Gesellschaft Deutscher Tierfotografen e.V.

International Nature Photography Festival 2011 - A Review

Text: Claudia Müller
Photos: Mark Gross, Sandra Bartocha, Radomir Jakubowski, Sebastian Erras and Claudia Müller

Lünen is a bit like Christmas: you are looking forward to it for ages, and then it is a short flurry of excitement that includes all the nice things you were missing in the previous months. The International Nature Photography Festival is also a bit like a surprise egg: like the chocolate, it is a safe bet in terms of meeting old friends, making new ones and gaining a massive wealth of information and inspiration on all aspects of nature photography. The rest is a matter of guessing and wishing but in the end it's a surprise once again ...

This year almost 14.000 images were entered in the Society of German Nature Photographer's competition "European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011". It was a demanding task for the international jury to select this year's winning images from a wealth of first-class photographs. During the festival at the last weekend in October, 81 images in eight categories together with the awardees of the Fritz Pölking Awards were presented in an exhibition with a fresh design to the audience in Lünen . 3.500 festival visitors extensively used the breaks between lectures to view this selection and the three exhibitions in the foyer of the theatre. These images got people talking and will surely continue to do so.

The lecture programme was lead off on Saturday morning by Stephan Tüngler with a journey through the Kalahari desert, during which he demonstrated the manifold photographic opportunities this region presents.
In his excellent lecture Norwegian Stian Holmen showed a wide ranging kaleidoscope of images, demonstrating the variety of nature photography and how it can gain from specific and moderate use of film sequences. Most impressive were those images full of archaic beauty, which could have equally as well been found in a sooty cave old as stone, created by our early ancestors ...

Heike Odermatt let her photographs speak for themselves. In her presentation "Of Pool Attendants and Aristocrats" she presented a fine portfolio of her Falkland travels and knew how to convince the audience with her distinct visual language. With this lecture she clearly presented herself as one of the best animal photographers.
Large format photographers Verena Popp-Hackner and Georg Popp enthralled the audience with slow images set outside time. In their landscape photographs they celebrated the eternal wonders of nature, the magic of light and the fleeting moment. And they did so in a strikingly charming and unpretentious way.
"Hansel and Gretel" or "More than just story telling from the Black Forest" was the title of Klaus Echle's lecture. He took the audience on a tour through his native forests, and in his stories about his animal friends he showed great sensitivity as an observer and superb ability as a photographer.

Klaus Nigge and foundation member Karl-Friedrich Müller

In everybody's life there is a certain amount of importance attached to the number 40. Not quite young anymore, somehow grown-up, life has left a few scars as well as a good deal of experiences and again twice as much dreams and visions. You have grown, developed into a certain direction, which may be well beyond what aunts and uncles once predicted when they first glanced into the cradle ... It may be similar for the GDT in its 40th year, and Klaus Nigge has dug deep into archives and old photo albums to give a witty account of the GDT's history spiced with his typical Nigge humour.

In his broad ranging selection of images Norbert Rosing presented both well-known and not so well-known natural areas, inviting the audience to explore Germany's wild aspects.
With Alexander Mustard the audience went diving. In an inspiring lecture with incredibly beautiful images the British photographer left the audience deeply impressed as well as instilled with some of his own fascination for underwater photography.
This year the regional group 1 /Hamburg & Schleswig-Holstein took on the challenge of providing the regional group lecture, and they were met with a lot of applause and appreciation for their neat and confident presentation.
In "Snow & Action" Finnish photographer Markus Varesvuo proved the point that bird photography still offers a lot of leeway for new powerful imagery. "Correct!!!"
"The circle of life" or "A journey with different perspectives" or "Losing the thread" could all have been subtitles for the lecture by Russian photographer Sergey Gorshkov on the nature and wildlife of the Okavango delta.
"Fleeting moments fixed in time" is how David Maitland describes his photographs, and proved to be the philosopher and poet among the nature photographers. The delicate, feathered dead angel and many more of his images surely rather deserve time in a quite gallery than the rapid sequencing of a digital presentation.
"Colours of Wilderness" - with this audio-visual experience of pure pleasure by Sandra Bartocha and musicians Torsten Harder on cello and Rico Gatzke on grand piano, the audience was send on their way home. A reverberating presentation.

Speakers 2011, from l. to r.: Sergey Gorshkov, Markus Varesvuo, Sandra Bartocha,
Alex Mustard, Heike Odermatt, Uwe Hasubek, Günther Spillner, Stephan Tüngler,
Norbert Rosing, Klaus Echle, Georg Popp, Verena Popp-Hackner, David Maitland

13 lectures in two days - a pleasant and well-informed audience clearly showed with their applause which images touched their hearts and which lectures knew how to captivate them. Markus Botzek and Martin Eisenhawer found the right mixture of humour and information, leading through the programme in a charming and confident way.

13 lectures in two days - a pleasant and well-informed audience clearly showed with their applause which images touched their hearts and which lectures knew how to captivate them. Markus Botzek and Martin Eisenhawer found the right mixture of humour and information, leading through the programme in a charming and confident way.
Nights in Lünen are short and legendary and have their own "animal encounters", with rabbits darting across the well-maintained hotel lawn and hedgehogs strolling along the streets .... and all the other stories will remain untold.
The time between chats and lectures was used to browse through latest publications at the book stall and possibly have a chat with the authors. In general, there was a feeling of Lünen being one big long chat. Everywhere friends of photography met. In a very warm and welcoming atmosphere new friendships were made and old ones renewed. On the photo market many nature photographers ticked off items on their shopping lists and left the place with bulging bags and shining eyes. Time was probably the only thing everybody missed. Time seems to be the only scarce commodity during the festival, proving to be a fleeting moment, if present at all...
Just like Christmas, the International Nature Photography Festival in Lünen returns year after year, inducing happy thoughts in anticipation of fantastic photographs, outstanding lecturers and interesting discussions, and providing plenty of time during the course of the year for our own experiences with the "wild side" of the world around us. On the wish list are new images, be they powerful or poetic, classic or abstract. Markus Varesvuo gave us a piece of advice here: "The world is already full of images, and still, there is room for more. But you have to make sure not to repeat what has already been repeatedly repeated." With this intention in your photo bag, you will be very occupied on your strolls in nature, and time until "next Christmas" will fly ...
Warm thanks to all the people in the fore- and back ground and in between who helped to make this year's festival what is was with all their work, enthusiasm, nights without sleep and sheer joy. Many thanks also to a great audience, who appreciated this.

