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Sony Nordic Wildlife Explorers

Pressemelding   •   apr 19, 2021 17:00 CEST

New Sony Nordic Wildlife Explorers project

The Nordic natural world contains an astonishing diversity of habitats and wildlife, on land, in the sea and in the air as well as across the seasons. Long coastlines and ancient forests, deep fjords and snow-capped mountains, emerald lakes and lush river valleys; from the Arctic tundra of the north to the temperate shores of the south, Nordic nature is unique. However, it is also delicate. Climate change, biodiversity loss and habitat destruction are as great a threat here as anywhere else.

Ecosystems all over the world are experiencing the impact of climate change, but nowhere more so than in the far north; the average annual temperature in the Arctic has increased twice as much as in southern latitudes, with glaciers and sea ice melting faster than previously expected. Recent decades have seen a seemingly limitless increase in humanity’s footprint on our planet, and it has become increasingly clear that our current trajectory is completely unsustainable. The Covid-19 pandemic has provided us with a harsh reminder that we need to rethink the path we are on, and of the importance of protecting the natural world.

Meet the Wildlife Explorers

At Sony Nordic we want to support and help spread knowledge about our natural heritage and about efforts being made to protect it.

The Sony Nordic Wildlife Explorers is a group of professional photographers who are dedicated to the conservation and protection of nature and wildlife. They use visual storytelling to showcase the natural wonders of Nordic Europe and many other parts of the world through their eyes and cameras. Their projects range from highlighting the vulnerability of the Arctic and underwater ecosystems to documenting deforestation, showcasing the intricate life of birds and mammals and showcasing the world of rangers and conservationists, through which they aim to inspire and educate as well as encourage us all to fall in love with - and protect - our natural heritage.

ROY MANGERSNES

Roy Mangersnes is a trained behaviouralist and professional wildlife photographer living in Sandnes, southwestern Norway. Roy is considered among the most influential nature photographers in Norway today. He has published several books, as well as won multiple international awards including BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year, European Wildlife Photographer of the Year (GDT) and also Nature Best Awards. Roy is working around the world and his images are being published in magazines and books all over. He is also an experienced speaker and has been presenting his work at several international photo festivals. Roy is also being used as a photography teacher on private expedition yachts.

Being a conservationist by heart Roy has also been selected to be a photographer in some of the greatest conservation photography projects in the world like the Wild Wonders of China project and Photographers Against Wildlife Crime.

Besides his career as a photographer Roy is partner and professional photography host of WildPhoto Travel and also director of the board at Polar Pioneer Management. He is doing assignments around the world at destinations ranging from the Arctic to the Antarctic. The company office is in Longyearbyen, Svalbard, where WildPhoto have also opened the northernmost fine arts gallery in the world.

Philosophy: For me photographing nature is not all about pleasing my own need to create. Of course being happy with a picture is very important, but very often there is a story behind it that needs to be told. What separates a good image from the rest is when its story is being told to the viewer. If I succeed in telling the story I will be happy. A really good image needs to tell a story, and at best create a response from the viewer. If the image has an impact, and is not forgotten, I have really taken a good photo. I am always aware of the messages sent through my photos, and I consider my camera a very powerful weapon if used correctly. One picture tells more than a thousand words.


SONY GEAR: A1, A7RIV, A9II RX10IV, 600 f4 GM, and a selection of other Sony G Master lenses.

Why did you agree to join The Sony Wildlife Explorer project?

For me photography is storytelling and I see the Sony Wildlife Explorer initiative to be a potentially great way to tell the story of the nature and wildlife that I hold so dear. It is a great team of not only brilliant photographers, but also passionate conservationists and photojournalists. Photography is so much more than capturing that one perfect frame, it is also about sharing, and this concept is a great platform to share my stories.

What fascinates you in photographing nature and wildlife?

I always had a passion for nature and wildlife, since I was very young, and I also hold a master’s degree in animal behavior. Therefore, wildlife photography became a way for me to capture the unseen and share the wonders of the wild with others through my photography. As time passed, I found my style where I try to combine storytelling with art and capture nature not only as a documentation but in images that convey a feeling whether through content or composition and light. The possibility of combining storytelling and creativity is probably what keeps me so passionate about wildlife photography.

In which ways has Sony mirrorless camera equipment evolved the quality of your work?

After I started using Sony I have been able to work much more intimate with my subjects as the smaller Sony camera bodies, incredible stabilization as well as the combination of amazing autofocus and flexible live view monitor, make it easier to shoot from very difficult positions even with the longest lenses. I work a lot around water and from boats, so being able to handhold my equipment from my body over water has given me images I have not been able to capture before. Also, the extreme flexible tracking focus system has made it easier for me to compose my images while shooting action, including birds in flight. I also want to mention the dynamic of the files that gives me amazing details in otherwise difficult light situations!

