WPY 2011

Photograph Details

Highly commended 2011

Nature in Black & White

Stefano Unterthiner, Italy

Crane perfection

Even though Japanese cranes are endangered, photographing them on Hokkaido is easy. The birds turn up every day at the same time and can be relied on to perform their courtship dances in front of hundreds of cameras. So today, photographs of dancing Japanese cranes are commonplace. To create something original, Stefano set out with specific criteria in mind. First, he wanted perfect 'white-out' conditions, so that the image would be clean and elegant. Second, the photograph had to be close enough to show the delicate detail of their feathers. Third, he wanted a sense of movement - a hint of that famous delicate, leaping choreography. And finally, there had to be synchronicity. The shot he ended up with did all that. But for him, the real joy was witnessing 'one of the most beautiful and emotional scenes imaginable.'

Technical specification

Nikon D3 + 600mm lens; 1/1000 sec at f7.1; ISO 500.


Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido, Japan: latitude 43.6038, longitude 144.325 Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido, Japan: latitude 43.6038, longitude 144.325

Lake Kussharo, Hokkaido, Japan

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Stefano Unterthiner, Italy

Stefano works with his wife Stéphanie, with whom he founded the publishing house Ylaios and created The Little Wild Gallery, his personal photography gallery in the Forte di Bard (Italy). He was recently chosen by the Valle d'Aosta region to endorse their ecotourism project VIVA. Since 2009, he has regularly collaborated with National Geographic magazine.

  • Arrangement of swans
  • Cat attack
  • Illusion
  • Spirit of the mountains
  • A vision of self
  • Last glance
  • No man’s land
  • A taste of humanity
  • Portrait of Nona
  • Where yakis end up