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Thursday 1 June 2023 3:59pm

Elsa - photo comp 2023 - image
Elsa the Samoyed-Golden Retriever is not afraid of a little freezing water.

Otago's resident “Elsa” embodied the spirit of Disney's 'Let it go', jumping into a freezing lake with wild abandon for the shot that took top prize at the 2023 Bulletin Photo Competition.

Research Fellow Dr Teodora Georgescu, the photographer behind the shot and Elsa the Samoyed-Golden Retriever-cross's partner in crime, says Elsa's always been up for adventure and was the inspiration behind her foray into photography.

“I became interested in photography because I started an Instagram account (@floofyfriday) for our dog Elsa,” says Dr Georgescu.

“I'm still quite new to photography and constantly learning, but I have a great model that's always happy to pose, in return for a stick or treat, of course.”

The first runner-up's photo also features other creatures at play, this time puffins.

Puffins - photo comp 2023 - image
Puffins in action in their natural habitat.

Senior Administrator Simon Roberts, from Student Administration, caught the puffins in action at Lunga, one of the Treshnish Isles in Scotland and a protected sanctuary.

“Tourist expeditions to Lunga have acclimatised the inhabitants to human presence, making it an amazing place to photograph and interact with wildlife.

“I took this shot on a Sony A7R3 with a 24-70mm lens, which reveals just how close we were able to get that I didn't need a telephoto to shoot.”

Roberts, who connects with nature through photography, said the 'playful and charismatic' puffins were the perfect subject.

“I enjoyed the challenge of trying to capture the puffins' expressions and interactions, their character and humour.”

Our second runner-up's photo features the majestic tūī, perched delicately on a harakeke.

Tui - photo comp 2023 - image
A tūī stays still long enough for this winning shot.

The shot was captured by Senior Professional Practice Fellow Jo Prince, who calls herself “an opportunistic photographer still improving her craft”.

Camping near Catlins Lake, with the harakeke flowering, the long summer days and the tūī in full force, inspired Prince to practice a few new settings on her FUJIFILM X-T20.

“Keen to get a good feed, the tūī didn't often pause long, but I was delighted to capture the beautiful feathers, the pollen, and the contrast with the deep red harakeke.”

Her photography journey was mostly focussed on documenting tramping and mountaineering landscapes and adventures. Since having kids, her focus has broadened while capturing their adventures in the outdoors.

“Spending time wandering at child's pace, Aotearoa's wonderful birds began to pique my interest and I'm hoping to spend more time developing this skill.”

The winners were picked following an anonymous shortlisting process.

Judge and two-time competition winner Eugene Yeo says the judging wasn't easy, with over 140 entries to choose from.

“There was a wide range of subjects and settings to choose from, and the quality was high. It's great to again see such enthusiasm for this competition.”

Notable entries

Geoff Burns, Deputy Proctor / Principal CCTV Manager

Piko - photo comp 2023 - image
Piko living his best life.

I had visited Piko (the cat) a few times while he was waiting to be adopted along with his brother Wookie. After three months of them not being chosen I knew I had to “rescue” them both and take them home.

This photo was taken on Piko's first evening with us. The first day of his new “best life”. The photo was a grab shot using my iPhone, with some minor in-phone postproduction tweaks.

Before coming to Otago five years ago I was a police forensic photographer, which was both amazing and rewarding, but also very challenging. When not teaching or taking forensic images I enjoyed black and white fine art, landscape, and portrait photography. I was given an old second-hand SLR camera while in high school and nearly 40 years later, I'm still loving taking photos.

Hamish Michael Doogan, Bachelor of Science student

Kiss - photo comp 2023 - image
Seal pups at play.

Having an enduring love for wildlife and the natural world, wildlife photography has become a big passion of mine. Currently in my third year studying Ecology at Otago, I was lucky enough to go on a fieldtrip to Rēkohu Chatham Islands, where this image was taken.

In a colony of what honestly seemed like hundreds of seals, I was able to watch these beautiful pups play. Following them patiently through the lens I was able to capture this special moment. It was a truly humbling experience to witness such a beautiful moment in a truly unique place.

Judy Ormandy, Senior Lecturer - Obstetrics, Gynaecology & Women's Health, University of Otago, Wellington

Weedy dragon - photo comp 2023 - image
Weedy sea dragons - The photogenic cousins of seahorses.

This photo was taken in Deep Glen Bay in Tasmania, a known haunt for the unique weedy sea dragons. Weedy sea dragons are a photogenic relation of seahorses and found along the Southern coastlines of Australia and in Tasmania. Capturing both the sea dragon and my dive buddy in the photo involved some careful positioning, patience, and many frenetic hand signals to my dive buddy.

