Lions sipping from a waterhole, a fox wandering through the rubble of Chernobyl and lynx cubs battling in the snow. These are just some of the epic scenes that have been shortlisted for the 2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest.
This early taste of the entries from the competition (which is now in its 54th year) will whet the appetite of wildlife shooters and anyone who simply appreciates the beauty of the creatures found on this earth.
While we’ll have to wait until 16 October to find out the final winner, the contest – run by the Natural History Museum in London, has given us a preview of the best images, whittled down from over 40,000 entries. An exhibition of winning images will be held at the Natural History Museum from Friday 19 October.
Tertius A Gous from South Africa captured this striking image entitled ‘The meerkat mob’, which has been Highly Commended in the 2018, Behaviour: Mammals category. Tertius commented; “When an Anchieta’s cobra reared its head and moved towards two meerkat pups near their warren on Namibia’s Brandberg Mountain, the rest of the pack – foraging nearby – reacted almost instantly.” The image was captured with a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV paired with a 500mm f4 lens.
This dramatic frame, entitled ‘The Cool Cat’ was taken by Isak Pretorius from South Africa using a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II paried with a 600mm f4 lens. Isak explained that though lions can get most of the moisture they need from their prey and even from plants, they drink regularly when water is available. So, Isak positioned his vehicle on the opposite side of the waterhole, close to the edge, steadying his long lens in the low light on a bean bag.
Sue Forbes from the UK was the talented photographer behind this epic capture of a flying fish being chased by a booby bird out in the Indian Ocean. Sure took the shot using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III paired 300mm f2.8 lens and fitted with an 1.4x extender.
Italian photographer Valter Bernardeschi was Highly commended in the 2018, Animal Portraits category for his shot entitled ‘Mister Whiskers’ Valter captured the image off an island in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. Putting on his wetsuit, and using a couple of monopod poles and a float to extend his Sony A7RII in front of him, Valter slipped into the icy water and a few curious walruses – mainly youngsters – began swimming towards him.
While flying over the Southern Ewaso Ng’iro River delta, on the border of Kenya and Tanzania, photographer Paul McKenzie was mesmerized by the network of tendrils, tinged green with algae, spreading through the river sediment. A far fainter latticework traced the trails made by lesser flamingos as they fed. As his small plane flew over the fern one final time, Paul framed his shot through the open door, battling against turbulence to capture nature’s silt and water composition. The shot, taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV paired 24–105mm f4 lens netted Paul a Highly Commended assessment in the 2018, Creative visions category.
‘Kitten combat’ was taken by German photographer Julius Kramer and is Highly Commended in the 2018, Behaviour: Mammals category. The image showcases two Eurasian lynx tussling in the snow of Germany’s Upper Bavarian Forest and was taken with a Nikon D3 paired with a 28–80mm lens.
This image, entitled ‘Glass-house guard’ was captured by Australian photographer Wayne Jones and is Highly Commended in the 2018, Underwater category. The scene shows, a yellow pygmy goby guarding its home – a discarded glass bottle. Setting up his camera a few centimetres in front of the bottle’s narrow opening, Wayne positioned his two strobes – one at the base of the bottle to illuminate the interior, and the other at the front to light the goby’s characteristic surprised face.
‘School visit’ by UK-based Adrian Bliss is Highly Commended in the 2018, Urban Wildlife category. Adrian was exploring a derelict schoolroom in Pripyat, Ukraine, which was abandoned in 1986 following the catastrophic explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, just 3 kilometres away when the red fox trotted in, perhaps curious about the human or perhaps just on its rounds. It stopped briefly on the carpet of child-sized gas masks, just long enough for a picture, and then exited through a broken window. The image was taken on a Sony RX1Rii paired with a 35mm lens.
French photographer Emmanuel Rondeau’s image, entitled ‘Tigerland’ is Highly Commended in the 2018, Animals in their environment category. Captured in a remote forest, high in the Himalayas of central Bhutan, the shot shows a Bengal tiger fixing his gaze on the camera – a Canon EOS 550D paired with a Sigma 10–20mm lens. The DSLR was set up as a camera trap and captured this stunning frame after 23 days.
This intriguing photo, entitled ‘Trailblazer’ and captured by Austrian photographer Christian Wappl is Highly Commended in the 2018, Behaviour: Invertebrates category. The subject is a large firefly larva, about 8 centimetres, which emitted a continuous glow from four light organs at its rear. Framing the composition in almost complete darkness with his Canon 5DS, guessing the direction the larva would take, Christian used a long (33-second) exposure, with a burst of flash at the end, to reveal the larva apparently blazing a trail through the night.