There are millions and millions of species on our planet and just as many opportunities to photograph them. But it still takes expertise, persistence, and a fair bit of chance to get the one shot that teaches us something new about the world of plants and animals. These extraordinary selections from the London Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition speak to those skills—and give us an illuminating peek at nature’s many mysteries and complexities. Check back on the museum’s website on October 15 for the final list of winners.
The freshwater forest” height=”1001″ src=”https://www.popsci.com/resizer/z7TQq03V3C1FVkj9q3xsPKKUJZk=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-bonnier.s3.amazonaws.com/public/T4KAKLHRJUYPOV4Q25AI3JXLK4.jpg” width=”1500″ />
Highly Commended 2019, Plants and Fungi
Sony α7R + 16–35mm f4 lens at 16mm; 1/40 sec at f8; ISO 200; Nauticam housing
Slender stems of native Eurasian watermilfoil, bearing whorls of soft, feathery leaves, reach for the sky from the bed of Lake Neuchâtel, Switzerland. Michel has photographed freshwater regions worldwide, but this was the first time he had dived in the lake nearest to his home. He was swimming near the surface—absorbed with the beauty of the plants and their small reddish flowers—when he spotted a huge pike disappearing into the mass of vegetation below. Very slowly, he sank down for a closer look. When he reached the bottom, he found himself immersed in an underwater jungle with an endless view.”
Big cat and dog spat” height=”1065″ src=”https://www.popsci.com/resizer/bziTJyYYjQMYPSiICMDru8wZERo=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-bonnier.s3.amazonaws.com/public/HTC5JOK3LWSSBL2ALRCA5L6H5E.jpg” width=”1500″ />
Highly Commended 2019, Behavior: Mammals
Nikon D4S + 400mm f2.8 lens; 1/640 sec at f5; ISO 800
In a rare encounter, a lone male cheetah is set upon by a pack of African wild dogs. Peter had been following the dogs by vehicle as they hunted in Zimanga Private Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. A warthog had just escaped the pack when the leading dogs came across the big cat. At first, the dogs were wary, but as the rest of the 12-strong pack arrived, their confidence grew, and they began to encircle the cat, chirping with excitement. In a few minutes the spat was over as the cheetah fled.
Canopy hangout” height=”998″ src=”https://www.popsci.com/resizer/CvtCMBE78M_SG_6kryIGGFv2EYs=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-bonnier.s3.amazonaws.com/public/TXL6O4J65GMZCUX244NCLHCULU.jpg” width=”1500″ />
Highly Commended 2019, Young Wildlife Photographers: 11-14 years old
Nikon D700 + 28–300mm f3.5–5.6 lens at 45mm; 1/125 sec at f10; ISO 1600
When Carlos’s family planned a trip to Panama’s Soberanía National Park, sloths were high on their must-see agenda. They were not disappointed. For several days, from the observation deck of the park’s canopy tower, Carlos could photograph not only birds but also this brown-throated three-toed sloth—the orange fur and the dark stripe on its back marking it as an adult male. By deliberately placing the animal in one part of the frame, Carlos also captured the atmosphere of the forest—“the sloth in its environment.”
Beach waste” height=”1000″ src=”https://www.popsci.com/resizer/gBdm-_cbgTkS_r9t6ivUzyrjaBw=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-bonnier.s3.amazonaws.com/public/A2JLP7V3TEJLXRZJAC25QUJUYU.jpg” width=”1500″ />
Highly Commended 2019, Wildlife Photojournalism
Canon EOS 700D + 18–55mm f3.5–5.6 lens at 18mm; 1/1250 sec at f4.5; ISO 100
From a distance, the beach scene at Alabama’s Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge looked appealing: blue sky, soft sand, and a Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. But as Matthew and the strandings patrol team got closer they could see the fatal noose around the turtle’s neck attached to the washed-up beach chair. The Kemp’s ridley is not only one of the smallest sea turtles—just two feet long—it is also the most endangered. As Matthew witnesses on his daily nesting patrol, a danger is injury or drowning resulting from discarded fishing gear and rubbish.
Sleeping like a Weddell” height=”844″ src=”https://www.popsci.com/resizer/x_qMS4gVaE6E-uSjUIwL3pwkGNM=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-bonnier.s3.amazonaws.com/public/2IR2ZPSPMJTB2N3QZ3NTAYUPNU.jpg” width=”1500″ />
Highly Commended 2019, Black and White
Canon EOS 7D Mark II + 100–400mm f4.5–5.6 lens at 400mm; 1/500 sec at f8; ISO 400
Hugging its flippers tight to its body, the Weddell seal closed its eyes and appeared to fall into a deep sleep. Lying on fast ice (ice attached to land) off Larsen Harbour, South Georgia, it was relatively safe from its predators and so could completely relax and digest. Shooting from an inflatable boat, Ralf tightly framed the sleeping seal, using the white backdrop of ice and soft light from the overcast sky to mimic the effect of a studio portrait. Converting his image to black and white accentuated the tones and textures of the seal’s dense mottled fur.
Jelly baby” height=”1020″ src=”https://www.popsci.com/resizer/sUroEdpUgnLV9WFXFQvxBkykRYg=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-bonnier.s3.amazonaws.com/public/H3FN3BGUS6WE6SIYZHJUS7AUQA.jpg” width=”1500″ />
Highly Commended 2019, Under Water
Nikon D810 + 60mm f2.8 lens; 1/320 sec at f22; ISO 64; Nauticam housing; Inon Z-240 strobes
A juvenile jackfish peers out from inside a small jellyfish off Tahiti in French Polynesia. With nowhere to hide in the open ocean, it has adopted the jelly as an overnight travelling shelter, slipping under the umbrella and possibly immune to the stinging tentacles, which deter potential predators. In hundreds of night dives, says Fabien, “I’ve never seen one without the other.” It is not clear if a jelly derives any benefit or why the relationship breaks down when water acidifies.
Cool drink” height=”1096″ src=”https://www.popsci.com/resizer/7fT4OWCIDPivT0uhLKE_LnS_jCA=/arc-anglerfish-arc2-prod-bonnier.s3.amazonaws.com/public/5PSIPM576N2F7UOTO24OKZ3QCI.jpg” width=”1500″ />
Highly Commended 2019, Behaviour: Birds
Nikon D500 + 300mm f2.8 lens + 1.7x teleconverter; 1/1600 sec at f8 (+0.3 e/v); ISO 1600; cable release; Gitzo tripod + Mongoose head
On a bitterly cold morning on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, Diana came across a delightful scene. A flock of long-tailed tits and marsh tits were gathered around a long icicle hanging from a branch, taking turns to nibble the tip. Two days later, Diana returned and found that the icicle remained and tits were still drinking from it. But when the sun came out and the ice began to melt, one long‑tailed tit chose to cling to the icicle instead of hovering. That instantly brought the performance to an end, as the entire structure cracked and then crashed to the ground.
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