Jana Luo’s photography has once again been recognized with her black and white Tongariro National Park photo being ranked in the top 101 of the 2021 International Landscape Photographer of the year awards meaning that her shot is included in the 2021 ILPOTY awards book.

We caught up with Jana to learn the story behind the shot, and what’s been happening with her photography journey in recent months, since winning the Sony 2021 Alpha Awards.

Tell us about your photo, ‘Tongariro National Park’...

This winning shot is one of my favourite images from the last 2 years with Tongariro national park being one of my favourite places for winter photography and snowy mountains the most popular subject in my gallery.

The photo was taken during a solo photography trip in June 2021. I was planning to shoot the sunset over Mt Ngauruhoe on Bruce Road up to Whakapapa ski field, but it turned out to be too cloudy. However, the cloud gathering above the mountain was just like a cap and I knew it might be a good chance for a long exposure shot in black and white style.

This image actually has two editions, one in colour, one in B&W. Comparing the two versions, I finally settled on the B&W version for the competition (not that surprising since I have a thing for B&W!) even though I know most people prefer colour photography. On reflection, I think opting for the B&W version gave me the edge as not many monochrome-style images were selected in the final 101 photos for the book.

I got lots of inspiration from Japanese photographer Takashi Nakazawa who has been shooting Fuji mountain for a long time, and whose images I love. Interestingly, one of his Fuji mountain images was also selected for the ILPOTY 2021 Awards.

Remind us about your photography background...

I am a full-time office worker meaning I don’t have much time to be outside, but I love nature deeply. Landscape photography gives me the opportunity to go out and enjoy nature as well as doing photography, so it's like a double benefit for me. Also, through the lens, I have found a way to communicate with nature which I didn't have before.

I started my photography journey in 2013. Before that, I just loved taking photos in general. When I was young I used to spend some time in the darkroom with my father who was a university professor. He liked photography but at the time we didn't have much money for his hobby so he didn't have a chance to develop his passion but did enjoy the time spent taking photos for his work. Maybe that memory or experience had some impact on me somehow.

Tell us about entering the International Landscape Photographer Of The Year competition...

This competition is so popular. I had been aware of it for a long time and always thought maybe one day I will be able to participate, to join the team of the most talented photographers in the world.

I actually submitted two images to this competition, my first time entering it. I don't know about other people, but I always struggle to choose images for competitions. It was my first time submitting a B&W photo for a non-monochrome competition and I wanted to see how it would go down with the judges. The result is not bad I guess.

The 2nd photo I submitted was taken in Aug 2021 during a winter photography trip to the south island. Like many photographers, Mt Cook is certainly is one of my favourite places in New Zealand and on this day, I was really amazed by the glow on the summit. I used a telephone lens to do the time-lapse as we stood a bit far from the mountain. I love long exposure shots but that day I didn't take any, so I decided to use a stack 80 time-lapse sequence in Photoshop to make this image.

How does it feel to have your photo included in the 2021 Book for The International Landscape Photographer of the year competition?

I am over the moon to be part of the 2021 Book - It feels like a dream come true. As I mentioned before, I always admired those talented photographers, like Max Raiv and Takashi Nakazawa, etc., and to be able to join them in this book is an absolutely amazing experience for me and certainly encourages me to enjoy and continue this landscape photography journey.

What else can you share from this experience?

To participate in this kind of competition is certainly a great opportunity to show how good your images are compared with other great photographers, no matter if your images stand out or not. View those winning images, and learn from them, as they set the standard very high, then you know what you have been missing out on, what you need to improve in your own shots, etc.

Do you have any tips you could share with other members wanting to enter photography competitions?

There are so many photography competitions in the world nowadays, and most of them are not free. Also, choosing images is sometimes very time-consuming. I recommend knowing the background of the competitions you would like to participate in and assessing if those ones will give you some benefit that you need. I would say start by entering the competitions near to you, like club competitions, local photography competitions, and then when you have gained confidence in your abilities, enter higher-level well-known competitions.

What are your plans, hopes, and dreams for the future?

As a nature lover and landscape photographer, I just want to explore the world as much as I can in the near future, Hokkaido in Japan and Norway being top of my list. Also, I want to learn more about post-processing.

Where can we find you online? Any links you wish to share?

Instagram @yyljhjana

Facebook  Jana.luo

Excio: excio.gallery/jana

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