Nature Photography Competition: June Winner!

Gerry van der Walt All Authors

This is it – we have reached the halfway point of the 2012 Wild Eye Nature Photography Competition!

After a lengthy judging process, which saw our judges swap emails from all across the globe, I am proud to share with you the winning images in the June 2012 Nature Photography Competition.

Winning Image – June 2012

Wild Eye Nature Photography Competition - June 2012

 Painted Wolf Alpha Male

Image by Morkel Erasmus

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

[list type=”check”]
  • ProBody Sport sponsored by Clik Elite SA
  • Copy of Colors of Southern Africa sponsored by Hannes Lochner
  • R 1,000 rental voucher from Wild Eye
  • 8GB CF Memory Card
  • Wild Eye Baseball Cap
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Judges Feedback on Morkel’s image:

Andy Biggs:  I absolutely love the stare of this wild dog, as well as all of the technical aspects of the image. The photograph is all about the connection between the dog and the viewer, and it’s a pretty simple image when you boil it down, with nothing to distract the viewer. I love the soft background, shallow depth of field, leg positions and vertical crop, but it is all about getting down to eye level with the subject. Very very well done.

David Lloyd:  In all honesty, I recognize the picture and it’s author, but it makes no difference, it’s still the best picture of a wild dog that I have ever seen. It captures all the qualities of a picture I would have endeavored to achieve myself, the low point of view, the eye contact, and the orientation. The orientation emphasizes well the low point of view too. The eye contact is important, obviously. The clean green background separates the subject so well, and I also like the isolated narrow slither of (focused) dirt beneath his feet. I’m not sure how far away he was from the lens but it doesn’t matter, he looks like he’s right on top of you. I would love to see this reproduced at life size. For me, so far at least, it my the picture of the year.

Greg du Toit:   This is an image that engages its audience and this, for me, is the ultimate hallmark of a great image. But why does it grab me? Three simple reasons: 1. The posture of the alert dog. 2. The eye level angle. 3. The shallow depth of field. It only takes three ingredients to make the world’s finest beer, and this photograph is no different! Well done to the photographer, this stood out as a clear winner!

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1st Runner Up – June 2012

Wild Eye Nature Photography Competition - June 2012

Sprinting Cheetah

Image by Hendri Venter

For his second placed image Hendri will, apart from progressing to the grand finals, receive:

[list type=”check”]
  • Traveler Shoulder Bag sponsored by Clik Elite SA
  • R 500 rental voucher from Wild Eye
  • 8GB CF Memory Card
  • Wild Eye Baseball Cap
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Judges Feedback on Hendri’s image:

Andy Biggs:  It isn’t often that I see running shots of cheetah coming towards a camera, and it was great to see one this month. I love how the tail is included in the frame, as it helps illustrate the sense of speed that the cheetah might be moving. Implied movement is a great thing, and the curve of the tail to the side helps sell the image.

David Lloyd:  It is “low point of view” month this month obviously. Once again the success of a photo is bought about by the photographer’s choice of view point. Then to catch a fast subject successfully helps it succeed too. What I find so important regarding a low point of view is that not only do you catch a more intimate view, but you also bring the horizon into view, thereby creating a sense of space.  The space to the left of the cheetah is important too, although there is nothing there so to speak, it completes and adds so much to the picture. Very often it is composition that makes for a picture’s success over that of the subject itself, and this one does that well.

Greg du Toit:   This wonderful image has been skillfully captured. In the low light conditions the photographer has managed to freeze the movement of the cheetah. The posture of the cat is simply superb and the shutter speed is just fast enough. Like a good peaty whiskey, this is a bold attempt at low light action photography.  All that was missing from making this a clear winner was a subtle glow of light.

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2nd Runner Up – June 2012

Wild Eye Nature Photography Competition - June 2012

King of His Domain

Image by Albie Venter

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

[list type=”check”]
  • Memory Card Valet and Wrist Strap sponsored by Clik Elite SA
  • R250 rental voucher from Wild Eye
  • Wild Eye Baseball Cap
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Judges Feedback on Albie’s image:

Andy Biggs:  If you read my above comments on the wild dog, all of the same aspects apply to this image. This specific lion has a fantastic mane, which is full all around his face and chest, and is a great example of how a lion can be portrayed as magnificent and an apex predator. I love the stare that he is giving, and the image is all about the connection with his eyes.

David Lloyd: This is Notch, and I’d recognize him anywhere and he is my favorite and in my view the most photogenic lion in the Mara. So I was unashamedly biased as I picked this as one of my three. The photographer has avoided a closer shot of him and has identified and captured the surrounding color, and such a palette should not be wasted, just as this photographer as successfully avoided. One nit pick though, and is the sky really that color? While I am indeed a fan of vivid color myself, to me this color, in particular the blue, seems a little too saturated and unnatural, and I wonder how much improved the picture would be if it wasn’t so.

Greg du Toit:   It is not often that one sees such an impressive specimen of a lion and certainly not in such a beautiful environment. The photographer has skillfully positioned himself far from his impressive subject so as to include the beautiful environment and colors. This, like a good red wine, is a mature portrait of the finest vintage!

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Well done to Morkel, Hendri and Albie on their winning images and for progressing to the grand final where they will be in the running for the grand prize of a trip for two to the Masai Mara!

I am sure you will agree with me that the, as with all the previous months, the quality of images are amazing and makes for a great advertisement for wildlife photography.

As always, here are the highly commended images that all came very close to cracking the top 3 and making it through to the grand finals.

Highly Commended Images – June 2012

Wild Eye Nature Photography Competition - June 2012

Starry Night

Image by Hendri Venter

What makes this image truly special is that is was stitched together out of 6 portrait images.  That aside, it is a fantastic example of night time photography which seems to be a focus for many photographers right now.  Great image!

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Wild Eye Nature Photography Competition - June 2012

Side by Side

Image by Johan Barnard

Any wildlife photographer will appreciate the skill in getting an images like this.  Not mentioning the opportunity to get a shot like this – priceless!

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Wild Eye Nature Photography Competition - June 2012

Ghost in the Darkness

Image by A Swartz

Solid composition.  Great drama.  Awesome image.

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Wild Eye Nature Photography Competition - June 2012

Elephant Plains Leopard

Image by Liesl Koch

This might be a plain and simple leopard image but one that pops out at you.  The dark background and simple composition makes for a classic leopard image.

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Wild Eye Nature Photography Competition - June 2012

Desert Nights

Image by Basie van Zyl

A single exposure of 2,394 seconds.  Absolutely brilliant!

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Wild Eye Nature Photography Competition - June 2012

Ostrich Eye

Image by Liam Cornell

A very unique, and well executed, image of an unusual subject.  Great composition, lovely colors, awesome image.

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Wild Eye Nature Photography Competition - June 2012

Keetman Nights

Image by Ruby Wolff

About as good a night scape-image as you’ll ever see.  The photographer did an amazing job of balancing all the different light sources and the composition makes for an incredibly striking image.  Stunning!

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So there you have it.  An absolutely amazing collection of wildlife and nature images.

To check out all the entries that were received during June click here.  You can also check out all the July entries here – some great wildlife images being posted!!

If you have not yet entered check out all the competition details, rules and image submission guidelines on this page which also features a gallery of the the winners thus far.

As you will have seen the Wild Eye website have undergone a serious revamp.  Make sure to stay tuned as this is just the beginning of a series of exciting announcement!

As always I look forward to hearing your comments on the winning images.  Please feel free to congratulate the winners and highly commended photographers in the comment section as well.  After all, that’s what on online community is all about!

Until next time,

Gerry van der Walt

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