Story: Orangutans are considered to be the only diurnal primate which does not form troops and is highly solitary. But the biggest exception from this solitary life is that a baby Orangutan spends the first 6-7 years with its mother. When I explored the rainforest in Tanjung Puting NP, I came across this precious scene of a mother, her baby and the baby's elder brother in their wild habitat. The elder brother will become independent sometime soon because the mother will focus on taking care of her new-born baby and will encourage the elder brother to leave the family and become independent. Considering that he will have to leave soon it made me feel a little sentimental. Bornean Orangutan is on IUCN's Red List as Critically Endangered species.
CAMERA: Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon EF600mm f/4L IS II USM + EF1.4x III, 1/640, F/7.1, ISO 1600.
Story: This photo was taken in Bison Ditch, Qighai-Tibet Plateau at an altitude of 4,600 meters. Grazing animals migrate to lower gullies in search of food as snow closes the mountains. In the distance I saw a pack of eleven wolves, led by the head Wolf, marching rapidly down the mountain ridge to hunt at a relatively low altitude.
Story: Monitor lizards are widespread residents in the region. They are very shy and avoid humans. They have keen eyesight and can detect human movement nearly 250 m away. They sometimes make use of a termite mound to nest. The image was captured at Hubli, Karnataka state, India in October 2018. While I was exploring a grassland, I saw a Monitor lizard perched on a termite mound. I captured a few record images and worked the shot by getting low on the ground, in a camouflage outfit. The lizard disappeared into a hole in the termite mound. I sat still, a couple of feet away from the termite mound and waited for nearly 2 hours to get the desired image. It was a wonderful experience to approach and photograph the monitor lizard in its natural habitat!
CAMERA: Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Canon 55-250 mm f/4.0-5.6 IS, 1/1000, F/9, ISO 2500.
Story: It was the end of the day in Kaziranga National Park. We were on the way back home, driving through the tall elephant grass. Kaziranga is one of the last strongholds for the wild water buffalo. There were small groups of the buffaloes in the high grass. I was very impressed by these huge animals. They have such an extraordinary look. I had a plan to photograph the buffalo and to show its mighty horns. I saw one big male with his head down, eating and moving slowly in the high grass. The colors of the grass and buffalo were so amazing. The animal was completely black. We stayed yet for some time enjoying the presence of wild water buffaloes and the sunset.
CAMERA: Nikon D5, Nikkor 500 mm f/4 VR FL ED IF at 500 mm, 1/250, F/10, ISO 800.
Story: This is a Fan Throated Lizard. I first saw this in a magazine with it's colorful throat and I was soo attracted by it that I decided to capture them in their natural habitat with my own camera. After a little study I found the right place in Pune where they are active. This was a big rocky field covered with grass in some areas. I followed this lizard for almost an hour as it sometimes slipped under rocks or climbed up the little grass blades. It was summer in India and very difficult to lie on the ground with the sun above you. There was a moment when the lizard was standing with the support of the tiny blade of the grass and that allowed me to take many shots. This was the mating season and the males are generally attracted to the females by showing their colorful throat.
CAMERA: Nikon D500, AF-S NIKKOR 200-500MM F/5.6E ED VR, 1/640, F/6.3, ISO 160.
Story: Tungnath is abundant in Himalayan Tahrs, and if you can be patient and be one with them, they will readily allow you to come really close to them. On this particular morning, I saw a huge group of them grazing on a pasture, beyond a ridge and decided on taking a wide angle shot. I put on my 50mm glass and approached very stealthily without them knowing my presence. I was really close to them, and had surprised them by approaching too close. At the sight of me, they simply scattered. I fired off multiple shots and this one was the one, where they stopped for a moment to see who I was and again scampered away.
CAMERA: Canon EOS 7D Mark II, Canon 50mm f/1.8, 1/500, F/5.6, ISO 1000.
Story: The Baikal seal (Latin: pusa sibirica) is a freshwater seal species endemic to lake Baikal. A newly born seal pup, until the moment of molting, when the white or grayish fur changes to dark, is called a "belyok" which means "whity". It is not difficult to see an adult Baikal seal from afar. Seals inhabit all of lake Baikal. She is curious, but also cautious. Summer travelers on the expanses of lake Baikal can often see a cute face with huge black eyes that appears from the water for a few seconds. Sometimes you can see seals resting on shore rocks but slide into the water at the slightest attempt to approach them. It is very rare to photograph a seal pup in natural conditions. Even many of those who live on lake Baikal have never seen "belyoks" in their habitat. Seal pups are born in winter and are constantly hidden in ice burrows, so it is virtually impossible to see them. Rarely with strong movements of ice, the lair is destroyed and the pup can be found on the surface. This was a rare case when a mother seal made a lair in a hummock. There was a momement where the hummock was pinned. The original snow layer was destroyed, and the blowhole was covered with ice. This “belyok” crawled to the surface and I managed to take some photos of him.
