Spirit of the mountains

Stefano Unterthiner's Image

Two years of photographing the Aosta Valley meant that Stefano knew the mountains would be swathed in low cloud that day. He chose ancient larch trees and dramatic folds of rock as a backdrop. As a vulture loomed ghost-like above a flock of Alpine choughs, Stefano set about capturing the magic of this ‘wild, wonderful region’.

Bearded vultures have recently returned to the Gran Paradiso National Park. Soaring above the mountains on enormous wings, they scavenge for carcasses in the valleys below. The choughs, a type of crow, are not on the bearded vulture’s menu. They will be looking for small invertebrates and seeds to eat.

Behind the lens

Stefano Unterthiner

Stefano Unterthiner


Stefano became serious about photography at 17 and went on to obtain a PhD in zoology from the University of Aberdeen (Scotland). He is the author of nine photography books, a multi-award winner in Wildlife Photographer of the Year and a regular contributing photographer for National Geographic magazine. Stefano has run many long-term multimedia projects, the latest being A Family in the Arctic.

Image details

  • Nikon D3S
  • 200-400mm f4 lens at 350mm
  • 1/400 sec at f8
  • Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy
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