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The International Federation of Wildlife Photography (IFWP) had its 23rd Congress on 21st - 25th May in the Polish National Park of Kampinos. This year the hosting association was the Polish Nature Photographers' Union – ZPFP and the organising team of Irek Graff and Grzegorz Okołów did a great job. The ZPFP is lucky to have employees of the national park like Grzegorz among its members. In co-operation with the National Park, the team composed a program with great variety that made the meeting to a success. Participants came from associations from Hungary and Holland, (eleven each), Finland (2), Czech (1) and two dozen from Poland. A lot of the Polish participants spoke English or German and the large number of Polish members gave the foreigners abundant opportunities to talk about all aspects of nature photography in Poland.

It is a pity that not more members from different European countries were present in Poland. Those present were convinced again: there is no better way to be introduced in a country's nature and to make real contact with local nature photographers than by attending a meeting like this one.

At the day of arrival the ZPFP introduced their club, the Kampinoski National Park and the Nature Educational Work with speeches and beautiful slide shows.
The next day, the first excursion went to a wisent breeding station and was very interesting, with good information by "our" Grzegorz and by the director of the station, Tadeusz Natkański, very friendly and informative, a rewarding event. And sure, we could take good pictures of this remarkable species (without any disturbance since the animals were used to people).

In the afternoon we met the Łódz group of Polish nature photographers in the western part of the Kampinos. They had prepared a tasty lunch in the garden of their clubhouse in the forest, and a photo exposition too. Later we went in the forest. Soup, photo expo, walk in the forest, beer and campfire, we all liked this mix of good things.

The second day started with a very early sunrise trip to the Vistula riverside. Later this morning was reserved for the official part of the assembly, the annual board meeting. This group was rather small, only four societies were represented this year, so the meeting was quite efficient. In the afternoon we had several informal slideshows and try-outs for the festival event next day. But before these a special guest arrived, the Governmental Minister for environment, Czesław Śleziak, with his spokesman Piotr Pukos, who is also the president of the Polish Nature Photographers' Union ZPFP. The Minister was received in the Educational Centre of the Park by a large group of employees of the park and the IFWP guests were invited. The interesting words of the Minister and of the director of the Kampinoski National Park were neatly translated into English by the spokesman for the foreign guests. This meeting ended with Grzegorz Okołów's beautiful diaporama about the Vistula River.

After this interesting intermezzo we had some less formal slideshows, several participants brought a handful of slides to show what they had photographed last year. At the end of the day we went out, again to the Vistula River for sunset.

Third day. The field trip was to the desert of the Kampinos, a large complex of sand dunes. Strange to find such a landscape between marshes and a large river. The explanation is the glacial history and the type of the soil under the sand and the peat bog, plus a more recent military history, in which all trees in the dry area were cut down.You will find more about the glacial history on the website of the Kampinoski National Park.

After lunch the ZPFP had organised a festival with many slideshows, a renewed photo exposition and the official result of two slide competitions. The election of the Polish photographer of the year, and the same of the IFWP. Many very beautiful slides were contributed to these competitions and it was a good idea of the jury to show not only the winners but also some more marked slides. You will find the winners and the winning pictures of the 6 categories of the IFWP competition on a separate page of this website. The overall winner of the IFWP was Łukas Stepien from Poland. Congratulations!

The opening of this festival was quite a happening. There was great public interest and it was very crowded at the reception in the exposition room. The festival was opened by speeches of the director of the Kampinoski National Park, Jerzy Misiak; by the president of ZPFP Piotr Pukos and by the president of IFWP Matti Torkkomäki. TV reporters recorded the event and shortly interviewed the Dutch and the Hungarian representatives. (This was two weeks before the Polish referendum on their joining the EU). During the following slide shows the room was even too small.The slide program was extensive and beautiful; most of the shows were programmed in fade over technique with accompanying music. Irek Graff introduced every performer with some informative words or a short interview before that particular show started. Contributions to this festival were from clubs from several regions of Poland and at the end the attending Dutch photographers had a slide show specially made for this festival. The public reaction was enthusiastic. This festival was a real happening and the international guests expressed their gratitude, for the festival and the entire meeting, to the ZPFP and the Kampinoski Educational Centre and National Park.

Photography: Gera Schel and Ernst Lopes Cardozo, except picture of participants (ZPFP).
Text: Marjolijn Lopes Cardozo -'Natuur in Beeld' the Netherlands