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Brent Stirton wins  Wildlife Photojournalist  Award 2013

Brent Stirton wins Wildlife Photojournalist Award 2013

© Brent Stirton/Reportage by Getty Images

October 2013

Respected photojournalist and Canon Ambassador Brent Stirton (Reportage by Getty Images) has won the Wildlife Photojournalist prize at this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards held at the Natural History Museum in London, UK, on 15 October.

His winning portfolio, entitled God’s Ivory, was highly praised by the judges and category judge Steve Winter – a previous overall winner and acclaimed photojournalist for National Geographic magazine – commented: “We often see the images of slaughtered elephants in Africa, but we do not see the story beyond the carcasses of these majestic creatures. Telling the story behind the killing is our obligation as wildlife photojournalists. Brent does a masterful job.”

Roberto Portela Miguez from the Natural History Museum added: “The international ivory trade remains a serious threat to elephants and, should prices increase markedly, the large-scale eradication of elephants is likely to occur rapidly. Vigilance and monitoring are absolute necessities.”

Speaking about his success, a delighted Brent told CPN: “It’s always so nice to be acknowledged by your peers and I’m honoured to be recognised amongst such great talent. Wildlife journalism is a pretty esoteric profession and it’s rare that I get a chance to be among colleagues who share the same passion as me. I got off the plane in London and wasn’t prepared for how special this competition is – in fact for the awards evening I had to go out and buy a white shirt especially!” he joked.

“What’s really great about this award is that it travels,” he continued. “The pictures get seen around the world and for me it’s all about getting the story out there and getting people to take notice. The challenge for this assignment was to make compassionate images out of a horrifying scene. I wanted to take a powerful image that conveyed the ugly reality of the illegal ivory trade and its consequences for the rapidly diminishing elephant populations.”

Brent used a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EOS 5D Mark II and an EOS-1D Mark IV on his God’s Ivory project with the EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM lens his preferred optic of choice.

The winning images will be on display at the Natural History Museum, London, UK, from 18 October 2013 to 23 March 2014. For more details on the exhibition, please click here.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Canon winners

Winner of the ‘Behaviour: birds’ category: Isak Pretorius (South Africa)

Says Isak Pretorius of his winning image: “This struck a real emotional chord with me – these seemingly fragile birds face many challenges out at sea and yet when they return home, exhausted, they still encounter unsuspected dangers.” Taken on a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV with an EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens at 200mm; the exposure was 1/500sec at f/5.6, ISO 1600. A Speedlite 580EX flash was used for additional fill-in lighting.

Winner of the ‘Behaviour: mammals’ category: Joe McDonald (USA)

On his winning image, Joe McDonald said: “This is one of my all-time favourite images, depicting a very brief moment in two jaguars' lives. I couldn't believe the energy, power and violence exhibited in those few seconds – I was in awe.” Taken on a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV with an EF70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens at 170mm; the exposure was 1/640sec at f/5, ISO 800.

Winner of the ‘Animals in their environment’ category: Paul Souders (USA)

Paul scouted for three days before he spotted this bear, a young female, on sea ice some 30 miles offshore. “I approached her very, very slowly,” he says, “And then drifted. It was a cat-and-mouse game. I could hear her slow, regular breathing as she watched me below the surface or the exhalation as she surfaced, increasingly curious. It was very special.” Taken on a Canon EOS 7D with an EF-S10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM lens at 11mm; the exposure was 1/320sec at f/4, ISO 400.

Winner of the ‘Botanical realms’ category: Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols (USA)

“It's important the world understands that a 3,200-year-old living, breathing tree is as important as an elephant that might live for 50 years,” says Michael ‘Nick’ Nichols. Taken on three Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III DSLRs with three EF35mm f/1.4L USM lenses, 126 images were taken, ranging in exposure from 1/350sec to 1/1000sec, ISO 400. These were then stitched together on Photoshop to create one truly impressive photograph.

Winner of the ‘Urban wildlife’ category: Pål Hermansen (Norway)

On his winning image, Pål Hermansen says: “I think this is an original approach to nature photography. Rich in details and storytelling, the viewer will have to spend some time to read and understand it.” Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a TS-E17mm f/4L shift lens; the exposure was 0.3 sec at f/11; ISO 250. Radio-triggered mutliple flash units used.

Winner of the ‘Eric Hosking Portfolio Award’: Connor Stefanison (Canada)

Talking about the complexities of his winning image, Connor Stefanison reveals: “The biggest challenges were figuring out how to use multi-flash, when to press the remote and how to freeze the bird without sky ghosting through it. Overall this was one of the most challenging images I've taken and I was glad it worked out.” Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with an EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 16mm; the exposure was 1/13sec at f/8, ISO 1600. Three Canon Speedlite flashes were used, triggered remotely via a wireless transmitter.

Winner of the ‘Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ award: Udayan Rao Pawar (India)

On his award-winning image of a gharial, 14-year old Udayan Rao Pawar remarks: “Before daybreak, I crept down and hid behind rocks beside the babies. I could hear them making little grunting sounds. Very soon a large female surfaced near the shore, checking on her charges. Some of the hatchlings swam to her and climbed onto her head. Perhaps it made them feel safe.” Taken on a Canon EOS 550D with an EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM lens at 400mm; the exposure was 1/400sec at f/13, ISO 1600.

Biographie: Brent Stirton

Brent Stirton

South Africa-born Brent Stirton is a senior staff photographer for Reportage by Getty Images. He specialises in documentary work and travels an average of 10 months of the year on assignment. His awards include five World Press Photo awards, International Photographer of the Year 2008 (Lucie Awards) and he’s been honoured by the United Nations for his work on the environment and in the field of HIV. Brent works on a regular basis for a variety of charities and he has been published regularly in National Geographic Magazine, Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, Le Express, Le Monde 2, GQ, Geo and on The Discovery Channel and CNN. He is currently shooting a long-term project on threatened species, amongst other assignments around the world.