Nature Photography Competition – February Winner!

Gerry van der Walt All Authors Leave a Comment

After more than 350 amazing entries and a very difficult judging process I am pleased to announce the winner and two runners up for February in the 2012 Wild Eye Nature Photography!

During the entire process, from preliminary judging and final scoring, all images are judged on merit and no names are attached to the images as we feel the images should speak for themselves and who the photographer was should not make a difference.

With all off that said, I am proud to give you our winner for February, two runner’s up and the seven highly commended images that made the Top 10!

Winning Image – February 2012

Cheetah and Cubs

Image by Albie Venter

 For his winning image Albie will, apart from progressing to the grand finals, receive:

  • Copy of Colors of Southern Africa by Hannes Lochner
  • R 1,000 rental voucher from Wild Eye
  • 8GB CF Memory Card
  • Wild Eye Baseball Cap


Judges Feedback:

Andy:  This cheetah is over the top. Great light, excellent subjects, good connection with their eyes. I would have loved to have been there!

David Lloyd:  This is the very well known six cheetah cubs which made it into adulthood, and while I did sight them, I never got anything like this. There are many pictures now of these and I honestly cannot think of a better one right now. You have the mother in her protective pose, and all the cubs faces can be seen, or as much as you’d expect to anyway. The light is amazing, soft and pastelly. What makes this really stand out for me is that you’ve obviously had the foresight to get low, and move any background distractions out of the way. The green foliage, and the shape of it is perfect. It’s as if you positioned you vehicle in the right place for the picture. I’m envious, this is such a wonderful picture for me.

Greg du Toit:   This image does not need a big explanation which is exactly what makes it a winner. You have a cheetah mother with 6 tiny cubs crammed aloft a termite mound and bathed in golden light. The photographer has recognized that in this frame, he had the ingredients of an arresting wildlife image: great subjects combined with great light! By keeping his composition simple and setting an exposure that allowed the golden light to bath the scene, he has done all that he needed to do!

 * * *

1st Runner Up – February 2012

Desert Runners

Image by Isak Pretorius

As first runner up Isak will, apart from progressing to the grand finals, receive:

  • R 500 rental voucher from Wild Eye
  • 8GB CF Memory Card
  • Wild Eye Baseball Cap


Judges Feedback:

Andy:   I love the creative use of blurred panning, as it creates a sense of power and movement. The blurred legs really makes the image, as well as the sharp eyes. 

David Lloyd:  I am a big fan of black and white and this one stood out for me. In any picture, I try to imagine it on a wall, and considering that, it would look quite impressive on one. The slow shutter speed and pan has created movement, quite literally, they all look as if they are moving within the picture. I did wonder about cropping a little off the top, but that’s probably just me.

Greg du Toit:   This is a very different image to the winning shot. Here the photographer has done most of the work, turning an ordinary scene into an extraordinary one. The panning motion reveals the movement and energy of the Springbok herd while an effective black and white conversion adds a timeless quality to this work of art.

* * *

2nd Runner Up – February 2012

Close Up

Image by Marlon du Toit

As second runner up Marlon will, apart from progressing to the grand finals, receive:

  • R 250 rental voucher from Wild Eye
  • Wild Eye Baseball Cap


Judges Feedback:

Andy Biggs:   To have such a large mammal next to the photographer is a great thing, and the use of a wide angle lens helps illustrate just how close the photographer was.  I love the curve of his body and trunk, which gives an almost playful gesture.

David Lloyd:  Possibly the most effective way to emphasize the size of an elephant is to get a little lower and closer with a wide-angle or standard, just as you’ve done here. The colours and processing are nice too, not overdone, but still colorful all the same. Maybe my only niggle is that he may be too close for the lens, giving some distortion. But some people like that, and there’s probably no better way to illustrate his size, and the fact that he was really close, which ultimately makes the picture for me.

Greg du Toit:   Wow. The detail and texture in this photograph is superb. Its as if I can rub my hand across this Tusker’s rough skin! The detail in the eye also helps me connect with the big bull. The exposure  and post processing has very effectively handled and the wide angle perspective on the trunk is just brilliant!

* * *

A big congratulations to Albie, Isak and Marlon on their winning images and for progressing to the grand finals where they will stand a chance to win some of the amazing overall prizes including a trip for two to photograph the Great Migration in the Masai Mara in 2013.

There are still 10 months left and another 30 images that will join the above the three images from January and February in the finals so don’t waste anytime!  Register today to stand a chance to share your images and ultimately share in the experience.

Now along with the top three images, each month we will include the seven images that made the Top 10.  Two of these images were therefore sent through to the judges for their consideration while the others all came very close and I am sure you will agree that the quality all round is absolutely superb!

During the entire judging process factors that are considered include:

  • technical quality of the image
  • artistic quality and uniqueness of the image
  • content and visual impact
  • that magic moment when everything comes together

As with any art, opinions will always differ but through a process of elimination all the entries, of which there were 292 in January, gets whittled down to the ten included in this post.  Some of the comments and thoughts from the Wild Eye Team have been included below each image.

In no particular order, here are the images that made up the Top 10, and came very close to being in the top three,  in the February competition.

