Canon photographer Steve Winter (USA) has won the prestigious title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2008 with a superb image of the rare snow leopard caught in a snowstorm in northern India, shot by one of his EOS DSLR cameras that was set up remotely.
In total Winter spent 10 months tracking extremely rare snow leopards in isolated areas of northern India and his winning 'Snowstorm leopard’ photograph was taken with one of 14 remote-controlled cameras he used during a marathon photo shoot in the Hemis High Altitude National Park in northern India. He had spent several months camping, planning and shooting in freezing conditions as low as -40 degrees Celsius before finally capturing his winning photograph.
Steve Winter explained: “As the weather turned warmer I moved the camera traps to higher altitudes along the trail. I put a camera in this location because it was where the three trails converge.” On checking his camera one freezing morning he found the snow leopard gazing back at him exactly where he had wanted it to be in the frame. He added: “There are only a few thousand of these animals left in the wild. I was thrilled to have finally captured the shot I had dreamed of – a wild snow leopard in its true element.”
The winning image was shot during an assignment for National Geographic magazine with a Canon EOS 350D with an EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens set at 16mm, and an exposure of 1/200sec at f/16, at ISO 100. Winter became a contributing photographer for the National Geographic Society in 1991 and has been a contract photographer for National Geographic magazine since 1995. His work has also been published in GEO, Time, Newsweek, Stern, Fortune and Natural History amongst other publications.
Winter took the top prize from a record competition entry of 32,351 entries from 82 countries. The best of these stunning wildlife photographs – winners, runners-up or commended in the competition’s 17 categories – are now on show at the Natural History Museum in London until 26 April 2009.
The winners in the competitions other categories were:
- Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife – Steve Winter (USA).
- One Earth Award – David Maitland (UK).
- Animals in their Environment – Yongkang Zhu (China).
- Behaviour: Birds – Antoni Kasprzak (Poland).
- Behaviour: Mammals – Cyril Ruoso (France).
- Behaviour: All Other Animals – David Maitland (UK).
- The Underwater World – Brian Skerry (USA).
- Animal Portraits – Stefano Unterthiner (Italy).
- In Praise of Plants – Cece Fabbro (USA).
- Urban and Garden Wildlife – Jamie McGregor Smith (UK).
- Nature in Black and White – Carlos Virgili (Spain).
- Creative Visions of Nature – Miguel Lasa (UK/Spain).
- Wild Places – Andy Biggs (USA).
- 15-17 years old – Catriona Parfitt (UK).
- 11-14 years old – Jean de Falandre (France).
- 10 years and under – Alessandro Oggioni (Italy).
The Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition is owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine.