Nature photographer of the year 2021 winners


Here has Popular photography, we love a good photo contest. It’s always cool to see well-organized images presented around a particular theme. And there are normally some interesting lessons to be learned from looking at the winners and finalists. Recently, the Australian version of National Geographic magazine, Australian geography, announced the latest round of winners for his Nature Photographer of the Year Award.

The categories

There were nine categories of competition: Animal behavior [sic], Animal portrait, Botany, Landscape, Endangered species, Monochrome, Our impact, Animal habitat and Junior. Photographers from all over the world could enter, although all photos had to be of flora, fauna or natural land formations. And the entries must have been taken in the ANZANG bioregion (Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and New Guinea). With $ 10,000 and a holiday awarded to the top winner – and $ 1,000 for all category winners – it clearly attracted a lot of high quality work.

So, let’s dive in, check out some great photos and see what we can learn.

The superb winner

The big winner of the Australian Geographic Nature photographer of the year award.

Description: ‘The leafy sea dragons hide in the thick kelp to camouflage themselves and avoid predators. Flaming and vibrant adults blend seamlessly into their surroundings. At night, the backlighting of a leafy sea dragon accentuates its features and delicate bodies that appear translucent. ‘ Scott Portelli, New South Wales

There were a lot of great photos in this year’s contest. But it’s easy to see why Scott Portelli won the General Trophy for his photo of a leafy sea dragon. (I’m getting some serious Zelda vibes from it.)

It should be noted that a disproportionate number of the photographs selected were underwater shots like this one. For example, on the 14 photos presented in Animal Behavior [sic] category, five were shot in the water. And two more were photographs of whales, captured from boats.

Junior winner

Junior winner of the 2021 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year award.
The ‘Junior’ winner of Australian Geographic Nature photographer of the year award.

Description: “I spotted this perfectly camouflaged lichen hunter in ambush on a tree trunk near our campsite in Daintree National Park. This spider, native to North Queensland, is one of the fastest spiders of all known spiders, yet harmless to humans. Georgia McGregor, Queensland

Junior winner Georgia McGregor also deserves special mention for this terrifying photo of a (supposedly) harmless lichen-hunter spider.

Equipment matters, but not as much as you fear

Photography of nature and, in particular, wildlife has a reputation for being heavy on material. I’m not going to pretend you don’t have more options if you have a large aperture 600mm telephoto lens attached to a mirrorless camera with super-fast autofocus that can take bursts at 30 frames per. second, but the winners and finalists of this year’s competition used a wide variety of equipment.

Winner of "Animal habitat" category, 2021 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Awards.
The winner of the ‘Animal habitat’ category, from Australian Geographic Nature photographer of the year award.

Description: “In the Strzelecki Desert in Australia, a flock of galahs regenerates with the only water available at the base of this solitary tree. This is a rare photo opportunity to get such a crisp, symmetrical shot of these beautiful birds in flight, in the middle of the desert. ‘ Christian Spencer, Victoria

Choice of camera

Animal Habitat category winner Christian Spencer, for example, captured this stunning shot with a Canon Rebel T4i, a nine-year-old entry-level DSLR.

Finalist for the "Animal portrait" category, 2021 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Awards.
The second in the ‘Animal portrait’ category, from Australian Geographic Nature photographer of the year award.

Description: “I spotted Eastern Gray Kangaroos on the bluff. I had to crawl through the tall grass on the way down from them to try to get close enough to backlight one against the rising full moon. While I was taking a few shots, my model tilted her head back and opened her mouth slightly. ‘ Mike George, New South Wales

While Mike George, the finalist in the Animal Portrait category used a Canon 5D MK II. Yes, it’s a full frame DSLR, but it’s far from the latest and greatest. There are also a few Nikon D7200s and other older cameras scattered among the high end bodies, like the Sony A7RIII and the Canon 1DX MK II.

One entry for the "Animal habitat" category, 2021 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Awards.
A preselected entry in the ‘Animal habitat’ category, from Australian Geographic Nature photographer of the year award.

Description: “At the end of an extremely hot 45 ° C research day, I visited a farm dam to see if any animals were having a drink or cooling off. Along a heavily eroded section of dam wall, I came across this majestic snake – an adult mulga in excellent condition. Kristian Bell, Victoria

Choice of objective

Likewise, there were a lot of different lenses in use, and most of them weren’t ridiculously expensive telephoto lenses. Perhaps the nature of the categories limited the number of extreme close-ups of birds that people could enter. But it’s always nice to see nature photographs, like the one above by Kristian Bell, taken with an ordinary lens that most photographers have in their bags. Bell used a Canon EF 16-35mm f / 4, but any exterior zoom would do.

Context is everything

My favorite photos weren’t the aforementioned bird close-ups – they were the most interesting photos with a story to tell. And it is clear that the judges often felt the same thing.

Just look at this Ken Griffiths photo of black ants eating a gecko.

One entry for the "Animal behavior" category, 2021 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Awards.
A preselected entry into animal behavior [sic] category of Australian Geographic Nature photographer of the year award.

The description. ‘Black ants feed on broad-tailed gecko. Broad-tailed geckos are found primarily in the sandstone areas of the Sydney Basin and are nocturnal. It was a most unusual find, especially since there are many species of birds that would have made it a quick meal. How he died is a mystery, but a wild deer or wallaby may have stepped on it the night before. Ken Griffiths, New South Wales

Also discover that of Richard Robinson of a whale facing a boat. These are all photos that have something to say, and that’s what makes them so powerful.

An entrance from "Our impact" category, 2021 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Awards.
A preselected entry in the “Our impact” category, from Australian Geographic Nature photographer of the year award.

Description: “Two centuries after near extinction, Southern Right Whales, also known as Tohora, thrive in the subantarctic depths. In 2020, an expedition from the University of Auckland, led by Dr Emma Carroll, traveled to study the recovering population, using cutting-edge genomic techniques that will allow us to understand the complexities of these animals. Richard Robinson, New Zealand

How to enter next year’s competition

Registration is not yet open for the 2022 competition, but keep an eye on the Australian Geographic website. In the meantime, you can consult last year’s contest rules so you can make sure your photos are eligible.


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