CAMERA: Nikon D800E, Nikon 24-120mm f/4G ED VR AF-S @ 48 mm, 1/500, F/6.7, ISO 200.
Story: When I took this photo I had the concept of fireflies flying around the waterfall. Fireflies are a very common insect in Japan during the summer and are a traditional sign of summer in Japan. Since fireflies tend to be more active in the moonlight I choose a cloudy night to shoot them. Since I wanted to have as little noise as possible in the image I took a 90 second exposure and then later processed the image to reduce the noise.
CAMERA: SONY ILCE-7RM3, SONY SEL24-70GM, 91 seconds, F/4, ISO 200.
Story: I photographed Mt. Fuji, a mountain that represents Japan, from a mountain pass in late autumn. It was a windless, beautiful sunny day after a sudden snowfall that was bathed in the early morning sun. When it snows it is difficult to see the thick sea of clouds from this location. However autumn is the best time to see this and does not happen in winter. So it is important to keep a watch on the weather forecast for autumn snow and be prepared to shoot anytime. This was an unforgettable and irreplaceable scene for me.
CAMERA: SONY α7 SEL1635Z, SONY 31mm, 1/15, F/14, ISO 50.
Story: Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) is a mountain range in South Anhui Province in East China. Vegetation is thickest below 1,100 meters (3,600 feet), with trees growing to the tree line at an altitude of 1,800 meters (5,900 feet). This area is famous for its views, sunsets, specially shaped granite peaks, Huangshan pine trees, hot springs, winter snow and cloud views from above. Huangshan is often the subject of traditional Chinese paintings and literature, as well as modern photography. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of China's main tourist destinations. I took this photo during winter time at the end of December 2019, this was a very cold day and I had to walk to reach this spot.
CAMERA: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon 24-70mm, 1/2, F/22, ISO 200.
Story: This photo was taken on June 13, 2019 in Sapshenshan, Nagqu Ruo County, Tibet. This is a secret place just discovered in 2016. Located in Puzonggou of Yangxiu township at an altitude of 6556 m, there are five snow covered mountains standing side by side. The snowy mountain in this photo is one of them. It is aloof and cold, with clouds and fog, which is hard for ordinary people to see. To overcome altitude sickness I camped at an altitude of 5000 meters, and had a very hard and dangerous journey to the foot of the mountain.
CAMERA: SONY DSLR-A900, Sony 70-400mm F4.0-5.6 G SSM, 1/1600, F/11, ISO 100.
Story: This is a canyon in Daedun Mountain in Wanju called v-valley. The shadows of the mountains are visible between the strangely visible rocks from side to side. At the peak of autumn the colors here are full of yellow and red.
CAMERA: Nikon D810, Tamron SP 15-30 F2.8 Di VC, 1/60, F/13, ISO 200.
Story: A shoal of sweetlips in very tight formation. The purpose of this formation is to intimidate potential predators who wants to attack these fish. Notice that there are two species of sweetlips in this big ball of fish.
CAMERA: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon 15mm Fisheye, 1/3, F/22, ISO 125.
Story: I took this photo at the magnificent dive site of Melyssa Garden. It is one of the most beautiful dive sites I have ever seen in my life. The corals are in excellent health and the size of the colonies are gigantic. I took this photo with a fisheye lens and long exposure with synchronization of the flashes at the second curtain. While rotating the camera during the exposure, I was able to obtain this graphic effect which goes perfectly with the shape of the coral. This is called spinning. I find that it gives another dimension to the photo by adding a little dynamism to the shot.
CAMERA: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon 15mm Fisheye, 1/125, F/22.
Story: The black water at night often makes people afraid of being hurt because they don't know what will appear while they are diving. It is kind of like gambling. At the end of the first dive that night, I decided to go into the water with my buddy. Ten minutes after we got into the water, I found that the dive guide next to me kept shaking his flashlight to signal us to pass. We immediately went over and a Ribonfish appeared in front of us. We were very excited and shouted and high-fived underwater. We were very happy to see this fish. At first we slowly followed him in the water and were eventually able to take a few photo of him.
CAMERA: Canon 5D MK IV, Sigma 50mm, 1/250, F/22, ISO 640.
