Nature Photography Competition – March Winner!

Gerry van der Walt All Authors Leave a Comment

After more than 300 amazing entries and a very, very difficult judging process I am pleased to announce the winner and two runners up for March 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.

This month the scores were incredibly close and we ended up with a tie for second place and a number if images very close behind them!   With all off that said, I am proud to give you our winner for March, two runner’s up and the seven highly commended images that made the Top 10!

Winning Image – March 2012


 Rocket Landing

Image by Morkel Erasmus

 For his winning image Morkel 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 Biggs:  I absolutely love this image. Super timing, and excellent technique to capture such a beautiful subject. What makes this image stand out for me is the perfect timing right before a landing. It is quite difficult to capture kingfishers, as they are fast and often fleeting, and this capture nailed it. The added bonus of having the catch light in the eye only makes for a more stunning image.

David Lloyd:  I’ve always admired good bird photography especially when the subject is doing something quickly. And while it’s relatively easy to photograph a bird on a twig, or photograph one leaving it, this one must be much more difficult in my view, because this one is arriving. That shows the foresight of the photographer.  Once again its the color and uncluttered background that makes this one for me, not to mention the action too.

Greg du Toit:   For me, a still photography image is all about communicating a moment! Here the photographer has communicated the moment of a juvenile Malachite Kingfisher about to land but what makes this image a winner, is the clear, concise and exacting way in which the photographer captured this fleeting moment in time.

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 Runner Up – March 2012


 Forest Retreat

Image by Laura Dyer

 Since we had a tie for second place, this month Laura and Gavin will, apart from progressing to the grand finals, receive:

– R 750 rental voucher from Wild Eye

– 8GB CF Memory Card

– Wild Eye Baseball Cap

 Judges Feedback:

Andy Biggs:  The rim light on the bear is what sets this image apart. The light helps create the shape of the subject, which helps create a visual separation between in and its foreground and background. There are two different types of contrast: luminance and hue. We have both going on here, and that’s a great thing that helps focus the viewer’s attention on what matters most. The background is darker than the subject, and the background is a totally different hue than the subject. The combination of those two different types of contrast really lend a helping hand, combined with excellent color and angle of light.

David Lloyd:  I’ve never seen a bear in the wild so I can only imagine what this must be like. I prefer simple pictures really, and this is that. The main subject is small but it is still the dominant aspect of the picture and the rim light is the element that helps that nicely.

Greg du Toit:   This is a wonderful image. The beautiful back and side lighting creates an ethereal feel and the photographer has also skillfully given us a glimpse into the habitat of the bear.

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 Runner Up – March 2012


 Leopard Sunrise

Image by Gavin Tonkinson

 Since we had a tie for second place, this month Gavin and Laura will, apart from progressing to the grand finals, receive:

 –  750 rental voucher from Wild Eye

– 8GB CF Memory Card

– Wild Eye Baseball Cap

Judges Feedback:

Andy Biggs:   I think wildlife photography is often all about the shape of the subject, and a silhouette is the best way to do accentuate the shape. In this example, the leopard is yawning and the photograph was taken at the best moment to have its mouth wide open. I love the shape of the tip of the tongue, as well as the perfect background color. The position of the photographer is key here, as the shape of the tree branches doesn’t interfere with the shape of the leopard.

David Lloyd:  I’m not a fan of silhouettes normally, but I did pick this in my own top three. Aside from the fact that it’s one of my favourite animals, this one just seems to catch well the essence of the end of a day in Africa. Happily the photographer hasn’t gotten in too close and held back and caught the shape and environment that is the tree.

Greg du Toit:   The strong highlights and shadows in this image hold my attention as my eye wonders up and down the frame and along the branches. The perfectly silhouetted leopard allows my eye to rest for a while and the golden sky adds a fitting backdrop. This is a simple yet pleasing framing

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 A big congratulations to Morkel, Laura and Gavin 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 9 months left and another 27 images that will join the above the three images from January, February and March 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  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, very close to being in the top three,  in the March competition.

Highly Commended Images – March 2012


 Giraffe on the Plain

Image by Isak Pretorius

 This is an incredibly striking image showing the wide open savannahs of Africa and almost all the judges commented on how it could work as a big canvas print.  Some comments revolved around the photographer possibly getting a little closer to the giraffe to make them stand out more but other than that a truly fantastic image.

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 Full Moon Chameleon

Image by Albie Venter

 No doubt this is an incredibly striking image.  It takes skill, and an understanding of light to be able to expose for the moon and use fill light create this image.  A few of the discussions revolved around photographing diurnal animals with spotlights / flash but this always ended up back on the actual image and the quality thereof.

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 Glaring Hippo

Image by Morkel Erasmus

 Powerful image which is complimented by a great conversion to monochrome.  Combine this with that a lovely low angle and you have a top class image.

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Image by Nobby Clarke

 We have not had too many macro images in the finals but this one definitely deserves a spot.  The sharpness, color and contrast of this image is absolutely perfect and especially when considering the subject and shallow depth of field the photographer would have had to deal with.  Great great macro image.

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 Rhino Fight

Image by Grant Marcus

 Talk about content and action.  This must have been a spectacular sighting and the photographer did well to capture it as sharply as he did.  The one concern was that the horizon is slightly skew to the left but other than that it is a very powerful wildlife image.

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Image by Mark Dumbleton

 This one caught our eye immediately along with this image which is very similar.  Great use of spotlight combined with the leopard yawning makes for a very strong image of one of Africa’s most photographed animals.

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 Kubu Nights

Image by Isak Pretorius

 As with the image that came third in the January competition, this image is a great example of how you don’t have to pack your camera away when the sun goes down.  The photographer has succeeded in creating a magical image which shows the African night sky along with a very well lit foreground subject.  Stunning shot!

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 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 – this month’s judging was particularly tough!

As always, 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:


The competition for April 2012 is already open and there are some fantastic images being uploaded.  Check out the April 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!

As you might recall from last month, 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!

One more but of news before we wrap it up.  Yesterday Wild Eye secured a brand new, very exciting prize sponsor for this competition.  This exciting new brand will not only add great value to each month’s prizes but will also change the way you see photographic travel and accessories.  More details to follow soon so make sure to keep an eye on the blog!

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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