MELISSA SCHÄFER & FREDRIK GRANATH

Partners in life, love and work, photographer Melissa Schäfer and producer Fredrik Granath are specialised in the Arctic region and are focusing on polar bears and their role in a changing climate. They are based in Stockholm, Sweden and in Longyearbyen on Svalbard in the Arctic.

Melissa Schäfer

From her early childhood days in Hamburg, Germany, Melissa has viewed the world through her camera lens. With a background in creative and portrait photography she has always had a unique eye for the surroundings. A deep love for the Arctic and polar bears as well as a strong commitment to nature and the environment is a foundation for all her work. In 2020 Melissa and Fredrik published their book “Polar Tales” worldwide in English. It is a visual story about ice, life and future which has been praised by media around the world. The book has also been published in German as “Das Königreich der Eisbären” and Swedish as “Bortom isbjörnens rike” which won the “Book of the Year”-award from the World Wildlife Fund. Melissa has also been published by The New York Times, National Geographic, GEO and many others.


Fredrik Granath

Producer, author and leading expert on field production in the polar regions. Since 2001 he has been working around the Arctic with production of photography on his own projects such as the book “Vanishing World”, which was translated to ten languages and published in 30 countries, as well as the recent “Polar Tales”. He has also worked as a producer and adviser for other film- and photographic projects in the Arctic, including work for film studios and the National Geographic. He has assembled a unique expertise of working under the most extreme conditions and is specialised in polar bears.

“We do this work because we feel it is important. But also because we love life in the field, the long wintertime on the pack ice and around the frozen fjords. It is a work which is as much life as it is work. Our goal is to capture the truth, and perhaps some of the essence of Arctic life. We want to get under the skin, get close to our subjects. When we’re able to do that, what is behind and between the photos become more important than the photos themselves. And a story is created, where all the images connect, and add up to something bigger than the individual shots. We want to make people feel, and we believe storytelling is key in making people connect with nature and our planet. Because you only fight for what you love.”



SONY GEAR: A1, RX10IV, 100-400 f4.5-5.6 GM, 70-200 f2.8 GM, 24-70 f2.8 GM, 12-24 f2.8 GM and 16-35 f2.8 GM.

Why did you agree to join The Sony Wildlife Explorer project?

Sony is not only leading the pack of imaging and storytelling, but is also working with a clear plan for a sustainable future. For us, Sony is the obvious partner as we now head into the future. We believe in the power of images and are confident storytelling is key in bringing about a better future for all life on this planet.

What fascinates you in photographing nature and wildlife?

For us, nature- and wildlife photography is all about shortening the distance between people and nature, making them feel, think, and see what is around. Reconnect with what is truly important.

Amazing things and incredible beauty is everywhere. In the Arctic where we work, in our backyard and the park. We just need to keep our eyes open. A hedgehog or a squirrel in our garden at home in Sweden, can fill us with just as much joy and awe as a polar bear on the ice.

The more often we see the things around us, even the beautiful and wonderful things, the more they become invisible to us. We tend to take the beauty of this world for granted... the flowers, the trees, the birds, the mountains, the light — even those we love. Because we see things so often, we see them less and less.

A couple of hundred years ago we were part of nature. Now we’ve moved to cities, watch Netflix and have the entire world in our smartphones. At some point, we lost sight of the fact that to harm nature, is to harm ourselves. We disconnected from nature and over time, nature has become something we watch on TV, or plan a vacation to.

It is time to reconnect. If not for the sake of nature, then for the sake of ourselves.

What we choose to do during the next few years is crucially important. We are proud to do this with Sony and The Sony Wildlife Explorers team, which is a great initiative that turns our work into a collective effort. Together with this group of great photographers and storytellers our voice becomes stronger.

Together with Sony, we are ONE.

In which ways has Sony mirrorless camera equipment evolved the quality of your work?

The Sony Alpha system brings us closer to the world we are documenting. At the same time as it is more technologically advanced than anything we’ve ever seen, it gives us the feeling of not having a piece of equipment in the way. It is a seamless extension of ourselves.

STAFFAN WIDSTRAND

Multi-award-winning professional nature photographer, based in Sweden.

A National Geographic Explorer and Author of 18 books in 9 languages.

All his work is about highlighting the attractiveness of our natural heritage, and inspiring wide audiences to better protect and take care of it.

