Winners of Nature’s Best Photography

Through January 2013, the Natural History Museum is home to stunning photographs of wildlife around the world

Natures Best Photography
(clockwise from upper left) Jon Cornforth; Alex Mody; Rolf Nussbaumer; Phillip Colla; Andy Rouse

Winner of People in Nature: Bodyboarder

(Lee Slabber)
"I captured this image of a bodyboarder performing an aerial maneuver at the Hoek beach near my home. Like anything you choose to photograph, knowing your subject helps create a great image—and I spent many years bodyboarding when I was younger. The power of the wave, the color and flow of the water, and the precise timing of the bodyboarder’s ‘inverted air’ made an image that clearly shows man’s interaction with nature." - Photographer Lee Slabber

Small World Winner: Vine Snake

Vine snake
(Robin Moore)
“I was scrambling through bushes, wading up streams, and looking for anything scaly or slimy in one of the most bio-diverse forests in the world when we came across this vine snake. I was lying on my stomach to frame the shot when, as if on cue, a fly buzzed down and used the snake’s head as a landing pad. As soon as I clicked the shutter, the fly departed. Some photos come about through careful and diligent planning, but this one was about being in the right place at the right time.” - Photographer Robin Moore

Oceans Winner: Blue Shark

Blue shark
(Nuno Sá)
“Diving into the blue, ten miles off the coast of Faial Island, I watched a torpedo-shaped shadow rapidly approaching from deep, dark waters. As it came closer, its long pectoral fins gave it a form that reminded me of a jet plane; it was a six-foot-long blue shark.” - Photographer Nuno Sá

Animal Antics Winner: Grizzly Bear Cub

Grizzly bear cub
(Andy Rouse)
“It was quite a memorable experience when a female grizzly bear left her precious cubs on the riverbank near me as she went fishing for salmon. The cubs were great fun to observe and I managed to catch this one mid-scratch; he looks like he was either having a bad day or peeking at me.” - Photographer Andy Rouse

Plant Life Winner: Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple
(Peter Lik)
“Standing beneath the canopy of this Japanese maple was an incredible feeling. I was in awe as the late afternoon light backlit the delicate leaves. Every branch told its own story, and I felt this special tree had so much to tell. As the sun sank toward the horizon, the tree came to life with an incredible display of color, shape, and texture—the rays burst into a star within the tree.” - Photographer Peter Lik

Power of Nature Winner: Wildfire

(David Bahr)
“This wildfire was the most destructive in Colorado history. Separated from the fire by a deep mountain canyon, my own home was spared. From my vantage point, I watched as the overwhelmed firefighters raced to avoid the wall of flames. At night, the fire created an eerie red glow akin to a volcano spouting from the forest floor—as captured in this photograph.” - Photographer David Bahr

Small World Highly Honored: Cane Toad

Cane toad
(Rolf Nussbaumer)
“I was visiting a ranch near Laredo in April 2010. The area had experienced a dry spell until massive rains brought about an abundance of toads, frogs, and wildflowers. I knew I had a chance for a great shot when I saw this six-inch-long toad bounding across a field of yellow dogweed.” - Photographer Rolf Nussbaumer

Small World Highly Honored: Stag Beetles

Stag beetles
(Jose Grandío)
“The 2.5-inch-long stag beetle appears from May to September and is most active in the evening. Because these robust beetles feed on dead wood matter, the removal of stumps and other wood has resulted in a loss of habitat, and therefore a decline in their population.” - Photographer Jose Grandío

Animal Antics Highly Honored: Harbor Seal

Harbor seal
(Phillip Colla)
“I return to a particular cove each winter to photograph the harbor seals during the prime light of morning. This young seal was seen playing along the water’s edge. It paused to gaze right at me, then went about its romp in the surf.” - Photographer Phillip Colla

Animal Antics Highly Honored: Cheetahs

(Paul McKenzie)
“This image was taken at dusk following a heavy rain shower. The temperature had dropped sharply and six cubs were huddled by their mother for warmth. Knowing that the mother would inevitably shake off her wet coat, I got ready by switching to a slow shutter speed to capture the motion of the water spraying. Despite living in a harsh environment under the daily threat of predation, this remarkable cheetah successfully raised all of these cubs to adulthood.” - Photographer Paul McKenzie

