Wildlife photography judges bark up the right tree
For once, I agree with the judges about the winner of a photographic competition and exhibition.
US photographer Tim Laman’s picture of an orangutan scaling a 30-metre tree in the Indonesian rainforest – taken from above – is stunning.
But there are 15 other winners of various categories and the overall standard of this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum is outstanding.
There’s something for everyone: the quiet wonder of a bat flying through a broken window, the exoticism of a leopard in an Indian lane, the rawness of a vulture ripping flesh from a wildebeest, the cheekiness of a bird peering around a tree, the weirdness of a protracted duel between a parakeet and a monitor lizard that has settled in its nest, the amazing design of a fish that’s almost invisible because its minute silvery scales act like underwater mirrors, the cuteness of a bear cub holding on for dear life to its mother’s backside, the extraordinary detail of a pelican so close it’s almost abstract, the clarity of scratch marks on a pangolin being toyed with by a lion, and – surely a contestant for top prize – the gorgeous picture of a trawler surrounded by circling birds and a killer whale in the sea below.
There are, of course, human-like meerkats, wrinkly turtles and unearthly jellyfish, and some very clever photography.
A few captions are interesting – “pangolins are the world’s most trafficked animals” – but considering the venue I think a little more information would be justified. After all, the museum director, Sir Michael Dixon, says the exhibition "highlights some of the big questions for society and the environment: How can we protect biodiversity? Can we learn to live in harmoney with nature? The winning images touch our hearts, and challenge us to think differently about the natural world." The questions that were provoked in me were not the big ethical issues raised by Dixon: they were about the creatures (and a few plants) fatured in the exhibition. I don't want a heap of indigestible facts that dull the impact of the images, but having been captured by the pictures I would like to know about the subjects.
* Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016 is at the Natural History Museum, South Kensington, until 10 September 2017, £12/ child and conc £7.50/ family from £30. Info: nhm.ac.uk for price details/ nhm.ac.uk/wpyblog comments powered by Disqus