The Nature’s Best Photography competition is one of the world’s longest-running and most prestigious photography awards. At Travel Africa magazine we are delighted to partner with the promoters of the Nature’s Best Photography Africa competition, which celebrates Africa’s remarkable natural heritage. A bespoke competition, Nature’s Best Photography Africa is quickly establishing itself as the premier photography competition on the continent, drawing participants from across the globe. For more information on the NBPA competition, including its extensive educational programme, exhibition and future plans, please visit www.naturesbestphotographyafrica.com
This gallery shows the winning and runner-up entries from each of the fourteen categories from the 2016 competition. The full catalogue of shortlisted entries are showcased in a fantastic coffee table book now available from the Nature’s Best Photography Africa website. And if you are in or visiting Cape Town, check out the NBPA 2016 exhibition at the Iziko SA Museum, running until 25 September 2016.
Images are used with permission.
‘HIPPO PISTACHIO”, BY PIA DIERICKX; WINNER, ‘AFRICAN WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR’.
This image was part of the overall winning portfolio selected by the judges. Moderator in chief, Lou Coetzer, says: “It is clear that the demands implicit in the assembling of such a portfolio are extreme. An entrant is required to present ten world-class images that cover a variety of genres while collectively revealing a comprehensive repertoire of photographic skills. It is in the nature of judging images that, beyond certain basic criteria of merit, currents of subjectivity can flow through the assessment processes. Therefore a greater sense of fairness and objectivity pertains when a winner is determined by a portfolio rather than by a single image.”
‘YOU’RE MINE”, BY PIA DIERICKX; WINNER, ‘AFRICAN WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR’.
“It is my wish to reveal the treasures of our cherished planet through my photography… If we are to ensure that true nature continues to exist, it is vital to empower people to protect the unspoiled, natural environment through conservation.”
“SPITZKOPPE ARCH”, BY NICK VAN DE WIEL; WINNER, ‘AFRICAN LANDSCAPES’.
“The Spitzkoppe rise to about 1784m above sea level. The most interesting feature is this natural bridge photographed here at sunrise, when the arch itself was mostly in shade while the mountains and clouds in the background were bathed in light.”
“LECHWE AT SUNRISE”, BY MORGAN TRIMBLE; FIRST RUNNER-UP, ‘AFRICAN LANDSCAPES’.
“I took this photograph in the Busanga Plains, a remote wetland in Zambia’s Kafue National Park. We awoke in our small pop-up tent to see the first rays of sunlight illuminating the mists with a fiery orange light. Hundreds of lechwe dotted the plain. I used my 70-200mm f2.8 lens and exposed for the highlights of the sun to keep the sky from blowing out.”
“CAT FISHING”, BY JAMES GIFFORD; WINNER, ‘WILD CATS BEHAVIOURAL’ AND ‘AFRICAN WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPH OF THE YEAR’.
“I waited two years to try to capture this behaviour, which is only possible when the Savute Channel in Botswana starts to recede, leaving the catfish stranded in the isolated pools of water. It wasn’t until August in the second year when the conditions were right and, after many days waiting, I was finally rewarded with this female leopard jumping into the muddy pool with remarkable success. There are three related leopards in the area that are known to fish although they rarely try it in daylight. Not only is the behaviour remarkable, it has been learnt by the oldest female in the last five years as before that the channel had not flowed for 30 years. She has then taught it to two separate litters of offspring.”
“LION CONFRONTATION”, BY MIKE HERAMB; SECOND RUNNER-UP, ‘WILD CATS BEHAVIOURAL’.
“We had been sitting at the Polenswa water hole in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park for some time when we noticed a lone male lion approaching from a distance. Rather unusually, a number of porcupine quills appeared to have been embedded in his chest. They must have been deeply irritating to him. Lions do sometimes attack porcupines and inevitably end up with some quills lodged in their bodies or paws, which are not easy to pluck out. The resident pride of lions spotted the lone wanderer and immediately challenged him. The fight that ensued lasted only a few minutes.”
“MOTHERLY LOVE”, BY RUSS BURDEN; WINNER, ‘WILD CATS PORTRAITS’.
“The Gol Kopje area of the Serengeti in Tanzania is a great location for photographing big cats. The vegetation that surrounds each outcrop provides a good place for a lioness to hide her young, while the high areas make great lookout spots from which to scrutinise the area for prey. The smooth, granite domes make comfortable resting places.
