Magical pictures of the "fairy chimneys" of Cappadocia helped Turkish photographer Aytek Cetin take home the top prize in the International Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards for 2021.
"The 60-million-year-old story of fairy chimneys and the fact they have been home to different civilisations for tens of thousands of years, makes Cappadocia extremely mysterious for me," Cetin wrote in his submission. "If you are lucky, you can visit there during hazy, atmospheric conditions with a soft light pushing through at sunrise or sunset."
Cetin's winning photographs cleverly capture the mystery of the landforms in Central Turkey as they emerge through the winter sunrise. And this ability to capture the special mood with a sense of excitement was present in his entire portfolio, winning over the judges.
Chairman of judges Peter Eastway describes landscape photography as being "interpretive, imaginative and inspirational".
"I find it quite compelling that what drives one landscape photographer can be so different to another," Eastway said. "For some, the capture of nature at its most wonderful is reward enough. In fact, these are the moments photographers live for, and being out in the landscape is often as enjoyable as capturing it with a camera.
"Some photographers take their captures and remap the tonality; others take several captures to produce a landscape of the mind."
This approach to creating the image in his mind's eye is how American Tanmay Sapkal produced the single best picture in the 2021 awards.
An image of comet Neowise soaring above fog surrounding Mt Tamalpais lit from beneath is the result of two exposures.
"It wasn't possible to line up the comet exactly above the foreground I wanted, so I decided to take two separate exposures," Sapkal said. "It took a couple of visits to get just the right amount of fog on the hills to create the dreamy setting and then I waited patiently for some cars to drive by and create a blanket of light under the fog."
Sapkal had planned the shot after realising that the comet would be visible in the northwest sky in an area that he had shot many times over a number of years.
"After shooting for more than a few hours that night, my friend and I hurried back down to the car," Said Sapkal. "Little did we know that parking on the mountain after sunset meant getting a parking ticket! But now, in my opinion, it's the best $80 I have ever spent on parking!"
The competition attracted over 4500 entries from around the world, with the top 101 going into the book annual Awards book. With fierce competition, entries had to score 85.2 per cent for inclusion in the publication.
"Between 84 per cent and 85 per cent, there were at least another 101 entries that would comfortably sit alongside as equals," said Eastway. "Let's face it, we put a 'value' on the entries because we need a way to select the images for this book and the reason we select 101 images is because we acknowledge that small differences in scores are, in many ways, quite meaningless. So congratulations to the Top 101 – and to the next 100 or so entries whose work is also exceptional."
The winners share a prize pool of US$18,000, including US$10,000 in cash, and a hard copy of the Awards book.
Eastway said of this year's entries "Without in any way diminishing the accolades presented to our major prizewinners, I'm sure many of them will be humbled and honoured when they look at the other entries. So while the prizewinners are justifiably rewarded, the real recognition is being published in this book."
For all the details and winners, and the top 101 images, and to view the eBook, visit www.internationallandscapephotographer.com