Nature Photography Competition – January Winner!

Gerry van der Walt All Authors Leave a Comment

So this is it!

The 2012 Wild Eye Nature Photography Competition is now in full swing and we have our first three images that will compete for the grand prize of a trip for two to the Masai Mara in 2013!

For all the information on how the judging works, as well as how to enter and all the other important details, you can check out this page on the Wild Eye website but the short version is this.

After a preliminary judging process, a very very difficult task indeed, our international judging panel receive, via email, five images to which they assign a score.  The scores all get tallied and this gives us our winner and two runner’s up. 

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 January, two runner’s up and the seven highly commended images that made the Top 10!

Winning Image – January 2012


Carmine Bee-Eater

Image by Mark Dumbleton

 For his winning image Mark 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


Apart from the excitement around the competing and some pretty awesome prizes we feel that the sharing of images and comments is a great way to learn.  To that end, each month our judges will give some feedback on the winning images so here goes.

Judges Feedback:

Andy Biggs:  I love the vivid colors of the bee-eater, combined with the soft background. The combination of a tack-sharp subject with the dreamy colors in the background seal the deal for me. Excellent!

David Lloyd:  I really like colour and I really like simplicity, and this one certainly has a lot of both. Just as important as the subject is the background and even better if the background colours complement the subject. Birds in flight are always tricky to achieve (I think so anyway) and I always envy those who can do this regularly. There’s not a lot left to do to improve on this.

Greg du Toit:  So what makes this a winning image? For many it will be the pin sharp detail captured skillfully by the photographer. Birds are fast and bee-eaters are especially fast! While I appreciate the technicalities of this image, what makes it a winner for me is that my eye is drawn to this photograph like a moth to a lamp. Why? In one word, COLOUR! A winning photograph must reach beyond technical proficiency; it must stretch out off the screen and grab your attention!  The colours in this image are so vibrant and refreshing! Red and green is an especially powerful colour combination.  Don’t get lost in the technicalities of what is essentially a visual art, is my advice to budding photographers.

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1st Runner Up – January 2012 



Image by Anthony Robbins

 As first runner up Anthony 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 Biggs:  Excellent use of subject in the environment in this photograph. The intense stare of the vulture with the elephant carcass in the background allow to viewer to place the vulture into a story of life and death. Wonderful storytelling without the use of words.

David Lloyd:  Vultures by their very association imply a badness and the neutral colour and background of this one emphasise this even more. Maybe I’m picky, but shaving an inch and a bit off the right might have improved composition, but you might lose recognising the elephant’s leg. This is certainly one picture where the background is important too. The light is just wonderful.

Greg du Toit:  A still-life photograph is simply a moment capture in time. But, a really good photograph begins to tell a story and leaves its audience to finish it in their mind’s eye. This brilliant image does just that as I find myself wondering how this elephant met its end?

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 2nd Runner Up – January 2012


Kubu Island Baobab

Image by Mark Dumbleton

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

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


Judges Feedback:

Andy Biggs:  Most photographs of a baobab at night are composed as silhouettes, and I love the use of flash to illuminate this elegant and majestic tree against the starry night sky. The Milky Way adds an additional exclamation point on an already fantastic image.

David Lloyd:  I’ve seen a few pictures like this now, I’ve not tried anything like this myself so I won’t underestimate the difficulties in obtaining an exposure like this. I like this because I’d be really pleased to have taken it myself. If it were my picture I might have been tempted to crop the furthermost right rock off, but other than that I think that the exposure and composition is nigh on perfect for both the foreground and the sky, particularly in capturing the milky way there.

Greg du Toit:  As much as I do not like all the focus and hype around camera technology, here the photographer has done something really special with the wonderful high ISO capabilities of new generation cameras. At these unbelievably high ISO’s, photographers can now actually record the milky way! But, you still got to get out there and do it, which is exactly what this photographer has done, and done it well!

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 A big congratulations to Mark, with two images, and Anthony 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 11 months left and another 33 images will join the above three 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 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 in the January competition.

Highly Commended Images – January 2012



Image by Liz Frost

 This image saw a lot of differing opinion being voiced ranging from ‘good enough for BBC’ to ‘it makes me feel dizzy’.  Either way, it remains a striking image and some golden light would have made it even better.

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Got You

Image by Kierran Allen

 There is no doubting the skill in capturing this image.  The main point of discussion revolved around not being able to see the chameleon’s eye but in an image like this the moment happens so quick that it is not something you can plan for. 

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Image by Jacques de Klerk

 A stunning macro image which was very well liked all round due to the interesting subject, great angle and lovely background even though a little bit of context and a hint of space could have added to the image.

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Mom and Cub

Image by Gary 

 This image made it trough the judging based on content as no doubt this must have been a phenomenal sighting but the general feeling was that it could have been a little bit brighter.

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I think I Can!

Image by Anthony Robbins

 This image has amazing content which was, technically speaking, very well captured.  Initially you are not sure what you are looking at but then it all comes together.  Slightly different placement in the frame could have made for an even better image.

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Come a Little Closer

Image by Andre Coetzer

 Great macro image in which the content draws you in and the flash of the red tongue finishes it all off.

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Crab Walk

Image by Anthony Robbins

 This was another image that made for a lot of debate.  There is no doubt that the content is great, and the sighting must have been great, but the discussion tended to keep on returning to the vignette around the image.  As with a few other images, this was one of those where we wondered what the original images looks like.

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 So there you have it.  I am sure you will agree – a truly fantastic collection of images.  

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.  

Here are a number of links that you can check out for more information on the 2012 Wild Eye Nature Photography Competition which includes details on how to enter as well as all the entries for January and February this far!


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

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