“New Kid in School” by Yung-Sen Wu. All images courtesy of BigPicture, shared with permission
Encompassing plumes of mushroom spores, preying venus flytraps, and an opportunistic leopard seal, the 2021 BigPicture Natural World Photography contest showcases the beautiful, peculiar, and resilient flora and fauna across the globe. Now in its eighth year, the annual competition, which is held by the California Academy of Sciences, is centered largely around conservation and humans’ impact on the environment. The 2021 contest garnered entries showing the profound changes to the planet in recent months alone by documenting the desolate landscape following Australian bushfires and a disposable face mask floating off the coast of California. See some of the winning shots below and all finalists on the competition’s site. (via Kottke)
“Hope Amidst the Ashes” by Jo-Anne McArthur
“Ice Bears” by Peter Mather
Top left: “Sign of the Tides” by Ralph Pace. Top right: “Boss” by Michelle Valberg. Bottom left: “Another Planet” by Fran Rubia. Bottom right: “Facing Reality” by Amos Nachoum
“Nutritional Supplement” by Nick Kanakis
Left: “Rain Dance” by Sarang Naik. Top right: “Running Atta” by Petr Bambousek. Bottom right: “Beak to Beak” by Shane Kalyn
“Taking a Load Off” by Nicolas Reusens
“Down the Hatch” by Angel Fitor
Category Winner. Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021 © Renee Capozzola (U.S.) /UPY2021. All images courtesy of UPY 2021, shared with permission
An exquisite shot of blacktip reef sharks circling underneath a jewel-toned sky in French Polynesia tops this year’s Underwater Photographer of the Year contest (previously). Captured by California-based Renee Capozzola, the winning entry frames a pair of the white-bellied fish and airborne seagulls, forming a serendipitous composition that combines air, land, and sea. “I dedicated several evenings to photographing in the shallows at sunset, and I was finally rewarded with this scene: glass-calm water, a rich sunset, sharks, and even birds,” she said.
This year’s competition received more than 4,500 entries from photographers in 68 countries, including images of wrecked barges, frogs peering out from a muddy pond, and two ornery blenny mid-tussle. Capozzola is the first woman to ever win the U.K.-based contest since its inception in 1965.
We’ve gathered some of our favorites below, but you can see all of the winning shots and watch interviews with the photographers on the contest’s site. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
Winner. British Waters Wide Angle, My Backyard © Mark Kirkland (U.K.)/UPY2021
Third Place. Up & Coming Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021. © Danny Lee (Australia)/UPY2021
Runner Up. Behavior. © Jing Gong Zhang (China)/UPY2021
Left: Winner. Portrait. © Ryohei Ito (Japan)/UPY202. Right: Runner Up. Portrait. © Keigo Kawamura (Japan)/UPY2021
Winner. Wrecks © Tobias Friedrich (Germany)/UPY2021
Runner Up. Macro © Steven Kovacs (U.S.)/UPY2021
Third Place. Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021 © Oleg Gaponyuk (Russian Federation)/UPY2021
Runner Up. Wide Angle © Martin Broen (U.S.)/UPY2021
Third Place. British Waters Wide Angle © Kirsty Andrews (U.K.)/UPY2021
“Love Heart of Nature” by Jim Picôt. “In winter, a shark is inside a salmon school when, chasing the baitfish, the shape became a heart shape.” All images © the photographers, courtesy of 2020 Drone Awards, shared with permission
The 2020 Drone Photography Awards garnered an arresting collection of aerial shots, and among its winners is a serendipitous image of a heart-shaped school of salmon. Captured by Australian photographer Jim Picôt, the piece is particularly special because a shark swims near the center, chasing one of the fish. Other prized shots include heron roosts nestled in the treetops, and a group of swimmers floating between crashing waves.
Hosted by the Siena Awards Festival, the contest received entries from photographers in 126 countries, and an exhibition titled Above Us Only Sky will run October 24 to November 29 in Siena to showcase the top images. Check out some of our favorites below, and dive into all the winning shots on the contest’s site. (via PetaPixel)
“Gray Whale Plays Pushing Tourists” by Joseph Cheires. “At the end of the gray whale season, I was told about a gray whale that, for the last 3 years, used to play with the boats, pushing them gently. So we went back the year after and incredibly the gray whale appeared and this shot is the result.”
“Alien Structure on Earth” by Tomasz Kowalski. “Sometimes we need to change the perspective to feel the strength of the structure stronger than we’ve ever thought. The Petronas Towers, also known as the Petronas Twin Towers, are twin skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur.”
“Where Herons Live” by Dmitrii Viliunov. “Many think that herons make nests in reeds or in a swamp. In fact, they nest in the tops of huge trees and with a drone it is sometimes possible to see them.”
“On the Sea” by Roberto Corinaldesi. “An aerial view of swimmers, where the sea becomes the place to take refuge, between the blue carpet and the white foam of the waves.”
“Frozen Land” by Alessandra Meniconzi. “With temperatures of minus 30°C, winters in the Eurasian steppe can be brutal. But life doesn’t stop, and local people move from one village to another with a sledge, crossing icy rivers and lakes.”
