When photographing the famous Japanese macaques around the hot springs of Jigokudani, central Japan, Jasper had become fascinated by the surreal effects created by the arrival of a cold wind. Occasionally, a blast would blow through the steam rising off the pools. If it was snowing, the result would be a mesmerising pattern of swirling steam and snowflakes, which would whirl around any macaques warming up in the pools. But capturing the moment required total luck - for Jasper to be there when the wind blew and for the monkeys to be in the pool. For that luck to arrive, he had to wait another year. Returning the next winter, he determined to get the shot he'd been obsessing about. He set up using a polariser to remove reflections from the water and create a dark contrasting background, and got ready to use fill-flash to catch the snowflakes. 'As it kept snowing, I stood there, willing the wind to pick up. I felt it just had to happen - sometimes you can push your luck if I you just wait long enough.' But as the steam started swirling above the water, there wasn't a monkey in sight. 'All of a sudden one adult appeared and jumped on a rock in the middle of the pool. When I started shaking off the snow, I knew this was the moment.'
Nikon D4 + 24-70mm f2.8 lens at 55mm + polarising filter; 1/100 sec at f11; ISO 1600; Nikon SB-800 flash.
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Jasper Doest, The Netherlands
Jasper's work has received multiple awards, including in Wildlife Photographer of the Year, European Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Travel Photographer of the Year. He has also appeared in numerous international journals and books, including National Geographic magazine, Smithsonian and GEO. He is a Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP).