As photographers, we have the technique and skill to turn the world around us into a framed work of art and this is certainly what the winners of the 2021 WildArt Photographer of the Year contest have done. One for the purists, the contest was designed by wildlife photographers, for wildlife photographers and is also judged solely by wildlife photographers, too so sees a high standard of submissions.
The Gold award went to Polish photographer, Marek Mierzejewski for an image entitled; ‘The Enchanted Morning on the Meadow’ which shows Marbled White Butterfly and was captured with a Canon 6D Mk2 paired with a Canon 100mm macro lens. Marek commented; ‘This image was taken at ground level and I used the rotating screen on the camera to position it and frame the shot to capture these Marbled White butterflies in the early morning dew-soaked meadow grass as they waited for the sun to rise and warm their wings. The damp atmosphere continually misted up my lens, and perhaps the camera mirror too, making it quite challenging, but I think the softness it created makes the photograph. The scene was so beautiful that it posed a real dilemma, to watch and observe these creatures or to photograph them. I tried to do both and after taking this picture, I watched as they came to life, their wings opening as the warmth of the day arrived.’
The Silver award went to an epic image captured with a DJI drone. Entitled; ‘Mallards on Ice’, the shot was taken by Hungary-based Daróczi Csaba, who commented; ‘There’s a little lake near our town and in the winter of 2020 it almost froze completely. The birds gathered on the edge of the ice, taking advantage of the only open water. I could see the opportunity for a good photograph taken from above to capture this scene, so I used a drone to get the perspective from directly above the birds.’
The Bronze award went to Khaldoon Aldway from the United Arab Emirates for an image entitled; ‘Battle to Survive’, which was captured using a Nikon D5300 paired with a Tokina 11-16mm lens. Khaldon commented; ‘It is common for stingrays to seek the warm shallow water close to the beaches where they come in to feed on crabs. On this occasion the high tide at Al Aqah beach in Fujarirah caught these stingrays out and they were stranded on the sand in the shallow water. While they attempted to swim back out to sea, I used the opportunity to photograph them using a long exposure to add a sense of movement to the water and document the stingrays’ plight. I captured this image at dawn on a rather cold and cloudy day.’
Taking the Editor’s Choice award was this magical frame by UK photographer Sue Dall. Entitled; ‘Awash’, the shot was taken with a Nikon D850 paired with a Nikon 500mm lens. Sue commented; ‘At the harbour entrance on Rebak Island in Malaysia when sunset and high tide coincide, purple crabs emerge from the rocks in search of food. These usually fast-moving crabs cling motionless to the rocks as the wake from passing boats washes over them. I captured this ethereal image using a slow shutter speed and shooting from a low angle.’
Another winning images was this cleverly -timed frame by UK photographer Andy Parkinson. Titled; ‘Shake it Off!’, Andy used a Nikon D5 paired with a Nikon 200-400mm lens and commented ‘This image was captured in the last few minutes of evening light, so I exposed solely for the water droplets to retain their golden colour. That a bear shook himself dry in that light, in that moment, was pure luck.’
UK photographer Leanne Hunter was the winner of the Founder Choice award for this colourful frame that was captured with a Nikon D7100. Entitled; Life in a Drop of Water’, the image shows various forms of microscopic algae and Leanne commented; ‘This image showcases the abundance of life that can occur in a single drop of water. It captures the eye’s attention as it features the outstanding beauty of freshwater algae; organisms that I celebrate for their beautiful colours, shape and form. Many species of freshwater algae exist in a world that we cannot see with the naked eye. It is my hope that this image will encourage others to take an interest microscopy and explore the hidden wonders of the natural world.’
The winner of the Young category was named as Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz from Hungary for an image titled; ‘Surface’. Captured using a Sony a6600 and 100mm macro lens, the subject is a fly from the Dolichopodidae family and Tamás commented; ‘I took this photo at the surface of a small puddle in the rut made from the track of a tractor at meadow called Nagy-rét near my hometown Csongrád in Hungary. The fly is a species from the Dolichopodidae family, a long-legged fly. There were hundreds of these flies around this area in the early summer.’