At last weekend’s Birdfair 2017, an annual event held in Rutland, UK, the events tent was packed to capacity as the winners of the BPOTY 2017 – Bird Photographer of the Year competition were announced. Now in its second year, the quality of the entries has shown no signs of waning.
Chris Packham, head judge on the panel of experts, states, “The standard of photography was extremely high and myself and the other judges were treated to some fantastic bird photographs. It was a tough job for the judging panel to whittle down the entries to a handful from which to choose the winners, albeit a very enjoyable tough job.”
Hosting the awards ceremony, Chris was, rightly, in awe of some of the entries and it was clear to see the respect he had for the skill of the photographers. The same could be said of the audience whose gasps, sharp intakes of breath and positive mutterings only served to confirm the hosts enthusiasm.
This year BPOTY attracted thousands of entries from over 50 countries attracting amateur and professional photographers alike. Chris commented, “This is no ordinary photographic competition. It has been superb this year with the photographs being of the very highest quality.” This is reflected by the winning entry, a photograph of American flamingos by Alejandro Prieto Rojas which Chris described as “quite startling”, and “truly inspirational, an incredible balance of colour, composition and emotion that invites you to share the beauty and magnificence of nature.”
Talking to members of the audience after the awards, the overall opinion was that the judges got it right. The main challenge from their point of view came from Bret Charman’s ‘Birds in flight’ category winner, ‘A prefect landing’; a photograph showing an Australian pelican landing on shallow waters.
Ondrej Pelanek from the Czech Republic was named as the Young Bird Photographer of the Year with his ethereal image of a Whiskered Tern. His delight was plain to see during his moving, videoed acceptance speech.
The other category winners were: Tom Hines (Attention to detail); Andrew Parkinson (Bird Behaviour); Ben Hall (Birds in the Environment); Jamie Hall (Birds in the Garden); Georgina Steytler (Creative Imagery); Markus Varesvuo (Best Portfolio); and Vince Burton (NPL People’s Choice).
BPOTY is a collaboration between the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and Nature Photographers Ltd (NPL). As well as being a first-class competition, BPOTY makes a significant monetary contribution as CEO of BTO Andy Clements explains, “I’m really proud to have BTO involved with this project which has not only delivered such a positive conservation message, but has raised much welcomed funds for the BTO. Money raised this year will help fund the BTO’s young birders boot camps, aimed at engaging a younger generation of naturalists and ornithologists.”
Lead BPOTY organiser Rob Read of NPL comments, “following the success of our first year, I must admit to being a little apprehensive about being able to follow it up in year two. But I needn’t have worried, the consensus from the judges was that the entries for 2017 surpassed the heights achieved in 2016, quite a feat.”
The 2018 competition is now open and there is all-round excitement and high expectations about the new set of entries. As Chris said at the end of this year’s awards ceremony, “This year’s quality will take some beating, but we want photographers to push the boundary, up their game. Quite frankly, we want something special.”
talk: Wildlife banner
The image used in the banner, introducing this story, on the talk: Wildlife home page was taken by Piotr Chara. Entitled ‘The autumn migration of cranes’, it won Silver in the ‘Birds in the Environment’ category. Chris Packham called this image “primal and simply beautiful”. All competition images © Paul Sterry. Chris Packham image © Rob Read.
The 2018 competition is now open for entries, closing on 30 November 2018. The winner is awarded £5,000, and earns the coveted title of ‘Bird Photographer of the Year’.
Bird Photographer of the Year – Collection 2, published by William Collins, is now available.
The book features the very best imagery from the competition and the stories behind the images as told by the photographers themselves, plus all the technical camera information. RRP – £25.
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