“Phoenix Rising” by Paul Hoelen. “The phoenix rising is a symbol of re-emergence from the ashes of fire. This is symbolized through the beginnings of an actual regeneration process at the industrial mining site of Lake Owens. After a destructive past and the creation of the most toxic dustbowl in America, migratory birds are returning, and life is beginning anew…”
“Black Flag” by Tomer Appelbaum. “Thousands of Israelis maintain social distancing due to Covid-19 restrictions while protesting against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rabin Square on 19 April 2020.”
“Andromeda Galaxy at Arm’s Length?” © Nicolas Lefaudeux (France), galaxies winner and overall winner. “Have you ever dreamt of touching a galaxy? This version of the Andromeda Galaxy seems to be at arm’s length among clouds of stars. Unfortunately, this is just an illusion, as the galaxy is still 2 million light-years away. In order to obtain the tilt-shift effect, the photographer 3D-printed a part to hold the camera at an angle at the focus of the telescope. The blur created by the defocus at the edges of the sensor gives this illusion of closeness to Andromeda.”
The 2020 Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest gathers a trove of sublime shots capturing otherwise unseen phenomena and distant fixtures of outer space. With more than 5,000 entries from six continents, the 12th annual competition includes Nicolas Lefaudeux’s photograph of the Andromeda Galaxy two million light-years away, one by Rafael Schmall that frames the lit trails of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites, and another of the Aurora Borealis reflecting on the ice by Kristina Makeeva (previously).
Starting October 23, 2020, the top photographs will be on display at the National Maritime Museum. Until then, pick up a copy of this year’s book that collects all 140 winning and shortlisted shots, and explore some of Colossal’s favorites below.
“Iceland “© Kristina Makeeva (Russia) aurorae highly commended. “Winters in Iceland require some training in terms of wind protection equipment. Iceland is a country with very strong winds, so a stable tripod is required to shoot the aurora. Many astrophotographers wait in a certain place for several hours to capture the Aurora Borealis. The photographer was lucky in this instance as she waited near Diamond Beach where the reflection of the aurora on the ice was beautiful.”
“The Prison of Technology” © Rafael Schmall (Hungary), people and space winner. “The star in the centre of the image is the Albireo double star, surrounded by the trails of moving satellites. How many more might there be by the time we reach next year’s competition? There could be thousands of moving dots in the sky. In order to create astrophotos, photographers have to carefully plan where to place the telescope, and this will be more difficult in the future with more satellites in the way.”
“Light Bridge in the Sky” © Xiuquan Zhang (China), aged 12, young competition highly commended. “The photographer visited Iceland with his mother in 2019. The sky there is wonderful every night. The photographer had never seen such a scene before! The aurora is magical, as you can see in this photo.”
“Cosmic Inferno” © Peter Ward (Australia), stars and nebulae winner. “NGC 3576 is a well-known nebula in southern skies but is shown here without any stars. The software reveals just the nebula, which has been mapped into a false color palette. The scene takes on the look of a celestial fire-maelstrom. The image is intended to reflect media images taken in Australia during 2019 and 2020, where massive bushfires caused the destruction of native forests and have claimed over 12 million acres of land. It shows nature can act on vast scales and serves as a stark warning that our planet needs nurturing.”
“Desert Magic” © Stefan Leibermann (Germany), skyscapes runner up. “The photographer took this image during a trip through Jordan. He stayed for three days in the desert at Wadi Rum. During the night, the photographer tried to capture the amazing starry sky over the desert. He used a star tracker device to capture the sky. The photographer found this red dune as a foreground and captured the imposing Milky Way centre in the sky.”
“Observe the Heart of the Galaxy” © Tian Li (China), people and space runner up. “This image depicts the photographer climbing the radio telescope and Mingantu solar radio telescope array. First, the photographer tested and moved his camera so that the M8 and M20 nebulae would appear right next to the telescope. After taking the foreground image, he moved his camera a little bit but still pointing at the same location in the sky, and captured the background with an equatorial mount.”
“Tycho Crater Region with Colours” © Alain Paillou (France), our moon winner. “The Tycho crater is one of the most famous craters on the Moon. This huge impact has left very impressive scars on the Moon’s surface. With the colours of the soils, Tycho is even more impressive. This picture combines one session with a black-and-white camera, to capture the details and sharpness, and one session with a colour camera, to capture the colours of the soils. These colours come mainly from metallic oxides in small balls of glass and can give useful information about the Moon’s geology and history. The blue shows a high titanium oxide concentration and the red shows high iron oxide concentration. This picture reveals the incredible beauty and complexity of our natural satellite.”
“The Green Lady” © Nicholas Roemmelt (Germany), aurorae winner. “The photographer had heard a lot of stories about the ‘lady in green’. Although he has had the chance to photograph the Northern Lights many times, he had never seen the ‘green lady’ before. On a journey to Norway, she unexpectedly appeared with her magical green clothes making the whole sky burn with green, blue, and pink colours.”
