It’s been more than a month since the Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners were announced, and as we look back at the mesmerizing images that made the cut, it’s also worth learning the stories behind each of these wonderful photographs. Whether perfecting their art amongst treacherous terrains, or bringing a whole new perspective to suburban wildlife, there is no doubt that this year’s entrants are some of the very best in their field, able to tell vivid tales through a simple camera lens.
The Pangolin Pit
(Paul Hilton, UK/Australia winner of the wildlife photojournalist award)
At first glance, one might be uncertain of what they’re looking at here – the image could, quite easily, be an aerial shot of shells on a beach. Look closer, however, and soon the sad truth of this image unveils itself to you. Hilton has been able to capture the image of 4000 defrosting pangolins, seized from their route towards Vietnam and China. Pangolins are tragically the world’s most trafficked animal, which is suddenly rather evident in this shocking image.
The Moon and the Crow
(Gideon Knight, UK winner of young wildlife photographer of the year)
This gothic image seems to have been plucked from the imagination of Edgar Allen Poe himself: with the eerie, hunched silhouette of the crow offering a striking contrast to the ghostly blue of dusk, young Knight’s photo is haunting and beautiful all at once. It’s the perfect position of the moon, however, which really adds to the photograph: an apparition of a presence, shining just enough light on the crow to illuminate its role in the image.
(Tim Laman, winner of wildlife photographer of the year)
Unlike a majority of images submitted to the competition, Laman’s winning image was captured not by a high-tech, top-of-the-range camera…but, rather, with the humble GoPro. That said, positioning the cameras (and indeed, taking the final image) was no final task, as Laman had to do three days’ worth of climbing as to position an array of GoPros in the perfect position, to then trigger the device remotely at the sight of an orangutan. It was all worth it, as eventually an orangutan did indeed climb up towards the camera…or rather, to the tasty figs at the top of the 30m long root. The image perfectly captures the orangutan’s determination (who else could deny the sweet taste of a fig?), as well as creating a surreal sense of vertigo atop Borneo’s rainforest landscape.
(Sam Hobson, finalist to Wildlife Photographer of the Year)
A less exotic image, but ultimately an intriguing glimpse of suburban nature, this particular shot was just shy of making the winners list – but there is no reason why we cannot include Sam Hobson’s photo of a fox in our own shortlist. Hobson was able to capture the curious nature of this city-dwelling creature: his eyes large and pointed ears piqued, as if inquisitive towards the camera before him. The subtle glow of street lights complement the golden hue of both the animal’s fur and eyes, creating an amber cloak of dusk, beneath which the fox can roam.
(Luis Javier Sandoval, winner of Impressions)
The final image in this set belongs to Mexican entrant Luis Javier Sandoval, whose take on photography resulted in this beautifully artistic image. The Gulf of California is known for its abundance of curious young sea lions, and Sandoval was able to use this fact to his advantage – by placing his camera underwater and angling it towards the break of sunlight, Sandoval was able capture a unique perspective of sea lions at play. It seems as if one of the young pups was in a particularly playful mood on the day that Sandoval chose to try for this image, with the sealion grabbing a starfish and throwing it towards the photographer. The timing of this image had to be perfect…and perfect it was, as the photograph could quite easily be mistaken for a stunning, painted work of art.
(All photos featured are credited to each respective photographer.)
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