WPY 2011

Photograph Details

Runner-up 2011

Animals in their Environment

Erlend Haarberg, Norway

A wave of waders

In spring, thousands of red knots stop off in Iceland, on their way from Western Europe to their breeding grounds in Canada and Greenland. From the windy top of a cliff in Snæfellsnes, on the west coast of Iceland, Erlend watched the feeding flock and planned his picture. 'Everything was moving. The birds were scurrying to and fro, and powerful waves were crashing in,' says Erlend. He wanted to show the power of the sea and the resilience of the birds, and over seven evenings, he experimented with different shutter speeds and perspectives, trying to keep the tripod from being blown over. He needed three things: high tide, so that any birds would be corralled up the shore rather than scattered; waves big enough to create a graphic pattern but not so big that the knots would fly off; and early-morning or late-afternoon light so he could use a long shutter speed and capture the movement of the waves. His planning paid off.

Technical specification

Nikon D700 + 24-70mm f2.8 lens; 1/6 sec at f7.1; ISO 400; Gitzo tripod.


Snæfellsnes, Iceland: latitude 64.8703, longitude -23.1136 Snæfellsnes, Iceland: latitude 64.8703, longitude -23.1136

Snæfellsnes, Iceland

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Erlend Haarberg, Norway

Erlend has been working as a freelance nature photographer since the early 1990s, specialising in photographing wildlife in the Nordic countries. He met his wife Orsolya in 2004 and they have since worked on both joint and personal projects. They have authored four books and been published in GEO, BBC Wildlife and National Geographic magazines.

  • Land of fire and ice
  • Snow spat