“The lioness that inhabited this particular kopje had five cubs. We spent the better part of a morning watching two of them interact with their mom. It made for a wonderful photographic session.”
“SURPRISE MEAL”, BY BERND WASIOLKA; RUNNER-UP, ‘WILD CATS PORTRAITS’
“Surprise meal”, by Bernd Wasiolka; Runner-Up, ‘Wild Cats Behavioural’.
“I was sitting in my car keeping an eye on a pride of sleepy lions hanging around a waterhole. Suddenly I hear a flapping sound. Looking up, I see a ring-necked dove frantically beating the air in a desperate attempt to lift itself out of the waterhole. In a flash, one of the young lions had launched itself into the water and closed its jaws over the dove. To our amazement, two victims are hanging out of its mouth: not only the dove, but also a sizeable marsh terrapin! I had a split second to capture the moment before the lion ran away with its surprise snack. Because of its heavily armoured shell, the terrapin avoided sharing the fate of the dove.”
“DIVE TO KILL”, BY PETER SCHEUFLER; WINNER, ‘BIRDS OF AFRICA BEHAVIOURAL’.
“We were on a safari to Chobe, watching huge colonies of carmine bee-eaters. Every now and then they flew off in panic as a yellow-billed kite appeared. The carmines are fast and there were many of them, making it difficult for predatory birds to concentrate on a single target. It was a challenge to get good shots of the attacking kites. This kite flew over me, starting a dive down to the river bank with a steep turn focussing on the carmines.”
“GOLIATH HERON”, BY GEO JOOSTE; FIRST RUNNER-UP, ‘BIRDS OF AFRICA BEHAVIOURAL’. “This photograph was taken from a bird hide at Lake Panic in the Kruger National Park. After a few minutes of waiting, I saw the bird’s neck extend slowly forward while its eyes focused intently on something submerged below the surface of the water. The strike was so sudden and quick that it defeated the reflex response of the human eye.”
“EGGS FOR BREAKFAST”, BY HANNES LOCHNER; WINNER, ‘BIRDS OF AFRICA PORTRAIT’.
“In the Kwai region of the Okavango Delta one finds large open plains on the river’s edge. Here the lapwings lay their eggs, making it a great feeding area for ground hornbills. On this day there were about ten ground hornbills ferreting around for mice and other edible items. One of the hornbills stumbled on a lapwing nest. It first flipped the egg into the air and then swallowed it while the lapwing loudly shrieked its protest and made dive-bombing sorties at the hornbill to demonstrate its futile outrage.”
“LANDING SPOONBILL”, BY JOHAN J BOTHA; FIRST RUNNER-UP, ‘BIRDS OF AFRICA PORTRAITS’.
“This spoonbill had been hunting in the shallow waters of the dam where I had stationed myself in a hide. Suddenly the bird decided that the moment for it to go to bed had arrived. Flying directly towards me where I was sitting in the hide, it chose to land on a perch right in front of me, giving me the perfect opportunity to photograph it completely from the front.”
“HUNTING GAMES”, BY LEE SLABBER; WINNER, ‘MAMMALS OF AFRICA BEHAVIOURAL’.
“Early summer is a good time to seek out Cape Fox dens in the Kalahari, when the females have recently given birth. An early morning visit to a den will generally provide some engaging action. On this occasion, I saw the mother returning with a mouthful of whistling rats. The mother would drop the rats and the pups would stalk them, pouncing on them before tossing them into the air.”
“BLACK RHINO BEING CHASED BY WILD DOGS”, BY MARGARET OLIVIER; FIRST RUNNER-UP, ‘MAMMALS OF AFRICA BEHAVIOURAL’.
“We were watching a pack of wild dogs at a waterhole when we noticed a black rhino approaching. The dogs became very excited, whimpering and jumping around.
Suddenly they charged towards the rhino, each taking a different direction of approach. They were either very brave and insanely optimistic, or driven by a death wish in their apparent intention of adding a rhino to their list of predatory conquests.”
“REFLECTIONS”, BY CHARL SENEKAL; WINNER, ‘MAMMALS OF AFRICA PORTRAITS’.
