Advertisements

PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards !

The winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition were announced Tuesday at a ceremony at London’s Natural History Museum, which runs and exhibits the international competition.

Now in its 55th year, Wildlife Photographer of the Year, @NHM London, is the museum’s showcase for the world’s best nature photography. This year’s competition attracted more than 48,000 entries from professionals and amateurs in 100 countries.

The Moment: Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019 winner.
Photo: Yongqing Bao, China – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

This stunning image from the Chinese province of Qinghai titled “The Moment,” by photographer Yongqing Bao, which frames the standoff between a Tibetan fox and a marmot seemingly frozen in an impending life-or-death struggle, is the winner of the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2019 title.

“A powerful frame of both humor and horror, it captures the drama and intensity of nature,” said Roz Kidman Cox, chair of the judging panel. “Photographically, it is quite simply the perfect moment.” Images from the Qinghai Tibet Plateau are rare enough, but to have captured such a powerful interaction is extraordinary.

The Natural History Museum Director Sir Michael Dixon notes that “this compelling picture captures nature’s ultimate challenge – its battle for survival.”

At a time when precious habitats are facing increasing climate pressures, seeing these fleeting yet fascinating moments reminds us of what we need to protect.

Land of the eagle, Winner 2019, Behaviour: Birds
Audun Rikardsen, Norway – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

High on a ledge on the coast in northern Norway, the photographer carefully positioned an old tree branch that he hoped would make a perfect golden eagle lookout. To this he bolted a tripod head with a camera, flashes and motion sensor attached, and built himself a hide a short distance away. Gradually, over the next three years, a golden eagle got used to the camera and started to use the branch regularly to survey the coast below.

The photo captures the eagle’s power as it comes in to land, talons outstretched, poised for a commanding view of its coastal realm.

Snow exposure, 2019 winner, Black and White
Max Waugh, USA – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

In a winter whiteout in Yellowstone National Park, a lone American bison stands weathering the silent snowstorm. Bison survive in Yellowstone’s harsh winter months by feeding on grasses and sedges beneath the snow. Swinging their huge heads from side to side, using powerful neck muscles – as visible as their distinctive humps – they sweep aside the snow to get to the forage below.

The Rat Pack by Charlie Hamilton James, 2019 winner, Urban Wildlife
Charlie Hamilton James, UK – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

On Pearl Street in New York’s Lower Manhattan, brown rats scamper between their home under a tree grill and a pile of garbage bags full of food waste. Urban rat populations are rising fast.

The rodents are well suited for city living –powerful swimmers, burrowers and jumpers, with great balance, aided by their maligned long tails. They’re smart, capable of navigating complex networks such as sewers. They’re also social and may even show empathy towards one another. But their propensity to spread disease inspires fear and disgust.

Snow-plateau nomads, 2019 winner, Animals in Their Environment
Shangzhen Fan, China – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

A small herd of male chiru antelopes leaves a trail of footprints on a snow-veiled slope in the Kumukuli Desert of China’s Altun Shan National Nature Reserve. These nimble antelopes – the males with long, slender, black horns – are high-altitude specialists and survive at elevations of up to 5,500 meters (18,000 feet), where temperatures fall to -40 ̊C.

Demand, mainly from the West, for their unique underfur called shahtoosh in Persian (”king of wools”) has triggered a drastic decline of their numbers. It takes three to five hides to make a single shawl – the wool cannot be collected from wild antelopes, so they must be killed.

Humming Surprise, 2019 winner, 10 years and under
Thomas Easterbrook, UK – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

On holiday with his family in France, the young photographer was in the garden on a warm summer’s evening when he heard the humming coming from the fast-beating wings of a hummingbird hawkmoth, hovering in front of an autumn sage, siphoning up nectar with its long proboscis. Its wings are reputed to beat faster than hummingbirds’. With the insect moving quickly from flower to flower, the photographer captured the stillness of the moth’s head against the blur of its wings.

