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The results for one of the most prestigious wildlife photography awards on the planet are out. Natural History Museums Wildlife Photographer of the year announced the winning shot which, after competing with around 50000 entries from 95 countries, emerged victorious and claimed the title. Titled Entwined Lives, the winning image above shows an orangutan in Borneos Gunung Palung National Park climbing 30 metres above the canopy of the dense rainforest. The park is one of the few protected orangutan regions in Borneo. The talented photographer, Tim Laman, went to great lengths to get this image right. He spent three days climbing up and down the tall tree through a rope to strategically place several GoPro cameras in order to capture the right moment. He had seen the orangutan feast on a crop of figs at the top of the tree once and he figured that the orangutan will return for more. Tim knew that the orangutan would have made a mental map of all the fruiting trees that he can eat from. He remotely triggered his GoPro cameras (GoPro HERO4 Black; 1/30 sec at f2.8; ISO 231) to capture the orangutans face from the top as he looks determined to reach the crop of figs. While doing so, he managed to get a wide-angle view of the forest underneath. He had long visualized this image and was able to execute it perfectly with his skill and perseverance giving him the Wildlife photographer of the year award. (ALSO SEE Is the Great Barrier Reef really dead?) Also Read - Unlock 1.0 in Odisha: Hotels to Open at 30% Strength, Religious Places to Stay Closed Till June 30
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Another prestigious award named the Young Wildlife Photographer of the year went to a brilliant shot titled The Moon and the crow captured by UKs Gideon Knight. 16-year old Gideon, who lives in Londons Valentines Park, captures this image near his home during his regular photography session in the park. The photograph that shows a crow silhouetted against a full Moon, is a classic example of an ordinary city scene converted into a magical landscape. Young Gideon said that the twigs of the sycamore tree silhouetted against the sky made it look supernatural. He had to keep moving while positioning himself on an opposite slope as the crow kept moving making it difficult for him to get the perfect shot. Thankfully, just as the light was about to fade, the birds and the moon aligned as Gideon would have like them to and he took the shot (Canon EOS 7D Mark I + 400mm f5.6 lens; 1/250 sec at f6.3; ISO 500).
These two brilliant photographs were selected from 16 category winners which showcased nature at its best ranging from animal behavior shots to pictures of exotic landscapes. Here are the winners from some of the other categories:
Winner, Plants and Fungi
With every gust of wind, showers of pollen were released, lit up by the winter sunshine. The hazel tree was near Valters home in northern Italy, and to create the dark background, he positioned himself to backlight the flowers. Hazel has both male and female flowers on the same tree, though the pollen must be transferred between trees for fertilization. Each catkin comprises an average of 240 male flowers, while the female flower is a small bud-like structure with a red-tufted stigma. The pollen-producing catkins open early in the year, before the leaves are out, and release huge amounts of pollen to be carried away by the wind. And now recent research suggests that bees may also play a role. The catkins are an important source of pollen for early bees and have a bee?friendly structure, while the red colour of the female flowers may entice insects to land on them. The hardest part was capturing the female flowers motionless while the catkins were moving, explains Valter. I searched for flowers on a short branch that was more stable. Using a long exposure to capture the pollens flight and a reflector to highlight the catkins, he took many pictures before the wind finally delivered the composition he had in mind.
Nikon D4 + 200mm f4 lens; 1/80 sec at f10; ISO 200; remote shutter release; Gitzo tripod + Benro head; reflector.
At night, in the Aarey Milk Colony in a suburb of Mumbai bordering Sanjay Gandhi National Park, leopards slip ghost-like through the maze of alleys, looking for food (especially stray dogs). The Warli people living in the area respect the big cats. Despite close encounters and occasional attacks (a particular spate coinciding with the relocation of leopards from other areas into the park), the cats are an accepted part of their lives and their culture, seen in the traditional paintings that decorate the walls of their homes. The leopard is not only the most versatile of the worlds big cats but possibly the most persecuted. With growing human-leopard conflicts elsewhere grabbing the headlines, Nayan was determined to use his pictures to show how things can be different with tolerance and planning. Once he had convinced the Warli people of his plan, they supplied him with valuable information, as well as keeping an eye on his equipment. Positioning his flashes to mimic the alleys usual lighting and his camera so that a passing cat would not dominate the frame, he finally after four months got the shot he wanted. With a fleeting look of enquiry in the direction of the camera click, a leopard went about its business alongside peoples homes. Nayan hopes that those living in Mumbais new high-rise developments now impinging on the park will learn from the Warli how to co?exist with the original inhabitants of the land.
Nikon D7000 + 18105mm f3.55.6 lens at 21mm; 1/20 sec at f7.1; three Nikon flashes; Trailmaster infrared triggers; custom-made housing.
Finalist, Black and White
Lance had tracked the pride for several hours before they stopped to rest by a waterhole, but their attention was not on drinking. The lions (in South Africas Tswalu Kalahari Private Game Reserve) had discovered a Temmincks ground pangolin. This nocturnal, ant-eating mammal is armour-plated with scales made of fused hair, and it curls up into an almost impregnable ball when threatened. Pangolins usually escape unscathed from big cats (though not from humans, whose exploitation of them for the traditional medicine trade is causing their severe decline). But these lions just wouldnt give up. They rolled it around like a soccer ball, says Lance. Every time they lost interest, the pangolin uncurled and tried to retreat, attracting their attention again. Spotting a young lion holding the pangolin ball on a termite mound close to the vehicle, Lance focused in on the lions claws and the pangolins scratched scales, choosing black and white to help simplify the composition. It was14 hours before the pride finally moved off to hunt. The pangolin did not appear to be injured, but it died shortly after, probably not just from the stress of capture but also from being out in the heat all day.
Canon EOS 5DS R + 500mm f4 lens; 1/1600 sec at f4; ISO 1600.
For several days each month (in tandem with the full moon), thousands of two?spot red snappers gather to spawn around Palau in the western Pacific Ocean. The action is intense as the fish fill the water with sperm and eggs, and predators arrive to take advantage of the bounty. Having read about the drama, Tony couldnt understand why there were so few photos of it until he hit the water there for the first time, in 2012. The currents were unrelenting ideal for eggs to be swept swiftly away but a struggle for him to keep up with the fast?moving fish. Also, the light was low, and the water was clouded with sperm and eggs. That first attempt failed, but he has returned every year to try to capture the event. Noticing that the spawning ran like a chain reaction up and down the mass of fish, his success finally came when he positioned himself so that the action came to him. Rewarded with a grandstand view, he was intrigued to see that the fish rapidly changed colour during mating from their standard red to a multitude of hues and patterns. Even their characteristic two white spots, close to the dorsal fin on their back, seemed to fade and reappear. On this occasion, with perfect anticipation, he managed to capture a dynamic arc of spawning fish amid clouds of eggs in the oblique morning light. Still obsessed by the dynamics and magnitude of this natural wonder, he will be returning to Palau next April to witness once again the spectacular snapper party.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 15mm f2.8 lens; 1/200 sec at f9; ISO 640; Zillion housing; Pro One optical dome port.
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A grizzly bear charges at ravens trying to grab a piece of the feast. The bison is a road-kill that rangers have moved to a spot they use for carrion to avoid contact between predators and tourists. The location is Grand Teton National Park, part of the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem in the western US, where grizzlies still roam. Approaching a bears lunch is a dangerous thing to do, says Charlie. So there were strict protocols for getting out of his vehicle every time he went to check his camera trap. Over nearly five months, he had thousands of images of ravens and vultures, but only a few of wolves or bears, and none were up to the high standards he set himself, until this one. The moment I saw it, I was so excited. It had taken nearly five months to get a decent image out of the set-up. Its rare that I like my images, but I really like this one though I still get annoyed that the top raven is positioned right over the Grand Teton mountain. The Yellowstone grizzly population has been protected since the 1970s, but now that numbers are recovering, it is proposed that the population is removed from the federal list of protected species, allowing hunting outside the two parks. This has raised concerns not only about the grizzlies fate but also about the knock-on effect on the ecology.
Nikon D7100 + 1024mm lens at 24mm; 1/2500 sec at f5.6; ISO 1600; Trailmaster TM550 passive infrared monitor.
Winner, The Wildlife Photojournalist Award: Single image
Nothing prepared Paul for what he saw: some 4,000 defrosting pangolins (5 tons)from one of the largest seizures of the animals on record. They were destined for China and Vietnam for the exotic?meat trade or for traditional medicine (their scales are thought, wrongly, to treat a variety of ailments). Pangolins have become the worlds most trafficked animals, with all eight species targeted. This illegal trade, along with habitat loss and local hunting, means that the four Asian species are now endangered or critically endangered, and Africas four species are heading that way. These Asian victims, mostly Sunda pangolins, were part of a huge seizure a joint operation between Indonesias police and the World Conservation Society found hidden in a shipping container behind a façade of frozen fish, ready for export from the major port of Belawan in Sumatra. Also seized were 96 live pangolins (destined to be force-fed to increase their size), along with 100 kilos (220 pounds) of pangolin scales (formed from keratin, the same substance in fingernails and rhino horn) worth some $1.8 million on the black market, and 24 bear paws. All had come from northern Sumatra. The dead pangolins were driven to a specially dug pit and then incinerated. The live ones were taken north and released in the rainforest. Wildlife crime is big business, says Paul. It will stop only when the demand stops.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III + 1635mm f2.8 lens at 21mm; 1/800 sec at f8; Manfrotto tripod.
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition will have 100 shots including the winning ones, of course, from October 21 at the Natural History Museum in London. These shots that have been judged on the basis of their creativity, originality and technical excellence, will certainly be a delight for all nature and wildlife lovers. Exhibition tickets are now on sale here and the next competition opens for entries on Monday 24 October 2016.
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