Slideshow: International Landscape Photographer of the Year winners and finalists

Nearly 1,000 professional and amateur photographers from around the world submitted over 3,400 images to the 6th annual International Landscape Photographer of the Year (ILPOTY) competition. From that pool of entries, 101 were recognized as Top Photographs. Oleg Ershov from Moscow, Russia, is the overall winner.

Ershov started out shooting multi-row, HDR, and vertical panoramas. Inspired by prominent landscape photographers he met, including Joe Cornish, David Ward, Rafael Rojas, and Bruce Percy, he began experimenting more. ‘I didn’t try to copy their styles, rather I took from them what I liked the best and then gradually, I felt that my skills were improving and that my work was becoming more serious.’

He now enjoys vertical landscapes, as evidenced in all of his winning photographs of Iceland and England. Ershov’s series impressed the panel of judges the most. ‘My passion for landscape photography is based on a love of nature, especially in places where human intervention is not yet visible. Just being on location at dawn and watching the start of a new day gives me tremendous vitality,’ says Ershov, an amateur photographer whose work at a food distribution company funds his passion.

Competition organizers chose the overall winner based on at least four strong photographs rather than a single image. This way, they could determine if a photographer’s vision and skills were consistent. ‘Each year, the Awards have two main prizes. The Photograph of the Year is awarded to the best single landscape photograph, while to be named International Landscape Photographer of the Year requires a set of four images. This is our main prize, acknowledging the additional skill and artistry required to produce a portfolio of landscape photographs,’ says Pete Eastway – the Chairman of Judges.

All the details of the Top 101 photographs can be viewed by visiting the ILPOTY website and download the free eBook embedded halfway down the main page.

ILPOTY, 2019 — First Place: ‘Fleswick Bay, England’ by Oleg Ershov (Russian Federation)/International Landscape Photographer of the Year

Location: Fleswick Bay, England

About starting out: ‘My interest for photography began in 2007 when I bought my first DSLR camera and signed up for a photo tour to the Southwest USA. I was struck by the tremendous variety of landscapes, colors and textures found in nature. Since then, I spend all my free time improving my skills and knowledge in landscape photography. I usually spend six weeks a year on photo trips, sometimes in groups, often on my own.’

About this photo: A lone pebble sits in the sand along the popular ‘smugglers cove’ in Fleswick Bay.

ILPOTY, 2019 — First Place: ‘Bláfellsá, Iceland’ by Oleg Ershov (Russian Federation)/International Landscape Photographer of the Year

Location: Bláfellsá, Iceland

About the equipment: ‘I have always used full-frame Canon EOS 5D-series cameras. Currently it is the Canon EOS 5DSR because the high number of megapixels is very important for landscape photography and for me personally.

‘Regarding lenses, I started with the holy trinity of Canon zooms (16-35mm, 24-70mm and 70-200mm). They were convenient, universal and generally accepted. Then there was a period when I was fascinated with tilt-shift lenses (Canon’s 17mm and 24mm and Schneider- Kreuznach’s 50mm and 90mm), which required much more time to build a frame, but this was compensated by the sharpness and geometry of the image.

‘Today, I use two Canon zooms (24-70mm and 100-400mm) for versatility and three Zeiss Otus prime lenses (28mm, 55mm and 85 mm) due to their unsurpassed quality. Of course, it can be challenging to carry 1.5 kg lenses, but “good glass is heavy glass”.’

About this photo: Ershov captured the textured patterns of a stream in the Southern region of Iceland.

ILPOTY, 2019 — First Place: ‘Kerlingarfjöll, Iceland’ by Oleg Ershov (Russian Federation)/International Landscape Photographer of the Year

Location: Kerlingarfjöll, Iceland

About his inspiration: Oleg’s favorite destinations for landscape photography are Iceland, Scotland and the USA’s Southwest. ‘I always return to my favorite places because this allows me to get to know the country better and to find new scenes and places to shoot. When I immerse myself in a familiar environment and slow down the pace, my productivity increases many times over. For example, I have been to Iceland 15 times and it took me 10 years to make my first photo book, but the second book only required two visits in 2019 and it turned out even better than the first!’

About this photo: Mist surrounds this tall mountain located in the Highlands of Iceland.

ILPOTY, 2019 — First Place: ‘Háifoss, Iceland’ by Oleg Ershov (Russian Federation)/International Landscape Photographer of the Year

Location: Háifoss, Iceland

About his workflow: Oleg says that a photo is only good when it’s on a wall and so his workflow is focused on creating large prints. ‘I make the prints myself on an Epson SC-7000, so megapixels and attention to details are important to me.’

About this photo: Háifoss or ‘high waterfall,’ located in Southern Iceland, is the third tallest on the island.