Night Glow, 2019 winner, 11-14 years old
Cruz Erdmann, New Zealand – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

During an organized night dive in the Lembeh Strait off North Sulawesi, Indonesia, the young photographer encountered a pair of big fin reef squid engaged in courtship, involving a glowing, fast‑changing communication of lines, spots and stripes of varying shades and colors. One immediately jetted away, but the other, likely the male, hovered just long enough for Cruz to capture one instant of its glowing underwater show

Early Riser, 2019 winner, 15-17 years old
Riccardo Marchegiani, Italy – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

This female gelada, with a week-old infant clinging to her belly, climbed over the cliff edge close to where the young photographer was perched with his father on the high plateau in Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains National Park. They were there to watch geladas, grass-eating primates found only on the Ethiopian Plateau. Shooting with a low flash to highlight her rich brown fur against the still-dark mountain range, he caught not only her sideways glance but also the eyes of her inquisitive infant.

The Equal Match, 2019 joint winner, Behaviour: Mammals
Ingo Arndt, Germany, Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Fur flies as a female puma launches her attack on a big male guanaco. For the photographer, the picture marked the culmination of seven months tracking wild pumas on foot, enduring extreme cold and biting winds in the Torres del Paine region of Patagonia, Chile.

A puma is fast, aided by a long, flexible spine similar to that of the closely-related cheetah, but only over short distances. For 30 minutes, she crept up on the guanaco and when she was within about 10 meters (30 feet), she sprinted and jumped. As her claws made contact, the guanaco twisted to the side, his last grassy mouthful flying in the wind. The guanaco escaped. Four out of five puma hunts end like this – unsuccessfully.

Face of Deception, 2019 winner, Animal Portraits
Ripan Biswas, India – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

It may look like an ant, until you count its legs, and note the palps on either side of the folded fangs. The photographer spotted the odd-looking ant in the subtropical forest of India’s Buxa Tiger Reserve in West Bengal. On closer look, he realized it was a tiny ant-mimicking crab spider, just five millimeters (1/5 inch) long. Many spider species imitate ants in appearance, behavior and even smell. Infiltrating an ant colony can help a spider looking to eat them – or to avoid being eaten by them.

Frozen Moment, 2019 winner, Rising Star Portfolio Award
Jérémie Villet, France – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Pushing against each other, two male Dall’s sheep in full winter-white coats that blend into the snowscape, stand immobile at the end of a fierce clash on a windswept snowy slope. Strong winds, a heavy blizzard and extreme cold (-40°) forced them into a truce. The photographer spent a month following the sheep in the Yukon, battling with the brutal weather to the point that his feet were succumbing to frostbite, from which it would take months to recover.

Pondworld, 2019 winner, Behaviour: Amphibians and Reptiles
Manuel Plaickner, Italy – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Every spring for more than a decade, the photographer had followed the mass migration of common frogs in South Tyrol, Italy. Rising spring temperatures stir the frogs to emerge from their sheltered winter spots to mate, which involves a male grasping his partner, piggyback, until she lays eggs – as many as 2,000, each in a clear jelly capsule which he then fertilizes.

Soft natural light, lingering frogs, harmonious colors and dreamy reflections made the perfect photo. Within a few days the frogs had gone, and the maturing eggs had risen to the surface.

The Huddle, 2019 winner, Portfolio Award
Stefan Christmann, Germany – Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

More than 5,000 male emperor penguins huddle against the wind and late winter cold on the sea ice of Antarctica’s Atka Bay in front of the Ekström Ice Shelf. Each male bears a precious cargo on his feet, a single egg, tucked under a fold of skin (the brood pouch) as he faces the harshest winter on Earth with temperatures that fall below -40 ̊C, severe wind chill and intense blizzards. The females had gone to the sea, where they feed for up to three months. Survival depends on cooperation and the birds snuggle together, backs to the wind and heads down, sharing their body heat.

