Nikos Fokas has won first prize in the Handbook of the Birds of the World photo contest, bagging a prize worth 6,800 euros in equipment and subscriptions.
The photo depicts a pallid swift (scientific name : apus pallidus), a migratory bird that spends most of its life airborne, hence its scientific name: “apus” is an ancient Greek word meaning “the one who has no legs”.
“I watched these birds carefully and noticed they fly near the surface of the water to eat insects. Then, I found the appropriate spot in Spata and waited there with my camera set on a special focus mode. The right photo came after two years and 3,000 failed attempts,” said the 35-year old Greek photographer, who works in the Environmental Services Department at Eleftherios Venizelos Airport.
Good photographs are not a matter of sheer luck, but the result of persistent work and study, Fokas said, adding: “We should also highlight that photo contests don’t accept highly processed images. Participants are obliged to sent the originals, so that the judges can see the differences. The photograph has to be good on its own. I am not that good in photoshop, so I only did minor changes to the original photo.”
Fokas says he is determined to keep taking photos of his favorite birds in the Greek wetlands.