Story: I went on a Maldives Diving Cruise at the end of 2019. On the very first dive at the beginning of 2020, I was lucky enough to see the manta that I was hoping to see. It is very unusual for mantas to be in groups in such clear water. It was like a dream come true for me. They seem to have playful expressions and I was able to take this shot which is different from my usual manta pictures.
CAMERA: Nikon D850, SIGMA 15㎜ F2.8 EX DG DIAGONAL FISHEYE, 1/200, F/7.1, ISO 160.
Story: The main enemies of the Dofleinaya Giant Octopuses are large seals and man. In recent years, it is often not possible to see large individual Doflein's octopuses during the day, just walking along the bottom of the ocean. Usually they are sitting in their house waiting for night. Howver I succeeded. The octopus was a real giant with a sense of confidence that slowly moved along the sandy bottom among the zostera algae. I managed to take several pictures of this giant.
CAMERA: Nikon D800, Sigma 15 mm, 1/60, F/16, ISO 500.
Story: I've always been amazed by red weaver ants and whenever I come across them I'll follow their path. I found these 2 ants helping each other to get their prey over a rocky path to reach their nest. I waited for sometime for this shot while both of these ants were trying different ways to hand over the prey to the other. At last they found the exact spot and it was just a split second for me to capture this amazing moment.
Story: I was on a birding outing to the fabulous place of Hampi in Karnataka, India. After a good session of birding on one of the mornings, we were quite famished and decided to head back for breakfast. Then, suddenly, my guide who was driving, swerved our vehicle and came to a halt. There was something moving slowly across the dusty track. We hopped out in sheer excitement to find out that it was a beautiful reptile, the Indian Chameleon. The slow, jerky motion, so characteristic of a chameleon, was clearly evident. As I slowly approached and got closer, the intricate details on the reptile’s body caught my attention. Its body was adorned with tiny beady structures, so colourful and beautiful. Its two eyes were able to move in different directions, independently, rotating on something like a pivot. The scales on its head and throat looked like that of a dragon. What an amazing animal it was! I wanted to bring these beautiful characteristics out. So I quickly switched to my macro lens and made this close-up as the chameleon gave me a curious look.Chameleons are mostly active during the monsoon. Coming across one in winter and on a birding trip was like an icing on the cake for me.
Story: It was past midnight in the forest of the Peninsular Botanic Garden (Trang, Thailand), when I spotted a light shining in the dark. A large firefly larva (Lamprigera sp.) emitted a constant glow from its light organs as it crawled across the leaf litter. Despite their innocuous appearance, fireflies of the genus Lamprigera are actually voracious predators that feed on snails, including the invasive giant African land snail (Achatina fulica), which is many times their size. The pictured firefly is a female, as is evident from the lack of wings. I used a long exposure with a rear-curtain flash to capture its bioluminescence.
CAMERA: Canon EOS 5DS, Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM, 33 seconds, F/5.6, ISO 1600.
HIGHLY HONORED SMALL WORLD
Story: Upon arrival at my usual macro session venue, these two lovely bugs caught my eye from afar. I was excited but had to be cautious not to disturb them. I've tried multiple angles to capture their amazing live colors during their loving time.
Camera: Canon 600D, Canon100mm macro, 1/320, F8, ISO 200; Canon
Speedlite 430EX II.
Story: This picture actually shows us the unity of those small insects where we can see they are trying to collect honey from the flower which is their food. But from outside many of us will think that they are attracted to the beauty of the flower and are trying to catch the beauty whereas they are gathering food for their families.
Story: During this Covid-19 pandemic I guess we all did our best to stay at home. Being in a lockdown doesn’t mean you can’t do any wildlife photography at all. There are many macro subjects inside and around the house if you look close enough. In my home garden I already clicked few macro shots in the past so I thought to look for some more interesting subjects once again. I came across some beetles on a flower. I just waited for the moment to settle down but as soon as they were about to settle on a flower it took off. Beetle took off as a spider was trying to hunt, I saw this beautiful white spider coming out in the open on this same flower who was trying to hunt down the beetle. I guess it was the same spider which my son clicked pictures a day before, it was a crab spider. This spider got onto the end part of the petals of a flower. This spider legs were quiet strong enough to hold on the petals. The way this spider posed, I captured a perfect shot of this predator.
CAMERA: Nikon D850, Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AT-X M100 AF Pro D Macro, 1/125, F/18, ISO 800.
