Winter 2024 Competition Winner

Over the winter months we have been sharing our favourite entries on our @alphauniversebysony.eu Instagram account from frost-kissed landscapes to snow-clad pets, but there were three shots in particular which truly stood out to us!

As ever, there were thousands of entries from photographers all over Europe, all with one thing in common: a desire to capture the enhanced beauty brought to landscapes by winter’s touch and rise to the challenge of shooting in testing and cold conditions. We had three stand out entries which excelled in both elements, but there can only be one winner. So, we are pleased to announce Mihail Minkov (@mihailvminkov) as the champion of Alpha Winter 2024 with their stunning view of the night sky above a snowy mountain scape.

Mikhail-Minkov-man in a snowy landscape beneath the milky way © Mihail Minkov | Sony α7 III + FE 20mm f/1.8 G | 4s @ f/5.0, ISO 640
I used a Sony Alpha 7 III that has been modified for astrophotography*, along with a narrowband h-Alpha clip-in filter. It can capture the so-called h-Alpha emissions from space, those pink/red colours in the night sky that are invisible to the human eye or a normal camera sensor”. Central to the image is the Orion constellation, “it is absolutely full of h-alpha emissions”, he explains. “You can see the Orion nebula, Barnard’s Loop (the red shape like a smile), Orion’s belt, Angelfish nebula, Rosette nebula and more. In combination with the magical foreground and the snow, I think the final image exceeded my expectations.”

Mihail has been fascinated by the night sky since he was a child, so being able to revel in the same excitement that he did when he was younger is why he loves working with his Sony kit. “I get a feeling that I am uncovering hidden treasures in the sky, and I am in awe of the beauty and mystery of the glowing stars and planets overhead. Standing under the Milky Way Arch is an experience that is hard to describe or forget”.

Mihail pairs his astro-modified Sony Alpha 7 III with fast prime lenses, like the Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G and the FE 24mm f/1.4 GM. “Despite being a few years old now, it is still one of the best cameras out there”, reveals Mihail.

Being awarded first place means Mihail will be adding a Sony Alpha 7 IV to his camera collection. “I’m excited to shoot the moonrise and the Milky Way on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. Also, I want to shoot time-lapse footage of the Milky Way, and being able to use the fully articulated screen will make shooting portrait orientation images a lot easier!”

We can’t wait to see what Mihail produces with his new camera.

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In second place was another incredible landscape from Filip Hrebenda (@filiphrebenda) and his beautifully composed image of a mountain and rainbow, taken from inside a cave.

Filip Hrebenda mountain seen from the mouth of a cave © Filip Hrebenda | Sony α7R III + FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM | 1/125s @ f/13, ISO 100
The photo was taken last winter in northern Norway. I had organised a photo tour and one morning we were in the location you see in the photo. A few minutes after we entered the cave, something amazing happened. The sun broke through the thick clouds and beautifully illuminated the entire fjord. A beautiful rainbow also appeared before us. After several rainy days, it was a perfect moment that brought us great joy”.

For his prize, Filip chose the FE 24mm f/1.4 G Master lens. “It is an excellent lens for photographing the night sky. As a landscape photographer, I often shoot at night, capturing a starlit sky or the Northern Lights. I can’t wait to try out the lens during my nighttime photography sessions”.

Finally, in third place was Aleksandar Valchev’s (@sashe.to) image, taken at the famous Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Iceland.

Aleksandar Valchev man in a kayak in front of an iceberg © Aleksandar Valchev | Sony α7S III + FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS | 1/250s @ f/2.8, ISO 2000
It was getting dark and most of the tourists were disappearing. The wind was calming down and it was amazing to see how tranquil these tourist spots become when night falls. It was the middle of blue hour - the moment after sunset when the sky is still bright. I spotted the glowing kayak in the water and the reflections of its light on the water's surface. I visualised the shot in my head, mounted my telephoto lens and quickly ran to the shore. Luckily, I was able to talk to the kayaker and work with him to best position himself to ensure the ultimate composition”.

Aleksander spends much of his time exploring and trekking to get his landscape images, and his prize for coming third will help him on his next adventures.

“I like to photograph adventures, landscapes and extreme sports, which often requires challenging, hard-to-reach terrain and carrying the camera equipment for long amounts of time. I am pleased to have won the Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 Macro G OSS II lens. It’s compact size and light weight makes it perfect, and the macro capabilities will allow me to shoot all of the important details”.

Congratulations to all our winners! To be in with a chance of winning our next competition make sure to follow @alphauniversebysony.eu

 

* The modification of Sony Alpha cameras is not endorsed by Sony 

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