The organisers of the Outdoor Photographer of the Year competition have revealed the winners of the contest's nine categories. Now in its seventh year, the competition received more than 18,000 entries by professional and amateur photographers from over 60 countries around the world.
The overall winner and runner-up – chosen from these category winners – will be announced live on stage at The Photography Show at the NEC, Birmingham on Saturday 17 March 2018 at 2.50pm.
Wildlife Insight winner: Jose Fragozo (Portugal) Nairobi National Park, Kenya. "This image shows two giraffes and three impalas in the rain in the forest region of Nairobi National Park, Kenya, which is also home to the Athi lion pride. I have observed these lions hunting many times in the rain, which possibly explains why different species of preyed animals stay together; it's a defence mechanism, so they can collectively sense predators better. In this case, however, the lions were far away. The photo was taken from inside a 4x4 vehicle, and the major challenge was keeping the camera and lens dry."
Live the Adventure winner: Mikolaj Nowacki (Poland) The Baltic Sea. "It was my first cruise on a yacht on the open sea and there were only two of us – myself and captain Jacek Pasikowski. I was helping Jacek take his small yacht Fri ('Free' in Danish) from the coast of Sweden to Poland, across the Baltic Sea. It was a stormy day, but the captain – who has more than 40 years of experience sailing in open seas – remained completely calm and relaxed, even though waves were breaking over him every few minutes. While taking this picture I was hiding partly below a folding canvas roof; scared, but pretending not to be."
At the Water's Edge winner: Witold Ziomek (Poland). Thórsmörk (the valley of Thor), Iceland. "After a morning full of drama, during which we almost 'drowned' our car in a river – and then pulled out a young Frenchman who had – we reached Thórsmörk, in the south of Iceland. We walked up to a viewpoint where we could see... exactly nothing, due to the fog. We waited, and eventually the fog started to lift, but I still needed to wait a lot longer for a car to appear in the perfect position to add a sense of scale to the mountain landscape."
A View from Above winner: Tom Sweetman (United Kingdom) Chiang Mai, Thailand. "It was just before sunset in Chiang Mai and I decided to ride my scooter alongside the famous Ping River. As I was approaching a bridge I stopped to take a break and noticed that it was a motorbike bridge for locals, connecting two villages. I took this aerial photograph with my drone to document the incredible patterns in the river and the locals crossing the bridge on their scooters. Some days you just capture the moment."
Small World winner: William Mallett (United Kingdom) Saffron Walden, Essex, England. "The asparagus plant in my garden – which has become a bush and produced berries – is a haven for wildlife. I normally look for spiders in it to photograph, but on this particular evening, after a rain shower, it was covered in tiny snails. The light below is from a backlit asparagus berry; I always try to visit after a rain shower, as I find backlit droplets bring the images to life."
Light on the Land winner: Simon Baxter (United Kingdom) North Yorkshire, England. "I originally captured a similar scene to this during a flurry of unexpected snow in April 2016. It's typically the first spot I come to when exploring this private woodland, and I couldn't help but capture it again when I was treated to these wonderful – but rare – conditions of mist with a hint of warm light as the morning sun tried to break through. The combination of the damp cobwebs, fallen birch, dominant old pine and the soft light filling this atmospheric and shallow valley makes it a favourite spot of mine for solitude."
Spirit of Travel winner: Andy Holliman (United Kingdom) Kangerlussuaq airport, Greenland. "Kangerlussuaq airport is the largest airport in Greenland, so it is not only a busy hub for domestic flights, but also the main arrival point for international travellers. Air Greenland has a near monopoly on flights, so almost everything is in the company's bright red colours. It was the simple colour palette of this scene that appealed to me, including the signposts that are apparently directing the planes to their destinations. My departure had been delayed by three days due to bad weather on the coast, so seeing the arrival of the plane that would return me to Copenhagen was welcome. It may not look that way, but the end of winter was near and within weeks the snow would have cleared."
Under Exposed winner: Saeed Rashid (United Kingdom) Sohal surgeonfish, Fury Shoals, Red Sea, Egypt. "In the summer months, sohal surgeonfish tend to mate and lay eggs on the top of the reefs in the Red Sea. They fiercely defend their egg patch and rush upon anything that invades that area. They will often swipe their tail, which has a bony protrusion sticking from it that can be as sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, towards the intruder. Because of this you need to make sure you don't get too close as a photographer's hands make a very easy target and often get cut."
Young OPOTY winner: Josiah Launstein, aged 12 (Canada) Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, near Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. "I love bighorns, and Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep are extra special because they are an endangered species. We had a harder time finding rams during our visit to their area this winter, but just as the light was beginning to fade I spotted this ram standing majestically on a high ridge. Photographing at -25°C is always a challenge and I was afraid I wouldn't have time to get my camera on my tripod before the ram disappeared from view. Instead, I leaned my camera against a solid support as I framed up my shot. I loved all the snow and sagebrush and knew immediately that I wanted it to be black and white."
The Outdoor Photographer of the Year competition reveals and celebrates the outstanding work of highly talented image makers and provides a powerful insight into the landscapes, wildlife and nature of the planet, and the adventures to be found on it. In this video, the contest judges discuss why they felt each of the category winners deserved to win.
