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The Natural History Museum in London just announced their Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award winner plus four highly commended images, and they are stunning.
Over 55,000 votes were cast. Here is the overall favorite photo, “Bushfire,” by Robert Irwin:
As explained by the Natural History Museum:
“After spotting smoke billowing out of the horizon, Robert knew he had a prime opportunity. Launching his drone, he sent it straight over to the location of the fire. With only a few minutes of battery left, he knew he had to act fast. Taking it right into the thick of the smoke, he managed to frame a clear 50:50 shot, with a pristine natural conservation area on one side juxtaposed with the blackened, devastated remains on the other. Taken near the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve in Cape York, Queensland, the area is of high conservation value and is home to over 30 different ecosystems with many endangered species.”
Robert goes on to comment:
“I am incredibly excited to win the Wildlife Photographer of The Year People’s Choice Award. For me, nature photography is about telling a story to make a difference for the environment and our planet. I feel it is particularly special for this image to be awarded, not only as a profound personal honor but also as a reminder of our effect on the natural world and our responsibility to care for it.”
The four “Highly Commended” images are equally inspiring.
First, Ami Vitale’s heartbreaking photo, entitled “The Last Goodbye:”
“Joseph Wachira comforts Sudan, the last male northern white rhino left on the planet, moments before he passed away at Ol Pejeta Wildlife Conservancy in northern Kenya. Suffering from age-related complications, he died surrounded by the people who had cared for him. With every extinction we suffer more than loss of ecosystem health. When we see ourselves as part of nature, we understand that saving nature is really about saving ourselves. Ami’s hope is that Sudan’s legacy will serve as a catalyst to awaken humanity to this reality.”
Then Andy Parkinson’s gorgeous image, called “Hare Ball:”
“Andy spent five weeks watching the mountain hares near Tomatin in the Scottish Highlands, waiting patiently for any movement – a stretch, a yawn or a shake – which typically came every 30 to 45 minutes. As he watched, frozen and prostrate, with 50 to 60 mph winds surging relentlessly around him, the cold started to distract and his fingers clasping the icy metal camera body and lens began to burn. Then relief came as this little female moved her body into a perfect spherical shape. A movement of sheer joy. Andy craves such moments: the isolation, the physical challenge and, most importantly, time with nature.”
Next, Guillermo Esteves’s “Close Encounter:”
“The worried-looking expression on this dog’s face speaks volumes and is a reminder that moose are large, unpredictable wild animals. Guillermo was photographing moose on the side of the road at Antelope Flats in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, USA, when this large bull took an interest in the furry visitor – the driver of the car unable to move it before the moose made its approach. Luckily, the moose lost interest and went on its way after a few moments.”
And finally, Neil Parkinson’s “Drey Dreaming:”
“As the weather grew colder, two Eurasian red squirrels (only one is clearly visible) found comfort and warmth in a box Neil had put up in one of the pine trees near his home in the Scottish Highlands. In the colder months, it’s common for the squirrels, even when unrelated, to share dreys. After discovering the box full of nesting material and in frequent use, Neil installed a camera and LED light with a diffuser on a dimmer. The box had a lot of natural light so he slowly increased the light to highlight his subjects – and using the WiFi app on his phone he was able take stills from the ground.”
The Natural History Museum in London is currently closed. But when it reopens, you’ll be able to view the physical images – along with other Wildlife Photographer of the Year photos – in person.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London.