The wildlife that roams through the nature of this planet is beautiful beyond compare but can also be brutal and fierce. This dramatic combination can lead to truly spectacular imagery and this is exactly the case with the shortlisted images for 2019’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest.
One of photography’s most prestigious competitions, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the Natural History Museum’s showcase for the world’s best nature photography and is now in its 55th year. 2019’s competitions has seen over 48,000 entries from 100 countries land of the desks of the judges and, if the shortlisted images are anything to go by, the standard is incredibly high.
The overall winners are announced at the Natural History Museum on October 15, with winners then exhibited at the Natural History Museum in London and we’ve got ten epic images to share that will provide aspiring wildlife photographers with plenty of inspiration. This brutal image by Adrian Hirschi is entitled; ‘Last gasp’ and was captured using a Nikon D750 paired with a 400mm f2.8 lens. The frame was taken in Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe and shows a large bull making a beeline for a days’ old baby hippo while its mother looked on.
Another adrenaline-fuelled frame was captured by Spanish photographer Eduardo Del Álamo. Entitled; ‘If penguins could fly’ and shows a gentoo penguin – the fastest underwater swimmer of all penguins – fleeing for its life as a leopard seal bursts out of the water. The image was captured off the Antarctic Peninsula coast, close to the gentoo’s colony on Cuverville Island using a Canon 7D MkII paired with a 100–400mm f4.5–5.6 lens.
Capturing split-second moments is crucial in wildlife photography and a great example of this is Peter Haygarth’s image, entitled; ‘Big cat and dog spat’, and shows a lone male cheetah is set upon by a pack of African wild dogs in Zimanga Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Peter used a Nikon D4S, paired with a 400mm f/2.8 lens and shot the frame in the morning light.
One of the quizzical images from the shortlisted batch was China-based photographer Minghui Yuan. Entitled; ‘The Hair-Net Cocoon, the image was captured using a D500 paired with an 85mm lens and shows the remarkable cocoon of a Cyna moth pupa.
The contest features a category for young photographers and this entry from the 11-14 years old category stands out from the crowd. Taken by Carlos Pérez Naval in Panama’s Soberanía National Park, the image shows a sloth, high on the canopy and was captured using a D700 paired with a 23-300mm zoom.
Standing out in the Photojournalism category was this astonishing frame by Thomas P Peschak. Entitled; ‘Touching trust’, the images shows a curious young grey whale approaches a pair of hands reaching down from a tourist boat and was captured in San Ignacio Lagoon, on the coast of Mexico’s Baja California using a Nikon D3S and 16mm f/2.8 lens protected by an underwater housing.
While many of the shortlisted images are stunning, others are difficult to look at, such as this frame by Matthew Ware, entitled; ‘Beach Waste’. Loaded with an important environmental message, the frame shows a turtle that had been strangled by beach chair and was shot on a Canon 700D paired with a 18-55mm lens.
This zen-like frame, entitled; ‘Sleeping like a Weddell’ was captured by Ralf Schneider and Highly Commended in the Black and White category. Ralf commented; ‘Lying on fast ice (ice attached to land) off Larsen Harbour, South Georgia, it was relatively safe from its predators – killer whales and leopard seals – and so could completely relax and digest.’ The spectacular image was taken with a Canon 7D MkII paired with a 100–400mm f4.5–5.6 lens.
Some of the shortlisted images included more comical moments, such as this frame by Canadian photographer, Jason Bantle. Entitled; ‘Lucky break’, the image shows a raccoon poking her bandit-masked face out of a 1970s Ford Pinto on a deserted farm in Saskatchewan, Canada. Jason used a Nikon D810 paired with a 70-200mm lens.
Highly Commended in the Birds Behaviour category was this astonishing frame by Diana Rebman. Entitled; ‘Cold drink’, which was captured on a bitterly cold morning on the Japanese island of Hokkaido. Diana used a Nikon D500 and 300mm f/2.8 lens to capture a Hokkaido long-tailed tit hovering for a split second at the base of an icicle.