The best wildlife photos from the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition have been revealed today.
Winner The storybook wolf © José Luis Rodríguez / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009
A fairytale image of an Iberian wolf and two yellowhammers fighting over food win the competition and were unveiled last night at a glittering ceremony held at London’s Natural History Museum.
Spanish photographer, José Luis Rodríguez, impressed judges with his image, The storybook wolf and Scottish teenager Fergus Gill was crowned Veolia Environnement Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his dramatic photograph, Clash of the yellowhammers.
There was a record 43,135 entries from 94 countries, a 33% increase on last year. The best of these images from the competition’s 17 categories, are showcased in the stunning exhibition at the Museum opening tomorrow.
To cater for its increasing popularity, this year’s exhibition will be displayed in one of the Museum’s largest galleries. Photos will be displayed in their largest ever scale and there will be new audio guides, including those for visually impaired visitors.
José Luis had set out to capture the perfect shot of an Iberian wolf, but feared they would be too wary. When he realised he had got the shot of his dreams, he couldn’t quite believe it. He risked a slow shutter speed to reveal the moonlit sky and conjure up the atmosphere of the place.
José said, ‘I hope this picture, which shows the wolf’s great agility and strength, will become an image that can be used to show just how beautiful the Iberian wolf is and how the Spanish can be proud to have such an emblematic creature’.
Competition judge, Jim Brandenburg said, ‘This wolf jumping over the farmer’s enclosure with the supposed intent of killing his livestock speaks for itself – thousands of years of history are frozen in this masterfully executed moment. This is a more technically complex photograph to achieve than one can imagine.’
Fergus started planning for his photo in the summer. He collected sheaves of oats from a local farmer as winter food for the birds and set up a hide in his garden. Early one morning after a few hours of waiting, the garden was full of birds.
‘Every so often, I would see a fight between two males over ownership of the oats, but the spats were incredibly brief,’ said Fergus. Two days later, Fergus got the photograph he wanted, capturing both the clash and the composition he’d planned.
Commenting on Fergus’s image, competition judge Mark Carwardine said, ‘What a joy. First your eyes go to the yellowhammer on the left, then you realise there is another one in the bushes. Split-second timing has captured the perfect wildlife moment.’
Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition opens 23 October 2009 to 11 April 2010