Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014: call for entries

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 competition has now started its global search for the most inspiring, evocative, compelling, challenging nature images.

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Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 launch.

Calling all young, amateur and professional photographers!

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 competition has now started its global search for the most inspiring, evocative, compelling, challenging nature images.

For someone who has seen more than his fair share of wildlife photography, chairman of the jury Jim Brandenburg is frustrated by the thought that there are images that never get the attention they deserve. “I know that there are some amazing wildlife images out there that people will never get to see,” explains Jim. “A lot of photographers either aren’t great at editing their own images or don’t recognise the brilliance in some of their work. These are exactly the shots I want to see in this year’s competition.

“It takes courage to step up to the plate and put your photos forward, but the rewards for those who do can be enormous. I won Wildlife Photographer of the Year 25 years ago. It opened doors for me and allowed me to have an amazing career. The publicity it generates is astonishing and last year was one of the biggest in terms of media coverage. I really want to encourage every professional and dedicated amateur photographer out there to think about entering, because it can be a huge and fundamentally career-defining move.”

For those just starting out in the world of wildlife photography, Jim is clear about what delivers success. “I think talent is oversold,” he says. “Passion is vital. It’s what gets people out of bed at ungodly hours of the morning. It’s what drives that push for excellence, spending weeks on location to get the perfect shot. You can’t fake it.”

And trips to exotic locations don’t figure in Jim’s recipe for success. “I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world on wildlife assignments,” he explains, “and there seems to be a feeling that you have to head to Namibia, the Antarctic, Tibet or some other sexy location to get an image worthy enough. But the fact is that your back yard holds an incredible number of amazing subjects. I’ve been spending more time recently exploring my local patch and I’d count some of those shots among the very best in my portfolio. As my photography continues I’m discovering that my back yard is a magical place. Add a deep knowledge of an area you get to know well to a real passion for photography and you’ve got a winning combination.”

This year there are a number of new categories that launch the competition into new territory. “I’m particularly excited about the Timelapse category,” says Jim. “It will allow us to capture movement through still images and that’s a really thrilling idea. Even iPhones have the ability to capture timelapse photos these days.”

“Other new categories take us into areas that aren’t traditionally well represented – like Amphibians and Reptiles, Invertebrates, and Plants and Fungi,” he adds. “We want to make sure that we have diversity of subject matter and capture the whole of the natural world in its full glory.”

And where does he see the competition in another 50 years? “There’s no doubt that wildlife photography is driven by technology,” says Jim. “Cameras are getting smaller, lighter, more sensitive and faster. I was out the other day on a moonlight shoot and my camera could capture much more than I could see. There’s a lot going on at night and photographers spend much of their time sneaking around in the dark looking for it. I’m really excited about where this new technology will take us and how it will allow increasing numbers of people to uncover more secrets of animal behaviour.”

“I hope that photographers involved in this competition play a part in preserving the world’s fragile habitats,” he adds. “That’s why I think it’s such a valuable thing to be involved in: the belief that it really does make a difference.”

 

EXPERT PHOTOGRAPHIC ADVICE

Fourteen-year-old Udayan Rao Pawar, the Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013, camped out on the banks of the Chambal River in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh to secure his winning image.

Titled Mother’s Little Headful it shows a gharial with her young piled on her head. There are estimated to be only about 200 breeding adults left in the wild.

Here are Udayan’s tips for other young photographers…

Love your subject

Most importantly, you must love being in the wild. It helps to build up naturalist skills and understanding of the animals you are photographing. Wild animals do not pose the way you want, but their behaviour is not totally unpredictable, and by understanding their habits you are better able to anticipate, plan and capture that ‘rare’ moment.

Know your gear

Good equipment is useful, but it is more important to be thoroughly familiar with its settings, so that you are able to react reflexively in any situation. To take my winning shot I used an entry-level DSLR with a 100–400mm lens.

Try different things

I experiment as much as possible because digital photography makes it easy to rectify mistakes and crop images at leisure. I also have a strong inclination towards including as much habitat and landscape as possible rather than cropping the images tightly.

Choose the right shot

An outstanding image is not difficult to spot. Judges look for artistic merit, originality and innovation. I chose my winning image because it had an emotional and conservation message and showed a fundamental bond of nature in a very interesting manner.

 

NEW CATEGORIES AND SPECIAL AWARDS FOR 2014

● Mammals
● Birds
● Amphibians and Reptiles
● Invertebrates
● Plants and Fungi
● Underwater Species
● Earth’s Environments
● World in Our Hands
● Black and White
● Natural Design

Special Award: Rising Star Portfolio

Special Award: Timelapse

Special Award: Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year

Special Award: Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio

Special Award: Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year (10 Years and Under, 11-14 Years, 15-17 Years)

Special Interactive Award: This year sees the launch of the WILD-I Award

 

HOW TO ENTER THE COMPETITION

Enter Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014 to take part in the world’s most prestigious photographic event.

There are a host of new awards including Rising Star Portfolio and Timelapse and categories that will cover even more of the natural world.

You could win a trip to London to attend the exclusive awards, see your images tour the world and enjoy international media coverage.

ENTRY INFORMATION

Categories Head online to explore the new categories. Read the descriptions carefully before deciding which one is best to enter.

The rules The competition prides itself on setting the highest ethical standards for wildlife photography. It has clear rules on image editing so check online for more info.

Online information You can find details of the award categories, the rules, image-editing guidelines and answers to frequently asked questions at www.wildlifephotographeroftheyear.com

Entry fee All adult category awards cost £30 while entry to the young photographer categories (under 17 years old) is free.

Adult prizes Compete for a share of the £10,000 prize pot, inclusion in the award exhibition, and to see your photos appear in BBC Wildlife Magazine and the commemorative book.

Young competition prizes Young photographers (under 17 years old) may enter 10 of their best pictures for a chance to win £1,000, to attend the event and to get a masterclass with a leading photographer.

 

Deadline Entries must be received by 27 February 2014.

 

The competition is co-owned by BBC Worldwide and the Natural History Museum, London.

 

Want to get tips on great nature photography?

Whatever your level of experience, we can help you to develop your skills and take better images. Order our guide How To Photograph Wildlife at www.buysubscriptions.com/photoguide

 

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