WPY 2011

Photograph Details

Specially commended 2011

Animal Portraits

Stefano Unterthiner, Italy

Arrangement of swans

Stefano spent six weeks at Lake Kussharo, in Hokkaido, Japan, before he found the perfect conditions to portray the winter gathering of whooper swans. One night, wind swept the snow across the surface of the frozen lake. The resulting snow crust was so hard that, though the 150 or so swans had walked all over it, their footprints could barely be seen. 'I wanted the swans to look as though they'd been 'painted' on top of the snow,' says Stefano. Lying on the ice for several hours, he experimented with compositions using parts of their bodies against the white canvas as graphic elements. The final touch was to increase the contrast and brightness slightly during processing.

Technical specification

Nikon D3 + 24-70mm lens; 1/320 sec at f16; ISO 1000.


Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido, Japan: latitude 43.603844, longitude 144.32541 Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido, Japan: latitude 43.603844, longitude 144.32541

Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido, Japan


Stefano Unterthiner, Italy

  • Illusion
  • Crane perfection