This stunning photograph, taken by 23-year-old Thomas Hempelmann from Greifswald, Germany, of a kestrel on a branch full of cherry blossoms, has won the GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022 competition.


In Europe's premier photography competition, which considered by some to have even higher standards than the UK's Wildlife Photographer of the Year, finding a winner is never easy. This year, Hempelmann came out on top with his picture, titled 'The Florist', in a field of more than 400 GDT members from 11 countries. Overall, 6,400 photographs were submitted.

About the GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2022

Every year the competition is exclusively run for the Society's members (unlike the competition GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year, which is open to all photographers resident in Europe).

A shortlist was judged by Corinna Leonbacher, Carsten Ott and Florian Smit, before the GDT members’ voted from ten images in each of the seven categories: Birds, Mammals, Other Animals, Plants and Fungi, Landscapes, Nature's Studio and this year's special category in co-operation with NABU Foundation for National Natural Heritage: Beech – Tree of the Year 2022. The beech is considered the ecologically most important tree species in Germany, hence the idea to dedicate a separate category to it.

A lion portrait

Hempelmann was cycling home from an unsuccessful photo tour when he spotted the bird of prey sitting on a lamp post. He quickly stopped and got his camera out to take a few shots: "The pictures were not very special at all. But when the kestrel rose up and then settled between the white blossoms that I had already spotted from the corner of my eye, my heart began to beat faster as I had imagined such a situation many times before. While I was still pondering whether to take off my 2x extender to include more of the tree in the picture, he was already gone again. In the end, it was only a few seconds that made my day and I whistled loudly with joy all the way home."

Below is a selection of images from this year's competition.


To view the images as a slideshow, click on the arrows in the top right hand corner of the photos below.

Category: Birds, Overall Winner: The florist © Thomas Hempelmann/GDT 2022
Category: Mammals, Highly commended: Seaweed toy © Celia Kujala/GDT 2022
Category: Nature's Studio, Highly commended: Curved © Frauke Fuch/GDT 2022
Category: Landscapes, Winner: Wasgau illumination © Steffen Jung/GDT 2022
Category: Birds; Highly commended: Night circus © Robin Schütz/GDT 2022
Category: Mammals, Winner: Hippo spout © Jose Fragozo/GDT 2022
Category: Other Animals, Highly commended: Glamour frog © Wilfried Pinzl/GDT 2022
Category: Other Animals, Winner: Take off © Heinz Buls/GDT 2022
Category: Plants and Fungi, Winner: Foxglove and fern © Felix Wesch/GDT 2022
Category: Nature's Studio, Highly commended: Abstract Painting © Uwe Hasubek/GDT 2022
Special Category: Beech - Tree of the Year, in cooperation with NABU-Foundation for National Natural Heritage, Highly commended: Beech wood in the snow © Jens Kählert/GDT 2022
Category: Other Animals, Highly commended: Traces © Heiko Herrmann/GDT 2022
Category: Nature's Studio, Winner: The Wave © Radomir Jakubowski/GDT 2022
Category: Other Animals, Runner-up: In motion © Christian-Dietrich Morawitz/GDT 2022
Category: mammals, Highly commended: Secret meeting © Heinz Buls/GDT 2022
Category: Nature's Studio, Jury's Prize: Damselfly embers © Hermann Hirsch/GDT 2022
Special Category: Beech - Tree of the Year, in cooperation with NABU-Foundation for National Natural Heritage, Winner: Common beech in fog © Stefan Imig/GDT 2022
Category: Birds, Runner-up: Barn owl © Karsten Mosebach/GDT 2022
Category: Landscapes, Highly commended: Sunrise in an ice cave © Uwe Hasubek/GDT 2022
Category: Other Animals: Highly commended: Alien spaceship on planet plankton © Andy Schmidt/GDT 2022


Tom GilksPictures editor, BBC Wildlife Magazine