It was a freezing January night when Łukasz found the three abandoned bunkers, built by Germans in the Second World War. He was working in Puszcza Piska Forest, northern Poland, studying overwintering bats with his friend Piotr Tomasik. For a week they slept in below-freezing conditions on the floor of an abandoned house. The bunkers where they worked were warmer – just above zero degrees – though Łukasz still couldn’t stop shivering. Inside were hibernating Daubenton’s bats in complete torpor, taking just one breath every 90 minutes. To emphasise the eerie atmosphere, Łukasz set his camera to a cool-white balance. He used his flashlight to illuminate one bat that was hanging from the ceiling, while Piotr lit the doorway with his light. ‘The trek back to the car some distance away in severe cold was a challenge,’ says Łukasz, who came down with pneumonia shortly afterwards. Sadly, Piotr later died. Łukasz has dedicated this picture to him.
Nikon D7100 + Sigma 10–20mm f3.5 lens at 10mm; 13 sec at f9 (-0.7 e/v); ISO 800; cable shutter release; Manfrotto tripod; two LED flashlights.
Puszcza Piska Forest, Poland
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Łukasz Bożycki, Poland
A scientist carrying out cancer research at Poland’s Nencki Institute of Experimental Biology, Łukasz has always been fascinated by the natural world. He spends much of his spare time taking photographs, developing an artistic approach. Since receiving an award in Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013, he has collaborated with National Geographic Poland.