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Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest 2018 winners

Dutch photographer, Marsel van Oosten, has won the 54th Natural History Museum 2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year contest for his picture, The Golden Couple. Australian photographer, Georgina Steytler, came first in the Behaviour: Invertebrates category for her photo, Mud-Rolling Mud-Dauber.

The grand prize winning photo, by Marsel van Oosten.


Marsel’s striking winning image is of two endangered golden snub-nosed monkeys, seemingly posing on a rock in their forest home in the Qinling Mountains of Central China.

‘This image is in one sense traditional – a portrait,’ said experienced wildlife magazine editor and contest jury char, Roz Kidman Cox. ‘But what a striking one, and what magical animals. It is a symbolic reminder of the beauty of nature and how impoverished we are becoming as nature is diminished. It is an artwork worthy of hanging in any gallery in the world.’

Marsel said he was lucky the monkeys behaved while drenched in perfect light. They’re normally screaming up in the tree tops, but in this instance they were staying still, while looking in the direction of other monkeys.

There’s an estimated 22,000 golden snub-nosed monkeys surviving in fragmented populations across the Chinese central mountains. The destruction of forests by humans is the major factor contributing to the falling numbers of monkeys.

Georgina Steytler wins Behaviour: Invertebrates category


Georgina, a West Australian bird photographer and conservationist, captured the curious mud wasp behaviour at a Wheatbelt waterhole.

While surveying the surrounding bushland for mulga parrots, after some time she drew her attention to the waterhole and noticed the wasps.

The Behaviour: Invertebrates category winning photo, by Georgina Steytler.

The industrious wasps dig for the best mud, and roll it into soft balls to create nests. After building a chamber inside the mud to lay her eggs, the female leaves the body of a paralysed spider for the larvae to feed once hatched.

‘I’m instinctively drawn to the challenge of trying to capture anything that flies, and when you find an animal that has a distinct flight path it is a golden opportunity,’ Georgina told Inside Imaging. ‘What makes this image a bit different to a traditional insect shot is I took it with my Canon 600mm F4 prime lens with a 1.4x teleconverter attached. Tracking such a small insect with such a big lens at relatively close range – just over four meters – was extremely difficult. I soon gave that up. Rather, I realised that my best hope was to pre-focus (manual) on an area and try to capture the flying insect coming into the frame.’

The picture was shot with a Canon 1Dx, an aperture of f8, 1/4000 sec shutter speed, and ISO 1000. Georgina utilised the ‘spray and pray’ method – hitting the shutter whenever the insect flew close. She filled her card with around 5000 RAW images quickly.

Georgina was in a fairly uncomfortable position, lying down on a steep sloped bank covered in mud. But the challenge of capturing the wasps was exhilarating, and far outweighed the discomfort she experienced.

The West Australian prefers to document animals in the best light, location, or exhibiting interesting behaviour, rather than pursuing an exotic or rare in stock standard conditions.

‘ So in this case, although I wanted to photograph a mulga parrot, once I saw the wasps behaviour I knew this would be a more interesting shot and the mulgas could wait until another day. A beautiful or interesting photo of a common bird or animal is much better than an average or boring photo of a rare one.’

Check out more of Georgina’s photography here.

Other award winners


Another Australian photographer, David Gallan, was highly commended in the Animals In Their Environment category for his photo, Home of the Quoll.

David’s spotted-tailed quoll photo was captured in Monga National Park in NSW, using a camera trap, a scent bait to pause a passing Quoll, Nikon D700, 10-24mm lens, 1/100 at f4.5 and ISO 3200.

Highly commended photo by David Gallan.


Animals in their Environment category winning photo, Bed of Seals. The sea was relatively calm when Cristobal launched his drone from a small rubber dinghy in the Errera Channel of the Antarctic Peninsula. Rising above the sea, the drone revealed a small ice floe spilling over with crabeater seals. Part of the ice was splattered red with their excrement – the digested remains of their favourite food, krill. DJI Phantom 4 Pro Plus; 8.8–24mm (35mm-format equiv); f2.8–11 lens; 1/200 sec at f5.6; ISO 100. Photo: Cristobal Serrano, Spain.


Black and White category winning photo, The Vision. From the garden of his hotel, Jan noticed that when the hummingbirds rotated around this plant’s spikes, and closed their tails for a moment, a beautiful cross appeared. From the low position of his wheelchair, it took him two half days to get the perfect shot, ‘their fast movements to me symbolise the freedom of our imagination,’ he said. Canon EOS-1D X Mark II + 500mm f4 lens; 1.4x III extender; 1/5000 sec at f5.6; ISO 4000; Gitzo tripod + Jobu gimbal head. Photo: Jan van der Greef, Netherlands.


Wildlife Photojournalism category winning photo, The Sad Clown. Timbul, a long-tailed macaque, puts his hand to his face to try and relieve the discomfort of his mask, while being trained to stand upright for a street show. Sights such as this are common in Indonesia, and Joan spent a long time gaining the trust of the monkey’s owners. ‘They are not bad people,’ he says. Most are earning money to send their children to school. Nikon D810 + 24–70mm f2.8 lens; 1/250 sec at f2.8; ISO 100; Speedlight SB-800 flash. Photo: Joan de la Malla, Spain.


Behaviours Mammals category winning photo, Kuhirwa Mourns Her Baby. Kuhirwa, a young female mountain gorilla, would not give up on her dead baby. Initially she cuddled and groomed the tiny corpse, carrying it piggyback like the other mothers. Weeks later, she started to eat what was left of it. Forced by the low light to work with a wide aperture and a narrow depth of field, Ricardo focused on the body rather than Kuhirwa’s face. Nikon D610 + 70–300mm f4.5–5.6 lens at185mm; 1/750 sec at f5; ISO 2200. Photo: Ricardo Nunez Montero, Spain.

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