Wednesday 14 October 2015

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015

The winners of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition were announced yesterday. This is always an important day in the wildlife photography calendar and one I look forward to each year. The overall winner was a powerful image by Don Gutoski showing the brutal aftermath of a battle between a red fox and an Arctic fox. The winning and commended (now called 'finalist') images can be found here.


'A Tale of Two Foxes' by Don Gutoski

I think 'A Tale of Two Foxes' is an excellent image. It is powerful, unusual, well composed (I like the symmetry of the foxes' heads) and tells a story. One can only imagine such encounters between red and Artic foxes will become more commonplace as climate change extends the range of the former into that of the latter.

In my view the competition features some inspirational images this year. There are a number that I particularly like but the following are some of my favourites:

'Shadow Walker' by Richard Peters 

 'Still Life' by Edwin Giesbers

'Battling the Storm' by Vincenzo Mazza - 
this image doesn't quite work for me until you spot the Whooper Swans on the water. 

'A Whale of a Mouthful' by Michael Aw

'Sea Eagle Snatch' by Auden Rikardsen 
(this formed a part of the portfio prize and Rikardsen's portfolio as a whole is very impressive)

...and there are several others that I really like too.

I was particularly keen to see the images in the Invertebrates category. Within this category I try to imagine which image I would have been most pleased to see on the back of my camera. By this yardstick, of the 4 winning and finalist images, my favourites would be 'Waiting for the Sun' (below) and 'Wings of Summer' by Klaus Tamm. These are the two images I would have been most keen to rush home and process had I taken them! I notice that this category only features 4 images - all other categories feature at least 5 I think. One can only assume that the judges felt that only 4 invertebrate images met the required quality standard which perhaps reflects a lack of submissions of invert images or just a general dearth of quality. Both are slightly troubling and suggest that the competition is still struggling to cast off its recent reputation for 'not really doing insects'. By comparison, the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards always features a much larger, and often higher quality, selection of insect images. Hopefully, the presence of the dedicated Invert category (introduced last year) will result in a greater number of high quality insect images being submitted to WPOTY.

'Waiting for the Sun' by Edwin Giesbers (again!)

Overall, I think the judges have done an excellent job this year. All decisions are of course highly subjective and one can never fully agree with all of them. But, this year's winners contain a number of highly original images featuring a wide selection of subject matter. The reduced emphasis on flagship species is very welcome.

However, I can't resist the urge to have a slightly mischievous moan. In my WPOTY blog post 2 years ago (here) I was critical of the number of similar images in recent years and I highlighted the 3 images below

WPOTY 2010 by Marcelo Krause

WPOTY 2012 by Luciano Candisani

WPOTY 2013 by Jordi Chias Pujol

all of which seemed to suggest that the judges couldn't resist side-on head shots of aquatic reptiles! As if to maintain this tradition, this year's competition contains the following image:

'Cuban Survivor' by Mirko Zanni

Individually, all of these are very nice images but given the presence of the previous images, I still struggle a little to understand how this latest image was deemed to be sufficiently original to see off competition from over 42,000 other images.

However, I shouldn't end on a negative note as I think this may have been one of the best WPOTY for several years. Well done to the winning photographers and to the judges too. 

1 comment:

  1. I really don't like that insect photo, it is much more artistic than wildlife IMHO. I see lots of better photos on flickr every day this

    Is better you can see what it is and its body parts (I didn't take it BTW). Perhaps they should split the categories into realistic and artistic and have a lot more prizes for the realistic.