Snap to it, nature-lovers! Here are the top ten finalists for the Natural History Museum in London’s 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
“Gorilla Care” by Marcus Westberg (Finalist: Photojournalism Award, Single Image), features 9-year-old orphan mountain gorilla Ndeze looking on with concern as veterinarians examine her female companion, 12-year-old Maisha, as part of a routine health check. Westberg took the photo (with special thanks to Gorilla Doctors) at the Senkwekwe Centre in Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of Congo.
“The Shark Surfer”, by Thomas P Peschak (Finalist: Photojournalism Award, Single Image), was taken in notoriously shark-infested waters off the Kwazulu-Natal coast in South Africa. While the setting was ideal for testing a prototype shark-resistant surfboard, the electromagnetic device implanted in the board was turned off when Peschak snapped the shot above. “I didn’t want to create an image that conveyed conflict,” explains Peschak. “I wanted to illustrate the reality and the menace that surfers feel – the yin and the yang of the beautiful shapes.”
“Natural Frame”, by Morkel Erasmus (Finalist: Black & White), was taken from inside a cramped bunker overlooking a remote waterhole in Namibia’s Etosha National Park. Patiently awaiting his “dream moment” with camera clutched in sweating hands, Erasmus could only watch in silence as giraffes, zebras, kudu and elephants respectfully took turns drinking from the precious desert resource. Suddenly and without warning, his moment arrived in the form of a mother elephant and her calf – the giraffe and zebra in the background were the icing on the cake.
“Stork Art”, by Francisco Mingorance (Finalist: Urban Wildlife), showcases three pairs of storks and the unlikely setting for their nests: a towering sculpture set outside the Vostell-Malpartida Museum near Cáceres, Spain. German artist Wolf Vostell combined a Russian MiG-21 fighter jet, two cars, several pianos and computer monitors to form the art installation above. The sculpture might not be to everyone’s taste but it has obvious appeal to storks migrating back from their over-wintering grounds in Africa.
“Jagged Peace”, by Floris van Breugel (Finalist: Land), was taken in Argentina’s rugged Los Glaciares National Park. A designated World Heritage site, the park’s visual highlight is 11,000-ft high Mount Fitz Roy. “It was a rare opportunity,” explains van Breugel, who was guided to the spot by a skilled hiking companion. “There was enough snow to stick to the trees but not so much as to make travel dangerous, no wind, an unfrozen lake and a clear view of Fitz Roy.” Even rarer – and quite serendipitous as it turned out – a Black-billed Shrike-tyrant (Agriornis montanus) flew in to complete the shot by adding both a sense of scale and a vital living connection to the surreal landscape beyond.