Digital Cameras

Gallery: Astonishing images of the natural world in the 2019 BigPicture winners

The Human Touch by James Gifford, Human/Nature Winner, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Human Touch by James Gifford, Human/Nature Winner, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo
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Curiosity by Mikhail Korostelev, Terrestrial Wildlife Winner, South Kamchatka Sanctuary, Russia
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Curiosity by Mikhail Korostelev, Terrestrial Wildlife Winner, South Kamchatka Sanctuary, Russia
Taking Center Stage by Audun Rikardsen, Grand Prize Winner, Tromsø, Norway. 
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Taking Center Stage by Audun Rikardsen, Grand Prize Winner, Tromsø, Norway. 
Clouds of Salt by Chiara Salvadori, Art of Nature Winner, Salar de Antofalla, Argentina
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Clouds of Salt by Chiara Salvadori, Art of Nature Winner, Salar de Antofalla, Argentina
Resilience by Julie Fletcher, Terrestrial Wildlife Finalist, Kangaroo Island, South Australia
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Resilience by Julie Fletcher, Terrestrial Wildlife Finalist, Kangaroo Island, South Australia
Boneyard Waltz by Daniel Dietrich, Terrestrial Wildlife Finalist, Kaktovic, Alaska
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Boneyard Waltz by Daniel Dietrich, Terrestrial Wildlife Finalist, Kaktovic, Alaska
The Human Touch by James Gifford, Human/Nature Winner, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo
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The Human Touch by James Gifford, Human/Nature Winner, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Traveling to the Edge by Buddy Eleazer, Terrestrial Wildlife Finalist,Namib-Naukluft Desert, Namibia
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Traveling to the Edge by Buddy Eleazer, Terrestrial Wildlife Finalist,Namib-Naukluft Desert, Namibia
Losing Wings by Piotr Naskrecki, Winged Life Winner, Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique
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Losing Wings by Piotr Naskrecki, Winged Life Winner, Gorongosa National Park, Mozambique
Duality by Armand Sarlangue, Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora Winner, Senja Island, Norway
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Duality by Armand Sarlangue, Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora Winner, Senja Island, Norway
Bohemian Skirt by Jinggong Zhang, Aquatic Life Finalist, Anilao, Philippines
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Bohemian Skirt by Jinggong Zhang, Aquatic Life Finalist, Anilao, Philippines
Sea Dragon by Pier Mané, Aquatic Life Winner, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
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Sea Dragon by Pier Mané, Aquatic Life Winner, Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Longest Migration by Peter Mather, Photo Story: Pushing the Limit Winner, Northern Yukon, Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, United States and Canada
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Longest Migration by Peter Mather, Photo Story: Pushing the Limit Winner, Northern Yukon, Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, United States and Canada
Longest Migration by Peter Mather, Photo Story: Pushing the Limit Winner, Northern Yukon, Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, United States and Canada
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Longest Migration by Peter Mather, Photo Story: Pushing the Limit Winner, Northern Yukon, Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, United States and Canada
Longest Migration by Peter Mather, Photo Story: Pushing the Limit Winner, Northern Yukon, Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, United States and Canada
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Longest Migration by Peter Mather, Photo Story: Pushing the Limit Winner, Northern Yukon, Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, United States and Canada
Midnight Oil by Mac Stone, Art of Nature Finalist, South Carolina, United States
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Midnight Oil by Mac Stone, Art of Nature Finalist, South Carolina, United States
The Fallen Idol III by David Frutos Egea, Landscapes, Waterscapes and Flora Finalist, Agramon, Spain
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The Fallen Idol III by David Frutos Egea, Landscapes, Waterscapes and Flora Finalist, Agramon, Spain
Changing Borders by Luis Manuel Vilariño Lopez, Landscapes, Waterscapes and Flora Finalist, Big Island, Hawaii, United States
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Changing Borders by Luis Manuel Vilariño Lopez, Landscapes, Waterscapes and Flora Finalist, Big Island, Hawaii, United States
The Renardo Legacy by Check My Dream, Landscapes, Waterscapes and Flora Finalist, Flakstad Beach, Norway
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The Renardo Legacy by Check My Dream, Landscapes, Waterscapes and Flora Finalist, Flakstad Beach, Norway
Crab Eater Seal Resting on the Ice by Florian Ledoux, Aquatic Life Finalist, Antarctica
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Crab Eater Seal Resting on the Ice by Florian Ledoux, Aquatic Life Finalist, Antarctica
Throne of Kelp by Ellen Sophie Cuylaerts, Aquatic Life Finalist, Farne Islands, United Kingdom
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Throne of Kelp by Ellen Sophie Cuylaerts, Aquatic Life Finalist, Farne Islands, United Kingdom

At a time when hours of incredible documentary vision of the natural world are just a click away it's easy to become jaded with nature photography. The winners of this year's BigPicture: Natural World Photography Competition will surely snap you out of that complacency with a truly jaw-dropping selection of images, including the profoundly moving snap above of an orphaned gorilla with its human caretaker.

Presented by the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, the BigPicture competition is only in its sixth year, but has quickly become one of the most impressive nature photography competitions in an increasingly crowded photo-contest community. The competition features six main categories covering standard wildlife and landscape topics, plus there is an additional Photo Story category asking for five to eight images that tell a story. This year the story theme was Pushing the Limits.

Taking Center Stage by Audun Rikardsen, Grand Prize Winner, Tromsø, Norway. 
Taking Center Stage by Audun Rikardsen, Grand Prize Winner, Tromsø, Norway. 

The overall Grand Prize in the 2019 contest went to Audun Rikardsen for a magnificently timed shot of a black grouse performing an exuberant display in front of a gorgeous Norwegian landscape (above). Wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas, Chair of this year's jury, called the image a stunning combination of technical skill and creative brilliance.

"Here, the photographer has managed to capture the grouse's breeding display in a way that transports the viewer to the scene," says Eszterhas. "It is a testament to how patience, dedication, and deeply knowing your subject can produce a remarkable image."

Boneyard Waltz by Daniel Dietrich, Terrestrial Wildlife Finalist, Kaktovic, Alaska
Boneyard Waltz by Daniel Dietrich, Terrestrial Wildlife Finalist, Kaktovic, Alaska

Other amazing highlights include Daniel Dietrich's shot of polar bears wandering past a pile of whale bones in Alaska (above), Chiara Salvadori's psychedelic and alien snap of one of the world's largest salt pans, and Peter Mather's Photo Story winning narrative chronicling animal migrations in Alaska.

Take a look through the gallery to see more this year's stunning winners and finalists.

These images originally appeared on bioGraphic, an online magazine about science and sustainability and the official media sponsor for the California Academy of Sciences' BigPicture: Natural World Photography Competition.

2 comments
ljaques
A few really interesting pics this time. Love Curiosity, the bear. Love the fascinating textures in the Namibia and Mozambique pics. Were the smaller stitched tracks (above and below the oryx tracks) from a scorpion, I wonder? I think wallpaper of dropped ant wings (sans ants) would be interesting to have on my dining room wall. But my favorite was Duality, the spike mountain in Norway. At first, I thought the left-hand water was a mountain lake. But after studying it a bit, it appears that the textures misled me and it's the same ocean, not a lake. Kudos to all the photographers.
owlbeyou
These images are remarkable. The natural world is changing ever so quickly thanks to us. One problem I have with these images is that they seem hyper-real, and it isn't clear how much they've been enhanced with Photoshop.