I spend about 12 hours a week travelling to and from London, so it takes a lot to drag me up to town on a day off. But last week Dr C. and I made our annual pilgrimage to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London. The exhibition always justifies the trip. If you get a chance to go, do.
As ever, there was a stunning collection of images. I won’t try and describe it all (why bother, when I’m sure I’ve already persuaded you to see it for yourself?!). But I thought I would share a few things that stood out to me.
Firstly, the quality of images was stunning. I thought the overall winners were beautiful, fascinating pictures. The main winner, an infra-red picture of lions basking on a rock overlooking a panoramic landscape, was the sort of photo you could spend a long time looking at, and always be noticing something new.
The Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year categories are humbling, and the winning image of a scorpion, taken with 2 exposures, has encouraged me to try to experiment technically.
The winning photojournalist portfolio examined the interaction between lions and humans. It really stayed with me, as it thoughtfully portrayed a range of issues, including canned lion hunting, and a survivor of a lion attack who can no longer wash himself, having lost both his arms. It showed the prestige that lion hunting can bring in some communities, and the former lion hunters who have turned to protecting the big cats. I liked this portfolio as it went beyond the obvious, and made me think. It didn’t offer easy solutions, but improved understanding of what’s at stake.
The other thing that stood out was the dedication of the photographers to getting the perfect image, often involving considerable discomfort, and persistence beyond anything I could dream of. I enjoy looking at the technical details of how the photos were taken – the equipment, aperture and shutter speed. I have a few new ideas for techniques to try.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the exhibition. I’m sure few people have come away from the exhibition without feeling amazed by the beauty of nature, saddened by the impact humans are having on it, and inspired to protect it.