Creation, 2019 winner, Earth’s Environments
Luis VilarinÌ, Spain – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Red-hot lava tongues flow into the Pacific Ocean, producing huge plumes of noxious laze, a mix of acid steam and fine glass particles, as they meet the crashing waves. This was the front line of the biggest eruption in 200 years of one of the world’s most active volcanos, Kîlauea, on Hawaii’s Big Island, which started spewing out lava through 24 fissures on its lower East Rift at the start of May, 2018.

In a matter of days, traveling at speed, the lava had reached the Pacific on the island’s southeast coast and begun the creation of a huge delta of new land that extended more than 1.6 kilometres. The photo captures the collision boundary between molten rock and water and the emergence of new land.

The Garden of Eels, 2019 winner, Underwater
David Doubilet, USA – WIldlife Photographer of the year

The colony of garden eels was at least two-thirds the size of a football field, stretching down a steep sandy slope off Dauin in the Philippines, a cornerstone of the famous Coral Triangle. These warm-water relatives of conger eels are extremely shy, vanishing into their sandy burrows the moment they sense anything unfamiliar.

The photographer placed his camera housing, mounted on a base plate, with a ball head, just within the colony. The shot he had been waiting for days came when a small wrasse led a slender cornet fish through the gently swaying forms.

The Architectural Army, 2019 winner, Behaviour: Invertebrates
Daniel Kronauer, USA – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

The photographer caught the colony of nomadic army ants as it moved, traveling up to 400 meters through the rainforest near La Selva Biological Station in northeastern Costa Rica. The ants would use their bodies to build a new daytime nest (bivouac) to house the queen and larvae. They would form a scaffold of vertical chains by interlocking claws on feet, creating a network of chambers and tunnels.

At dawn, the colony sent out raiding parties to gather food, mostly other ant species. One night, the colony assembled in the open against a fallen branch prompting a structure spanning 50 centimeters and resembling “a living cathedral with three naves.”

The photo is a perfect illustration of the concept of an insect society as a super-organism.

Tapestry of Life, 2019 winner, Plants and Fungi
Zorica Kovacevic, Serbia/ USA – Wildlife Photographer of the year

Festooned with bulging orange velvet, trimmed with grey lace, the arms of a Monterey cypress tree weave an otherworldly canopy over Pinnacle Point, in California’s Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.

The tiny, protected coastal zone is the only place in the world where natural conditions combine to conjure this magical scene. The spongy orange cladding, is in fact, a mass of green algae spectacularly colored by carotenoid pigments, which depend on the tree for physical support.

Showtime, 2019 winner, Wildlife Photojournalist Story Award
Jasper Doest , Netherlands – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

For the past 17 years, Riku, a Japanese macaque legally captured from the wild, has performed comedy skits three times a day in front of large audiences at the Nikkō Saru Gundan theatre north of Tokyo. These highly popular shows, which attract both locals and tourists, derive from Sarumawashi ( “monkey dancing”) that has existed for more than 1,000 years.

The appeal of these performances lies in the anthropomorphic appearance of the trained macaques, invariably dressed in costumes, that move around the stage on two legs performing tricks and engaging in ridiculous role-plays with their human trainers.

Another Barred Migrant, 2019 winner, Wildlife Photojournalism: Single Image
Photo: Alejandro Prieto, Mexico – Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Under a luminous, star-studded Arizona sky, an enormous image of a male jaguar is projected onto a section of the U.S.-Mexico border fence – “symbolic,” says the photographer, of “the jaguars’ past and future existence in the United States.”

Over the past century, human impact from hunting, which was banned in 1997 when jaguars became a protected species, and habitat destruction has resulted in the animal becoming virtually extinct in the U.S.

With no recent records of a female – a hunter in Arizona shot the last verified female in 1963 – any chance of a breeding population becoming reestablished rests on the contentious border between the two countries remaining partially open. A penetrable border is also vitally important for many other species at risk, including Sonoran ocelots and pronghorns.