Staffan has initiated several long-term nature conservation communication and media projects like Wild Wonders of Europe, Wild Wonders of China, Rewilding Europe, the Swedish Ecotourism Association, Scandinavian Big Five.

Partner in the nature photo travel agency “Wild Nature Photo Adventures”. Appointed "Nature Photographer of the Year" in Sweden.

A frequent judge in leading international photo competitions, including “World Press Photo” (NL), “Wildlife Photographer of the Year” (UK), "GDT European Nature Photographer of the Year" (DE) and "Golden Turtle" (Russia). Published in several of the world’s major newspapers and magazines, such as National Geographic, GEO, Der Spiegel, El Mundo, The Guardian and many others.

Staffan has been called one of the world's “Most influential nature photographers” by Outdoor Photography magazine. He is the Managing Director and co-owner of Wild Wonders International. Staffan has had international solo or group exhibitions all over the world, as well as major outdoor exhibitions.


SONY GEAR: A1, A7RIV, A9II, RX10IV, 400 f2.8 GM, 600 f4 GM and selection of other Sony G Master lenses.

Why did you agree to join The Sony Wildlife Explorer project?

Because I believe in working together and working with the best. The best professional wildlife photographers, the best conservation-minded communicators and the best gear.

What fascinates you in photographing nature and wildlife?

The wonderful beauty and the wonderful diversity of Life on Earth. The endless opportunities and possibilities. The permanent challenges - to get close enough, to have the right natural light, to have the wildlife perform naturally, to surprise yourself creatively… I simply love being out there and to try to convey that loving feeling to all those who for different reasons are not yet out there.

In which ways has Sony mirrorless camera equipment evolved the quality of your work?

My pictures are sharper and more well exposed now. I work with Manual exposure instead of Auto since it is quicker thanks to mirrorless. I get more frames per second and the Tracking AF is amazingly precise. In Silent mode, I scare away fewer animals and birds nowadays. My back thanks me for fewer kilos to carry and I can shoot confidently with longer shutter speeds than I used to and still get sharp images, thanks to the incredible Steadyshot stabiliser. And video filming is easier, more intuitive, more fun and comes out better.

FLORIS SMEETS

Born and raised in the Netherlands, from a family consisting of biologists, his passion for nature is embedded in his DNA. From a young age Floris developed an interest in photography and started to take his camera with him when being out in the nature. With the goal to work in nature and wildlife conservation, Floris did a Bachelor in Forest and Nature Management and a Master in Ecology, for which he moved to Norway in 2010. During these studies his interest and success in nature photography increased. After finishing his master’s degree, he started his own nature photography traveling agency “Photo Tours Norway”.

Now photography and guiding are his full-time profession and passion. He uses the Norwegian nature as his playground, where he mainly focuses on wildlife and landscapes. He has great respect for the nature and thinks it is of great importance that pictures are taken in natural situations without disturbing the wildlife or altering the scenery. With his pictures he tries to capture the natural beauty in a way that it is not just a captured moment, but tells a story. The species of wildlife he focuses on, are often not the easiest species to photograph. His knowledge of the nature, his patience and persistence are the key to his success.

His work has been awarded in the Outdoor Photographer of The Year and the Nordic Nature Photo Contest and it has been featured in several national and international magazines. As he says it himself, his biggest accomplishment in photography is becoming a Sony Europe Imaging Ambassador.


SONY GEAR: A1, A9II, RX10IV, 400 f2.8 GM, and a selection of other Sony G Master lenses.

Why did you agree to join The Sony Wildlife Explorer project?

I see this as a great opportunity to increase awareness about the struggles the nature is in. Through my photography I have the opportunity to show the challenges that nature is facing. By being part of the Sony Wildlife Explores, my photo stories will reach more people and will therefore have a greater impact. Also, by being able to work together with extremely talented like-minded photographers, I think we can accomplish a lot more than we could alone.

What fascinates you in photographing nature and wildlife?

Nature and wildlife photography is unpredictable. You never know what you will see and experience when being out in the nature. This makes it for us as nature photographers a challenge to succeed in capturing the footage we are after. It is this challenge which makes it interesting for me. What fascinates me in nature photography is that nature is always changing and never the same twice. You could visit the same place every single day and still come back with a different image every single time.

In which ways has Sony mirrorless camera equipment evolved the quality of your work?

The Sony mirrorless camera equipment has revolutionised my photography. Many of the technical aspects of photography have been made much easier to handle. I can fully trust the gear for the job I need to do with it. This has allowed me to focus more on my creativity and has given my photography a boost.

