautiful evening light around us.

Date: 28 May 2004
Location: Near Kuhmo , Finland
Gear: Nikon F5 and 300mm/2,8 AFS and a 1,4 converter.

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