The winners of the first-ever Nature TTL Photographer of the Year 2020 competition have been announced, with a drone shot taking the overall prize. The international competition received 7,000 entries of wildlife and landscapes from across the globe.
The grand prize was awarded to French photographer Florian Ledoux who received £1000 for his image Above the Crabeater Seals. The photo was captured with a drone that Ledoux flew over ice floats in Antarctica. The group of seals on top of the ice demonstrates how important these floats are for them to rest and give birth.
“I am so excited to be chosen as the overall winner, I was never expecting this,” said Ledoux in a statement. “For me, it is very important to show the state of the Arctic and Antarctic regions, and to have an image from there win this award is important exposure.
“It is important that anyone inspired by this style of drone image understands the importance of wildlife and being ethical in your approach. Ensure that your drone does not spook animals or disturb them, and always conduct yourself within accordance of local regulations.”
Wildlife cameraman and organizer of the competition Will Nicholls said, “Florian’s image provides a unique angle that is not often seen in wildlife photography. The judges had a tough choice to make, but the detail and strong composition of the seals surrounded by the broken ice made it stand out from the crowd.”
First prize for the Landscape category went to Marek Biegalski, who also employed the use of a drone to capture her image of a flock of sheep cooling down in the shadow cast by a tree.
The Macro category was awarded to Chinese photographer Minghui Yuan who captured a striking two-tone shot of a damselfly resting on grass to create a simplistic yet artistic composition.
“I was wearing a piece of waterproof overalls in the stream of Dabie Mountain, waiting to observe this Matrona basilaris (damselfly),” Yuan said. “Matrona basilaris is the king of the stream here. There is a male Matrona basilaris every 3 meters. They were waiting for the female to fly over its territory; the male chased away a male opponent and then stopped at the tip of the grass. Against the background of the sky, I discovered the connection between the lines of the grass and the subject. Nature itself is a simple painting.”
The Youth category was won by 15-year-old Saptarshi Gayen from India with his image of a predatory drongo bird hunting for insects as fires lit by farmers to clear the land send them fleeing into the sky.
“When the fire spreads across the land, small insects start coming out," said Gayen. "Then the brave Black Drongo starts capitalizing on such a moment by eating them and flying above the live fire. The birds usually sit on a branch fearlessly and watch the movements of the insects as the fire spreads into a new area, then it flies close to the fire for the catch. This is a full frame image, and the calmness of the Drongo reminds me of the Roman Emperor Nero.”
Wildlife photography fans voted in the thousands for the People’s Choice Award, which was given to Robert Ferguson for his photo I’m Not Going Easy. The exquisitely timed shot shows the perilous final moments of a fish being eaten by a pelican.
“I had set up my camera to take some portraits and watch their behavior and noticed one particular bird that had caught one of the big fish from the pond,” Ferguson told Nature TTL. “I watched, intrigued, as the bird swam in circles, dipping his bill, taking water, then raising his beak to attempt to swallow his large prey. But every time the fish extended its sharp spines on its fins – you can see it hooked on the beak here – and lodged itself firmly.”
“This went on for over 20 minutes, with no sign of either party tiring. I was fascinated to see the intricate veins in the bird’s throat pouch, as the overcast day backlit the thin skin, and I had to move and crouch low to the ground to get the shot.”
Nature TTL is an online nature photography resource, providing tutorials and inspirational features. The competition, sponsored by Skylum Software, will return annually for nature and wildlife photographers. Entries for next year open in December 2020. For more details, visit www.naturettl.com