ILPOTY, 2019 — Second Place: ‘Badain Jaran Desert, China’ by Yang Guang (China)/International Landscape Photographer of the Year

Location: Badain Jaran Desert, China

About this photo: A single white cloud is the focal point of this photo captured in China’s third largest desert. Guang won second place for a set of four landscape photos captured in this region.

ILPOTY, 2019 — Third Place: ‘Grizzly Lake, Yukon, Canada’ by Blake Randall (Canada)/International Landscape Photographer of the Year

Location: Yukon, Canada

About this photo: Randall calls this ‘Grizzly’s Fang’ about his photo of his stormy hike in the Tombstone range of Northern Canada.

ILPOTY Photograph of the Year, 2019 — First Place: ‘The Harvest of Road Salt’ by Magali Chesnel (France)/International Landscape Photographer of the Year

Location: Gruissan, France

About this photo: Chesnel, a self-taught photographer and executive assistant, captured this top-down with a DJI Mavic 2 Pro. ‘I thought it would create an amazing abstract aerial photo, with the white of the salt contrasting against the bright pink colors, thanks to the proliferation of a red alga, the Dunaliella salina. From the ground, this scene doesn’t look glamorous at all, but from a bird’s eye view, it becomes unexpected, beautiful and like a painting.’

ILPOTY Photograph of the Year, 2019 — Second Place: ‘Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean’ by Sander Grefte (Netherlands)/International Landscape Photographer of the Year

Location: Venezuela

About this photo: Says Grefte of his second place winner: ‘One of the eye-catchers on Bonaire (Dutch Caribbean) is the salty lakes and mountains. When the salt concentration is too high for most bacteria, one survives giving the water a pink color. When composed with a dark blue sky and white ‘mountains’ (17 meters high) you get a surreal landscape.’

ILPOTY, 2019 — The Lone Tree Award: ‘Madeira, Portugal’ by Anke Butawitsch (Germany)/International Landscape Photographer of the Year

Location: Madeira Natural Park, Portugal

About this photo: Butawitsch focused on a single tree in the vast natural reserve known for its endemic flora and fauna.

ILPOTY, 2019 —The Heavenly Cloud Award: ‘SpaceX rocket exhaust plume, Sierra Nevada, California, USA’ by Brandon Yoshizawa (United States)/International Landscape Photographer of the Year

Location: Sierra Nevada, California

About this photo: Yoshizawa captured a ‘once in a lifetime kind of shot’ of this exhaust plume, from a Space X rocket launch, that was visible over the Sierra Nevada mountains.

ILPOTY, 2019 — Top 101 Photo: ‘Page, Arizona’ by Craig Bill (United States)/International Landscape Photographer of the Year

Location: Page, Arizona

About this photo: ‘I have seen Antelope Canyon several times in the popular daytime – complete with crowds and noise. In fact, this magical slot canyon is well known for its mid-day shafts of light that creatively penetrate through the curvy sandstone. I had always wondered what this place would be like at night. And when I had a last minute chance to go the first time, I jumped! Although the first night was super clouded and windy, I was allowed to try the next night before my time ran out exploring this desert domain around Page, Arizona. I was lucky, however, to find the next night lacking clouds or wind,’ explains Bill on his website.

‘Finally, there I was, standing in the dark cracks in the earth with the stars peering in from above – no crowds or sounds at all. It was so different at night compared to the day. Here, star and moonlight ricocheted softly around the Navajo sandstone.

In this adventure of a completely dark area of Upper Antelope slot canyon, I softly light painted strategic areas of the canyon with small red LED lights. The red color of the LEDs forced the camera’s color balance to expose the sky with a vivid blue. Along with experimental multi-positioning, long 15 second exposing and light painting, a surreal image of the night sky revealing itself light years above the canyon walls was created.

Even though I was focused on tweaking the camera’s settings and position, I was warned to watch my standing area and the canyon walls for huge Brown Recluse spiders (as one ran under my tripod). Now this sounds like a place in hell for most people, but I couldn’t be more grateful for the night hikes experience into Antelope Canyon.’

ILPOTY, 2019 — Top 101 Photo: ‘North East Greenland National Park, Greenland’ by Craig McGowan (Australia)/International Landscape Photographer of the Year

Location: North East Greenland National Park

About this photo: A lone iceberg reflects against the landscape of the world’s largest national park.

ILPOTY, 2019 — Top 101 Photo: ‘Vestrahorn, Iceland’ by Nico Rinaldi (Italy)/International Landscape Photographer of the Year

Location: Vestrahorn, Iceland

About this photo: Northern lights illuminate Vestrahorn mountain and the Stokksnes beach shoreline.

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