Culture Inspirations

Natural Selection! 2020’s Best Wildlife Images Are Here To Astonish

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition reaches its climax with amazing images from around the natural world...

The winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition have been revealed. Curated by the Natural History Museum, the top-rated images have been selected from over 49,000 entries from around the world. It’s an amazing mix of shots, and with the competition now in its 65th year, it’s surely one of the most prestigious in the world. But there could be only one overall winner… 

Sergey Gorshkov from Russia was chosen as this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his amazing shot of an Amur tigress hugging an ancient Manchurian fir in the Russian Far East. The image, called ‘The Embrace’, took more than 11 months to capture with Sergey using hidden cameras. Originally entered into the Animals in their Environment category, the shot was taken on a Nikon Z 7 and 50mm f/1.8 lens with an exposure of 1/200sec at f/6.3, ISO 250. The camera was fired using a Cognisys camera-trap system.

Winner of the Animal Portraits category was ‘The Pose’ by Mogens Trolle from Denmark. The image features a young male proboscis monkey visiting a feeding station at Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary in Sabah, Borneo. Mogens used a Canon EOS-1D X and 500mm f/4 lens with an exposure of 1/1000sec at f/7.1, ISO 1250.

Conquering the Behaviour: Amphibians and Reptiles category, ‘Life in the balance’ by Jaime Culebras from Spain shows a Manduriacu glass frog eating on a spider in the foothills of the Andes, northwestern Ecuador. For this shot Jaime had to hold an umbrella and a Yongnuo flash in one hand while framing up with his camera in the other. It’s reckoned to be the first ever picture of this species feeding. Jaime used a Sony A7 III with a 90mm f/2.8 Macro lens. The exposure was 1/100sec at f/16, ISO 320.

It what might be the cutest image found amongst this year’s winners, Shanyuan Li from China’s ‘When mother says run by’ came out top in the Behaviour: Mammals category. A rare picture of a family of Pallas’s cats, or ‘manuls’, Shanyuan caught their expressions in a rarely seen moment of family life, when their mother had issued a warning to hurry back to the safety of the lair. The picture was take on a Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and 800mm f/5.6 lens. Exposure was 1/1250sec at f/11, ISO 640.

Of course, it’s not all animals. ‘Out of the blue’ by Gabriel Eisenband from Colombia won the Plants and Fungi category, and features a stunning view of Ritak’Uwa Blanco, the highest peak in the Eastern Cordillera of the Colombian Andes. Balancing the mountain with white arnica daisies in the foreground, a plant that flourishes at high-altitudes, their yellow flowers contrasts brilliant with the blue tone of light after sunset. Gabriel used a Nikon D300s and Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5 lens. Exposure was 30secs at f/22, ISO 200.

As well as showcasing the beauty of the natural world, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition champions conservation and highlights animal rights. A great example of this is found in ‘Backroom business’ by Paul Hilton, from the UK, which won the Wildlife Photojournalist Story Award. Part of a series, the shot sees a young pig-tailed macaque as it is put on show, chained to a wooden cage in Bali’s bird market, Indonesia. Its mother and the mothers of the other youngsters on show, would have been killed, and their babies are then sold into a life of solitary confinement as a pet, to a zoo or for biomedical research. Paul used a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II and 16-35mm f/2.8 lens. Exposure was 1/10sec at f/3.2, ISO 1600.

For more winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, check out the official website, or head to the exhibition at the Natural History Museum. And if you fancy competing in next year’s competition the entry period runs from Monday 19 October to 10 December 2020. Good luck!