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Canada's Paul Nicklen wins the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award 2012

Canada's Paul Nicklen wins the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award 2012

© Paul Nicklen

October 2012

Canon photographer Paul Nicklen (Canada) has won the prestigious title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012, with a stunning image of emperor penguins shot in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Now in its 48th year, the 2012 edition of the competition attracted more than 48,000 entries from 98 countries.

Paul Nicklen (left, on stage) talks about his winning Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012 image with Yann Arthus-Bertrand (centre) and Philippa Forrester (right) at the awards ceremony, held in the Natural History Museum, London.

Nicklen spent months studying the animals and produced a body of work which amazed the judges and delighted the gathered guests at an awards ceremony, held at the Natural History Museum, central London, on the evening of 17 October 2012. Nicklen, a Canon user for many years, had been particularly hoping to get a sunlit mass of emperor penguins charging upwards, leaving in their wake a criss-cross of bubble trails.

The location was near the emperor colony at the edge of the frozen area of the Ross Sea, Antarctica. It was into the only likely exit hole that Nicklen lowered himself. He then had to wait for the return of the penguins, their crops (a part of the oesophagus for storing food) full of icefish for their chicks. Locking his legs under the lip of the ice so he could remain motionless, Nicklen breathed through a snorkel so as not to spook the penguins when they arrived.

“They were so fast that, with frozen fingers, framing and focus had to be instinctive. It was a fantastic sight,” explained Paul Nicklen, to Awards' hosts Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Philippa Forrester. “Hundreds launched themselves out of the water and onto the ice above me – it was a moment that I felt incredibly fortunate to witness and one I’ll never forget.”

Biologist and photographer Nicklen used his EOS-1D Mark IV and EF8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM lens to record the moment, housed in a Seacam underwater housing. The exposure was 1/1000sec at f/7.1, with the ISO set at 500.

“I call myself an interpreter and a translator,” said Nicklen. “I translate what the scientists are telling me. If we lose ice, we stand to lose an entire eco-system. I hope we can realise through my photography how inter-connected these species are. It just takes one image to get someone’s attention.”

The 100 prize-winning photographs are on display in an exhibition at the Natural History Museum, London, until 3 March 2013. The 2012 Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition will also tour nationally, in the UK, and internationally from November 2012. Time is running out to catch the 2011 Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which will complete its worldwide tour in January 2013.

Biografía: Paul Nicklen

Paul Nicklen

A unique childhood among the Inuit in Canada’s Arctic and a professional background as a biologist in the Northwest Territories has enabled Paul Nicklen to take on the most inhospitable places on the planet. His images reflect a reverence for the creatures inhabiting these isolated and endangered environments. Paul has published ten stories for National Geographic Magazine. and has received more than twenty international awards, including five awards with World Press Photo (including Nature: First Prize Story 2010), three with Pictures of the Year International, and ten with BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Paul lives on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.


Winner: Anna Henly from the UK's image entitled 'Ice matters.' Anna was on a boat in Svalbard (an archipelago midway between mainland Norway and the North Pole) when she saw this polar bear at around four in the morning. It was October, and the bear was walking on broken-up ice floes, seemingly tentatively, not quite sure where to trust its weight. She used her fisheye lens to make the enormous animal appear diminutive and create an impression of the top predator on top of the planet, with its ice world breaking up. The symbolism, of course, is that polar bears rely almost entirely on the marine sea ice environment for their survival, and year by year, increasing temperatures are reducing the amount of ice cover and the amount of time available for the bears to hunt marine mammals. Scientists maintain that the melting of the ice will soon become a major problem for humans as well as polar bears, not just because of rising sea levels but also because increasing sea temperatures are affecting the weather, sea currents and fish stocks.