Rather than a photographer, I think of myself as a scuba diver who snaps photos. Photography allows me to share the amazing flora and fauna found underwater and I hope to encourage others to protect and treasure our oceans as taonga.

I aim to keep my camera equipment as simple as possible when scuba diving and used my trusty Olympus TG6 'point and shoot' in a Nauticam housing with video lights.

Sunset - photo comp 2023 - image
Sunset at Taputeranga Marine Reserve.

In Te Whanganui–A-Tara Wellington we are blessed to have Taputeranga Marine Reserve on our doorstep and it is one of my favourite haunts for scuba diving. Over-under photos require calm conditions and good visibility in the water – conditions not always found locally! I was playing with a fisheye lens and housing on my Olympus TG6 at sunset when a beach walker posed perfectly and conveniently in my photo.

Oscar Kværner, exchange student from Tromsø, Norway

Reine - photo comp 2023 - image
The village Reine nestled in the mountains.

This picture is of a small village close to the tip of the cluster of islands called Lofoten in Northern Norway. It is a region known for its jagged mountains, plummeting straight into the ocean that surrounds you on all sides. Jammed in between these fjords and mountains lie numerous small villages connected by bridges, Reine being one of those villages.

There is no name for the mountain in the background. The picture was taken in the late summer period, around August. We were driving out to the tip of Lofoten, stopping as we went along to take pictures of the beautiful landscape, and this view was way too good to pass by. The sun was hitting the mountain perfectly and the water was almost completely still, allowing for an almost perfect reflection. It is hard to imagine that the open sea is just around the corner.

It is one of my most prized pictures to date. It was taken with my phone, a Samsung Galaxy s22 Ultra. I've always loved to take pictures of landscapes like this one, though I'm yet to purchase a professional digital camera.

Gabriel William Laurence Jonson, Bachelor of Law student

Taranaki - photo comp - image
The majestic Mt Taranaki

Towards the end of winter last year, two friends and I hiked the Pouakai Circuit. It was simply for a bit of fun and in hopes of capturing the iconic shot of Mt Taranaki, over the Tarns.

It has been a wet end to the day beforehand, but the forecast was still promising a somewhat clear sky. Sunrise came and went, and the mountain was still shrouded under a thick layer of cloud, but after a period of patient waiting the peak of the mountain slowly became visible. It was a fantastic sight, and worth the effort.

Raewyn Wright, Clinical Research Nurse – Paediatrics, University of Otago, Christchurch

Linked - photo comp 2023 - image
Celebrating diversity.

I can't remember a time when I haven't taken photos. I got my first camera in my teens and my happy place is to be behind the camera.

This photo was taken at the Culture Galore Multicultural Festival held in Christchurch. The festival celebrates Christchurch city's diversity. They have food, crafts, music, and dance performances from a wide range of cultures. These ladies had finished their beautiful dance performance and were standing having their photos taken. I was standing behind them and noticed their linking arms, the rich colours of their saris and their togetherness, which inspired me to capture the photo.

skyscraper - photo comp 2023 - image
Reaching for the sky.

I like to take a wide range of photographs and at the moment I am trying out street photography. I really enjoy looking back at the images I have taken to recall places I've been and the people I have met, as they are for me, a way of documenting my life, family, and memories.

I took this photo whilst holidaying in Hong Kong. Looking upwards from the streets of Hong Kong, I was impressed by the huge skyscrapers and in this shot loved the perspective of the lines of the buildings leading through to the sky above. I also loved the reflections on the buildings of the lines and colours. When I travel, I always carry my camera and phone so I can try to capture the feel of the cities I visit.

Caitlan Smart, PhD candidate – Microbiology and Immunology

Kea - photo comp 2023 - image
Two cheeky kea.

I took this photo of the two young kea at Mueller Hut, Aoraki Mt Cook while on annual tramp with the lab group. I really love how this photo turned out with the kea perfectly staring back at me and with the softness of the orangey rocks and blue mountain in the background. It was a lucky capture as they did move around a lot and definitely made carrying the extra camera and tripod weight up the 1000m climb worth it. It was my first time seeing kea in the wild, they are just such beautiful and curious birds.

Photography is mostly just an interest and a way for me to capture the memorable moments along the way. This photo was taken with a Canon 80D which hasn't had much use lately as I've been busy finishing my PhD but I would like to change that. I do especially love night photography and would like to focus on this a bit more when I have some time.

~ Kōrero by Sandra French, Internal Communications Adviser

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