An arresting, icy landscape has scooped a People’s Choice Award for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition 2021. In it, we see willow branches exquisitely mirrored by the surface of Santa Croce Lake in Italy where it was captured by photographer Cristiano Vendramin.
While the image’s composition makes for an enchanting artwork that toys with light and reflection, the image has a deeper meaning for Vendramin who after taking it was reminded of a dear friend who once loved the lake. "I want to think he made me feel this feeling that I'll never forget,” Vendramin said in a statement. “For this reason, this photograph is dedicated to him.”
The touching dedication and masterful camerawork earned Vendramin’s photograph “Lake of Ice” the support of 31,800 wildlife and nature enthusiasts during the voting period in which their image took victory from a shortlist of 25 images.
Among the highly commended for the People’s Choice Award 2021 was Ashleigh McCord, a photographer from the United States. The image “Shelter from the Rain” was captured during a visit to the Maasai Mara, Kenya, and shows the gentler side of a pair of male lions as they nuzzled during a heavy downpour.
Canadian photographer Jo-Anne McArthur also pocketed the accolade of highly commended for the photograph “Hope in a Burned Plantation”. McArthur traveled to Australia in early 2020 to capture the sobering profile which shows an eastern grey kangaroo and her joey moving through the wake of destruction left by the extensive forest fires.
Like something out of Aesop’s fables comes Jeroen Hoekendijk’s highly commended photo, “The Eagle and the Bear”. The Netherlands photographer was in the temperate rainforest of Anan in Alaska when they spotted a black bear cub snoozing in a moss-covered tree. During its slumber, a watchful eagle was staring at the unconscious bear “for hours” which Hoekendijk found extraordinary.
Qiang Guo, a photographer from China, was able to capture a choreographed exchange between two male golden pheasants in the Lishan Nature Reserve in Shanxi Province, China. These birds are considered to be among the most beautiful on Earth and certainly made for a resplendent scene as they carried out their silent "Dancing in the Snow".
Feeling inspired? There’s plenty more to come! Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London, which will be announcing the fifty-eighth competition's winners in October 2022.