Selection of February 2023: Heavenly Flamingos by Junji Takasago

Heavenly Flamingos by Junji Takasago

 The photo was taken in February 2019 at Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. I have visited Bolivia 6 times over the past 10 years, and this image was taken on my 6th visit. Flamingos do not live in Salar de Uyuni but in other salt flats – they sometimes come to rest their wings at Salar de Uyuni. I have frequented this place because I wanted to capture the otherworldly view where the sky perfectly reflects in the lake. Just as the name, the salt flat, it is also known as the Mirror in the Sky.

When I encountered this scene, the flamingos were relaxed, resting their wings. With utmost caution, I took the time to get close to them and captured the moment. I have never found the flamingos in such a perfect arrangement, where every aspect – the surface of the water, the wind, the conditions of the clouds came together.

The flamingos are very timid creatures, they fly away as soon as they sense something. To make sure not to cause anything to change this perfect view, I crouched down and slowly, slowly approached the flamingos while carefully observing them. Located 3700 meters high in the Andes, the oxygen level is low at Salar de Uyuni. As I continued crouching down, standing up and walking I held my breath for a long time, so I suffered symptoms of altitude sickness. The battle with headache and dizziness was difficult, but with the unbelievable sight before my eyes, it was the last thing on my mind.

Although conditions were superb, the shape and gradations of the clouds differed depending on where I shot from. Getting close to the flamingos, I fine-tuned the direction of where I was going, choosing how I wanted the background to look. In order to capture the wholeness of the harmony, I framed it in a way to include the clouds and the water surface widely. I developed the image within the scope of not losing the original quality of the subject and the natural colours.  

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