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Kvaløya, Tromsø
Kvaløya, Tromsø.
Photo: Audun Rikardsen

On the coldest night of the year, Audun captured this breathtaking scene

He just won the “European championships” of nature photography in Germany. Not bad for a professor who picked up the camera mostly for fun.

It was the coldest night of last year. The thermometer showed minus eighteen degrees Celsius. Audun Rikardsen, 48, was overlooking the fjord from his living room in Kvaløya, Tromsø. That’s when he spotted a fishing trawler sailing by in the dusk. Behind it, he saw movement.

Yes – orcas!

Audun got in his boat and set off in pursuit. He forgot his flashlight at home, so he had to sit in the dark just waiting, all the while trying to estimate where and when the big mammals would come up for air.

After several hours, it all came together. Literally, a great shot in the dark.

Today, Mr. Rikardsen is probably happy that he chose to go out on the ice cold fjord instead of staying in the comfort of his home. Last Friday, he won the top prize as Nature photographer of the year at the Gesellschaft Deutscher Tierfotografen (GDT) in Germany, one of the world’s largest nature photography associations.

He then travelled to Siena, Italy, the next day, and picked up one of the main prizes at the Siena International Photo Awards.

Despite facing strong competition, a combination of the unique lights of Northern Norway and the exotic subjects really makes Audun Rikardsen stand out.

“Getting awards is a great motivation, but this weekend I was actually kind of embarrassed. I’ll have to share the honours with Northern Norway, which is where I have lived all my life. It’s definitively a part of the world that is quite unique”, Rikardsen says to Visit Norway.

Actually, Rikardsen isn’t working as a photographer full time, but is a professor in arctic biology. But when he was documenting field work back in 2009, his childhood passion for photography was re-ignited.

Instead of travelling the world to scout for the perfect scene, he finds them in his local environment. He’ll often use nontraditional methods to capture his images, such as the time when he mounted a camera to a cod to get a picture just as it is caught by a golden eagle.

Sometimes, it involves a certain degree of risk.

“From my perspective, I’m not doing anything dangerous. Then again, I was raised in this environment, and I’m very familiar with how rough the conditions can be. That means I may be able to push the boundaries a little further than would a photographer who’s not quite as familiar with the area,” explains Rikardsen.

“Also, due to my profession, I know my subjects well,” he adds.

In any case, his pictures have made Audun Rikardsen one of Norway’s most awarded photographers. This autumn, for instance – as well as earlier this year – he won several awards at the Wildlife Photographer of the Year in London.

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