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10 Stunning Nature Photographer Of The Year 2020

Nature Photographer of the Year (NPOTY) is an annual photography competition started back in 2016, where wildlife photographers from all over the world submit their best animal photos for a chance to win the title of Nature Photographer of the Year. This year the organizers received 19,547 submissions from photographers in 95 different countries, and have recently announced the breathtaking winning photos.

This year the winner of the title was Italian photographer Roberto Marchegiani for his photo titled “Jurassic Park”, featuring a giraffe in the in Nakuru National Park, Kenya. Magdalena Herrera, one of the jury members, even said that the photo has “fairy-tale quality that goes far beyond a wildlife document”.

“Jury exclusively judge photos that are anonymous and show no name or personal watermark in the image. Moreover, manipulated images that are clearly exaggerated will be disqualified,” explained Lesley how the winning photos are selected. “We have seen images with animals that don’t live in particular parts of the world but have been taken on camera. Since that’s not possible, we deleted those fraud images which maybe, at first glance, we thought that the shot was outstanding.”

Check out a collection of the winning photos from this year’s competition in the gallery below!

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#1 Category Man And Nature: Winner, ‘Hope In A Burned Forest’ By Jo-Anne Mcarthur

Image source: NPOTY

“As the Australian climate fires raged, I knew that it was a story that I had to document. Specifically the stories of the animals, both domestic and wild, who were suffering and dying as a result of the fires. When the decision was made, I was on a plane less than 24 hours later.

Flying in over Australia, I could see a continent smothering in smoke. I spent two weeks working very long hours with a wonderful team to gain access to the burn sites, the rescues, the veterinary missions. It was an honour and pleasure to partner with the organization Animals Australia, who were instrumental in providing access to where I needed to be.

This photo was taken in Mallacoota, Victoria. Interestingly, this is the very small town where my father, an Australian, was raised. I even met one of his childhood friends, who was helping provide space for wild animal feed which was being delived to animals in the area who were at risk of starvation during this catastrophe.

When I saw this Eastern Grey kangaroo and her pouched joey, I was abut 100 feet away from where I knew I’d be able to get a fantastic photograph. Any photographer can imagine how long those moments were, as I walked slowly to the spot I knew I needed to be, in order to get this shot. I walked slowly and she watched me. I prepared my camera with the settings I wanted and finally reached my spot. I took a few photos. Then I had time to crouch down and take this photo, the one I had envisioned. Then…she hopped away into the burned eucalyptus plantation. She was one of the lucky survivors. An estimated 3 billion animals died from these cataclysmic fires.”

#2 Category Mammals: Highly Commended, ‘Heavenly Showers’ By Neelutpaul Barua

Image source: NPOTY

“I was driving along the meandering forest tracks in Lake Nakuru National Park (Kenya). Black ominous clouds loomed and rain became imminent. I was in pursuit of the well-known tree climbing lion pride in the national park when I chanced upon this lion resting behind a dead tree. I prayed it walked up the dead tree and provided some unique photo opportunities. As I waited patiently, it started to drizzle and the drizzle soon turned into a heavy shower. I feared the lion might continue to stay behind the dead tree, sheltered from the rain. Time and light were both running out. While rain adds drama, it also depletes the natural light especially under the canopy in a woodland forest. To my good fortune, patience paid off and there was a brief window of opportunity when the king took to his throne, allowing me to capture a rather ethereal moment.”

#3 Category Black & White: Highly Commended, ‘Birch Columns’ By Kirsi Mackenzie

Image source: NPOTY

“This photo was taken in Finland. In preparation for the summer season, a crowd of birch trees sets off from deep in the forest to assume their seasonal postings throughout the Finnish landscape. Simplicity and tranquility create a Zen-like mood.

I converted this image to black and white to emphasize the texture. The absence of color allows concentrating on lines and forms without any distracting elements.”

#4 Category Mammals: Highly Commended, ‘Golden Light With Impala’ By Artur Stankiewicz

Image source: NPOTY

“I was on a photographic safari to Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe. One of my goals was to try and capture shots of wildlife in the early morning light of the so-called ‘Blue Forest’.

One morning, while driving slowly in search of an interesting subject, we noticed an incredible golden light breaking through the canopy a few hundred meters in front of us. We quickly parked our vehicle and got out to photograph the spectacle of light. We soon noticed a male impala moving into the scene. As I started shooting, another vehicle drove by, stirring up a cloud of dust to add even more dramatic effect to the image. There was a little time to think, as the light changed quickly, so I anchored my monopod with the camera and snapped several photos before the ‘elusive impala’ moved away. That particular morning was one of several highlights of my visit to Mana Pools.”

#5 Category Man And Nature: Highly Commended, ‘Newspaper’ By Wei Fu

Image source: NPOTY

“This photo was taken in Lopburi, located in Thailand. This place is known for hundred to thousand crab-eating macaques running in the city.

