Two of Joel’s images were selected as Highly Commended in the 2011 Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition.
Photos and the story behind them are below. Both images are available as a signed print through this site — just click on the image to find out more.
“It was one of the most thrilling rides I’ve ever had,” says Joel. The violent wind tossed the little Cessna plane around ‘like a cork on the ocean’. Struggling not to break his nose on his camera, he focused on the tempestuous raincloud emptying itself over Uganda’s Lake Albert. His aim was to capture an image that spoke of the seasonal rain cycle in the Albertine Rift but also the drama of the moment. ‘We could smell the rain as we bounced in and out of pockets of cold air,’ says Joel. It was only later, once the plane had landed, that the pilot revealed how tricky it had been keeping the plane in the sky against the force of the down-draughts, some pushing down at 1,000 feet per minute.
In a death-defying manoeuvre, a mountain goat stretches to reach a mineral lick. Joel knew it was a favourite lick and had stationed himself at the other side of the gorge in Glacier National Park, Montana. When this female arrived, he watched as, slowly and methodically, she first balanced on all four feet on a single, tiny ledge and then pushed out with her front legs and wedged herself into the crevice, her rubbery hooves spread out for maximum grip. ‘They never rush,’ says Joel. ‘They have to be so careful about where they put their feet, testing each foothold, because every step could be their last.’ When she’d finished, the mountain goat reversed the move, carefully balancing again on the tiny ledge and then slowly turning around so that she could climb back up the mountain face and rejoin the rest of the herd.