Winners of the 56th edition of the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards were declared recently, and seven Indians made it to the “Highly Commended” list. Ripan Biswas from Cooch Behar won The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio Award. Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London. The photography competition receives entries from across the world. This year, the top prize was bagged by Russian photographer Sergey Gorshkov for his stunning image of a Siberian tiger hugging a tree.
This year’s competition attracted over 49,000 entries from professionals and amateurs across 86 countries. From this wide-ranging selection, judges chose only a few for their Highly Commended shortlist.
For the category “10 Years and Under”, Bengaluru’s Vidyun R Hebbar made it to the Highly Commended list. His photograph shows a signature spider hanging in its newly built web over a roadside. “Signature spiders are very common around Vidyun’s home, and he set out to photograph this spider and its fine-silk web against the backdrop of a tall apartment complex, to show how ‘the spider was living among us in my big city’,” Wildlife Photographer of the Year said in a press release.
Arshdeep Singh received a special mention in the “11-14 Years Old” category for his image of an endangered red-shanked douc langur. The image was clicked when Arshdeep accompanied his father to a business trip to Vietnam. He managed to capture the langur in the split second that it looked at him, making the trip a success for the young boy.
A stunning shot of a large male gharial carrying its offsprings also made it to the judges’ Highly Commended list. The picture was clicked at the National Chambal Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh by Dhritiman Mukherjee. This male gharial was left in sole charge of his month-old offspring, observes Dhritiman, who spent many days quietly watching them from the riverbank.
In the grasslands outside Chennai in Tamil Nadu, Sambath Subbaiah managed to photograph an eagle swooping down on a snake. “The snake coiled all over the eagle,” he says. “At one point, I thought it might escape.” Finally, the eagle got a grip with its beak and sliced the snake in half, discarded the head section and feasted on the rest.
Aishwarya Sridhar’s stunning shot of fireflies under the starlit sky of Bhandardara, in the Western Ghats also made it to the Highly Commended list. Aishwarya caught sight of one tree sparkling top to bottom with these bio-luminescent creatures after a two-hour hike. Shooting 27 images over a 24-second exposure and combining them using focus-stacking software, she captured the intensity of the gold-dusted tree, the stars leaving blazing trails across the sky as the Earth moved.
In the category “Urban Wildlife”, Masood Hussain’s image of a leopard on the wall of an abandoned village school received a special mention. The picture was captured in a village near Nagpur while the photographer was driving home after a day of tracking tigers.
Also in the category of “Urban Wildlife”, this image of a leopard moving silently across a porch in a suburb of Mumbai. Nayan Khanolkar photographed the leopard as inhabitants of the house – Warli tribals – slept peacefully at night.
And finally, the winner of The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio Award went to Ripan Biswas for his startling image of a weaver ant gripping the leg of a tiger beetle. “The beetle kept pulling at the ant’s leg,” says Ripan, “trying to rid itself of the ant’s grip, but it couldn’t quite reach its head.” He used flash to illuminate the lower part of the beetle, balancing this against the harsh sunlight, as he got his dramatic, eye-level shot.
You can click here to find out more about this year’s winning images.
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