Winner: Michael Budzinsky - Poland

"Photography captivates me more and more every day. From the beginning, I have tried to optimise my skills, to acquire new perspectives and not just to document the beauties of nature, but to give my pictures my own signature. And that's why I go out especially when it's storming, raining or snowing. And no matter if my fingers are so cold that I almost can't move them, no matter if my feet slowly freeze in an ice-cold mountain stream somewhere in the middle of nowhere: I persevere and wait for that one first ray of sunshine, that one, unique moment!"
Michal Budzynski has been passionate about nature photography since his earliest youth. From an early age, he presented his pictures on the internet and visited numerous discussion forums to broaden his knowledge. After meeting some members of the Polish Nature Photographers Association, he became a member of this organisation himself. At the same time, he took part in photo excursions and attended events on the subject of nature photography, most of which took place in the numerous Polish national parks.
Over time, his first successes came and his pictures were awarded in international competitions, including the Wildlife Photographer of the Year several times. Currently, he also presents his photographs in exhibitions organised as part of the activities of the Polish Nature Photographers Association and the Polish Society for Nature Conservation.When asked why he chose photography as a form of artistic expression, the answer is: "In fact, many reasons can be given. One great advantage of photography is that you can create your own idea of a motif using very different techniques. A seemingly uninteresting motif can be given completely new, surprising sides. In this way, you create new worlds that are able to captivate the viewer and direct his or her gaze to small, inconspicuous things that are often overlooked in our fast-paced times. You will certainly have heard it before: A picture is worth a thousand words. And often enough that is true!

Project: The Art of Light

The selected portfolio shows the way Michal Budzinky sees the reality and it presents some images he has already taken in his 4 year long photographer's career. It also aims to emphasise the natural beauty of his native region – Poland. In his photographs he tries to capture the sense and atmosphere of outstanding, or quite on the contrary - seemingly usual and normal, places. His subjects often include simple themes from the nearest surrounding. Coming back to winter sceneries and looking for graphic forms or patterns in the landscape, often highlighted by stunning light at dawn or bathed in darkness of the night, he puts much effort to present his own way of perception of the world. As the most important factors of photography he definitely considers light and composition, therefore he tries to achieve unique results by using them in an innovative way. Although he benefits from digital as well as traditional photographic techniques, he avoids computer manipulation of the image, which can result in creating seriously fake reality.

Michal Budzynski |Eis-Sprung | Ice-bound

The awarded photograph was taken in the Beskidy mountains, in southern Poland – in the valley of the Wapienica river. I have been working for some time on a photographic project highlighting the beauty of nature in my nearest areas and spent many days on taking pictures of some local landscapes. I have gone to the valley of the Wapienica river many times, in every season of a year and at every time of a day. Most of my photos are full of colours and light but this one is a bit different. It was a cloudy and cold winter day when I decided to search for some subjects close to a frozen lake. I was impressed by a lonely tree and a crack in the ice leading from a shore to it, on which I focused. The whole scene was devoid of any colours and by overexposing the image, using a wide-angle lens and cropping in a unusual way I managed to achieve a rare effect, reminding me of a sketch or a graphic.

Michal Budzynski | Letzter Atemzug des Herbstes | Last Breath of Autumn

Last breath of autumn
Me and my friends were in the Pieniny Mountains, in the southern Poland, for a weekend. On the first day of our trip we could admire beautiful colours of autumn, while on the next day we were surprised by a heavy snowfall and low temperature - the weather conditions completely changed. Despite this fact, we were really happy with results of many hours spent on photographing nature (especially capturing the mountains). Unfortunately, as it was Sunday we had to finish the short trip. When we were driving home, we noticed another breath-taking view – trees with golden, red and yellow leaves surrounded by some snow-covered ones. It was hard to find a good composition, however I managed to separate the part of the whole sight by using a telephoto lens

Michal Budzynski | Majestätische Bergwelt | The Majesty

Majestätische Bergwelt
I was in the Tatra mountains for a weekend in spring 2008. Unfortunately, it was cloudy during my whole sojourn there. However, despite the unclear sky, I decided to wake up early with a hope of taking some photographs. When I went out, it suddenly got brighter and some rays of rising sun appeared on the horizon, lightning the mountains in a wonderful manner. A few minutes later, heavy clouds covered the sky.

Michal Budzynski | Lichtstrahl | Light Projection

Light Projection
In February 2009, I went to the Beskidy Mountains range (southern Poland) to photograph winter landscapes. I took this picture on a freezing but sunny morning, the temperature dropped below -15 Celsius degrees and I was shivering from cold after standing for a few hours outside. My attention was drawn by a spot of golden sunlight and a backlit tree as if sticking out of it. I wanted to capture the view by using the simplest composition I could have used and focusing on the subtle silhouette of a tree and contrasting colours of snow. The empty space on the bottom of the image emphasises the simplicity.

