Animal photography goes on show

Wild about wildlife? Natural History Museum and London Zoo are both hosting amazing wildlife photography exhibitions

MAIN SHOT: "The Spat": Joe McDonald/
Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition kicks off at the Natural History Museum this autumn, showcasing the best of animal photography from around the world.

Around 43,000 entries were seen by an international judging panel, which whittled them down to the best 100 photos. These are on display in the exhibition.

The overall winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 prize is South African Greg du Toit, author of African Wildlife Exposed, for his image ‘Essence of Elephants’. At the exhibition launch, du Toit spoke regarding his awareness of Africa being ‘blessed with incredible creatures’ and his own ‘sense of responsibility to capture that and share it with the world’.

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"Essence of elephants": Greg du Toit/
Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013
Viewers of the winning photograph, which shows a herd of elephants at a watering hole in Botswana, may be surprised to learn that the elephant at the forefront of the image is a calf standing at only around 2ft tall, demonstrating du Toit's expert use of a wide angle lens.

Jim Brandenburg, chair of the judging panel explained: ‘The well executed combination of ingredients makes it a great image.’

Meanwhile, 14-year-old Udayan Rao Pawar from India was the winner of the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013, for his image ‘Mother's little headful’ which depicts a female gharial crocodile submerged in the Chambal River with a group of young on her head. The judging panel described it as ‘a wonderful moment, made stronger by the rarity of the animal’.
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"Mother's little headful": Udayan Rao Pawar/
Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013
A further highlight of the exhibition is Hannes Lochner’s ‘Curiosity and the cat’, a close-up shot of a lion cub in the Kalahari. The angle and proximity of the shot combine to capture the wide-eyed animal at a vulnerable moment, contrasting with usual depictions of the ‘king of the jungle’.
As a collection, the exhibition portrays the true juxtapositions of the natural world.

From the refined elegance shown in Steve Race’s ‘True Love’ – an image of a breeding pair of gannets which was Commended in the Bird Behaviour category – to the harsh realities of animal life, such as the jaguar fight captured in Joe McDonald’s ‘The Spat’, which the judging panel described as ‘an amazing image of a rarely seen behaviour from this very secretive cat’.

The exhibition does, however, have a more thoughtful side. The Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife includes photos of species under serious threat of extinction. Valerity Maleev’s runner-up shot, ‘Survivors’, shows three Amur leopards in the Russian Far East, which – shockingly – represents 10 per cent of the remaining wild population of the species.
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"The water bear": Paul Soulders/
Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013
For those interested in the technical side of photography, the winning entry to the Erick Hosking Portfolio Award category is something to admire. ‘The photographer knows how to work with delicate colours and light, and frames the images beautifully,’ said the judging panel of Connor Stefanison’s winning collection of images.

Meanwhile at ZSL London Zoo, images from the second ZSL Animal Photography Prize are on display until 24 December. Categories include ‘Weird and Wonderful’ and ‘Last chance to see?’, which focuses on endangered species. Entrance to the exhibition is included in the price of a zoo entrance ticket.

If after all that you’re feeling inspired to get your camera out, why not enter the Psychologies photography competition? This month’s theme is ‘Reflection’. Click here for further information and to enter.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is co-owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Worldwide. The exhibition is at the Natural History Museum until 23 March 2014. Admission is £12 for adults, £6 for concessions. For more information, click here.


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