The book Outdoor Photographer of the Year: Portfolio III will collect over 150 photos entered into the competition, published by Ammonite Press, RRP £25.
IBTimes UK shares nine additional photographs which narrowly lost out to the category winners, but which are included in the stunning coffee table book.
Light on the Land: Wojciech Kruczynski (Poland) Kallur lighthouse, Faroe Islands. "The picture consists of nine frames arranged in a three-by-three grid, which is quite difficult to put together and requires a lot of work, but with this beautiful place it was worth the effort. Weather conditions like this do not often occur in the Faroe Islands – I had to wait for three days in a tent in the rain for them. The hardest thing, however, was getting to the location to start with. My journey involved an aeroplane, bus, ferry, another bus and then a long walk on foot. I had to walk through a tunnel that is close to one and a half miles long and then do roughly the same distance along a mountain sheep path; on the way I was attacked by arctic skua that were so aggressive I had to carry an open tripod over my head. It was worth overcoming these difficulties, though, because Kallur lighthouse is located in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Because the cliff I was shooting from is very tall and vertical – and the wind blows hard – you definitely need a head for heights, and the rain will soak you again and again. You need to quickly take pictures and run away, again fighting with angry birds. The life of a landscape photographer is beautiful, isn't it?"
Wildlife Insight: Bence Máté (Hungary) Red fox and white-tailed eagle, Kiskunság National Park, Hungary. "Over the last four winters I have spent more than 200 full days photographing from a hide, and in this time there have been only three occasions when I've seen a fox and an eagle together. In this instance the fox didn't approach the hide, but deliberately teased the birds resting on the ice. They occasionally flapped towards him, which emboldened the fox more and more – he continued to provoke the birds for about 10 minutes before vanishing into the reeds. The scene was strengthened by the snow sitting on the ice and the foggy conditions, which enabled me to show my subjects in a completely white environment: this happens just a few times every winter."
View from Above: Laura Daly (United Kingdom) Duntulm, Isle of Skye, Scotland. "On our last night on the Isle of Skye, we ventured just five minutes from our accommodation to Duntulm Castle at sunset. Sharing the hillside with the midges and the sheep, we launched the drone, knowing the ruins were best seen from above. I chose to include the bright blue water of the ocean as it perfectly complemented the lush green grass, especially with the soft sunset light catching the walls of the castle. The view from above captures the beauty and lure of Skye, both natural and man-made."
Under Exposed: Pekka Tuuri (Finland) Great white shark, Isla Guadalupe, Mexico. "Isla Guadalupe is the world capital when it comes to observing great white sharks, but cage diving seriously limits the possibilities to take 'fresh' pictures. When I took this, the water close to the surface was quite milky, making photography very challenging. From out of the 'mist', I saw this great white shark lurking behind a school of fusiliers. I quickly focused on the shark and set a wide aperture to get focus blur on the fish, along with a fast shutter to avoid excessive motion blur. No flash was used and that was key to getting this picture."
Spirit of Travel: Gunarto Gunawan (Indonesia) Shwe Gu monastery, Bagan, Myanmar. "I took this photograph when I visited Shwe Gu monastery, which cares for orphans and trains them to be Buddhist monks. The orphans were gathering and playing, and I showed them a funny video on my iPhone – I did not expect them to be so excited! In the end, they were all scrambling to watch the video. Seeing them laugh, I immediately took my camera and photographed this magical moment."
Small World: Amy Bateman (United Kingdom) Kendal, Cumbria, England. "This frogspawn had been spawned in a puddle that was drying up on our farm in Cumbria. We rescued it as a way to teach my children about wildlife conservation and ecology, keeping it on our patio in a fish tank. I photographed it regularly throughout its growth to show the incredible rapid morphological development. We released the fully grown froglets back to a site close to their spawn site."
Live the Adventure: Mark Bridgwater (New Zealand) Temple Basin, Arthur's Pass, Canterbury, New Zealand. "There are some moments in time when the photography stars align; clouds break in the perfect spot and the sun shines exactly where you are standing. This was one of those moments for Charlie Lyons and myself. While most people were oblivious to the perfection we had found on our mid-week excursion, we were having the time of our lives."
At the Water's Edge: Jaak Sarv (Estonia) Prandi Springs, Järva County, Estonia. "This is the magic of an Estonian winter: although the temperature was -20°C, the water at this spring was flowing like it was summer. As the morning sun peeked out from behind the frost-covered trees it was like being in a fairy tale, with the warm orange light starting to penetrate the desolate blue landscape. To make the most of the scene I created a stitched panorama, reflecting the cinematic drama of the location."
Young OPOTY: Alicia Hayden (United Kingdom) Puffin, Isle of May, Scotland. "The misty grey background and subtle yellow lichens were the perfect background for the beautiful colours of this puffin's bright, breeding-season beak. I chose a close-up shot to show as much detail as possible, including the internal structure of the sand eels and the puffin's bill. I waited behind a rock for the perfect moment to arise when this puffin returned to land. Due to the low light and misty conditions, I used a wide aperture to deliver a sharp, yet atmospheric, portrait."
The overall winner and runner-up will be announced at The Photography Show at the NEC, Birmingham on 17 March 2018. The book – Outdoor Photographer of the Year: Portfolio III published by Ammonite Press, collecting over 150 of the best photos submitted to the competition, will also be launched at the show.