Inspire

National Geographic’s Nature Photographer Of The Year Winners Have Been Announced

Wow.

The winners of the National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year contest have been announced, and they’re going to make you want to dust off that lens and start shooting again.

Unlike professional photo comps, the Nat Geo’s Photographer of the Year competition gives regular joes like us the chance to become fully-fledged photography pros, shining a spotlight on images from the world at large. Entries were split into four categories – Action, Landscape, Animal Portraits and Environmental Issues – with the winning shots a collection of inspiring nature stories.

The Grand Prize was awarded to Greg Lacouer of France with his piece ‘Sardine Run,’ a stunning piece captured underwater off the coast of South Africa. His prize includes a 10-day trip for two to the Galapagos Islands in South America and two 15-minute image portfolio reviews with National Geographic photo editors. Very jealous.

Peep some of the winning entries below.


I captured this image during the migration of the sardines along the wild coast of South Africa. Natural predation, sardines are preyed upon by cape gannet birds and common dolphins. The hunt begins with common dolphins that have developed special hunting techniques. With remarkable eyesight, the gannets follow the dolphins before diving in a free fall from 30 to 40 meters high, piercing the surface of the water head first at a speed of 80km/h to get their fill of sardines.

Greg Lecouer, Sardine Run (Grand Prize winner/1st place – Action)


Vadim-Balakin-NGNP-Environmental1

Vadim Balakin, Life and Death (1st place – Environmental Issues)


This GreenMeteor was captured while taking a time-lapse to document the urbanization around the Skyislands in India. The camera was set at 15s exposure for 999 shots and this came into one of those shots. Green Meteor’s greenish color come from a combination of the heating of oxygen around the meteor and the mix of minerals ignited as the rock enters Earth's atmosphere. I think for those 15 seconds, I was the luckiest photographer on the planet to have capture this phenomenon.

Prasenjeet Yadav, Serendipitous Green Meteor (Honourable mention – Landscape)


A colossal Cumulonimbus flashes over the Pacific Ocean as we circle around it at 37000 feet en route to South America

Santiago Borja, Pacific Storm (3rd Place – Landscape)


This image was taken last summer on Skomer Island, Wales. It is well known for its wildlife, the puffin colony is one of the largest in U.K.The photo shows a detail or study of an Atlantic puffin resting peacefully under the rain. As Skomer is inhabited, puffins do not feel afraid of humans, and so people can be close to puffins and the photographer can think about the right composition and take this kind of intimate portraits. Also that morning the conditions came together: rain and light.

Mario Suarez Porras, Puffin studio (Honorable mention – Animal Portraits)


A morning stroll into the blissful forest ! Ceaseless drizzles dampening the woods for 12 hours a day; The serene gloom which kept me guessing if it was a night or a day. Heavy fog, chilling breeze and the perennial silence could calm roaring sprits; And there I spotted this 20cm beauty the Green vine snake ! I wondered if i needed more reasons to capture this with the habitat; For I was blessed to see this at the place I was at. I immediately switched from the macro to the wide angle lens.

Varun Aditya, Dragging you deep into the woods! (1st place – Animal Portraits)


An EF2 tornado bears down on a home in Wray, Colorado- May 7, 2016. As soon as we were safe, as the tornado roared off into the distance through a field before roping out, we scrambled up the hill to check on the residents.Thankfully, everyone was alright, and we were grateful for that. As I was checking in with a young woman coming out of the basement, we became very aware of a strong new circulation - right above our heads. We needed to run for cover, and did so before saying a proper goodbye.

Tori Shea-Ostberg, Approach (2nd Place – Action)


Eighty percent of the San Francisco Bay Area wetlands - 16,500 acres - has been developed for salt mining. Water is channeled into these large ponds, leave through evaporation, and the salt is then collected. The tint of each pond is an indication of its salinity. Micro-organisms inside the pond change color according to the salinity of its environment. This high salinity salt pond is located right next to Facebook HQ where ~4,000 people work every day.

Chris McCann, Outside Facebook HQ (2nd Place – Environmental Issues)


A remarkable conservation success story, the graceful Great Egret was saved from the brink of disappearance in Hungary, when in 1921 there were only 31 mating pairs remaining. Less than a century later, international conservation efforts have triumphed. We can now count over 3,000 mating pairs in Hungary alone.

Zsolt Kudich, Great Egrets Take Flight (3rd place – Action)


The first cold days of winter have frozen the surface of a pond. The first snowfall has revealed its delicate beauty. A long shutter speed enhances the movement of the clouds around Mt. Cimon de la Pala, Paneveggio-Pale San Martino Natural Park, Italy

Alessandro Gruzza, Wild rink (2nd place – Landscape)


Fry of a Peacock Bass hover around their mom for protection against predators. Peacock Bass, part of the Cichlid family, exercise excellent parental car and will protect their young against any threat that approaches them. This tropical species from South America was intentionally introduced in South Florida during the 1980s to control the African Tilapia, another invasive species.

Michael O’Neill, Proud Momma (2nd place – Animal Portraits)

Inspired? It’s hard not to be. Check out the rest of the winners here