Highlighting Wildlife in Crisis, ‘The New Big 5’ Celebrates the Diversity of the World’s Animal Denizens
In the Victorian era, big game hunting saw a meteoric rise in popularity, coinciding with Britain’s colonization of numerous regions in the so-called “Scramble for Africa” and the advent of more accurate firearms that galvanized a fashion for amassing “exotic” trophies. Sometimes intended for museums, specimens were often bound for private collections, and creatures that roamed the vast African continent were considered particularly attractive prizes.
Known as the Big Five, the lion, leopard, black rhinoceros, African bush elephant, and African buffalo were considered the most difficult species to hunt on foot. Today, many of these animals are vulnerable and endangered and must be protected in nature reserves in order to prevent being unlawfully hunted to extinction. In his forthcoming book The New Big 5, photographer Graeme Green wants to flip the narrative: “Shooting with a camera, not a gun.”
The New Big 5 is the culmination of a three-year project celebrating the remarkable multiplicity of Earth’s inhabitants, which also aims to raise awareness of the fragility of their existence as their habitats are increasingly threatened due to the climate crisis. In April 2020, Green asked people around the world to suggest what animals they most enjoyed seeing in photographs. More than 3,000 people voted for their favorites, and the list includes species found in Asia and North America, too: elephants, tigers, gorillas, polar bears, and lions. Family life is a particular focus, emphasizing the universally tender relationships of parents rearing their babies.
With more than a million species at risk of extinction worldwide, Green wanted the project “to focus attention on all of the world’s incredible wildlife, large and small, and the urgent need to act together globally to save these animals, our planet, and ourselves.” The book brings together more than 200 photographs by 146 photographers from around the world and contains numerous interviews and essays by some of the foremost conservationists, scientists, and activists working today.
Scheduled for release on April 4, you can pre-order a copy on Bookshop, and visit the project’s website to learn more.
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The 2023 Underwater Photographer of the Year Contest Dives into the Stunning, Heartbreaking Lives of Aquatic Creatures
Dedicated to spotlighting the most vibrant, awe-inspiring aquatic organisms, this year’s Underwater Photographer of the Year competition centers on the mammals, fish, and plants occupying the world’s oceans and seas. The 2023 contest garnered more than 6,000 submissions from photographers in 72 countries, many of which document the striking scenes of life below the surface: stingrays glide along the rippled sands in the Cayman Islands, an elephant plunges its trunk into the waters off the coast of Thailand, and an orca gracefully dives into a school of fish near Norway.
While some photos highlight life at its most energetic and vibrant, others focus on the heartbreaking impacts of pollution and the climate crisis, more broadly. One image shows a humpback whale as it dies of starvation because its tailfin has been trapped and broken by buoys and ropes. “Taking this photograph was the saddest moment I’ve experienced in the ocean,” said the photographer Alvaro Herrero Lopez-Beltran. “Especially because I have spent so much time with humpbacks underwater, experiencing eye contact, interactions, and seeing how the whales are such intelligent and sentient beings. The photo is a reflection of how our oceans are suffering, the product of man’s selfishness and lack of responsibility.”
See some of the winning photos below, and find the full collection on the contest’s site.
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Dramatic Landscapes and Dazzling Portraits Highlight Global Perspectives in the 2023 Sony World Photography Awards
From the sinuous lines of a leaping cat, to a giant tortoise gliding alongside a snorkeler, to a lone cyclist illuminated on a road juxtaposed against a looming city, the winning images from this year’s Sony World Photography Awards (previously) showcase remarkable slices of life captured by photographers hailing from 55 countries around the globe. Now in its 16th year, the competition garnered more than 415,000 entries from more than 200 nations and territories, about half of which were entered into the running for the National Awards, an initiative set up by the World Photography Organization and Sony to support local photographic communities around the world.
Check out some of our favorite images below, and if you’re in London, stop by Somerset House between April 14 and May 1 to see all of the winning images on display, including top picks from the student, youth, open, and professional categories.
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Hapless Hangups and Silly Spoofs Abound in the 2022 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards
Since its inception in 2015, submissions to the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards (previously) have captured some of nature’s most hapless and humorous moments. In this year’s contest, the overall winner was Jennifer Hadley’s timely snap of a 3-month old lion cub tumbling down a tree, taken in the Serengeti, Tanzania. Hadley shared that she and her travel companions had been watching the cub in the tree for some time. “It didn’t even occur to me that he would make a go of getting down by himself in the most un-cat like fashion. I mean, how often do cats fall out of trees?” she says.
In this year’s juried contest, 5,000 entries from 85 countries amounted to fierce competition, showcasing “seriously funny” images in an effort to highlight the diversity of the world’s wildlife and raise awareness of the need for conservation. In partnership with the Whitley Fund for Nature, the contest contributes 10% of revenue toward conservation efforts in countries across the Global South.
See a gallery of all winning images on the competition website, and if you would like to enter your own images for consideration in the 2023 contest, applications are now open.
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Billions of Fireflies Light Up an Indian Wildlife Reserve in Rare Footage Captured by Sriram Murali
In many parts of the world, a warm summer evening sets the stage for a familiar sight: the lightning bug. Through a phenomenon called bioluminescence, these winged beetles generate chemical reactions in a part of their abdomen known as the lantern to produce flickers of light. Of more than 2,000 species found throughout the world, only a handful coordinate their flashes into patterns and are known as synchronous fireflies. Filmmaker Sriram Murali captured a rare gathering of billions of these insects at the Anamalai Tiger Reserve in western Tamil Nadu, India.
Through a combination of moving image and time-lapse photography, Murali recorded countless specimens amidst the trees as they produce glowing pulses, which relay across the forest in expansive, wave-like signals. The color, brightness, and length of the light emitted is specific to each species, and as a part of the insects’ mating display, it helps males and females to recognize one another. Darkness is a necessary ingredient in the success of this ritual.
For the past ten years, Murali has been working to raise awareness of light pollution through a series of documentaries. Focusing on the reserve and its nighttime fauna, he hopes to highlight the significant role that darkness plays in the natural world. He has been collaborating with scientists and forest officials at the wildlife reserve as part of a project spearheaded by Deputy Director M.G. Ganesan to study the ecology of the park and identify the different species of firefly present there.
You can find more of Murali’s films on Vimeo and on his website and also follow his updates on Instagram. (via Petapixel)
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‘Beneath the Bird Feeder’ Documents the Spectacular Wildlife Visiting a Wintertime Food Source
During the winter months of late 2020 into early 2021, photographer Carla Rhodes cared for a birdfeeder that hung outside of her home in the Catskills of New York. The suspended food source garnered attention from myriad cold-weather adventurers, including a brilliant northern cardinal, numerous pairs of mourning doves, and furry little field mice, who visited the area amongst the snow and frigid temperatures.
Thanks to a camera stationed nearby, Rhodes documented the curious cast of wildlife who wandered into her yard, an endeavor that culminated in the striking photographic project Beneath the Bird Feeder. Comprised of dozens of images primarily shot in low light, the series frames the unique features of the unaware animals, capturing the pearlescent wings of a tufted titmouse or the beady eye of North America’s only venomous mammal, the short-tailed shrew.
Explore more from the collection and find an array of conservation-focused images on Rhodes’s site and Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.