Art in Nature Highly Honored: Giraffa camelopardalis

(Pierluigi Rizzato)
"Giraffes move in small herds, only grouping close together when browsing on the same tree or when the approach of a predator makes them vigilant. Driving through the African savanna, I focused my attention on these tall herbivores gathering for an early morning meal amid unusually dense fog." - Photographer Pierluigi Rizzato

Landscape Highly Honored: Yosemite Valley

Yosemite Valley
(Sandy Follett)
“Tunnel View is one of Yosemite’s iconic landmarks. The breathtaking vista offers beautiful landscapes every season of the year. In my photography, I am always looking for that special moment in nature when light exhibits spiritual qualities. Waiting for a break in the weather late one overcast afternoon, I knew the setting sun would highlight both El Capitan and Bridalveil Falls. I was very lucky to capture this rainbow, signifying hope in the midst of the dark clouds.” - Photographer Sandy Follett

Endangered Species Highly Honored: Orangutan

(Jami Tarris)
“Using a wide-angle zoom lens without a tripod allowed me to easily move through the forest, where I found a female orangutan holding her sleeping infant. She investigated its small body from head to toe, took hold of the baby’s tiny hand, and gently stroked its fingers.” - Photographer Jami Tarris

Endangered Species Highly Honored: Black-Browed Albatross

Black Browed Albatross
(Charles Bergman)
“An albatross colony is one of the world’s great wildlife spectacles. I was lucky to find a pair of breeding albatrosses expressing their bond in a vocabulary of interactions such as touching beaks, mutual preening, and ‘necking’—or wrapping their necks around each other. The image evokes a moving tenderness and intimacy.” - Photographer Charles Bergman

Zoos and Aquariums Winner: Rothschild Giraffes

Rothschild giraffes
(Barbara von Hoffmann)
“While waiting for my grandson to arrive at the Salt Lake City airport, I had six hours to spare. Knowing that Hogle Zoo was nearby, off I went—camera in tow. I spotted a giraffe with her one-week-old calf. It was heartwarming to witness the mother affectionately nestling her head into the arched neck of her newborn. Instead of being inconvenienced, I felt blessed to watch Mother Nature at her best.” - Photographer Barbara von Hoffmann

Birds Highly Honored: Emperor Penguins

Emperor penguins
(Linda Drake)
“Snow Hill Island is one of the few Emperor Penguin colonies that tourists can visit. It’s quite a journey to get there, but worth it, especially when you can find chicks still young enough to be on their parents’ feet. I found this pair and stayed with them as the doting guardian groomed and stroked its young.” - Photographer Linda Drake

Oceans Highly Honored: False Clown Anemone Fish

False clown anemone fish
(Jon Cornforth)
“While visiting the Misool Eco-Resort, I became enamored with the different species of clownfish that inhabited the pristine coral reefs. They can be quite amusing as they dart about the tentacles of various species of anemones.” - Photographer Jon Cornforth

Birds Winner: Roseate Spoonbills

Roseate spoonbills
(Michael Rosenbaum)
“When I visited Smith Oaks Rookery for the first time, I spent several mornings photographing spoonbills in overcast and foggy conditions. In this photo the bird coming in to land was being warned off by a spoonbill already occupying the tree branch. The interaction may be two birds engaged in combat, but the soft color and graceful lines of the composition make the behavior appear almost like a kiss.” - Photographer Michael Rosenbaum

Wildlife Highly Honored: Red Fox

Red fox
(Alex Mody)
“On a cold afternoon, a friend and I visited Algonquin Park in search of birds to photograph and we were delighted to come across a pair of red foxes. A very careful approach allowed us almost two hours to photograph them foraging, resting, and playing in the snow. It was incredible to have an up-close and personal encounter with foxes for the first time.” - Photographer Alex Mody

Wildlife Highly Honored: Walrus

(Lance Carter)
“Male walruses haul out onto rocky beaches in summer while the females raise the young. Though they can be loud, temperamental, and aggressive, they are very social at times. A large group of males were sunning on top, alongside, and all around each other as they indulged in the warm summer rays. My trip to this remote location finally paid off once I spied this sleepy walrus with the right expression and proper light.” - Photographer Lance Carter