The shot of the border fence was created to highlight President Trump’s plan to seal off the entire U.S.‑Mexico frontier with an impenetrable wall and the impact it will have on the movement of wildlife, sealing the end of jaguars in the U.S.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR AND COLLECTOR WHO PUT THIS ARTICLE TOGETHER:

Cecilia Rodriguez

Cecilia Rodriguez

I’m a dual Colombian-Luxembourgish freelance journalist, inveterate traveler and writer based in the world’s only Grand Duchy. I write a column on European affairs for the editorial page of El Tiempo, Colombia’s main newspaper. I have been a columnist for Newsweek and written for, among others, the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune and Toronto Globe & Mail.

Advertisements

Living With (and Without) the Rule of Thirds

For beginners in photography, composition can be a real obstacle. Even when you have all the technical skills, it can be difficult to compose a photo that is pleasing to the eye. I have news for you: it is just as tough to teach to others. That’s because composition can be so personal. What appeals to me may not appeal to you.

However, many photographers, beginners in particular, are not happy with the way their photos look. But often they can’t quite put their finger on why.

Photo by Peter Liu Photography; ISO 100, f/16.0, 30-second exposure.

There are plenty of rules and guidelines to help you with composition. Possibly the best known is the rule of thirds. This rule suggests your composition should be divided into a nine-part grid, by running two lines horizontally (a third from the top and a third from the bottom) and two lines vertically (a third from the left and a third from the right). According to the rule, large objects (trees, buildings, etc.) should be placed on these lines, and small objects are most effective if positioned where the lines intersect.

Photos composed around these guidelines have a balanced look. Objects seem to appear exactly where your eye expects to find them. So when you build a composition around the rule of thirds, your photo satisfies the viewer’s natural sense of proportion.

Some people have an innate sense of visual balance. They have a natural flair for creative composition that does not need to be guided by rules. However, if you were to examine their photos, you would be sure to find that most of their photos fit the rule perfectly–even if they were not aware of it.

Photo by Rick Bergstrom; ISO 100, f/4.0, 1/640-second exposure.

The rule of thirds is an excellent place to start if you are a photographer struggling with composition. I recommend that every beginner learn it, practice it–get so familiar with it that you start to apply it without even thinking. Then, once you are truly comfortable with the rule of thirds, ignore it about half the time.

Recently a man walked into my gallery, and before I even said hello I heard him telling his friends: “You see, this is a good photo because it fits the rule of thirds. This is a bad photo because the kangaroo is right in the middle. This sunset is no good because the horizon is too low when it should be here, a third of the way up…”

This man was obviously an ardent devotee of the rule of thirds. For him, anything that stepped outside the boundaries of the rule was automatically a bad photo. But is composition really so simplistic? Of course not.

Photo by Ivana Vasilj; ISO 200, f/5.0, 1/60-second exposure.

The real world is not nearly so neatly organized as the rule of thirds. More importantly, being creative means finding your own way to express the character of a subject, which may not always require a traditional approach.

I can give you two very simple examples from my own collection. One of my outback photos has a very detailed foreground and some tall bushes in the background. I have positioned the horizon right through the center of the photo. If I raised it higher, I would have lost the foreground. If I dropped it lower, the tops of the bushes would be cut off. In this case, the composition was influenced by the circumstances.

The other example is a sunset photo. The sky in this photo is truly spectacular. I dropped the horizon very low so the colors of the sky fill the frame. If the horizon had been set a third of the way up, that would mean one third of the picture was black. Not only would this be wasted space that did nothing for the photo, it would also diminish the impact of the sky.

Photo by Anupam_ts; ISO 400, f/9.0, 1/125-second exposure.

Choosing to ignore the rule of thirds is not the same thing as not being aware of it. In each case, when taking a photo I would consider the rule of thirds and judge whether its application will make my picture better or worse. If I choose to ignore it, it is a deliberate method of adding impact to the composition, possibly by drawing attention to a particular feature like the sky in my sunset photo.

So, back to my earlier statement. If you are struggling with composition, the rule of thirds may be the best thing you ever learn. Not because you should use it for every photo (you shouldn’t) but because you should have the judgement to know when to use it and when to ignore it. That way, when you choose to compose your photo differently, it is not just a clumsy mistake, but a creative choice to improve the impact of the photo. Once you cross that threshold, your photography will become a true expression of your artistic eye.

