Wagner Araujo: behind the scenes story on the shot that won the National Geographic Travel Photo Contest

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This is the behind the scenes story about the shot “Brazilian Aquathlon” by Wagner Araujo (www.waguinhoa.com.br) that won the first prize at the 2013 National Geographic Travel Photo Contest:

I'm a professional photographer form Brazil and also editor of the main Triathlon website and online magazine in Brazil: www.mundotri.com.br I live at the airport. No, just kidding. When I'm not traveling, I live in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais in Brazil. A 2million people city and state capital, close to some historical places like Ouro Preto and Mariana. We also hold one of the main open nature museums in the World: Inhotim. As I said, I'm a triathlete/cyclist/runner (no, I'm not a swimmer, my swimming skills are poor!). I use to cover Triathlon race most of the time and also some great cycling races. I love traveling all around the world.

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My favorite place is Hawaii, where the Ironman Triathlon World Championship is held. In my career I'm trying to develop the concept of “sport landscape”, sports shots that can tell more about the place, the scenario and the location. So I love shooting anywhere: cities, beaches, woods...I really love those scenic images and how they express the interaction between athletes and the planet. I've already covered races at different places, like volcanos, lakes, cities, deserts. All those places are amazing. I'm always trying something new and unusual in sports, like multiple exposure, slow sync flash, long exposures, underwater photography and anything else that I find is cool.

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This year I covered the Race Across America, a cycling race that crosses the USA from the west coast to the east coast, approximately 3,000 miles. Now I'm working on these shots. I'm also working on a project of multiple exposure shots in Triathlon races. It's difficult because I don't have much time during the action. I need to shoot the safe shots, the shots for my magazine and also try those experiments. It's a rush!  I'm also planning a travel to Patagonia next january: 7 days in a boat  crossing the ice.

2013 National Geographic travel photo contest winner:

First Prize National Geographic Travel Photo Contest

About the photo 

I was in Manaus/Amazon during the Brazilian Aquathlon (swimming and running) championship. This river is called Rio Negro (Black River) due to its water color. Rio Negro is the largest left tributary of the Amazon, the largest blackwater river in the world. While the name Rio Negro means Black River, its waters aren't exactly black; they are similar in color to strong tea. The dark color comes from humic acid from incomplete breakdown of phenol. I photographed it from the water and my lens got completely wet. The contrast between the dark water, the athletes and the white sprays and sky was just perfect for a B&W picture. I had a great time that day. I didn't use my camera house because the river was pretty shallow there. I knew this was the shot of the day when I took it. When I opened it on my screen I knew it was one of the best of my life. I think the energy, from the river and from the athletes is the key point. That was a Junior start. Many of those kids don't have much money or opportunities in life, so they try so hard in sports careers. For them, it was a very, very important race. I'm also a triathlete/cyclist/runner and I know how much emotion we feel at the start of the race. One funny thing is that one week prior to the race 3 crocodiles were found nearby the swim area. I think it pushed the guys to race faster!

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