The fourth annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum is the largest and longest-running contest for wildlife and nature photographers. Although Wildlife Photographer of the Year is in its fourth year at the ROM, the contest itself has been running for 52 years, originating at the prestigious Natural History Museum in London, England.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year includes 16 categories, such as mammals, birds, and underwater and urban landscapes. The competition accepts entries from photographers worldwide. The Natural History Museum showcases winning photographs at an exhibition before they travel around the world to different museums.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year has attracted nearly 50,000 submissions worldwide. The ROM’s contest was open to all Canadian residents aged 13 and over. Teenagers are entered in the youth category, while participants 18 and above are entered as adults. The striking photography from contest winners are currently on display at the ROM, demonstrating a breathtaking and refreshing view of the Canadian landscape and the animals that inhabit it.
One photograph from this year’s contest that I found exceptionally striking was “Maasai Mara Reserve” by Yun Wang. The image depicts a colourful bird about to eat an insect, taken on the Maasai Mara Reserve in Kenya, Africa. The muted colour of the background nicely contrasts the bold feathers of the bird. This close-up shot also allows us to see the texture of the feathers and the way the bird’s colours meld together. The pale colour of the insect reflects the bird’s dominant position over its prey. Furthermore, the fragile branch that supports the bird nicely showcases its fragility within the animal kingdom.
I believe this piece has a very clear focus and effectively captures the bird in its natural environment. Wang offers a refreshing change from the common depiction of birds in flight, which was certainly a trend among this year’s participants.
Another submission I enjoyed was “Sally Lightfoot Crab” by Christine Lyons. Shot in the Galapagos, Ecuador, the photo shows the brightly-coloured crab hiding between dark grey rocks. The richness of texture in this image is astounding, for both the crab and the rocks. We can clearly see the wet, gravelly surface of the rocks, and every ridge and bump on the crab’s body. The rarity of this species adds another layer to the impressiveness of this shot. The vivid colors on the crab contrast nicely with the dark background. The crab’s position—crouched and ready to run—nicely captures the busy life of a crab.
My favourite submission was Kerri Chase’s macro photograph of a bee. The close-up image depicts a bee crouched on a blue, yarn-like surface. The effect is mesmerizing. We can see every hair on the bee, as well as loose strands of the object it rests on. The bright yellow of the bee provides a sharp contrast to the dark blue of the object. The close angle of this shot coupled with the bee’s position facing the lens creates a three-dimensional effect.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year will be on display at the ROM until March 19.