As presenting sponsors of the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Quark is delighted to present the grand prize trip giveaway – a Greenland to Canada: Inuit, Icebergs, and Wildlife expedition – for the ROM's own wildlife photography contest. In less than two months, more than 2,250 submissions were received for the #ROMwpy Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest. Spectacular images included an incredible diversity of shots celebrating wildlife, and the very best in nature photography. Here, we chat with the #ROMwpy contest first prize winner, Steven Rose from Scarborough, Ontario, on his winning photograph. Steven is ecstatic to travel to the Arctic, compliments of Quark Expeditions.
Steven Rose's winning photo in the #ROMWPY contest
How did you find out about the contest? Did you have any inkling you'd win?
A friend sent me the link and suggested I enter the competition. He now feels he should be coming on the expedition with me. I had no idea I would win, but the prestige and prize are certainly worth taking the time to enter
How did you choose the photo you submitted from all the great ones in your portfolio? What was extra special about this one?
I picked this image because when I took it, I knew it was special. I had been taking pictures of this coyote over a month or so, and would set up early at dawn and wait. Sometimes it would not show up for days, and then not for a long time - I believe they have a large range. That the lake was calm, without a trace of ripple, and that the coyote came back and took a drink was very lucky, as I never saw this happen before. Even then, I only managed to get a few shots, then it was gone.
When did you start taking photos?
I started taking pictures around the age of 11. I once took a lot of pictures during a three-day hike in the Welsh hills - for which I received a Duke Of Edinburgh award – that were black and white film, in old color cassettes. I didn't want to develop them in case I messed up so I gave them to my dad, who of course had them developed as color images.
What's the most extreme circumstances you have photographed?
I like to go out in harsh winter conditions – blizzards, -30 degree temperatures, etc. – to get shots that “fair weather” photographers do not often get. I also dive, and try to take pictures that I find a challenge.
Any close encounters with danger? Dangerous wildlife?
I was kayaking alone on Broken Island Group, Vancouver Island, when a storm blew in. When I got to land I was bluff-charged by a female bear on a portage trail. For the most part you have to learn to read the body language of the animals you encounter, and give them space. All too often I see people cutting off an animal's escape route by trying to get behind them for a better shot.
What landscape has been your most favorite to photograph? Why?
Only a few landscapes come to mind, because so many elements have to come together to get a good landscape shot. The Orca in the Mist in Johnstone Strait, taken three years ago, was special to me. Certain conditions were met – getting the mist at that time of evening, being on the “right” side of the strait, and more.
Can you give us your top tips for wildlife photography?
Get up early and be there before the sun comes up. Shoot in adverse conditions. Take control of the camera and shoot in manual mode.
How did it feel to win?
Unbelievable, and very hard to describe, as people are taking such fantastic pictures these days with digital cameras. Every year I see more and more pictures I want to emulate. The digital camera and everything that goes with it is changing photography. You see pictures from cell phones now that blow you away.
What are you most excited for on your winning Quark Expeditions voyage to Greenland?
To take a picture of a polar bear, to see icebergs up close, I could go on and on. To photograph in the Arctic is something I might never have had chance to do in my life. Hey, I won this trip; dream the dream I say - it might just happen.