Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Daily Archives: October 18, 2013

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013

Every year we are amazed at the quality of wildlife images in this competition, it has to be the most prestigious in the world, and we get to see in our own back yard. The Natural History Museum in London hosts the competition exhibition and if there was ever a reason to go to London then this is it.

2013: Wildlife Photographer of the Year – Grand title winner Greg du Toit (South Africa)


Essence of elephants

Ever since he first picked up a camera, Greg has photographed African elephants. ‘For many years,’ he says, ‘I’ve wanted to create an image that captures their special energy and the state of consciousness that I sense when I’m with them. This image comes closest to doing that.’ The shot was taken at a waterhole in Botswana’s Northern Tuli Game Reserve, from a hide (a sunken freight container) that provided a ground-level view. Greg chose to use a slow shutter speed to create the atmosphere he was after and try ‘to depict these gentle giants in an almost ghostly way.’ He used a wide-angle lens tilted up to emphasise the size of whatever elephant entered the foreground, and chose a narrow aperture to create a large depth of field so that any elephants in the background would also be in focus. Greg had hoped the elephants would turn up before dawn, but they arrived after the sun was up. To emphasise the ‘mysterious nature’ of these ‘enigmatic subjects’, he attached a polarising filter and set his white balance to a cool temperature. The element of luck that added the final touch to his preparation was the baby elephant, which raced past the hide, so close that Greg could have touched her. The slow shutter speed conveyed the motion, and a short burst of flash at the end of the exposure froze a fleeting bit of detail.

2013: Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year Udayan Rao Pawar (India)


Mother’s little headful

One night, Udayan camped near a nesting colony of gharials on the banks of the Chambal River – two groups of them, each with more than 100 hatchlings. Before daybreak, he crept down and hid behind rocks beside the babies. ‘I could hear them making little grunting sounds,’ says Udayan. ‘Very soon a large female surfaced near the shore, checking on her charges. Some of the hatchlings swam to her and climbed onto her head. Perhaps it made them feel safe.’ It turned out that she was the chief female of the group, looking after all the hatchlings. Though he saw a few more females and a male, they never came close. Gharials were once found in rivers all over the Indian subcontinent. Today, just 200 or so breeding adults remain in just 2 per cent of the former range. ‘The Chambal River is the gharial’s last stronghold,’ says Udayan, ‘but is threatened by illegal sand-mining and fishing.’

There are many different categories, these shown here are just the most prestigious, you can see all the categories and gaze in wonder at the entries and winners here

2013: Eric Hosking Portfolio Award

Connor Stefanison (Canada)

The flight path

Connor’s photography draws on the wilderness skills he acquired over a childhood spent largely outdoors. This female barred owl had a territory near his home in Burnaby, British Columbia. He watched her for some time, familiarising himself with her flight paths until he knew her well enough to set up the shot. ‘I wanted to include the western red cedar and the sword ferns so typical of this Pacific coastal rainforest.’ Setting up his camera near one of the owl’s favourite perches, linked to a remote and three off-camera flashes, diffused and on low settings, he put a dead mouse on a platform above the camera and waited for the swoop that he knew would come. ‘She grabbed the mouse, flew back to her perch and began calling to her mate. It is one of the most exciting calls to hear in the wild.’



The exhibition details are:

Exhibition and tickets

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 exhibition
Natural History Museum
18 October 2013 – 23 March 2014
10.00-17.50 (last admission 17.15)
Open late the last Friday of every month

The world-renowned annual exhibition opens at the Museum on 18 October 2013. It shines a spotlight on the rarely seen wonders of the natural world.

100 images have been selected from tens of thousands of international entries and are displayed in the exhibition gallery to dramatic effect on sleek backlit installations.


Exhibition information for visitors

Visitor enquiries:   +44 (0)20 7942 5000
Admission:              Adult £12*, child and concessions £6*,                                    family £33* (up to 2 adults and 3 children).
Free for Members, Patrons and children                                    aged 4 and under.


The exhibition goes on tour around the country, you can follow this link to find if it will be in a town near you

The exhibition comes to Oxford next year