The world’s most prestigious wildlife photography competition, Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year, has revealed the winning images from this year’s competition. They are among the selection that will join more than 100 other prize-winning photographs when the exhibition debuts at the Natural History Museum, London on 22 October 2010. It will then tour nationally and internationally after its launch in the capital. More than one million visitors are expected to have seen the exhibition once the tour is complete.
Hungarian photographer Bence Máté has won this year’s Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year title with this picture of leaf-cutter ants in a Costa Rican rainforest. The variation in the size of the pieces they cut was fascinating – sometimes small ants seemed to carry huge bits, bigger ones just small pieces. Of his winning shot, he says: “I love the contrast between the simplicity of the shot itself and the complexity of the behaviour.” Lying on the ground to take the shot, he also discovered the behaviour of chiggers (skin-digesting mite larvae), which covered him in bites.
The moment by Bridgena Barnard (Nationality – South Africa, Country of Residence – South Africa). Category: Behaviour: Mammals – Winner.
“Today, as it’s Christmas Day, we’ll photograph a cheetah kill”, Bridgena announced to her family. They promptly fell about laughing. They had, after all, spent five days watching a trio of cheetahs in South Africa’s Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park without seeing any activity. But Bridgena had discovered that the cheetah brothers had a favourite watch-out dune and a routine. By driving out at dawn to the spot, she hoped to be in position before rather than after any hunt. It was a good call. The cheetahs were positioned up on the dune, only the tops of their heads visible. When a trail of springbok passed by below, the brothers ignored the adults. But the moment a young springbok appeared, they sprinted after it, one heading it off, one tripping it up and the third making the kill. Within ten seconds it was over. The cheetahs had their meal and Bridgena had a phenomenal shot.
Picture: Bridgena Barnard / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010
The frozen moment by Fergus Gill (Nationality – United Kingdom, Country of Residence – United Kingdom). Category: 15-17 years – Winner.
On Boxing Day 2009, it was so cold in Scotland (-17C /1F) 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.
Highly commended in the ‘Animals in their Environment’ category
A winning photograph must create a sense of place and convey a feeling of the relationship between an animal and where it lives.
The roar of a red deer stag carries an unmistakable message: the more powerful the roar, the stronger the stag. The sound is designed to carry in a forest, leaving both hinds and competitors in no doubt about the caller’s physical superiority. To catch the action of the rut, Pierre stationed himself in Dyrehaven forest, an ancient deer park north of Copenhagen in Denmark.
Going out at dawn, he planned to photograph the deer backlit against the rising sun. Just as the very first beams of sunshine lit up the grass, a stag emerged from below a huge oak tree to challenge a rival that had strayed too close.
One set of bellowing was enough – the rival got the message, loud and clear, and vanished.
To read more and see more pictures: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthpicturegalleries