This Year’s Best Wildlife

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Luckily, Zahrah and I had the opportunity to see this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. Though we couldn’t make it to London, we still got to see the winning images at the Rheged Discovery Centre in Penrith, Cumbria.

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It’s always so fascinating seeing wildlife photography of such an extraordinary calibre. Although mostly inspiring, it’s also occasionally quite depressing, especially since some of the winning entrants were taken by photographers eight years my junior!

Here are some of my favourites from the exhibition. If anyone’s up in the Lakes then be sure to visit Rheged – the photography is on display until July 3rd!

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I love that I’m torn between describing this image as simplistic or complex. Compositionally, the shot is plain with a single subject amid an otherwise bland landscape. However, the rich contrast of colour and texture makes the scene much more elaborate. At first glance the desert dunes look like folds of rich satin, but after closer observation the viewer sees a barren and brutal habitat where few can survive.

 

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I was struck by the cool, eerie colours in this image. The theme is haunting, emphasised by the ghostly shapes of the egrets on the wing in the background. The birds became airborne after being disturbed by an eagle, and the photographer’s quick reflexes caught the movement in slow blurs that effectively accentuate the egrets’ urgency.

 

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This incredible image is of a southern gatekeeper butterfly perfectly preserved in highly concentrated salt water. As seawater comes in, it becomes trapped in rock crevices. The water evaporates in the strong sun and leaves crystallised salt behind. Ugo Mellone, the photographer, believes the butterfly fell and became trapped by the water tension on the pool’s surface. The result is a tragic yet beautiful piece of art sculpted by nature.

 

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Once again, I was captured by nature’s manipulation of the elements. In the image above, the peculiar ice formations were caused by fluctuating temperature. By day it was above freezing, by night it was under. As a result, the water froze in stages and produced repeated layers on the forest floor. The fallen oak leaves provide a pop of colour to really bring the piece alive.

 

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Although I was initially hit by the shivers after seeing this image, I soon appreciated its beauty. As far as the eye can see the landscape is cloaked in the ghostly thread of spiders in a stunningly delicate parachute. Combined with the pale pink of the sky, this image makes for a fairytale setting, full of magic and mystery.

 

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I am still in awe after seeing this piece. The photographer positioned a ripped oil painting over a well used corridor for swallows, and after several thousand attempts his subject provided the perfect shot. The originality and dedication behind this piece is truly remarkable, and quite stunning to see up close.

This and many other images in the exhibition show clearly how passionate people around the world are about the natural world. In such a technological age it’s inspiring to see the work of so many enthusiastic people, and I hope the competition continues in many generations to come!

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