Down Under delights in the Aus Geo Nature Photographer of the Year Awards
Kangaroos howling at the moon, mysterious seadragons and glowing forest fungi feature in this year’s Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year Awards. The unique photo contest celebrates flora, fauna and landscapes of the Australasian region.
The contest spans nine categories, including Animal Portraits, Landscapes and Monochrome shots. An additional Portfolio prize is offered to the best collection of six or more images. Entry is open to photographers of all nationalities. The only rule is images must feature natural sights from Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica or the New Guinea regions.
The top prize this year went to Australian photographer Scott Portelli for a genuinely striking portrait of a Leafy Seadragon. Portelli explains the image came about when he was caught in a six-week lockdown at the beginning of pandemic while on holiday at a tiny campground on the Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia.
“Over the course of the six weeks I had the opportunity to dive regularly, becoming familiar with the terrain, getting to know the dive site and spotting a few individual Seadragons,” says Portelli. “I became acquainted with the resident dragons of Second Valley and this is how I managed to get the shot.”
Chrissie Goldrick, editor-in-chief of Australian Geographic, notes the irony of pandemic lockdown restrictions actually helping create the conditions for the winning photograph.
“The restrictions experienced by us all in the lead up to the competition haven’t impacted the quality and breadth of the photography on display in this year’s exhibition,” says Goldrick. “In fact, the winning photo came about as result of the pandemic, so the photographers have shown great resourcefulness, and their photos once again demonstrate the raw beauty and power of the natural history of our biogeographic region.”
One notable highlight is Mike George’s stunning shot of a kangaroo appearing to howl at the moon. George captured the shot by cautiously sneaking up on an Eastern grey kangaroo at night.
“I had to crawl through long grass downhill from them to try and get close enough to backlight one against the rising full moon,” explains George. “As I took a few shots my model tilted its head back and opened its mouth slightly.”
Other highlights from this above-average crop of nature photographs include a magically illuminated blast of water from a humpback whale, an incredibly rare glimpse of glowing mushrooms, and a sublime monochrome show of a cloud of bushfire smoke looming over the Australian landscape.
The Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition is produced by the South Australian Museum. Take a look through our gallery at more highlights from this remarkable photography competition.
Source: South Australian Museum