Gear Inspirations

11 Amazing images of Nature that will make you say wow

Winning images from the Nature Photographer of the Year contest are truly stunning…

One of the most prestigious competitions for wildlife photography is the TTL Nature Photographer of the Year. This year’s awards saw over 8000 submissions entered – all vying to take home the £1,500 cash prize and, more importantly, the kudos of that grand prize title. What’s more, the contest does a great job of shining a light on conservation issues too.

This year’s top winner was announced as Canadian photographer Thomas Vijayan, who took the grand prize with his image entitled; ‘The World is Going Upside Down’, which offered viewers an intimate look into the world of an orangutan. The image appears to be looking at the sky, but on closer inspection is seen to be a reflection in the water below the tree.  The dramatic image was captured on a Nikon D850 which was paired with a 8-15mm lens.

Image by Thomas Vijayan / Nature Photographer of the Year

Taking top spot in the Camera Traps category was this epic capture entitled; ‘Silhouetted Wood Mouse’, shot by John Formstone using a Nikon D3300, who commented; ‘Captured on my DSLR camera trap in a patch of small woodland to the rear of my house. One off-camera flash was positioned to the rear of the subject in an effort to create this silhouette.’

Image by John Formstone / Nature Photographer of the Year

Highly commended in the Camera Traps category was this magical frame from Bence Mate, entitled; Starry Night and was shot using a Nikon D800 paired with a 15mm lens. Bence commented; ‘The shadow of fallow deer sketches in front of the starry skies. Within the 45 seconds this image was taken, the movement of the deer covered different parts of the skies, resulting in a ghostly effect.’

Image by Bence Mate / Nature Photographer of the Year

Claiming the title in the hotly contested Landscapes category was Jay Roode, who claimed the title for this frame entitled; ‘Tree of Life’, which was captured using a Canon 5D Mark III paired with a 100-400mm lens. Jay commented; ‘Suspended in time; a sense of waiting pervades this valley where nothing seems to have happened for a thousand years. The shadow of an ancient Camel Thorn tree reaches out, like a blackened hand to the delicate tracings of the Tsauchab River; yearning for the life that once was.’

Image by Jay Roode / Nature Photographer of the Year

Highly commended in the Landscapes category was this fairytale frame entitled ‘Bled’, which was captured by Tomasz Rojek using a Nikon D850 paired with a Nikon 24-120mm lens. ‘I have visited this place many times and I have seen a lot of pictures of this place but the conditions on this morning were great. Clouds and mist created a spectacular view.’

Image by Tomasz Rojek / Nature Photographer of the Year

Also highly commended in the Landscapes category was this stunning shot, entitled ‘Rainbow’, which was captured by Zdeněk Vošický using a Nikon D5500 paired with a 105mm lens and shows the picturesque and fertile landscape in the rolling fields of southern Moravia.

Image by Zdenek Vosicky / Nature Photographer of the Year

Samantha Stephens took the Runner-Up spot in the Small World category for this colourful frame entitled ‘Nature’s Pitfall’, which was captured with a Canon 5D Mark III Laowa 15mm macro lens. Samantha commented; ‘Researchers at the Algonquin Wildlife Research Station recently discovered that juvenile Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) are being trapped by Northern Pitcher Plants, as they make their fall migration from aquatic hatching grounds across a bog mat tofind over-wintering sites beneath the forest floor. This is the first discovery of salamanders being regularly caught by Northern Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia purpurea)—and more than 20% of the plants in this Algonquin Park population are capturing salamander prey!

Image by Samantha Stephens / Nature Photographer of the Year

Ivan Pedretti’s stunning aurora capture, entitled ‘The Eye’ took top spot in the Night Sky category for this frame showing Uttakleiv beach, in Norway, set against the beautiful colours of the Northern Lights above. The image was captured on a Sony A7R II paired with a 16-35mm lens.

Image by Ivan Pedretti / Nature Photographer of the Year

Manta Space Ship is a brilliant title for the excellent image, which won Grant Thomas top spot in the Underwater category. Captured in the Maldives using a Canon 5D Mark IV paired with a Canon 8-15mm fisheye lens, Grant commented; ‘For this image, I was positioned flat on the sand, watching one Manta looping around and around whilst feeding on a cloud of planktonic creatures which had gathered. After some time, the manta drifted closer and closer to me until eventually I was able to capture this shot.’

Image by Grant Thomas / Nature Photographer of the Year

Sleepy Polar Bear by Dennis Stogsdill was announced as the winner of the Wild Portraits category. Captured using a Canon 5DS R paired with a Canon 600mm lens, Dennis commented; ‘We were watching this rather photogenic polar bear for a while in Svalbard, Norway, when he climbed a ridge and decided to just rest. All the while the soft afternoon skies created the perfect backdrop for a “sleepy bear”.’

Image by Dennis Stogsdill / Nature Photographer of the Year

James Gifford’s image ‘The Cauldron Of Creation’ took Runner-Up in the Wild Portraits spot and offered a fine-art feel to the frame. Captured on a Canon 1DX II paired with a 200-400mm lens, James commented; ‘I found this rhino mother and calf resting in the heat of the day and guessed they might go to a nearby waterhole later to drink. To make the most of the dust, I positioned myself to shoot into the sun on the route I expected them to take when they left, deliberately underexposing to capture the clouds of amber dust. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of rhino poaching, I wanted my picture to convey a sense of hope – a new beginning almost – as if these were the first rhinos being forged in a fire of creation. The effect of the backlit dust, creating a blurred shadow image, added to the ethereal effect.

Image by James Gifford / Nature Photographer of the Year