A Wondrous and Beautiful Land
An exhibition of winning entries from the National Geographic photo contest showcases Russian photographers.
Published: February 20, 2013 (Issue # 1747)
NATALYA BELENTSOVA / SPT
Natalya Belentsova took top honors at the Wild Nature of Russia 2012 photo contest with her image of a cave.
Photos of the most beautiful, amazing and hard-to-reach corners of Russia can be seen in an exhibition titled “Russia’s Wild Nature” which opened last week at the headquarters of the Russian Geographical Society. The exhibition displays work by finalists of the annual photo contest, held for the second time by National Geographic and the RGS from May to September 2012.
“This year we received 43,000 photos from all over the world,” said Alexander Grek, editor-in-chief of National Geographic Russia. “The main purpose of this exhibition is to educate Russian photographers, display talent and support a passion for taking pictures of Russian nature.”
Winners were chosen in seven nomination categories, among which were Macro, Mammals, Birds, From Dusk to Dawn and others. The images were selected by professionals from both Russia and the U.S., with the final selection being made by National Geographic senior photo editor Kathy Moran and photo editor Darren Smith.
The annual contest is open to everyone, but excludes professional photographers working for National Geographic.
The winner of the grand prize, Natalya Belentsova, was awarded 300,000 rubles ($10,000) for her work “The Treasure of Dwarfs” in a ceremony at the Lumiere Brothers Photogallery in Moscow in December. The prizes were awarded by Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu and Yulia Boyle, Vice President of Development at the National Geographic Society.
Belentsova’s photo was taken in a cave near the Mount Mutnovsky volcano in Kamchatka and was judged best-in-show based on such criteria as composition, uniqueness and the inaccessibility of the location.
“The judging was completely impartial: Nobody knew the photographers and everybody was surprised by the result,” explained Grek. “A strange shot has won, from my point of view. It is said to be very difficult to capture this kind of light.” However, some of the photographers suspect the winner of having used special lighting techniques.
Meanwhile, in a special interview for National Geographic Russia, Belentsova stressed that the only thing she had used while shooting was an ordinary lamp.
YURI SOROKIN / SPT
Yuri Sorokin won in the Mammals category with his photo “Big Water.”
“I photographed both with the lamp — to illuminate the foreground or provide general lighting — and without it, using long exposures. In total I took approximately 300 pictures. The photo that I sent to the contest was probably taken without the lamp,” said Belentsova.
Prizes were awarded by the Russian Geographical Society and sponsor Bon Aqua in two special nomination categories: “Young Talents” and “Towards a Clean Future for Lake Baikal.” In the former category, Alexander Popkov, the 16-year-old author of the photo “Quintet,” won a guided trip around the historical building of the Russian Geographical Society in St. Petersburg. In the latter category, Rostislav Mashin won the chance to travel to Lake Baikal as part of the Bon Aqua expedition (an ecological initiative sponsored by Coca-Cola) for his work “Sunrise from Cape Burkhan,” which was taken on Lake Baikal’s Olkhon Island. Other winners received photo equipment and gifts from the sponsors.
Commenting on the standard of work in the contest, Grek said that it hasn’t yet reached an international level, but that he hoped it would improve during the next two to three years.
“Next year we are going to put the discussions of the photos on the Internet, because it is useful for the photographers to understand global trends and the criteria used to select photos,” said Grek.
New nomination categories such as “Mother and Young”, “Protected Russia” and “Unusual Shot” are also to appear next year.
After the announcement of the results of the contest, the exhibition began its tour of Russian cities. “We are planning to visit cities such as Yaroslavl and Yekaterinburg, although nothing has been decided yet,” said Maria Smagina, special projects coordinator for National Geographic Russia.
The “Wild Nature of Russia 2012” photo exhibition runs through March 17 at the headquarters of the Russian Geographical Society, 10 Pereulok Grivtsova. Entrance is free of charge.