Highly Commended Images – February 2012

Backlit Yawn

Image by Brandon Huntley

This image catches your eye immediately.  It is an almost classic image of a spotlight lion and Brandon pulled this one off very nicely through great use of a spotlight.

* * *

The Dive

Image by Stephen Earle

This is an absolutely fantastic action image.  If you have ever tried photographing birds you will agree that to get an image like this as sharp as it is takes great skill, an understanding of the basics of photography and a decent amount of luck.  Great image.

* * *

 Bark Spider in Web

Image by Nick van de Wiel

This image made for quite a bit of conversation in the office.  Comments went from ‘too much web’ to ‘I’m not sure what it is’ but the reason this image is in our top ten is that Nick went out there, found a subject, created the light and captured a great macro image.

* * *

So Tired

Image by Guy Dekelver

This image captures a lovely moment of a young Vervet Monkey almost falling asleep.  If anything the background is a little distracting and the image could have been a bit sharper but overall a lovely, moody image.

* * *

Mountain Gorilla

Image by Jeremy Giddens

This image was an instant favorite.  Technically the image is perfectly exposed and to capture sharp images like this in the kind of lighting conditions you normally get in the rain forests shows an understanding of the basics of photography.  The gorilla looks chill and relaxed and like he is really enjoying himself.  Lovely shot.

* * *

 The Magical Leopard

Image by Massimo de Silva

Another image that caused a lot of discussion.  The main point of discussion revolved around the slight lack of sharpness but damn, you cannot deny that a sighting like this is pretty awesome and Massimo did well to create a very unique leopard image.  That reflection is awesome!

* * *

Textured Vision

Image by Andrew Aveley

If you could some up this image in one word it would be – stress.  The wide open eye, the secretion from the preorbital gland and the great conversion to black and white all work perfectly together in creating a very, very striking image.

* * *

So there you have it.  I am sure you will agree – a truly fantastic collection of images and any of those could have made it through to the top three. (And quite a few of them came damn close!)

Again, a big shout out to our panel of judges for their assistance in choosing the top three images.  Having the ability to get feedback from guys like Andy Biggs, David Lloyd and Greg du Toit is awesome and makes for a great learning platform.

We will be getting in touch with the winner and runner’s up to arrange for the delivery of their prizes and to get the RAW images of their images as these will be used during the judging process in the final.

The competition for March 2012 is already open and there are some fantastic images being uploaded.  Check out the March entries here and then make sure to get your entries in to stand a chance to win that magical trip for 2 to the Masai Mara!

Now just before I wrap it up one more thing.

All of us here at Wild Eye made a decision that, in order not to be biased, favoritism or any of those other potential points of conflict one could be accused of, we would  purposefully not comment on competition entries.

We do however feel that commenting and positive / constructive criticism on the gallery is a great way to not only learn together but also build a community so as soon as the winners have been announced for a specific month we will be getting stuck in to provide some feedback and comments on the entries for that month.  We look forward to sharing some of these thoughts and conversations with you on the gallery!

As always we would love to hear your feedback!   Did your favorite image make it to the Top 10?  Drop us a comment with your thoughts!

Until next time and good luck!!

Gerry van der Walt

Comments 0

  1. Guy Dekelver

    Dear Wild Eye team,

    This first mention in the framework of a competition really is a great motivation for me and I would like to thank you all for creating this great platform! Congrats to Albie, Isak and
    Marlon, as well as to the authors of all the other great shots that have been entered! Checking out these month’s entries, it looks like the competition is getting stiffer and stiffer, which is great and I am convinced that by the end of this year you will end up with an impressive collection of wonderful and real images!

    For those who
    are interested, feel free to check out my site and related FB page: Pics from the Wild

    Have a great WE, Guy

    1. Gerry van der Walt

      Firstly, congrats on your image Guy!  Great shot and a worthy inclusion in the top ten!

      The competition is most definitely getting tougher al the time but I reckon that’s a great thing.  Not only will it push photographers to better themselves but it also acts as a source of inspiration to all of us!

      Thanks for you continued support and I look forward to seeing more of your images in the competition!

      And to anyone else reading this, take a moment to go and check out Guy’s site and Facebook page.  Some killer images!!

  2. Carolyn Abram

    Congratulations all. WOW, TOTALLY AWESOME PHOTOGRAPHY!!!!! I hate to pick out any particular photos but, I laughed at “So Tired”. He was so precious, and the birds what a shot. I  do so look forward to Wild Eye. It just makes a postive start to my day.

  3. Sharon_mullen

    What absolutely fabulous photographs!!  Congratulations to the winner and all the other entrants!  Your work is amazing!!  Keep up the good work!!!!

  4. Anthony Robbins

    Awesome guys, well done to the winner(Albie), runners up (Marlon and Isak) and the top ten. 

    Also thanks to all the judges and Wild-Eye for this competition, there where loads of magic images this month and unfortunately someone has to make the decision…pleased it’s not me 🙂

  5. Dawidfourie

    VVWD you guys, congratulations tothe winner Albie and the runners up. There were so many stunning images, don’t want to be a JUDGE….

    Looking forward to the new month and some super images……

  6. Pingback: Nature Photography Competition – March Winner! | Wild Eye Photo Chat

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