“The Dolphin Jumping out of an Ocean of Gas” © Connor Matherne (USA), stars and nebulae runner up. “This target is officially known as Sh2-308, but the photographer has always enjoyed calling it the Dolphin Nebula. It is a bubble of gas being shed by the bright blue star in the centre of the image as it enters its pre-supernova phase. The red star to the right could possibly be influencing the shape too and might be responsible for the bill of the dolphin. While it won’t explode in our lifetimes, seeing the warning signs are quite neat. It never hurts to say that the warning signs are the most beautiful part of this particular target!”
Nicolas Reusens/Bird Photographer of the Year. “Ropewalker,” Sword-billed Hummingbird Ensifera ensifera. Papallacta, Ecuador. Category: Bird Behaviour, bronze award winner. All images © Bird Photographer of the Year, shared with permission
The winning shots from the renowned Bird Photographer of the Year contest capture the mundane moments and extraordinary adventures of our avian neighbors. From a sleepy owl camouflaged by tree bark to a lurching great crested grebe, the stunning birds shown here were chosen out of more than 15,000 entries from photographers around the globe.
The charity organization Birds on the Brink hosted the fifth-annual competition, and profits garnered go directly toward conservation efforts. Explore the full collection, which also is compiled in a 256-page book, on the contest’s site.
Moshe Cohen/Bird Photographer of the Year. “Perfect camouflage,” Eurasian Scops-owl Otus scops. Kibbutz Hatzor, Israel. Category: Attention to Detail, gold award winner
Majed AlZa’abi/Bird Photographer of the Year. “End of the day,” European Shag Gulosus aristotelis. Vardø, Norway. Category: Best Portrait, gold award winner and bird photographer of the year winner
Gadi Shmila/Bird Photographer of the Year. “Hoopoe flight at low speed,” Common Hoopoe Upupa epops. Israel. Category: Birds in Flight, gold award winner
Georgina Steytler/Bird Photographer of the Year. “On the attack!” Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus. Perth, Western Australia, Australia. Category: Best Portfolio Winner
Francesco Filippo Pellegrini/Bird Photographer of the Year. “Swifts over Iguazú Falls,” Great Dusky Swift Cypseloides senex. Iguazú Falls, Misiones, Argentina. Category: Birds in the Environment, gold award winner
Swayamsiddha Mohapatra/Bird Photographer of the Year. “A new beginning,” Indian Roller Coracias benghalensis. Kaziranga National Park, India. Category: Birds in the Environment, bronze award winner
Shu Qing/Bird Photographer of the Year. “Fairy landing on Earth,” Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus. Sanmenxia, Henan, China. Category: Birds in Flight, bronze award winner
Greg Lecoeur/Bird Photographer of the Year. “Feeding frenzy,” Cape Gannet Morus capensis. Port St Johns, South Africa. Category: Bird Behaviour, silver award winner
Carlos Cifuentes Torres/Bird Photographer of the Year. “Electric,” White Stork Ciconia ciconia. Seville, Spain. Category: Garden and Urban Birds, bronze award winner
Double-crested Cormorant in Los Islotes, Mexico. Photograph by Joanna Lentini/Audubon Photography Awards/2020 Grand Prize Winner. All images courtesy of Audubon Photography Awards, shared with permission
From a hummingbird piercing a water droplet to a roadrunner grasping its lunch to a tiger-heron posing for a portrait, the winners of the 2020 Audubon Photography Awards have captured a striking array of birds across the western hemisphere. Out of more than 6,000 entries, the top ten shots glimpse the transitory moments in avian lives that are otherwise unseen.
New York-based photographer Joanna Lentini secured the grand prize with her stunning photograph of a double-crested cormorant descending into the center of a school of fish in Los Islotes, Mexico. “I watched in awe as the cormorants plunged beak-first into the sea to snap at the sardines swimming by. Although I spent a long time admiring these birds, I didn’t see a single one catch a fish. Adding insult to injury, curious sea lion pups would zip by the hunting birds and nip at them from behind,” Lentini says.
Explore the top entries and the stories behind how they were captured on Audubon’s site, and check out 2019’s winners, too.
American Dipper in Yosemite National Park, California. Photograph by Marlee Fuller-Morris/Audubon Photography Awards/2020 Fisher Prize Winner
Greater Roadrunner in San Joaquin River Parkway, California. Photograph by Christopher Smith/Audubon Photography Awards/2020 Youth Honorable Mention
Bare-throated Tiger-Heron in Tárcoles River, Costa Rica. Photograph by Gail Bisson/Audubon Photography Awards/2020 Amateur Winner
Anna’s Hummingbird at Ardenwood Historic Farm, California. Photograph by Bibek Ghosh/Audubon Photography Awards/2020 Amateur Honorable Mention
American Goldfinch on a cup plant in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photograph by Travis Bonovsky/Audubon Photography Awards/2020 Plants For Birds Winner
Tennessee Warbler on an eastern prickly gooseberry in Point Pelee National Park, Ontario. Photograph by Natalie Robertson/Audubon Photography Awards/2020 Plants For Birds Honorable Mention
Magnificent Frigatebird in Genovesa Island, Ecuador. Photograph by Sue Dougherty/Audubon Photography Awards/2020 Professional Winner