“We spent considerable time planning to take images of white rhino at night, when they are quite active. Dual light banks with LED lights were set up on either side of a hide at a waterhole to illuminate the scene, allowing the subjects to approach the water at their own pace.
It was a wind-still evening, allowing near-perfect reflections of the endangered animals as they drank in the midnight hours. Even with the aperture wide open at f/1.4, the shutter speed was still only 1/60th, with the lighting bringing out lovely textures on the rhinos’ skin.”
“CAPE BUFFALO WITH YELLOW OXPECKER”, BY BARBARA FLEMING; FIRST RUNNER-UP, ‘MAMMALS OF AFRICA PORTRAITS”.
“Many elements came together successfully to create the image. Side-light was crucial, lighting the oxpecker while keeping the buffalo in the shade. I managed to capture both subjects in focus, very difficult as both were moving and in different focal planes.
The position of the vehicle that I was shooting from was also important. I asked my driver to line us up in the path of the moving herd so I was able to shoot out the window, with my camera on a beanbag, as the buffalo moved directly towards me.”
‘LIONESS CROCODILE FIGHT”, BY PIA DIERICKX; WINNER, ‘REPTILES OF AFRICA’.
“Two lionesses walked straight into the river without checking for danger. The crocodile moved swiftly to the deeper water in front of the second lioness. She did not anticipate the ambush and when the attack was suddenly launched, it was over in seconds. The lionesses uttered a call that I have never heard before. It was a growl but with unusual overtones of great distress. Immediately the remainder of the pride ran towards the commotion but since it was so short-lived, they stopped almost immediately, almost as if confused by the lack of any evidence of the source of the distress call. Eventually, despite the threat, the remainder of the pride crossed the channel safely.”
“FIGHT WITH HIPPO”, BY PIERLUIGI RIZZATO; FIRST RUNNER-UP, ‘REPTILES’.
“I spent seven days on a bend in the Grumeti River, along the western corridor of the Serengeti, during the wildebeest migration. This monstrous crocodile concealed itself in the water, waiting for any occasion to catch one of the herbivores crossing the river. In the same area a hippo used to enter the water every morning, disrupting the ambush planned by the crocodile. One day, as the hippo arrived, the crocodile plucked up courage to attack it. The battle that ensued was little more than a theatrical stand-off between two formidable adversaries, and ended without any lethal consequences for either contestant.”
“TRANSFORMATION”, BY HEINRICH HUMAN; WINNER, ‘AFRICA UP CLOSE’.
“This photo was taken in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. One morning we decided not to go on the early game drive. We were having coffee when I spotted this strange looking caterpillar on a creeper. I grabbed my Canon EOS 1D Mk IV with a 100mm f2.8 macro lens and used the Canon MR-14 ring lite to provide nice even lighting. Our ranger later identified it as the caterpillar of the Dice moth, which feeds on black-eyed Susan. When feeding, they wave the clubbed hairs on their backs.”
“SCOWL”, BY MARC DE CHALAIN; FIRST RUNNER-UP, ‘AFRICA UP CLOSE’.
“We found this little Natal tree frog in Springside Nature Reserve, Kwa-Zulu Natal. About 10mm in length, he was settled on a leaf, looking curiously at us with an expression in his eye that suggested he would make a great subject. My friend turned the leaf slightly to improve the angle, and I used my Nikon D800 with a Nikkor 105mm f2.8 macro lens and a soft box diffused Nikon SB910 flash to capture the image.”
“FAIRYTALE FOREST”, BY TRACEY JENNINGS; WINNER, ‘AFRICA AT SEA’.
“In just four days in Simonstown, South Africa, I saw blue, mako, sevengill, great white and puff adder sharks, and spent time diving with giant stingrays and Cape fur seals. Diving with the sevengill sharks is fantastic. The kelp is like a mystical forest and the sharks are quite curious, several times brushing up against my dome port. In order to prepare for the shot, I first looked for the position of the sun, and then waited patiently for a shark to enter the frame.”
“MOBY DICK”, BY VANESSA MIGNON; FIRST RUNNER-UP, ‘AFRICA AT SEA’.
“Sperm whale, taken in Mauritius under a research permit granted to the Marine Megafauna Conservation organisation. I have been fortunate to contribute to the research carried out on a resident pod of sperm whales in Mauritius. This is a picture of Germine, an adult female, recognised by her damaged left pectoral fin and the markings around her mouth. Observing them for many years has shown me how intelligent, gentle and caring they can be in a sensitive social structure that is fascinating.”
