National Geographic has announced the results of the 2016 Nature Photographer of the Year contest. The judges had a hard time choosing the best image. First place winner, Greg Lecoeur (for a superb shot of predators hunting sardines underwater) was awarded the prize of a 10-day trip for two to the Galapagos Islands, two 15-minute image portfolio reviews with organization’s photo editors and a $2,500 cash prize.
Esteemed judges included National Geographic’s senior photo editor Kathy Moran as well as magazine’s photographers Joe Riis and Jim Brandenburg. They rated images in four categories – action, landscapes, animal portraits, and environmental issues.
1. Honorable Mention, Environmental Issues: No Snow, No Ice? Barter Islands
A solitary bear sits on the edge of one of the Barter Islands. There is no snow, when at this time of year, there should be. In speaking with the locals in Kaktovic, they’ve noted that it’s been an unseasonably warm winter, and that the ice will be late in forming this year. This will have an impact on the local polar bear population, when it comes time to hunt seals for their food in the winter months…
3. Honorable Mention, Landscape: Serendipitous Green Meteor, India
This Green Meteor was captured while taking a time-lapse to document the urbanization around the Skyislands in India. The camera was set at 15s exposure for 999 shots and this came into one of those shots. Green Meteor’s greenish color come from a combination of the heating of oxygen around the meteor and the mix of minerals ignited as the rock enters Earth’s atmosphere. I think for those 15 seconds, I was the luckiest photographer on the planet to have capture this phenomenon.
4. First Place Winner, Landscape: Struggle Of Life, Netherlands
To restore original natural dynamics in streams many measures are necessary. In the ‘Leuvenumse beek’ a nature organisation tried to increase heterogeneity of the river bottom and water retention by putting dead wood in the streamsystem. In autumn when rainfall is high, pieces of forest get flooded. Once i saw this little beech in the water, trying to survive under these harsh conditions. I returned sometimes to this place to take pictures. One evening all the conditions were satisfactory.
5. Honorable Mention, Animal Portraits: Puffin Studio, United Kingdom
This image was taken last summer on Skomer Island, Wales. It is well known for its wildlife, the puffin colony is one of the largest in U.K.The photo shows a detail or study of an Atlantic puffin resting peacefully under the rain. As Skomer is inhabited, puffins do not feel afraid of humans, and so people can be close to puffins and the photographer can think about the right composition and take this kind of intimate portraits. Also that morning the conditions came together: rain and light.
6. Grand Prize Winner: Sardine Run, South Africa
I captured this image during the migration of the sardines along the wild coast of South Africa. Natural predation, sardines are preyed upon by cape gannet birds and common dolphins. The hunt begins with common dolphins that have developed special hunting techniques. With remarkable eyesight, the gannets follow the dolphins before diving in a free fall from 30 to 40 meters high, piercing the surface of the water head first at a speed of 80km/h to get their fill of sardines.
7. First Place Winner, Animal Portraits: Dragging You Deep Into The Woods!
A morning stroll into the blissful forest ! Ceaseless drizzles dampening the woods for 12 hours a day; The serene gloom which kept me guessing if it was a night or a day. Heavy fog, chilling breeze and the perennial silence could calm roaring sprits>; And there I spotted this 20cm beauty the Green vine snake ! I wondered if i needed more reasons to capture this with the habitat; For I was blessed to see this at the place I was at. I immediately switched from the macro to the wide angle lens.
8. Second Place Winner, Action: Approach, Wray, Colorado
An EF2 tornado bears down on a home in Wray, Colorado- May 7, 2016. As soon as we were safe, as the tornado roared off into the distance through a field before roping out, we scrambled up the hill to check on the residents.Thankfully, everyone was alright, and we were grateful for that. As I was checking in with a young woman coming out of the basement, we became very aware of a strong new circulation – right above our heads. We needed to run for cover, and did so before saying a proper goodbye.
9. Third Place Winner, Action: Changing Fortunes Of The Great Egret, Hungary
A remarkable conservation success story, the graceful Great Egret was saved from the brink of disappearance in Hungary, when in 1921 there were only 31 mating pairs remaining. Less than a century later, international conservation efforts have triumphed. We can now count over 3,000 mating pairs in Hungary alone.