I was looking for the moment to capture a playing monkey. All of a sudden the strong wind brings a newspaper to the monkey’s face. It looked like a monster running on an iron bar, I quickly took this funny photo.”

#6 Category Birds: Highly Commended, ‘Lone Egret Among Fall Colors Of The Cypress Swamp’ By Rick Beldegreen

Image source: NPOTY

“I spent a week kayaking the Atchafalaya Basin of Louisiana, USA. I was there to photograph the beauty of the cypress swamp in fall colors. It did not disappoint. The morning that this image was taken, the sky was overcast with occasional light rain. This made shooting at higher shutter speeds from my kayak difficult.

As I kayaked this lake lined with brilliantly colored orange and red fall colored cypress trees, I could see the occasional Great egret (Ardea alba) flying about looking for fishing locations. The birds appeared cautious as I attempted to paddle closer, usually flying off even though I was still several hundred yards away. I gave up on any chance to photograph a bird fishing with the backdrop of the colorful foliage and shifted my attention to finding a bird perched in the trees. When I finally noticed an egret land high in a cypress tree, I began paddling towards it. So as not to frighten the bird, I kayaked across the lake in a zig-zag pattern, making sure never to paddle directly towards it. It was striking to see how the bird stood out like a white beacon in a sea of orange and red.

It quickly became apparent to me that the image I was looking for on this morning was one of a majestic lone egret in the distance standing tall among the massive cypress trees.”

#7 Overall Winner: ‘Jurassic Park’ By Roberto Marchegiani

Image source: NPOTY

“I took this photo in Nakuru National Park, Kenya. To have a better chance of finding good light I went on a deliberately organized safari during the rainy season. Just before sunset my friends and I noticed a group of giraffes passing in front of the forest. With a long lens (600mm) I found a magnificent glimpse into the forest that stroke me a lot. So instead of taking pictures to the giraffes passing by, I kept my post still hoping for a glimpse of the giraffes walking past at that point. The angle was narrow, there was a lot of vegetation in the foreground that could damage the image. So I used an aperture as wide as possible.

In the end, I was rewarded by my stubbornness: the giraffes passed exactly in the right place. The scene reminded me of a Jurassic landscape, with a herbivorous dinosaur in the same position as the giraffe”

#8 Category Plants And Fungi: Runner-Up, ‘Enchanted Forest’ By Kevin De Vree

Image source: NPOTY

“Lamington National park is a fairytale forest teeming with waterfalls, gigantic old trees and wildlife. Taking in all this magical beauty, I wondered when the ancient trees would start talking and if the fairies would appear. With many trails flooded due to heavy rains, this waterfall and its moss covered surroundings look lush and green. This fungi stairway captures the magic of this century old, semi-tropical rainforest.”

#9 Category Black & White: Highly Commended, ‘Caught In A Blizzard’ By David Gibbon

Image source: NPOTY

“In March 2020 my wife Louise and I took a group of photographers to the very remote Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the far north-west of Iceland. We sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to reach our destination and spent five days in a rustic cabin as we followed the blue morph Arctic Fox. We experienced some extreme weather and, on this particular day, gale force winds and heavy snow made for a true Arctic blizzard. In fact, visibility became so bad it was a total whiteout and was difficult to see anything.

As temperatures dipped to -22 with wind chill, I watched this female Arctic Fox as it struggled to stay upright. The winds battering its body while the cold saw ice forming on its face. Although Arctic Fox are built to withstand extreme cold, these kind of conditions make it tough for them to find food and each winter the mortality rate hits a peak as some perish.

To capture the emotion and textures in this scene I converted the image to black and white, and I used a narrow aperture of f/22 to bring the heavy snow into view in the background.”

#10 Category Animal Portraits: Winner, “I Can Pass?” By Adriana Claudia Sanz

Image source: NPOTY

“Frogs are commonly associated with tales of witches and curses, and this makes us look down on them. Children are told: “if you touch a frog, your hands will be covered in warts …”. This creates a sad myth generation after generation that promotes its contempt, abuse and annihilation that this especies. Today around the world, the number of frogs is decreasing alarmingly and that must change. These beautiful beings, so important in our ecosystems, must be dignified. Through photography I seek to dignify them, that they look almost human, that their image impacts, that people fall in love with them. In my photo, my frog just shyly appears on the scene, even in fear of being destroyed, hoping that we will finally start loving it. We must love all living beings, they are all masterpieces of nature that must be respected and loved as much as we love ourselves.

This photo was taken in october, in Misiones (NE of Argentina), one night in spring when they planned to mate. The Missionary Monkey Frog (Phyllomedusa tetraploidea) is a tree frog that moves very slowly. This female carried the male on her back, that made her even slower. It only took a flash to illuminate her slightly as she moved very slowly through the vegetation. This allowed me to generate a climate of intimacy, mystery and fragility where I show her scared and afraid of being seen.”

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