WPY 2013

Photograph Details

Commended 2013

Behaviour: Birds

Pål Hermansen, Norway

Life in the balance

Catching a jay isn't easy. When feeding, jays regularly scan the sky for danger, and at the slightest hint of a threat will let out a loud rasping alarm call. So when a pair of sparrowhawks started to frequent a feeding station in front of Pål's hide in Dalen, Norway, he didn't imagine they would catch a jay. What they did do, though, was bring their young for hunting practice. Time after time their attempts failed, but as the youngsters practised striking, Pål was able to practise his shooting skills. 'In the wild, things often happen so fast that by the time you react, the moment is over,' says Pål. 'So I practised pressing the shutter just before an attack began.' On this occasion, he spotted the adult male sparrowhawk lurking nearby and kept focused on the jay until the anticipated strike. Here, the precision and fear expressed in a split second, barely registered by the human eye, manages to capture the height of the action, the moment when life truly hangs in the balance.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 300mm lens; 1/3200 sec at f2.8; ISO 2500.


Dalen, Norway: latitude 59.4447, longitude 8.01169 Dalen, Norway: latitude 59.4447, longitude 8.01169

Dalen, Norway

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Pål Hermansen, Norway

Educated as a dentinst, homeopath and photographer/artist (BA). I have been working with photography and writing articles and books for more than 4o years. Books number appr. 30, many exhibitions and prizes and publishing in prestigious media. For me, experiencing nature is a question of existence. Without the possibility to go out, the life is not worth living. Photography is a way to go even deeper into nature and explore the vital aspects, both the landscape itself and all different life forms. A very import task for photography in the nature, is that our activity can mean a difference for nature conservation. To achieve this, one has to awaken the people, not least the children, otherwise we are getting more and more remote to nature and look at it as a theoretical value. Then it is important also to include man in different ways in the images, therefore one of my favourite topics is the interaction between man and nature.

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