“THE CHASE”, BY HANNES LOCHNER; WINNER, ‘ART IN AFRICAN WILDLIFE’.
“To capture an image that effectively conveys a sense of accelerated movement, requires the photographer to pan evenly on a horizontal plane, in tandem with the pace of the
animal, but with the camera set to deliver a slow shutter speed. One tries to capture the blurred movement and sense of speed in the legs, while maintaining sharp focus and acute detail on the head of the animal. Here an endangered wild dog is catching up with the rest of the pack that is chasing an impala.”
‘V FORMATION”, BY PATRICK BENTLEY; FIRST RUNNER-UP, ‘ART IN AFRICAN WILDLIFE’.
“South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.
I had been following this herd of over seventy elephants for more than an hour, circling high above them in a microlight. They entered the muddy brown water of the Luangwa river and began wading across, drinking and bathing as they went. As they approached the western shore they encountered a pod of hippos, which would not move from their position. There was no sign of aggression from the elephants, however, and they very politely parted their ranks and continued to cross, rejoining again on the opposite bank.”
“CLOUD BOW”, BY THOMAS KOKTA; WINNER, ‘BLACK & WHITE”.
“Namibia is well known for its red sand dunes. Deadvlei provides stark contrasts with its dead trees and enormous sand dunes in the background. Typically conditions are dry, with clear skies. However, after a number of trips to the area, I finally arrived on a day that greeted me with very low clouds and virtually no visibility. There was so much moisture in the air that my lenses were misted over within seconds.
The unusual conditions made for nice images, but more was to come. Suddenly, patches of blue sky appeared and the clouds started to burn off. In one direction, there was a bow – something I had never seen before. I quickly changed my camera position to the vertical and shot a few dozen frames to do justice to the width of the scene via a panorama. I used the two dead trees in the foreground as lead-in to the edge of the bow. The bow disappeared quickly and the sky was blue within minutes. The monochrome conditions lent themselves to a black/white conversion.”
“IN THE COMPANY OF GIANTS”, BY CHARL SENEKAL; SECOND RUNNER-UP, ‘BLACK & WHITE’.
“This image occurred quite by chance while we were working at the site of a new hide. Seconds after we had arrived at the waterhole, a breeding herd of elephants appeared from the bush, barely giving us a chance to set up a camera to obtain low-level images of them drinking.
It was already mid-morning and the overcast conditions forced me to photograph for a black and white conversion. The image was obtained with a manual setting on the camera, as the contrast between the dark elephants and the lighter sky forced me to choose my own exposure in order to maintain details in both the subjects and the sky.
The herd brought a newborn calf along, constantly cocooned within the safety of their numbers, and always within trunk’s length of any member.”
“POLLINATIONS”, BY JORDAN RALPH; WINNER, ‘YOUTH AWARD’.
“I visited Skukuza Rest Camp in the Kruger National Park during July, in the peak season of aloes blooming. The brightly coloured aloe flowers vied with the brilliantly coloured sunbirds. The birds darted among the flowers, chasing each other in flashes of varied brilliance as they contested for the sweetest sources of food.
While watching the chaos of a feeding frenzy among countless birds in an aloe patch, I managed to capture this image of a white-bellied sunbird. The base of its bill was dusted with pollen as a bee, with large pollen accumulations attached to its legs, moved to the same flower to feed side by side with the sunbird before its presence was noticed.
This image shows how intricate our ecosystems are as all species are interlinked. The aloe is dependent on the sunbird and the bee in order for it to be pollinated, while the sunbird and bee feed on the aloe’s nectar to survive.”
“DEATH BITE”, BY HARMAN SINGH HEER; FIRST RUNNER-UP, ‘YOUTH AWARD’.
“In our final few hours in the Masai Mara, we found Malaika, the cheetah mother and her two cubs. She was crouched low, stalking an impala. Quite suddenly she burst into a chase, and soon afterwards had pulled the antelope to the ground. The cubs then entered the contest, trying to help their mother bring down their prey. Here Malaika looks at a hyena approaching while her cub strangles the impala. The cheetahs feasted for a few minutes before the hyena chased them off.”