And here some more photos from stage and backstage:

How it started...

The well-tried construction crew: Bernd Lamm, Werner Bollmann and Sandra Bartocha
(not in the photo). Newcomer in the team: Rainer Vogel, who replaced Horst Ecker this year.

Markus Botzek and Martin Eisenhawer planning the moderation, energetically
supported by Karen Korte and Kiki Bollmann.

All preperation done - time for a beer.

Friday, the Festival is starting ...

"Creative School of Nature Photography" - the seminar of Sandra Bartocha
and Markus Botzek.

EWPY-winner Ole Jørgen Liodden and Klaus Echle at the film-shooting for the
German TV.

The GDT Youth Group

Sigi Zang and Monika Bruisch at the information desk.

Preparation for the meet&greet.

GDT president Martin Eisenhawer welcomes the guests
of the meet&greet.

Price giving ceremony to the contest "GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011"

Highly commended in the category "birds": Zoltan Gergely Nagy, Markus Varesvuo,
Ole Jørgen Liodden and Jan van der Greef.

Runner-up in the category birds: Jasper Doest

Highly commended in the category "mammals": Winfried Wisniewski, Klaus Echle
and Ole Jørgen Liodden.

Runner-up in the category "mammals": Magnus Lundgren (m).

And the winner of this category: Florian Schulz (m).

Highly commended in the category "Other animals": Martin van Lokven, Solvin
Zankl and Theo Bosboom

Edwin Giesbers, winner of the category "Other Animals".

Highly commended in the category "Plants and Fungi": Verena Popp-Hackner
and Misja Smits

Martin Eisenhawer introducing the winner of this category: Ana Retamero Olmos
from Spain

Marijn Heuts, Eirik Grønningsæter, Oscar Diez Martinez, Georg Popp and
Brigitte Ganschow: Highly commended in the category "Landscapes".

Knut Sverre Horn (m.) from Norway was the winner of this category.

Solvin Zankl - Runner-up in the category "Underwater World".

And the price for the winning image of this category went to Magnus Lundgren (m.).

Highly commended in the category "Man and Nature": Stefan Pütz, Klaus Echle,
Agorastos Papatsanis, Eva Pum and Karsten Mosebach.

The second price went to Marcin Wielicki (m.) from Poland.

Klaus Echle (m.) was the winner of this category.

Highly commended in the category "Nature's Studio": Dr. Robert Zöhrer and
Nandor Barbalics.

GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011: Oldřich Mikulica from
the Czech Republic.

Klaus Echle, winner of the Fritz Pölking Award 2011, along with Martin Eisenhawer,
Gisela Pöling and Stephanie Tecklenborg.

Radomir Jakubowski was the winner of the Fitz Pölking Junior Award 2011.

There was a great crowd at the opening of the exhibition "GDT European
Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2011".

Did it - that was friday. Finally a little time for talks in relaxed atmosphere.

Saturday, the Festival is in full play ...

Hurry - shortly the first visitors will appear. Birgit Korte preparing the tables for the book sale.

... supported by Silvia Reis and Christiane Hüdepohl.

It's still quiet in the theatre...

... last discussions before the start: Bernd Nill, Martin Eisenhawer und Bogdan Romaniszin.

Ticket check - nobody will pass these gentlemen without a ticket.

Martin Eisenhawer welcomes the visitors in the completely sold out Hilpert-Theatre.

Stian Holmen | Verena Popp-Hackner and Georg Popp

Klaus Echle | Klaus Nigge and Karl-Friedrich Müller

Exhibition to the 40th anniversary of the GDT

Price of the audience - counting of the ballots.

Markus Botzek moderating the draw for the price of the audience.

...and the winner is: Grégoire Bouguereau. Kiki Bollmann plays the lottery
pixy and in some minutes a visitor will be happy about a free ticket for the
festival 2012.

Alex Mustard's speech "Why Underwater?" concludes the programme of saturday.

Time to eat, time to talk - the buffet at saturday evening.

Festival Photographer Mark Gross and his wife Bonita.

Sunday, final spurt ...

Uwe Hasubek and Stephan Tüngler present the show of the GDT regional
group Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein.

Markus Varesvuo delighted the audience with his speech "Snow & Action".

New as well as established products at the huge photo market.

Press of people at the book stalls.

Norbert Rosing telling about his book "Wildes Deutschland" | Werner Bollmann
and Winfried Wisniewski signing their book "Nordische Momente".

German Price for Nature Journalism - Mathias Unger from the "Kellertheater
Hamburg" lectures the winning text contributions.

Laureates and initiators of the German Price for Nature Journalism (from l. to r.):
Martin Meister (Chief Editor GEO International), laureate Maria Roßbauer,
laureate Florian Festl, Eva Goris (Deutsche Wildtier Stiftung)

That's it for this year - the festival 2011 is over. And all of us are looking
forward to 2012, when again nature photographers from all over the world will
gather in this little town called Lünen!