About the Author:
Andrew Goodall writes for http://www.naturesimage.com.au and is a nature photographer based in Australia. He manages a gallery in Montville full of landscape photography from throughout Australia.

Here are some other photos that either use the rule of thirds or do not:

Photo by Emre Kuzu for Pexel Photos. This is a great example of the rule of thirds. This rule, in this example makes the photo look great.


This photo by Mark Neal for Pexel Photos, shows the subject, right in the middle. And it wouldn’t work any other way.


This Pexel photo by Daria Shevtsova is another great example of the rule of thirds. It looks great when they are not right in the middle.


THE "365 DAY CHALLENGE"

We all want to improve our photography and create those great images seen the travel and natural history books and magazines. Yet, one of the things we lack in getting there is discipline. No hobby or career is ever achieved through laziness. Practice makes perfect. If you aren’t shooting enough images, the chances of great images diminish. Here’s how you can become more disciplined.

Discipline is a state of mind-based in habits. We are all 100 percent disciplined all of the time. The question is, what are we disciplined in? The answer is good and bad habits. This applies to photography, as well. What you need to start doing is disciplining your self to shoot regular images. It is the only way to truly learn photography. So what steps can you take? Shoot one image a day every day for 365 days. And the time and place to start is now. How do you do it?

Photo by Bibhukalyan Acharya on Pexels.com

1. Shoot a random image

You can get up in the morning, pick up your camera, and just shoot anything without any planning, reason, or creative idea. This will just discipline you to do it. It is often good for just getting you into the habit. The quality of the images won’t necessarily be great, but you will have one image per day and get into the routine of photography.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

2. Select a theme

This makes the task more interesting, and you can actually start enjoying the moment. Choose something that is interesting to start off with, such as a color or a letter from the alphabet. Something that is easy and you don’t have to think too much about. Keep to this theme for a week or a month. Maybe you can select 52 themes or twelve themes. If you really want to stretch your creativity to the limits, stick with a theme for the whole year. It is up to you to decide. Whatever gets you shooting is working for you.

Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

3. Shoot a concept

Again, how you do it is up to you. You can select an idea like love and shoot it for a week, which is similar to using a theme. Every day find something that looks like, symbolizes, or reminds you of the word love. It could be something in a heart shape or perhaps the color red. Whatever it is, it must do something for you and keep you taking photos. You will be amazed at what you can actually come up with.

Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com

4. Choose a fixed location

Why not find an interesting location—whether at home or nearby—and only shoot from there. Choose somewhere at home or very near to home, because if the task is too difficult you’ll give up easily. Maybe shoot from a specific balcony or a window. But remember, there must be variety otherwise the task can become onerous.

Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

5. 365 shot challenge

I left this one until last because it becomes really difficult. Find a subject or an object that is fairly complex. Complex because you are going shoot it 365 times over the course of a year. If it sounds difficult, that’s because it is difficult. It will push you to the limits of your creativity and is definitely not for the faint of heart. As long as every photo is different you’ve achieved your goal. What this will do is extract every last drop of your creative juice. It’s no use choosing an apple or a kitchen fork because there are limits to how many angles you can shoot. Try it out, and if it doesn’t work then stop and continue with another theme or concept.

Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

What this whole exercise does over the space of a year is to get you shooting a series of tasks in a disciplined way, thereby helping you learn digital photography. If you are able to keep this up for 30 days then your brain is starting to create habit pathways that after a few months will be as entrenched in your life as a bad habit. You’ll find yourself looking forward to your daily photo and probably doing more than you have to. If it gets to this point then you can probably shoot a number of images and choose the best one to go into your daily album.

Photo by Valeriia Miller on Pexels.com

About the Author:
Wayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years. Passionate about photography, radio and video, he is a Radio CCFm producer and presenter in Cape Town.
And this was presented by Picture/Correct