Remember what the natural world looks like? No? Then you’ve come to the right place, because the World Nature Photography Awards have just been announced. This is planet Earth’s flora, fauna and landscapes, captured in beautiful, thoughtful and inspiring ways by some of the most talented photographers around, so make sure you check them out.
With the Awards founded in the belief that we can all make small efforts to shape a positive future of our planet, and that photography can be part of that effort to change our habits, 2020’s competition saw entries from 20 countries across six continents, and was split into 13 categories, including Animal Portraits, People & Nature and Planet Earth’s Landscape & Environments.
The grand prize of Nature Photographer of the Year was awarded to Thomas Vijayan from Canada for his vertiginously striking image of an endangered Bornean orangutan. Entered into the Animals in Their Habitat section, Vijayan spent hours up a tree in the Tanjung Puting National Park, Borneo, waiting to see if one of the local orangutans would use it to cross over to a nearby island – and luckily that’s just what happened.
Coming out top in the Animal Portrait category was the UK’s Nick Dale who won with his image of a Bengal tigress emerging from a water hole in the Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve, India. Nick took his winning image on a Nikon D810 and 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR lens.
In the Behaviour: Amphibians and Reptiles category, Italy’s Vittorio Ricci took Gold with his image of two European common brown frogs, captured in the Aveto Regional Natural Park, Italy. Vittorio shot this on a Nikon D3100 and AF Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED.
The Behaviour: Birds category’s Gold medal went to Paul Dale from Canada with his shot of a Great Horned Owl. Pictured swooping around near High River in Alberta, with its wings swung into what literally looks like a gold medal shape, Paul used a Sony A9 Mark II with FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS and a 1.4x teleconverter giving an effective 280-840mm range.
The Gold award in the Behaviour: Mammals category was taken by the USA’s Patrick Nowotny, with his incredible shot of two lions sparring in the Serengeti, Tanzania. The picture was taken on a Nikon D500 with an AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens.
People & Nature is a category showing humans interacting with and experiencing the wonders of the natural world, and the top-placed entry there was from Christa Funk of the USA. The winning picture shows free-diver Andre Fajardo swimming among shoals of fish off the Hawaiian Islands. Christa used a Canon EOS 7D Mark II and EF8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM in a waterproof housing.
Gold medal in the Plants & Fungi category went to Doron Talmi of Israel, with an image showing the Bald Cypress trees in the swamps of East Texas, USA. Doron used a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM for this picture.
And finally, contrasting with the somewhat wordily named Planet Earth’s Landscape & Environments category, a simple and beautiful image stole the show. Alessandro Gruzza’s view of Italy’s Paneveggio-Pale San Martino Natural Park, showing movement of the clouds around a snow-covered Mount Cimon de la Pala, was taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III and EF16-35mm f/4L IS USM.
To see the other Gold, Silver and Bronze winners, head over to the World Nature Photography Awards home page. And if you’re inspired, why not start a nature project of your own as this year’s contest is now open for entry.