Michal Budzynski | Leuchtender Wald | Incandescent Forest

Incandescent Forest
In February 2009 I went to the Beskidy Mountains range (southern Poland) to photograph winter landscapes. I took this picture on a freezing but sunny morning, the temperature dropped below -15 Celsius degrees and I was shivering from cold after standing for a few hours outside. Struggling with my feelings and trying not to pay attention to uncomfortable conditions, I entered a snow-covered forest. I was immediately impressed by the sunlit background and the foreground remaining in shadow as well as the contrasting warm and cold tones. When I first looked at this photograph, especially when I noticed the red silhouettes of the trees, I thought that the whole scene reminds me somehow of an oven, but it had not been that warm ...

Michal Budzynski | Schneeglühen | Snow Glow

Snow Glow
I have always been fascinated by winter landscapes and once upon a time I came up with an idea of photographing snow – just snow and nothing else. Although the task seemed quite easy, it in fact wasn't. I took a couple of close-ups, focusing rather on the forms and light. This is one of these shots.

Michal Budzynski | Wind

As it was with capturing pure snow, I tried to photograph wind – something that is unseen, but exists undoubtedly. I had a few ideas how to freeze this phenomenon in time but some of them turned out to be very difficult to execute. In this picture I managed to capture grains of sand “flying” above patterns on the dune, backlit by setting sun. When lying on a ground, and in fact being in the centre of the tiny sandstorm, I could feel the sand hitting my body everywhere. Actually, it wasn't a great solution for me as well as my camera (but fortunately nothing broke inside). As I later heard, it was one of the most windy days that summer.

Michal Budzynski | Ozean aus Sand | Ocean of Sand

Ocean of Sand
One of my favourite themes to photograph are forms created by nature. This scene was captured on a 40-metres high dune in Slowinski National Park, in the North of Poland. The afternoon light cast unusual shadows, which emphasised the look of pattern. Additionally, I included single blades of grass within the frame in order to create some kind of contrast between golden sand and green vegetation.

Michal Budzynski | Geheimnisvoller Nebel | Mysterious Mist

Mysterious Mist
In autumn 2008 I went on a photo-trip for a weekend. Unfortunately, the weather conditions were quite unsatisfying – it was cloudy all the time. Not paying attention to weather, I wake up early every day just in case the situation improved. I was really lucky – the weather got better in the last morning of my sojourn. Heavy clouds made way for the early sunlight, the mist was rising over over the lake and slowly covering some autumn trees. I took a series of photographs and found out later that I captured a few birds in limbo as well. I like the contrast of the dreamy scene and even more unusual birds.


Michal Budzynski | Traumwelt | Dreamworld

One day, after a rainfall, I went out with my camera to capture some micro-life in the nearest surrounding. As I was looking for a proper subject to photograph, I turned my attention to a colourful tuft of small plants. As I approached, it occurred to be the tuft of blossoming moss. With some raindrops on particular blades, the moss looked absolutely fabulous.

Michal Budzynski | Spiegelungen | Reflections

Mountain creeks are quite popular theme for a photographer, but they can occur to be interesting too. You are able to experiment with different forms and create some unusual effects or compositions. When taking this shot, I focused on capturing the softness and emphasising the ethereal nature of the stream. The green colours are in fact reflections of the leaves from above.


Michal Budzynski | Spiegel | Mirror

I have always wanted to take a photograph of a water drop or dew with some nice scene reflected in it. My dream finally came true a certain summer morning when I went out to capture some flowers on nearby meadows. However, searching for a proper drop wasn't as easy as I had thought. As an effect of a few hours spent on crawling in grass I got just a few pictures!

Michal Budzynski | Der Eine | The One

The One
I took this picture in the region of the Tatra Mountains, in southern Poland. Every year in April, some of the meadows and valleys in that area are beautifully covered with violet crocuses. Although the view is amazing, it is rather difficult to take a good photograph of it. By using a telephoto lens, I focused on one particular crocus, sticking out of the colourful “carpet” of flowers. I kept the foreground as well as the background blurred and used the subtle, light colours in order to maintain a painting style. However, the shadow on one of the petals looks a bit mysterious.

Michal Budzynski | Im Abendlicht | In the Evening Light

In the evening light
The photograph shows Common Heather and it was taken in late August 2009, in Slowinski National Park, in the North of Poland. I spent the whole afternoon on photographing this species. Hearing the echo of crushing waves of the sea and even being accompanied only by flies and mosquitoes, I had really good time trying to capture the heathers in an interesting way. I was determined to create a painting-style photograph (as I usually call it) – with blurred foreground and subtle background, emphasising the wonderful light as well. I had taken this picture just a few minutes before the sun went below the horizon and left the whole surrounding in shadow. I used small aperture value to obtain shallow depth of field and get the result, I had wanted to achieve. The particular heathers are emerging from the blurred areas and the further background consists of partly-lit trees and clusters of grass and heathers.

Michal Budzynski | Schönheit im Gegenlicht | Backlit Beauty

Backlit Beauty
It was a hot, summer day. In fact, the high temperature caused a storm with heavy rainfall, but soon it got over and the sky was clear again, so I went for a walk and took a camera with me – just in case I found something worth to capture. When I was strolling through meadows, I noticed a flower sticking out from grass and decided to take of a photograph of it. I used a telephoto lens to keep the foreground and the background perfectly blurred. And what drew my attention immediately was the silhouette of a flower, which was created by backlit structure of the stem.