Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

Wildlife Photographer of The Year 2014

 

 

That time of year again, here are the results of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 201460

Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols, USA

Nick is a photographic artist and journalist who uses his skills to tell stories about environmental issues and our relationship with wildlife. His career, much of it with National Geographic, spans more than 35 years, and his work has been published in numerous books and magazines. The mass of accolades he has received reflects the international recognition reputation he has earned.

Photograph Details

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014

Grand title winner

Winner 2014

Black and White

Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols, USA

The last great picture

Nick set out to create an archetypal image that captured the essence of lions in a time long gone, before they were under such threat. The Vumbi pride in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park are a ‘formidable and spectacularly co-operative team,’ Nick says. Here the five females lie at rest with their cubs on a kopje (a rocky outcrop). Shortly before he took the shot, they had attacked and driven off one of the pride’s two males. Now they were lying close together, calmly sleeping. They were used to Nick’s presence as he’d been following them for nearly six months, so he could position his vehicle close to the kopje. He framed the vista with the plains beyond and the dramatic late afternoon sky above. He photographed the lions in infrared, which he says ‘cuts through the dust and haze, transforms the light and turns the moment into something primal, biblical almost’. The chosen picture of lions in Africa is part flashback, part fantasy. Nick got to know and love the Vumbi pride. A few months later, he heard they had ventured outside the park and three females had been killed.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 24–70mm f2.8 lens at 32mm; 1/250 sec at f8; ISO 200.

1

Carlos Perez Naval

Carlos Perez Naval, Spain

Carlos has been taking photographs seriously for the past three years (since he was five) and has already won prizes in Spanish, Italian and French competitions. He loves nature, whatever and wherever it is, and spends as much time as possible out photographing the plants and animals around that live near his home in Spain.

Photograph Details

Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014

Grand title winner

Winner 2014

10 Years and under

Carlos Perez Naval, Spain

Stinger in the sun

This common yellow scorpion is flourishing its sting as a warning. Carlos had found it basking on a flat stone in a rocky area near his home in Torralba de los Sisones, northeast Spain – a place he often visits to look for reptiles. The late afternoon Sun was casting such a lovely glow over the scene that Carlos decided to experiment with a double exposure for the first time so he could include it. He started with the background, using a fast speed so as not to overexpose the Sun, and then shot the scorpion using a low flash. But he had to change lenses, using his zoom for the Sun, which is when the scorpion noticed the movement and raised its tail. Carlos then had to wait for it to settle before taking his close-up, with the last of the light illuminating its body.

Technical specification

Nikon D300 + 105mm f2.8 lens (28–300mm lens for the background); 1/320 sec at f10; ISO 320; flash.

16

Photograph Details

Winner 2014

Mammals

Alex Badyaev, Russia/USA

The mouse, the moon and the mosquito

Alexander was taking his daily hike along a trail in the Blackfoot Valley, western Montana, USA, when he noticed a giant puffball mushroom starting to inflate. Squirrels, chipmunks and mice began exploring and scent-marking the surface of the oversized fungus leaving it covered with tiny prints. Alex returned to the spot during a full Moon, when the puffball had reached its maximum size. He lay on the ground, watching and waiting, entertained by the dozens of small animals exploring the puffball. The most frequent visitors were deer mice, which scampered around, sometimes pausing to check on their surroundings. To avoid disturbing the animals, and to preserve the sense of place, Alex used the Moon as his backlighting. He relied on a long exposure and a gentle pulse of flash to show the curve of the fungus and to capture the frantic activity. When one deer mouse paused for a moment to investigate a persistent mosquito, the perfect midnight puffball scene was created.

Technical specification

Canon EOS-1D Mark IV + 105mm lens; 2.5 sec at f14; ISO 250; Canon 430EX II flash.

23

Winner 2014

Birds

Bence Máté, Hungary

Herons in time and space

Bence had set up his hide to overlook Lake Csaj in Kiskunság National Park, Hungary. He had a specific image in mind and had planned to use both artificial and natural light. His subject was the shy grey heron. To overcome the various technological challenges of a night-time shot, he had built two timing devices for his camera to execute the single exposure. One device moved the focus, while the other adjusted the aperture within a single frame, so both the herons and the stars were in focus. It took 74 nights in the hide before the conditions were right and it all came together. The surface of the lake was still, reflecting the stars, and the sky was clear and motionless. Just after midnight, the seven stars of the Plough (part of the Ursa Major constellation) slid into position above the glow of a distant town. Bence took the shot, with both the stars and herons sharp, but with traces of the birds’ movement leaving ghostly impressions against the sky. Blending technology and passion in a masterful manner, Bence had finally created a picture that he had planned for many years – of herons imprinting their images in time and space.

Technical specification

Nikon D800 + Sigma 15mm f2.8 lens; 32 sec (1 sec at f10, then 31 sec at f2.8) + two custom-made gadgets; ISO 2000; four flashes; tripod; hide.

See all the winners here

 

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