Story: Every year, I like to go to Zecha, Gannan, Gansu Province to see Himalayan Vultures, which is an ancient species. It was extremely cold that day and there was no sunshine at the top of the mountain. But when the sun suddenly appeared, a Himalayan Vulture abruptly flew away from its companion, and uttered a low "hiss, hiss" sad calls towards the opposite cliff and the rolling mountains in the distance. At that moment, I felt the tenaciousness of life from this roar.
Story: This is a snapshot I took on a trip to Sabah Al-Ahmad protectorate in the State of Kuwait and was the beginning of my photography. This is a wondrous bird that pounces on fish in a split second.
CAMERA: Nikon D7100, Nikon 300mm F4 +1.4 II, 1/2000, F/9, ISO 400.
HIGHLY HONORED BIRDS
Story: On the afternoon of December 14, 2019, I waited for more than two hours in the small mountain forest of Xianggang village in Guangdong Province. At about 3:20, a crested Eagle flew from the mountain treetops. The eagle hovered and flew around as if looking for or waiting for something to appear. Suddenly, the eagle swooped down to the ground. At this time, two snakes were moving in the grass. The eagle caught them, but the snakes did not show weakness. They entangled the eagle's neck and legs. At this time, the eagle bit the snakes with its sharp beak and claws. First, the snakes entangled the eagle's neck and legs, and then the eagle shook off the snakes. After fighting for more than 10 minutes, the eagle finally defeated the snakes. I filmed their fight in high speed.
CAMERA: Canon EOS-1DX Mark II, Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS III USM, 1/2049, F/4, ISO 250.
Story: In a wheat field in Weifang, Shandong, China, the mother of a brown fantailed warbler is feeding the baby bird. After the baby bird hatches, it has to learn to fly. The mother bird will guard and follow it by looking for food to eat. Birds can fly freely in two or three days after hatching.
CAMERA: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM, 1/1250, F/6.3, ISO 800.
HIGHLY HONORED BIRDS
Story: This photo was photographed in Fangshan, Beijing. Often these birds are in pairs or small groups. They are lively, agile and jump between the reeds or climb on the reed stalks from time to time. They especially like to move under the reeds near the water surface and from time to time squeak so it is often easy to hear their calls. It's hard to see the birds because sometimes are seen flying above the reeds. They fly low and their wings flap slowly and weakly. During breeding, they often stand on top of the reeds and call.
CAMERA: Canon EOS-1DX Mark II, Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM + 1.4x III @ 265mm, 1/200, F/4, ISO 800.
Story: A tigress hailing from the clan of the great Machli, called Arrowhead, snuggling with her daughter amidst a pristine post-monsoon forest of Ranthambhore. We waited along the road for the family to appear and the light filtering through the canopy made the task much easier. As they approached very close, a vertical orientation was justified for this shot, with good light and shutter speed complimenting the scene.
CAMERA: Nikon D5, Nikkor 400 f2.8, 1/2000, F/2.8, ISO 500.
HIGHLY HONORED JUNIOR
Negombo, Sri Lanka
Negombo, Sri Lanka
Story: One day I got my camera equipment ready and while l was walking I saw an animal that I had not seen before on the stem of a flower in a flower pot at our house. So I set up my equipment and focused my camera on to it and took a photo.
Story: On the very first day of my family vacation in Malaysia after coming back to our room from dinner I saw something really strange on the trunk of a tree which was just outside our room. It was a unique alien shaped creature, I surely had an idea that it was Colugo. I saw it flying rather gliding from one tree to another quickly. It is tough taking pictures at night time because of the low light conditions. Colugos become active at night in search of food as they are nocturnal. I searched for Colugos for the next few days but saw none. My father and I both wanted to see a Colugo before we le Langkawi. I was really keen to see one during the daytime. I spent a few days looking around but no luck. As I was walking around another resort on the last day of of our trip I saw a Colugo but it was way up on the tree. Soon I noticed a larger colugo closer to me and it was about eight feet away from me and I was surprised to see it so close to me. This colugo was completely camouflaged in its environment. To my luck it was almost at an eye level and I looked through my viewfinder but the Colugo was not looking towards my side. I waited as I had no option and my patience paid off. The Colugo later looked straight towards my side after a short while and I captured this beautiful relaxing Colugo on a tree trunk. I got a few shots before it moved to the top of the tree, a pleasant surprise for me because it's a nocturnal specie. I was lucky to get a photo of this beautiful active Colugo during the daytime.
CAMERA: Nikon D500, AF-S NIKKOR 70-200MM F/2.8E FL ED VR, 1/800, F/2.8, ISO 1600.
