Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year winners announced
A thought-provoking image of a beached Fin Whale being circled by sharks has won the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition for 2019, the first time an image captured by drone has won the award.
“Fin Whale’s Demise” by Mat Beetson captured the surreal moment while on a photographic trip with a friend in Cheynes Beach in Albany, WA with a DJI Phantom 4 Pro Drone.
“I was actually in the Great Southern region of WA to photograph the beautiful beaches but a turn in weather with a crazy storm made it a little tough to fly a drone. We heard from some locals that there was a beached whale at Cheynes Beach,” Mr Beetson said.
“It was unreal, arriving at a peaceful coastal town with a pristine beach and then seeing this huge whale not even five metres from shore – we then noticed the thrashing close by and realised that a few sharks had also stopped by,” he explained.
“I launched the drone to see the aerial view and captured a sequence of photographs, this shot was one of the last ones I took and I was very lucky that the shark came back for a look,” he said.
Speaking about the award, Mr Beetson said it was an amazing honour.
“It’s amazing. I’m still in disbelief…it’s such a huge honour. I was really excited just to be shortlisted in my category, but to take out the overall award, amongst an exceptional standard of entries in such a prestigious competition – it’s a really big thrill”.
The judges said that: “Despite seeing millions of nature photographs over the decades, we have never seen anything that remotely resembles this image. Unique and exciting, it reveals incredible beauty in death. Rather than being an inanimate scene, the image is given life by the circling shark, which in turn reminds us of the ecological function of the dead whale, providing food and energy to the living organisms around it. The image surprises by revealing such a shocking scene in a beautiful setting, and speaks volumes of the new dimension the latest technology has opened up for photographers.”
Mr Brian Oldman, Director of the South Australian Museum, said that Mr Beetson’s photograph had been judged the winning entry among 2,219 photographs.
“By having technology such as drones accessible to photographers it broadens the scope to capture moments that often aren’t seen by the naked eye,” he explained.
“We’re very proud to produce this competition and resulting exhibition every year and are continuously blown away by the calibre of entries and this year is no different,” Mr Oldman said.
Ms Chrissie Goldrick, Editor-in-Chief, Australian Geographic said that this year's entries were some of the strongest the annual competition has seen.
"It’s interesting to see technological advances like drones expanding our ability to capture and share the wonders of the natural world. The winning image is visual storytelling at its best.”
Run in partnership with the South Australian Museum, a public exhibition featuring all of the finalists will run from 16 August to 10 November 2019. The same exhibition will be presented at Powerhouse (MASS) in partnership with the Australian Museum from 16 August - 20 October 2019.
You can see all the winning images below, and a list of the finalists in each category at the bottom of the page.
The winners and runners-up of the ten categories are:
Winner: Decorator Crab, Ross Gudgeon (WA)
Runner-up: Bride in the Bath, Melissa Christi (QLD)
Winner: The Heat Run, Scott Portelli (NSW)
Runner-up: Evil Cousin, Pete McGee (NSW)
Winner: Small but Mighty, Richard Smith (UK)
Runner-up: Spider on Ice, Raoul Slater (QLD)
Winner: The Ghost of the Forest, Marcia Riederer (VIC)
Runner-up: Pandani at Lake Oberon, Jarrod Castaing (NSW)
Winner: Barron Falls, Neil Pritchard (QLD)
Runner-up: Through the Curtain, Nick Monk (TAS)
Winner: Texture, Tracey Jennings (UK/MYS)
Runner-up: King Pair Conversation, Andrew Peacock (QLD)
Junior (photographers under 18 years of age)
Winner: In the Dark, Floyd Mallon (NSW)
Runner-up: Under the Spikes, Isaac Wilson (SA)
Our Impact (depicting human impact on nature)
Winner: The Watering Hole, Melissa Williams-Brown (SA)
Runner-up: End of the Line, David Stowe (NSW)
Threatened Species (threatened, rare, vulnerable or endangered species)
Winner: Curious Encounter, Etienne Littlefair (NT)
Runner-up: Just Hanging On, Neil Edwards (SA)
Portfolio Prize (best portfolio of size or more images)
Winner: Charles Davis, (NSW)