The winners of the 2023 Patagonia Photo Contest

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Patagonia Photographer of the Year and First Place, Wildlife category: “Huemul” by Francisco Woloch (Location: El Chaltén, Argentina)
A photo of a magical close encounter with a huemul in the middle of winter in front of Cerro Torre, in Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina, is the winner of the 2023 Patagonia Photo Contest. 
Argentine photographer Francisco Woloch, who lives near the park in the town of El Chalten, has thus won the prestigious Patagonia Photographer of the Year award in this sixth edition of the international contest, which was first held in 2012.
Woloch told Patagon Journal that he had heard a lot about the huemul, but had never seen one in the wild until the day he took his winning photo. "That day, when I came out of the tent with my breakfast, I saw in front of me a deer eating peacefully and I thought to myself, this must be the mythical huemul," Woloch explained. "I spent six hours taking pictures of them (there were two huemul, a male and female). After being around them for so many hours, they let me get so close that I was taking photos of them with a wide-angle landscape lens and getting really nice close-up shots with the landscape in the background."
The 32-year-old Woloch says he began studying photography 11 years ago and decided then to make nature photography the main focus of his work because it allows him to go on mountaineering and hiking trips while at the same time practice his photography. Adds Woloch: "I like to always photograph a landscape that I am able to contemplate first for a good amount of time before taking the photo. That's what I like most about photography, and particularly in Patagonia the landscapes need a lot of contemplation to be able to absorb everything in them and convey it in an image."
As the grand prize winner, Woloch will receive a 6-day trip in the wild lands of Aysén Patagonia with Patagonia Big Five. The wildlife safari will travel along the southern Carretera Austral, going to Cerro Castillo National Park, Puerto Rio Tranquilo and Patagonia National Park. The trip includes lodging at Peninsula Bahia Catalina on Lake General Carrera and Casa Balmaceda in Coyahique.
The winner of the Last Wild Places Award is Marko Magister of Bariloche, Argentina, for a photo entitled "Plastigonia" showing an elephant seal next to abundant plastics and trash on a coastal beach at Peninsula Valdes, Argentina. Magister won a 3-day hiking trip in Torres del Paine National Park with tour operator Chile Nativo and photo books from Fundación Rewilding Chile and Parque Patagonia Argentina about Patagonia's national parks.
Magister says of the photo that, "apart from the enormous amount of trash, mostly coming from the fishing industry, we found some elephant seals that have to live with it. Most of the time I prefer to focus on showing only the positive and beautiful aspects of nature, but I believe that those of us who have the privilege of accessing and working in these places also have the responsibility to show these realities and help more people become aware of the impact we are having on our planet."
The winner of the Readers' Choice Award is Gonzalo Bertolotto, who works as head of the Chilean Navy's maritime center in Punta Arenas. With 2,611 votes for his photo, out of a total of 22,587 votes cast by the public, his photo "Caleta María seen from the heights" won a 3-night stay at Hotel Explora in one of its lodges in Patagonia National Park or Torres del Paine.
Other prizes for first and second place in each category include products from Patagonia stores, photo equipment from Andes Photo, AndesHandbook guide maps, a photo book from Puelo Patagonia, and subscriptions and the complete collection of back issues of Patagon Journal.
This year, the top 20 photos, the four best in each of the five categories – Wildlife, Landscapes, Outdoor Adventures, Culture and Last Wild Places – are on display in an exhibition at the Centro Cultural Las Condes in Santiago, Chile for three weeks, May 6-28.
The opening of the exhibition and the award ceremony took place on Saturday at the Centro Cultural Las Condes, with a nearly full house. After the award ceremony, attendees celebrated at a cocktail with wines from Miguel Torres, craft beers from Quimera and cheeses from Lácteos Futaleufú. Special thanks to Printlab Digital for the spectacular printing of the photos in the exhibition, which will travel to other cities after its exhibition in Santiago.
Below are the other winning photographs:
1st Place, Landscape category: “Sunrise at Chepu” by Andrés Petour (Location: Chepu River, Chiloé Island, Chile) 
1st Place, Culture category: “Patagonian gaucho” by Alejandro Martin Capelli (Location: El Calafate, Santa Cruz, Argentina)
1st Place, Outdoor Adventures category: “Ice transitions” by Martín Hurtado (Location: Cerro innominado, Glaciar Gualas, Northern Patagonian Ice Fields, Chile) 

Last Wild Places award: “Plastigonia” by Marko Magister (Location: Península Valdés, Argentina) 
2nd Place, Wildlife category: “Mother's love” by Iván Berrios (Location: Parque Nacional Torres del Paine, Chile)
2nd Place, Landscape category: “The king” by Mauro Esains (Location: El Chaltén, Argentina)

2nd Place, Culture category: “Melinka, the most beautiful” by David Cossio (Location: Melinka, Chile)
2nd Place, Outdoor Adventue category: “Surf at Lake Nahuel Huapi” by Goran Magister (Location: Lake Nahuel Huapi, Argentina)
2nd Place, Last Wild Places category: “Resistence” by Marcelo Cárcamo Vera (Location: Cordillera de Nahuelbuta, Angol, Chile)
Reader's Choice Award: “Caleta María seen from the heights” by Gonzalo Bertolotto (Caleta Maria, Tierra del Fuego, Chile)
Below, a photo gallery showing the 10 honorable mentions (2 per category) in the contest:
Honrable Mentions - Patagonia Photo Contest 2023 



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