Story: Monsoons turn Jhalana's dry deciduous forest into a lush green paradise. And seeing an elusive cat, like a leopard, roaming in this green haven is no less than seeing gold. I made this photograph just as the monsoon began to make its impact on the driest parts of Rajasthan. And as the new flowers of the native Dhonk tree bloomed, this young leopardess, who goes by the name of Cleopatra decided to sniff them. Seeing and photographing the urban leopards of Jhalana during the monsoon is indeed a delight, and it has always borne fruit.
CAMERA: Nikon D500, Nikkor 70-200 f2.8, 1/500, F/2.8, ISO 1600.
HIGHLY HONORED JUNIOR
Xiapu, Zhejiang, China
Story: My parents and I visited a small town by Eastern China Sea last May. Besides breath-taking scenaries, the town is famous for its high-quality laver. Every year from May, local laver farmers start to harvest and dry laver on the numberous bamboos inserted into the shallow water. Hundreds of hectares of laver farms on the sea surface make a spetacular view.
Story: Set foot into the fairytale winterscapes of the wild Indian Himalayas. Featuring intimate glimpses into the wildlife of Spiti Valley, this natural history tale of survival chronicles the last days in the extraordinary life of a Snow Leopard. It unveils the various struggles that it must relentlessly battle every day, including the biggest one by mankind - climate change.
CAMERA: Canon 5D IV, DJI Mavic Air, GoPro Hero 6 Black
Story: The charm of wildlife in eastern Hokkaido is gradually becoming known to the world. However this is mostly just winter wildlife that is known and most people are not familiar with Hokkaido’s spring and summer seasons. I wanted to introduce the world to the wonderful seasons of parenting and greenery. This video is short but with the combination of the story and music it becomes a good promotion for Hokkaido. I want people to be more aware and to come see the charm of nature in Eastern Hokkaido. I will continue shooting and producing videos with the strong hope that it will lead to the movement of the next generation.
Story: I spent almost 2 years with this pair of coppersmith barbets. I tried to record their daily activities. During that time I saw that their life is not easy. So many issues they face, like other birds and squirrels trying to occupy their nest, also predator birds trying to hunt them. Also humans often cut down trees for many uses. They work hard for a month to make the nest so they can live in that nest but humans can cut down the tree in just 5 minutes. While making this documentary of them I realized even dead tree's and dead branches are very important for them. They make nests in them. It's home for them. I always say "THINK BEFORE CUTTING DEAD TREES AND BRANCHES IT COULD BE SOMEONES HOME".
Story: The following footage portrays the life of a rare species of jumping spider, Neobrettus. The inscape of this tiny object is very interesting as it adapts to changes in its behavioural pattern in different situations for sustenance. Supervising their life minutely and capturing the creature in camera was a challenge in itself for its wee size (<3mm),fidgety nature and cryptic coloration (since they prefer to stay under dry coiled banana leaf). The deft placement of gear and focusing for higher magnification only added to the challenge. However needless to say all of it was extremely intriguing and fulfilling too. Filial cannibalism in species is a highly auspicious and unique characteristic although it can be an unconventional form of parental care. Observing them for more than eleven months through the lens and weaving a story around their miniscule existence was tedious yet an amazing experience. Not all the tiny ones get eaten up, the ones who survive grow up to carry on their legacy. And thus in this way "Life under a Leaf "persists with all its valour wiping the name of 'extinction ' from this Odyssey.
CAMERA: Nikon D500 & D850 Camera, Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AF-S VR lens and Raynox DCR-250 Super Macro lens, Godox Professional LED Video Light LED308, Manfrotto 055 Tripod with video head MVH500AH
Story: I live here in Hokkaido at Teshikaga Town, Lake Kussharo as an outdoor guide and photographer. When the autumn leaves are in full bloom, while riding a canoe you can hear the voices of swans announcing the arrival of winter from the sky. The coldness in the morning and night gets stronger day by day, and eventually it snows and the lake freezes. This is the beginning of a severe long cold winter. After winter, the daytime temperature will become positive. Gradually, the ice in the lake begins to melt and spreads randomly and artistically on the water surface. As the ice flows into the river the swans also travel north. The wind rushing across my cheeks makes me feel that spring has arrive. In this three minute video I show the year and a half I spent with them. The way they live gives us a lot of healing, excitement and learning. I'm looking forward to seeing them again next fall.
Story: This is the moment when different types of life are connected and create a harmony. This is the moment that wind, water, light and darkness come together. Whenever I encounter these moments, I feel that my life has been given to nature. I strongly hope that such beautiful nature will continue for generations and that I can keep capturing these moments.
CAMERA: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon EF8-15mm F4L USM, Nauticam NA 5DMK4.