Ever since old cameras were replaced with DSLRs, and later, smartphones, people have somehow begun to believe that anyone with a good camera can be a photographer. Sure, if you keep your hands steady, click a picture and spend hours choosing the right filters, almost anyone can end up with a beautiful picture.
Wildlife photography, however, is another ball game altogether. There are no shortcuts. Wildlife photographers spend hours patiently camouflaging themselves with nature, much like an animal waiting to pounce on its prey. And in the end, it all might be in vain because unlike with food or people, you can't just change the setting, adjust the lighting, or manipulate the subject in any way. This is why the photos you're about to see are all the more spectacular, however the 2015 edition of the 'Wildlife Photographer Of The Year Competition,' seems all the more poignant when you take the Paris Climate Change Conference into account.
In case you fail to see the direct correlation between these two events, it takes a cursory glance at the this year's winning photograph,
Scroll down to see 10 of the winning photographs
Wildlife Photographer Of The Year
A tale of two foxes, Don Gutoski (Canada)
Photo: Don Gutoski/ Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 It’s a frozen moment revealing a surprising behaviour, witnessed in Wapusk National Park, on Hudson Bay, Canada, in early winter. Red foxes don’t actively hunt Arctic foxes, but where the ranges of two predators overlap, there can be conflict. In this case, it led to a deadly attack. Though the light was poor, the snow-covered tundra provided the backdrop for the moment that the red fox paused with the smaller fox in its mouth in a grim pose.
Young Wildlife Photographer Of The Year
Ruffs on Display, Ondrej Pelánek (Czech Republic)
Photo: Ondrej Pelánek/Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 On their traditional lek ground – an area of tundra on Norway’s Varanger Peninsula – territorial male ruffs in full breeding plumage show off their ruffs to each other, proclaiming ownership of their courtship areas. Ondrej took his winning shot as one male leapt up, warning off his neighbours. Ruffs are unusual in that breeding males behave according to their plumage colours. Those with dark plumage perform on territories. Ones with white ruffs, known as satellite males (far left and far right), don’t hold territories but display on the outside of the lek or form uneasy alliances with territory-holding males, helping them to entice females in the hope of grabbing a sneaky mating if the opportunity arises. A third type of ‘sneaky male’ disguises itself as a female.
Young Wildlife Photographer: 15-17 years old
Flight of the scarlet ibis, Jonathan Jagot (France)
Photograph: Jonathan Jagot/2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year On a boat off the island of Lençóis on the coast of north-east Brazil, Jagot captured this shot of scarlet wings against the canvas of sand and tropical blue sky.
Still Life, Edwin Giesbers (The Netherlands)
Photo: Edwin Giesbers/2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year A great crested newt hangs motionless near the surface of the stream.
A whale of a mouthful, Michael AW (Australia)
Photo: Michael AW/Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 A Bryde’s whale rips through a swirling ball of sardines, gulping a huge mouthful in a single pass. As it expels hundreds of litres of seawater from its mouth, the fish are retained by plates of baleen hanging down from its palate; they are then pushed into its stomach to be digested alive. This sardine baitball was itself a huge section of a much larger shoal below that common dolphins had corralled by blowing a bubble-net around the fish and forcing them up against the surface. Other predators had joined the feeding frenzy, attacking from all sides. These included copper, dusky and bull sharks and hundreds of Cape gannets, which were diving into the baitball from above. The Bryde’s whale was one of five that were lunging in turn into the centre of the baitball
The company of three, Amir Ben-Dov (Israel)
Photo: Amir Ben Dov/2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Red-footed falcons are social birds, migrating in large flocks from central and eastern Europe to southern and south-western Africa. Six days watching these three resulted in a picture that reveals a subtle interaction: one female nudged the male with her talon as she flew up to make space on the branch for the other female. Exactly what the relationship was between the three birds remains a mystery.
The art of algae, Pere Soler (Spain)
Photo: Pere Soler/Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 In the Bahía de Cádiz natural park on the coast of Andalucia, Spain, Soler captured a spring phenomenon only fully visible from the air. As the temperature warms and the salinity changes, the intertidal wetlands are transformed by colour as bright green seaweed intermingles with multicoloured microalgal blooms. White salt deposits and brown and orange sediments coloured by sulphurous bacteria and iron oxide add to the colours.
Shadow walker, Richard Peters (UK)
Photo: Richard Peters/Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015click me A snatched glimpse or a movement in the shadows is how most people see an urban fox, and few know when and where it goes on its nightly rounds. It was that sense of living in the shadows that Richard wanted to convey. He had been photographing nocturnal wildlife in his back garden in Surrey, England, for several months before he had the idea for the image, given to him by the fox when it walked through the beam of a torch he had set up, casting its profile on the side of his shed.
The Wildlife Photojournalist Award: single image
Broken cats, Britta Jaschinski (Germany/UK)
Photo: Britta Jaschinski/Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015click me Locked into obedience by their trainers’ gaze, big cats perform at the Seven Star Park in Guilin, China. They have had their teeth and claws pulled out, and when not in the arena, they live in the tiny cages visible behind the stage. At least one (centre) is a captive-bred hybrid – part lion, part tiger. In 2010, the Chinese authorities issued a directive to zoos and animal parks to stop performances that involve wild animals. But this is not legally binding, and in many facilities across the country, it is still business as usual, with shows attracting audiences unaware of the scale of the abuse, neglect and cruelty involved. For the past 20 years, Britta has travelled extensively, documenting the world of animals in captivity and their unnecessary suffering in the name of education and entertainment. But never, she says, has she come across ‘such brutal and systematic deprivation’ as in China. ‘The potential for change is huge,’ she maintains. ‘Despite government control of the internet, social-media messages do get through and can make a difference. Attitudes are changing.’
Life comes to art, Juan Tapia (Spain)
Photo: Juan Tapia/Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 Tapia made a swallow-sized hole in an oil painting in a old barn and moved it over the window that the swallows entered through, capturing the moment one of the swallows swooped in with the sky behind.