Wildlife Photographer of the Year

by Photo Life

The Golden Couple © Marsel van Oosten, the Netherlands, Grand Title Winner 2018, Animal Portraits/Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Nikon D810 + Tamron 24-70 mm f/2.8 lens at 24 mm, f/8, 1/320 s, ISO 1600, Nikon SB-910 flash.

Organized and produced by the Natural History Museum in London, England, the 54th annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition has named Marsel Van Oosten (the Netherlands) the 2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his image The Golden Couple, which featured two Qinling golden snub-nosed monkeys. Three Canadians were honoured with four highly commended photographs: Jess Findlay (Vancouver), Liron Gertsman (Vancouver), and Shane Gross (Regina). The exhibition of the 100 best images is on view at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto from December 1 through March 31 and at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria from February 15 through March 24.

Colour, Sound, Action © Liron Gertsman, Canada, Highly Commended 2018, 15-17 Years Old/Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Canon EOS 7D Mark II + 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens at 400 mm, f/13, 1/30 s, ISO 250, remote release, Milano tripod + ball head.

Recognized Canadians

Colour, Sound, Action
by Liron Gertsman, Canada
Highly Commended 2018, 15-17 Years Old
It was in a frenzy of colour and deafening crescendo of squawks that the mass of cobalt‑winged parakeets finally landed and began to drink the muddy water and grab beakfuls of the wet clay. This was the third day that Liron and a group of young photographers had made the long river and rainforest trek to the hide. And this was the first time he had struck lucky and witnessed the mass descent, though after a five‑hour wait. The pool and bank of mineral-rich soil was in Ecuador’s Yasuní National Park and Biosphere Reserve. It is believed that the main reason parrots and parakeets come to drink the muddy water here and eat the soil at this and other ‘clay licks’ in the western Amazon region is to make up for a lack of sodium in their plant‑based diets. The birds need this especially during the breeding season when they will be laying eggs. Every day that Liron went, flocks of parakeets would gather noisily in the canopy above and then nervously start to descend towards the forest floor, one branch at a time. But an unexpected noise or the slightest hint of a possible predator would send them up again. On this afternoon, one brave parakeet finally flew to the ground, to be followed immediately by more than 400 others, “raining down.” By risking a slow shutter speed, Liron added wing colour and a sense of movement and achieved his goal of an image “that represented the sensation of being there.”
Canon EOS 7D Mark II + 100–400 mm f/4.5–5.6 lens at 400 mm; f/13, 1/30 s, ISO 250; remote release; Milano tripod + ballhead.

Fitting the Bill
by Jess Findlay, Canada
Highly Commended 2018, Behaviour: Birds
A common loon offers its chick a damselfly nymph plucked from the mud in a lake in southern British Columbia, Canada. In North America, common loons (known in Europe as great northern divers) usually breed on large forest-fringed lakes. They feed mainly on fish, which they chase at high speed under water and often swallow before resurfacing. But a very young chick would struggle to eat even a tiny fish. So the parents lead their chicks (usually no more than two) into shallow water where they can feed on small aquatic insects plucked from vegetation or the lake bed. Within hours of hatching, the sooty black chicks are able to swim, though they often ride on their parents’ backs. In this head-on view, Jess captured the parent’s complete focus on its chick and the delicacy of the intimate moment.
Canon EOS 7D Mark II + 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens at 400 mm; f/5.6, 1/250 s, ISO 1000.

Beneath the Blue
by Shane Gross, Canada
Highly Commended 2018, Under Water
In the cold, clear depths of Eleuthera’s Sapphire Blue Hole cavern floats a Bahama cavefish. About 18 centimetres (7 inches) long and almost blind, it hugs the side to avoid the light and slowly snakes along. Shane had looked for it many times – a species found only in the Bahamas, in a dozen or so inland sinkholes that have been carved by water from limestone and connect below ground to the sea. The fish moves between surface fresh water and salt water deeper down, feeding on invertebrates such as shrimps, and is very sensitive to changes in water quality. This pool was tricky to reach, being encircled by a 6-metre (20‑foot) cliff. “I lowered my camera and diving gear by rope,” says Shane. “Then, I jumped.” At last, he found a fish that was not too shy. A sense of place was created by picturing it beneath the tree-framed interface, with the sunlit world above.
Nikon D500 + Tokina 10–17 mm f/3.5–4.5 lens at 11.5 mm; f/22, 1/250 s, ISO 1000; Aquatica housing; two Sea & Sea YS250 strobes.

Shark Sex in the Shallows
by Shane Gross, Canada
Highly Commended 2018, Under Water
Shane woke at dawn to the sound of splashing. Scrambling to look out of his tent, he saw “a pile of 14 nurse sharks thrashing around in knee-deep water.” He knew that, in summer, when sunrise coincided with high tide, nurse sharks came to this bay on the Bahamas island of Eleuthera to mate. So the previous evening, when he had seen them heading for the shallows, he had camped out on the beach. Nurse shark mating is no gentle affair. The male bites the female’s pectoral fin, rolling her over and pinning her to the seabed. Many males may attempt to mate with a single female – who tries to avoid them by swimming into shallow water and burying her pectoral fins in the sand. Shane managed to get in close to the action, catching the tiny eyes of the mating pair, while avoiding getting in the way of the other sharks.
Nikon D90 + Tokina 10–17 mm f/3.5–4.5 lens at 10 mm; f/14, 1/50 s, ISO 400; Aquatica housing; two Sea & Sea YS250 strobes.

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