The Australian Museum in Sydney is showing 100 of the best images from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. Drawn from some 42,000 entries, these photographs are a must-see for anyone with a photo safari in their future – or indeed anyone who delights in the endless variety of our fellow lifeforms!

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013
29 March – 1 June 2014
Australian Museum
6 College St Sydney, NSW Australia


Essence of elephants by  Greg du Toit – WINNER: Animal Portraits, and overall winner.
SOUTH AFRICA –  Ever since he first picked up a camera, Greg has photographed African elephants. ‘For many years,’ he says, ‘I’ve wanted to create an image that captures their special energy and the state of consciousness that I sense when I’m with them. This image comes closest to doing that.’ The shot was taken at a waterhole in Botswana’s Northern Tuli Game Reserve, from a hide (a sunken freight container) that provided a ground-level view. Greg chose to use a slow shutter speed to create the atmosphere he was after and try ‘to depict these gentle giants in an almost ghostly way.’ He used a wide-angle lens tilted up to emphasise the size of whatever elephant entered the foreground, and chose a narrow aperture to create a large depth of field so that any elephants in the background would also be in focus. Greg had hoped the elephants would turn up before dawn, but they arrived after the sun was up. To emphasise the ‘mysterious nature’ of these ‘enigmatic subjects’, he attached a polarising filter and set his white balance to a cool temperature. The element of luck that added the final touch to his preparation was the baby elephant, which raced past the hide, so close that Greg could have touched her. The slow shutter speed conveyed the motion, and a short burst of flash at the end of the exposure froze a fleeting bit of detail.  
Nikon D3s + 16-35mm f4 lens + polarising filter; 1/30 sec at f22; ISO 800; Nikon SB-900 flash + SC28 remote cord; mini-tripod; Nikon cable-release.

“The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition continues to amaze audiences across the globe with images which showcase great talent and astounding wildlife. More and more the award is becoming an avenue for raising environmental awareness and sharing information about endangered species. Not only is the Australian Museum devoted to exhibiting the natural beauty of our world, but we are also dedicated to furthering environmental conservation. We are proud to present these breathtaking photographs.”
 – Frank Howard, Director of the Australian Museum

“Ever since I was young, I would make the trip down to the Australian Museum from Newcastle to visit this exhibition and leave inspired by the amazing wild encounters and the unique way in which they had been portrayed.   Although my image took a mere 1/160th of a second to create, it took years of experience to make the most of that brief encounter. I hope my image also inspires and helps educates visotirs as to the plight of sharks the world over ““ at least a hundred million are killed annually mainly for the shark-fin trade.”
 – Justin Gilligan, Photographer


Curiosity and the cat by  Hannes Lochner –  JOINT RUNNER-UP: Animal Portraits
SOUTH AFRICA –  Hannes has spent nearly five years perfecting his remote wireless technology to photograph intimate portraits of wild African animals, by night especially. In the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in the Kalahari, South Africa, he set up one camera near a waterhole, hiding it from lions especially, which might play with it or carry it off. On this particular evening, he was settled in his vehicle, just as the sun was setting and the dust in the air creates a special kind of Kalahari light, when a pride of lions arrived. By repeatedly clicking the shutter, he coaxed the ever-curious cubs forward. This bold individual gazed into the camera lens as it stepped forwards to sniff the strange object. ‘All the camera settings were on manual,’ explains Hannes, ‘and I had pre-focused. So I could do no more than hope I had judged the lighting and angle correctly.’ He had done so, capturing the intimate portrait and the eye-contact he was after.  
Nikon D3 + 16-35mm f4 lens; 1/60 sec at f16; ISO 3200; Nikon R1C1 strobe; Pocket Wizard XX00 wireless remote.


Lucky pounce by  Connor Stefanison –  WINNER: The Eric Hosking Portfolio Award
CANADA –  ‘Anticipating the pounce ““ that was the hardest part,’ says Connor, who had come to Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA, in search of wildlife as much as the spectacular landscape. He had found this fox, his first ever, on his last day in the park. It was so absorbed in hunting that Connor had plenty of time to get out of the car and settle behind a rock. It quartered the grassland, back and forth, and then started staring intently at a patch of ground, giving Connor just enough warning of the action to come. When it sprung up, Connor got his shot. And when it landed, the fox got his mouse.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV + 500mm f4 lens at 500mm; 1/2500 sec at f8; ISO 500.


Sockeye catch vy  Valter Bernardeschi –  SPECIALLY COMMENDED: Behaviour: Mammals  
ITALY –  Each year between July and September, millions of sockeye salmon migrate from the Pacific back up rivers to the fresh waters of Lake Kuril, to spawn in the waters where they were born. This volcanic crater lake, in the South Kamchatka Sanctuary in the Russian Far East, is the largest sockeye salmon spawning ground in Eurasia. The annual glut attracts Kamchatka brown bears from the surrounding forests to feast on the fish and fatten up for hibernation. Following the example of the bears, Valter waded into the icy water to get the right perspective and to wait for an action moment ““ a real test of physical endurance. By doing so, ‘I almost became one of them,’ and ‘in the silence of the Garden of Eden I did not think about anything else.’ This bear reared up some three metres on its hind legs and scanned the water for fish. Suddenly it pounced on a female salmon swollen with roe, the force sending a string of crimson eggs spinning out of her body.  
Nikon D4 + 200-400mm f4 lens at 250mm; 1/8000 sec at f4; ISO 720; Gitzo GT3530s tripod.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is co-owned by the Natural History Museum, London and BBC Worldwide.

See additional images in  Photo Review Mag app April 2014 issue