What you don’t see

From mountaintops before dawn, Canon Ambassador Radomir Jakubowski strives to show us strength and resilience in nature we might not normally see.
A sea of blue and white clouds and fog with dozens of dead trees emerging from within. In between the dead trunks, which still have spikes of old broken branches attached, there are a few new green trees peeking through.

What you don’t see


Written by Radomir Jakubowski and Cecilie Harris

Canon Ambassador Radomir Jakubowski’s passion for nature is embedded in his images – the way he captures light, landscape and animals. You can feel the atmosphere and practically smell the environment as he hunts the perfect moment. Radomir shows us the beauty of a nocturnal world and what exists when only he is awake to see it.

“I know a lot of photographers today want to work hard on their KPIs and the monetary side, but nature is so beautiful. It gives me energy and inspiration. When I don't have any workshops or projects, I go out into nature to take images. There's no waste of time because even if the light is nothing special, you can sit there and smell the grass – autumn or spring – you can feel it. It's much better than sitting in front of a desk. I'm not sure when my passion for nature started, but when I was a little kid, my dad used to take me to the mountains, skiing or hiking. Eventually, my curiosity grew – what kind of bird is that? What is it doing here? What is its plan? The more I learnt, the more I wanted to know and now being in nature feels like home.

More than 20 years ago, before we had Instagram and social media, I began to photograph nature with my first digital camera. It quickly became clear that nature was my inspiration, but as I was a child, I didn't have a driving license, so I had to start with macro photography and small things. But inspiration comes with the subject you're working on, the light available, the weather conditions and the seasons. A lot of people don't want to get up in the morning to go watch the sunrise at 5am or even 2am to watch it from the top of a mountain, but I go because I love showing people what they normally don't see.

And I don't need to fly to Africa or Iceland every year, because your local area can often offer so much. It's important for me to shoot in my own area and I even wrote a book about nature photography and capturing what's close to your front door. Every year I find new locations 100 kilometres around my area. On one side of this image, for instance, we see the dead trees of the Bavarian Forests, on the other we have new life – a lot of different kinds of trees are growing. We have the first light of the day and the fog. The different conditions all come together in this image. It's important to show how easily nature takes care of itself when we do nothing.

A sea of blue and white clouds and fog with dozens of dead trees emerging from within. In between the dead trunks, which still have spikes of old broken branches attached, there are a few new green trees peeking through.

© Radomir Jakubowski

The Bavarian Forest National Park is very special to me. It is one of the oldest national parks in Germany. Around 30 years ago, we had a problem with the bark beetle in a lot of areas in Europe (and we have it again now in some areas), leading to trees dying. With the Bavarian Forest, for the very first time they just let the forest be and today we see how well it worked out because a lot of species of bird and other mammals are coming back to the woods. They are very beautiful now, and you can see both the new life in the forest and the remains of the dead trees. It's changing all the time. To capture this picture, I was on the top of a mountain. I don't like drones because a lot of animals don't like them. On this day, I had perfect conditions. As a photographer, I like going back time and time again to a location. When I'm working on a key species, I will come back every year and look for this species. I have been returning to the Bavarian Forest for 18 years now. A part of me feels like a hunter: tomorrow there will be something special – I will see something I never saw before. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't.  

In Germany, we have a lot of forest dying because people are planting monoculture [mass numbers of a single tree species] to earn money fast, but it's not so resistant. The perfect forest is a mixed forest, which grows by itself. In these you will find trees that are 500 or 1000 years old. In forests created by humans, the trees will get to only 70 to 100 years old. So, when we are thinking about how far light reaches in a forest, only around 3% comes all the way down to the ground. In a young forest, trees might only be one or two meters high as they never have had the chance to grow up. When old trees are killed, young trees start a race to grow up to the sun. To have forests rewilding by themselves is a really good thing for nature, but I know how tough it is because of the economic side.

On the right, a portrait of Radomir Jakubowski, smiling with a hint of the woods in the background. On the left, a quote that reads, “When trees are killed, they start a race to grow up to the sun. To have forests rewilding by themselves is a really good thing for nature, but I know how tough it is because of the economic side."

I love the light when the sun is going down. During that time, it can be very warm or very soft, which creates nice light to capture a subject. The blue hour. It's interesting when you're not looking at the sky, but instead at the reflection in nature. When the light gets brighter it gets a little bit harder, so I enjoy shooting in the morning or evening in this softer light. Also, during the day animals often hide in the forest. I try to include my love of light in my images and hope that some of the emotions I feel translate into my images. Ultimately, I want to show people how beautiful nature is.

Passion is only one side of nature photography. It is also an opportunity to show people what's changing and how we can protect nature. An image alone will change nothing, so I like to use mine as the introduction for a discussion with my audience. If I have a speaking opportunity and maybe 100, 500 or 1000 people are listening, that's also an opportunity for me to talk with them about forest conservation, reducing waste or what they can change in their lives to make a step forward.”

Learn more about Radomir and his work on his Canon Ambassador profile page.

Radomir Jakubowski and Cecilie Harris

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