MARCUS WESTBERG

Marcus Westberg is a 37-year old Swedish conservation and travel photographer and writer. He is Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers and a regular contributor to the New York Times, bioGraphic, Africa Geographic and Vagabond, Scandinavia’s biggest travel magazine. His images have been awarded in numerous competitions, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

In 2020 he won the Man & Nature category at the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year and he also won the Swedish National Award at the Sony World Photography Awards and was runner-up at the Africa Geographic’s Photographer of the Year. Earlier he was mainly active in Africa, working with organisations such as African Parks, Gorilla Doctors and the Zambia Carnivore Program, but recently he has turned his attention on his native home, primarily focusing on Sweden’s large-scale logging of old-growth forests, having started Skogsmissbruket together with fellow Sony Nordic Wildlife Explorer Staffan Widstrand.


SONY GEAR: A1, RX10IV, 600 f4 GM, and a selection of other Sony G Master lenses.

Why did you agree to join The Sony Wildlife Explorer project?

Visual storytelling is an incredibly powerful conservation tool and will probably become even more so in the future. To be successful in our endeavors we need exceptional equipment, which Sony certainly has, but also a strong platform - an image won’t make a difference unless it is seen. The open-minded approach of Sony and the caliber of the photographers on this team means that the Sony Wildlife Explorers initiative has the potential to become such a platform, and I’m incredibly excited to be a part of it.

What fascinates you in photographing nature and wildlife?
My work often centers around the complex relationships between humans and the (rest of the) natural world. Sometimes that means exploring solutions to human-wildlife conflict, sometimes it focuses more on highlighting our connection with and encouraging greater respect for the natural world; a reminder that we are a part of that world, not apart from it.

In which ways has Sony mirrorless camera equipment evolved the quality of your work?
Having recently received my first Sony A1 camera, my wildlife photography already feels transformed. Up to 30 frames per second on a 50 MP sensor able to handle high ISO means I no longer need different cameras for different types of photos, which is what I’ve always had in the past. The eye recognition and tracking is truly mind-blowing, especially when combined with Sony’s big prime lenses, and the lighter weight of the equipment is a big bonus for someone who has a lot of gear. This is still fairly new to me, but I can’t see anything but huge advantages with having made the switch to Sony.

MAGNUS LUNDGREN

INSPIRATION IS KEY. GREAT PHOTOGRAPHY HAS NEVER BEEN MORE INFLUENTIAL THAN TODAY. AS WE ARE LIVING IN THE ERA OF IMAGE-SHARING, MY PHOTOGRAPHY MAKES MORE SENSE THAN EVER.

Magnus is a professional photographer and writer and he is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading underwater photographers ranking number five by underwatercompetition.com.

As a photographer Magnus has received more than 30 prestigious international photography awards including Wildlife Photographer of the Year and European Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

As a writer his latest book “A wilder life” was awarded the prize Pandabook of the year by WWF, and the book “Wild Waters of Europe” was published by National Geographic in Germany.

As a communicator Magnus earned the ”Arne Schmitz Conservation Prize” with the motivation: “The prize winner is an outstanding multi award-winning photographer with the World’s oceans as his working field. He receives the prize as his images and texts enhances understanding and interest in the ocean and its organisms promoting conservation of marine biological diversity and sustainable marine environments."

Magnus is the co-owner of one of the world's largest visual conservation projects, the Wild Wonders of Europe, that has reached more than 800 million people. The Wild Wonders of China initiative is built on the track record of the European project.


SONY GEAR: A1, RX10IV, 600 f4 GM, and a selection of other Sony G Master lenses.

Why did you agree to join The Sony Wildlife Explorer project?

Essentially because I think great photography can make a difference. Sony Wildlife Explorer concept involves a great team of passionate photographers all involved in conservation photography for a better future. And Sony is the most dynamic combination of creative people, frontier camera technique and great ambitions in the field of photography and filmmaking.

What fascinates you in photographing nature and wildlife?

One main reason why I started to do nature photography was that it is creative and at the same time it connects me with nature. Simply put: It makes me pure happy. Quite soon I realized how powerful storytelling through images can be and my style of nature conservation photography started to take shape.

In which ways has Sony mirrorless camera equipment evolved the quality of your work?

The Sony cameras have taken the mirrorless into a new era. Both when it comes to photography and filmmaking. The cameras possess sensational superpowers. In my work the sensor’s amazing qualities and abilities will support my ambitions. When shooting action, the super-fast frame rate and focus system will make new image ideas possible. The adaptability of the cameras enables me to tweak them into even more precise and “fast-to-use” tools, all packaged into a sturdy yet field- and travel friendly sized camera. Sony will be a very important part of my creative photography!

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