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Winners: Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2018

Winners: Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2018
27 Feb
The winners of the Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2018 competition have been announced across ten categories – take a look at all of the winning images below

Set up in 2011 to reveal and celebrate the work of the most talented outdoor photographers, 2018’s Outdoor Photographer of the Year (OPOTY) competition attracted over 20,000 entries from more than 60 countries, including South Africa, Australia, USA, Canada, Italy, Spain, the UK and the Falkland Islands. The winners and runners up of each category have now been announced, with Robert Birkby from West Yorkshire chosen as the overall winner for his photograph of a herd of sheep huddled in a snowstorm in the South Pennines. He’ll receive £2,000, while each category winner takes home a £500 Fjällräven Award from the outdoor-gear retailer.

The category-winning images shown below span the globe, from the waves in French Polynesia, to the rock face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park; from the wetlands of Louisiana to the wrestling pits of Varanasi, India; and from the underwater caves of the Yucatán Peninsula to the snowy South Pennines of Yorkshire.

Speaking about Robert Birkby’s winning image, head judge Steve Watkins, editor of Outdoor Photography Magazine said: ‘Robert’s image captures just about every aspect of what is required to be a top-level outdoor photographer; from the willingness to go the extra mile to be out there shooting in extreme conditions to the calmness and clear thinking then necessary to pull together a technically brilliant and creatively compelling composition. All of the judges had an immediate and strong emotional response to his image, which manages to combine the chilling feeling of being there in the blizzard with the slightest hint of humour at the hopeless predicament of the hardy sheep. It's an outstanding image and fully deserves the Overall Winner award.’

Overall Winner Light on the Land Winner OPOTY Robert Birkby

Overall Winner and Light on the Land WINNER

Robert Birkby 

(Near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, England)

‘Much of the higher ground in the South Pennines is relatively featureless, but these sheep had found shelter between a snowdrift and dry stone wall. The conditions during this storm were some of the worst I’ve encountered and the gale force wind was driving snow straight at me. I used my trusty 50mm lens with its small front element, cupping my left hand around it as a makeshift lens hood. Holding the camera still in the wind was difficult, so I used a fast shutter speed to keep things sharp and capture the falling snowflakes.’

Geographical Magazine

Small World Winner OPOTY Stefan Gerrits

Small World – Winner 

Stefan Gerrits 

(Parainent, Finland)

‘In Finland, the mountain apollo (Parnassius apollo) was one of the first species of insects to be protected by law, as the population decreased because of a disease, acid rain and climate change. The apollos were hardest hit in the south-west, where there had been heat waves and little precipitation. The presence of orpine flowers is critical for apollos and the lack of rain means there are fewer host plants for caterpillars to feed on. I photograph this species each summer, although it gets harder every year; this individual is warming up on a heath that had already turned into autumn colours in June. I overexposed the image to create a high-key effect, which helped to make its red eyes stand out.’

Geographical Magazine

Live the Adventure Winner OPOTY Greg Lecoeur

Live the Adventure – Winner 

Greg Lecoeur 

(Rangiroa, French Polynesia)

‘Passionate about the marine world, I usually travel to the different oceans of the planet to photograph marine creatures. But in Polynesia it was another type of creature that I immortalised. One of my dreams was to go and face the waves breaking on the reefs and see how surfers were able to tame the power of nature. It was in Rangiroa in the small pass of Avaturu that I dipped my fins with the local surfers. That day the waves were powerful and I hesitated to get into the water but the good lazy atmosphere on the site motivated me and we shared exciting moments in the middle of thunderous waves.’

Geographical Magazine

Wildlife Insight Winner OPOTY Salvador Colvee Nebot

Wildlife Insight – Winner 

Salvador Colvée Nebot 

(Valencia, Spain)

‘I was taking pictures near a waterhole that attracts several species of mammals and birds. I was hidden 30m away and saw that a pair of common kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) were using these dead agave flower plants as a perch from which to access the waterhole. The weather that day was cloudy and the light wasn’t good, so I decided to increase the exposure to create a high-key image.’

Geographical Magazine

Spirit of Travel Winner OPOTY Matt Parry

Spirit of Travel – Winner 

Matt Parry 

(Varanasi, India)

‘64-year old SiyaRam hangs from the beams above the wrestling pit in Varanasi, India, in the middle of doing stomach crunches as part of an intense warm up routine that belied his age. I was in India on an assignment and had wanted to photograph a Kushti wrestling akhara. This form of the sport is steeped in history, culture and tradition but is gradually dying out due to government pressure for participants to move on to a modern mat-based wrestling format in order to compete at international level. SiyaRam has been training in this akhara for 13 years, and what started as a hobby is now a major part of his daily life.’

Geographical Magazine

Under Exposed Winner OPOTY Greg Lecoeur

Under Exposed – Winner 

Greg Lecoeur 

(Shetland Islands, Scotland)

‘Presumed to have been introduced to the Shetland Isles during Viking times, or maybe earlier, the otter has adapted to marine life and proliferated. More used to living in the rivers and lakes of Scotland, they are now found along the coastline and dive into the sea to feed on marine animals, especially crustaceans – some of the more experienced otters attack octopuses. The otter is a very fearful and shy animal, so to make this image it was necessary to spend time studying its behavior and habits at sea. Once I was immersed, it was necessary to be patient. I was lucky to eventually have the opportunity to capture this image.’

Geographical Magazine

View from Above Winner OPOTY Tom Putt

View from Above – Winner 

Tom Putt 

(Namib Desert, Namibia)

‘Flying low over the endless sand dunes of the Namib Desert, I noticed the cloud cover provided this interesting play of light on the landscape. When the sun heats up the dunes, it draws the black minerals to the surface. When I came to process the image, the stunning colours revealed themselves.’

Geographical Magazine

At the Waters Edge Winner OPOTY Roberto Marchegiani

At the Water’s Edge – Winner

Roberto Marchegiani

(Lake Martin, Louisiana, USA)

‘The wetlands of Louisiana are a gigantic tangle of canals, swamps and forests that stretch around the great Mississippi estuary. In autumn the great cypresses are covered with Spanish moss. I was there for a week and every day at dawn and at dusk I went out sailing in a small boat. Eventually the fog and the delicate light of dawn turned the bayou into a fairytale setting, and when this small, solitary tree appeared through the mist in the middle of the canal, it looked like the entrance to a mysterious world.’

Geographical Magazine

Young OPOTY Winner OPOTY Riccardo Marchegiani

Young Outdoor Photographer of the Year – Winner 

Riccardo Marchegiani

(Simien National Park, Ethiopia)

‘The gelada monkeys are an endemic species to Ethiopia, living mainly in the Simien Mountains in groups that at night find shelter in caves located on steep slopes – some are more than 800m up. These monkeys are very photogenic both for the colour of their thick manes, which are similar to those of lions, and for their red breasts that look like hearts. Every morning they explore the slopes and then return to the caves at sunset.’

The winners, runners up and the shortlisted images from each category can all be viewed at www.opoty.co.uk

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