This year, for the first time, I went to the National History Museum to see the National Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition.  I really didn’t know it existed before a few months ago but was stunned by some of the winning and highly commended photographs that had won their categories. The Exhibition is now in its 46th year and is an international showcase for the very best nature photography. While speaking to a women who has been visiting the annual exhibition for over a decade, she said that “once upon a time the exhibition was a tiny event that not many people knew about” she went on to say that “Steadily over the past 10 + years, more and more people have been arriving in London to see the show. Today is by far the vastest an outcome I’ve seen”.

I think that we work that I’ve done in the past would fit in to this category of photography and one day I would absolutely love to even be entered for one of the categories exhibited. These categories are as such:

Adult Awards:

Behaviour

Birds

Mammals

All Other Animals

The Underwater World

Animal Portraits

In Praise of Plants and Fungi

Urban Wildlife

Wild Places

Animals in their environment

Nature in Black and White

Creative Visions of Nature

Junior Awards:

10 years and under

11-14 years

15-17 years

Photographs that particularly stood out to me were these:

Behavior – all other animals – runner up



Flight of Rays

Florian Schulz

This amazing aerial view of a congregation of Munk’s devil rays was taken in Mexico by Florian Schulz. This photograph merely shows a quarter of the whole scene and was cropped for emphasis. ‘No one knows why these rays gather like this whether to mate, herd prey or migrate or just for the sheer joy of being together.’

For me it is the colour of the ocean and the monstrous amount of rays that makes this photo striking to me. It is a very clear depiction of how little we understand about the characteristics of these creatures. The single jumping ray and the framing show the thought behind the photo and proves the photo not to be a snapshot. The mystery of their nature captures my attention and I love when a photograph can achieve that.

Animal Portraits – Highly Commended

Thomas P Peschak

Giant beachcomber

A transformation on anything I previously knew to be a tortoise. This threatening and strong creature with its intimidating pose unnerves me to look at. Its so striking to look at and it very quickly captures the attention of any viewer. This is a rare photography, more often than not Aldabra giant tortoises graze on in their own environments but sometimes they will wander onto the beaches to eat washed up seedpods. The photographer was laying in the giant tortoise’s way in order to obtain this shot, he frames the photo perfectly allowing the animal to me centre screen and have a sea view backdrop. The low angle gives this tortoise that of a dinosaur.

I can’t see anything wrong or that id would personally change with this image. Its dominance is striking and the different textures and shapes of the animal make for something spectacular to look at. It’s incredible. However, I am very surprised that this photo didn’t win its category. In my personal opinion this was the best photograph of the entire competition and I went online to vote for it.

Animals in their Environment – Winner

Sharp reflection

Jochen Schlenker

This photography really doesn’t need an explanation for why I think its stunning. Jochen schlenker went to the French Alps to photograph wild goats who are high altitude grazers. After a day of photographing the goats, he set up his tripod to photograph the ‘pin sharp reflection of the jagged mountains’  ‘”There were interesting cloud formations, and with no wind, the reflections were perfect,’ says Jochen. ‘Then a lone ibex [mountain goat] walked by in the distance, completing the image.” Jochen Schlenker

This photograph is stunning no matter what way you look at it. Even on its end its encapsulating. If turned upside down a few times, no one would ever know which is real and which is the reflection.

This reminds me of an ambigram which is a word that looks exactly the same both ways up like the one below which says ‘Fire’.

The overall winners of the completion were:

Bence Máté (Hungary)

A marvel of ants

In order to obtain this shot, the photographer Bence Máté ‘Lay on the ground to take the shot, he also discovered the behaviour of chiggers (skin-digesting mite larvae), which covered him in bites.’ Máté spent hours watching and following these creatures learning their patterns and their way of life.

To me, this photo is definitely not something you can just glance at and move on. It takes a second, third and fourth glace to understand what is happening and how the photo was achieved. It reminds me of childrens films like ‘Bugs Life’ in how animated it looks.

Of his winning shot, he says, ‘I love the contrast between the simplicity of the shot itself and the complexity of the behaviour.’

Fergus Gill (United Kingdom)

The frozen moment

‘On Boxing Day 2009, it was so cold in Scotland (-17°C /1°F) that the birds were desperate for food. A rowan tree at the bottom of Fergus’s garden in Perthshire became a magnet for thrushes – five of the six British species – song thrushes, mistle thrushes, blackbirds, redwings and a flock of about 15 fieldfares, all frantically picking the berries. Fergus wanted to capture the freezing feel of the day while showing the character of fieldfares in action, some of which were hovering to pluck berries. His biggest challenge (other than the cold itself) was to isolate a fieldfare against a clear background, and the only way to get the angle was to stand on his frozen pond. Risking a high ISO setting as well as the ice, he caught both the moment and the delicacy of colour he was after.’

After visiting the exhibition this year I will be visiting the exhibition annually, I was completed overwhelmed by the photographs shown. This was a completely amazing day for me.

All quotes apart from those credited are from – http://www.nhm.ac.uk/index.html


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