Nature TTL has announced the winners of its Photographer of the Year 2020 contest, which drew more than 7,000 entries from 117 countries around the world.
The grand prize has been awarded to Florian Ledoux for an overhead shot of crabeater seals in Antartica.
The photo was taken by a drone equipped with a camera that Ledoux was remotely piloting to avoid getting too close to the animals and potentially disturbing them in their natural habitat.
The Grand Prize winning photograph of Nature TTL’s Photographer of the Year 2020 competition, of crabeater seals in Antarctica, taken by French photographer Florian Ledoux
According to Ledoux, the animals weren’t particularly concerned with the sight of the drone because they have no natural airborne predators.
‘For me, it is very important to show the state of the Arctic and Antarctic regions, and to have an image from there win this award is important exposure,’ Ledoux said in an interview with Nature TTL.
‘It is important that anyone inspired by this style of drone image understands the importance of wildlife and being ethical in your approach.’
‘Ensure that your drone does not spook animals or disturb them, and always conduct yourself within accordance of local regulations.’
The photo was taken in 2019, after a boat Ledoux was on sailing through the Antarctic had to stop after heavy ice floes prevented it from moving forward.
The crew spent several days anchored in place and Ledoux began to notice nearby seals as they occasionally gathered in groups atop some of the larger pieces of ice.
Ledoux got up early one morning, at 4AM, and launched the drone he’d brought with him and began taking photos, which is where the winning entry was captured.
Because of the season, the sun shone 24-hours a day, ensuring there was enough light for a clear photograph.
Ledoux previously served as a photographer in the French Navy and decided to pursue his passion for polar environments after taking a boat trip from Greenland to Canada after he finished his service
Ledoux believes photographers should work more closely with scientists to help people visualize some of the many environmental changes taking place all over the world. ‘That is how I think we will overcome the challenges facing the colder regions, and the rest of our planet,’ he said
Ledoux started his career working as a photographer in the French Navy.
After he left the service, he decided to travel and took a boat from Greenland to Canada, a journey which convinced him to pursue a career photographing life in the remote, frozen regions.
Ledoux believes that it’s important for photographers to work closely with scientists to capture the extraordinary changes taking place around the world, and especially in polar regions, to just the consequences of human industrial activity.
‘I believe that photographers need to work together with scientists in order to develop a strong message and further scientific communication,’ Ledoux said.
‘That is how I think we will overcome the challenges facing the colder regions, and the rest of our planet.’
Photographer Brandon Yoshizawa won ‘Highly Commended’ marks for his photo of the SpaceX Falcon9 rocket launch captured from Aspendell, California in the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Caitlin Henderson won recognition for her photo of a stealthy species of spider from northern Australia, the lichen huntsmen, which she sought out on torchlight midnight hikes, looking for glimpses of reflected light from their black eyes to help separate them from the tree bark
Paul Holman was awarded ‘Runner Up’ status for his photo of a baby owl looking up startled as a large jackdaw tries to divebomb it in a territorial dispute
Jesslyn Saw earned ‘Highly Commended’ status for a photo of jumping spider in a newly-built nest on a ginger plant, taken on a trip to the small Malaysian village of Taiping where Saw’s father lives
Bart Heirweg was given commendations for his landscape photograph of the Valley of the Scheldt in Belgium. ‘In early autumn the Valley of the Scheldt is often filled with a thick layer of fog on clear and windless mornings,’ he said. ‘When the sun starts to rise the fog slowly disappears, revealing the landscape underneath.’
Marek Biegalski won the Landscape category for a photo of sheep in Tuscany squeezing into the slender shade cast by a tree in the countryside, taken from overhead by a drone
Christian Wappl was honored for a photograph of the luminous trail left behind by a firefly crawling across the jungle floor in Thailand
Dipanjan Pal won recognition for a photo of a highway cutting a stark contrast against the colorful water and sands of Iceland. ‘While flying my drone close to a mountain, I suddenly noticed this beautiful landscape with the blue river perfectly highlighted against the black sand,’ Pal said.
Robert Page was given ‘Runner-up’ status for a closeup photo of red-eyed damselfies mating on the surface of a pond in a London park that Page had been a frequent visitor to
Alessandro Cantarelli was given recognition for a photo of a double rainbow–or ‘Viking rainbow’–taken at sunrise on Iceland’s Vestrahorn mountain
Minghui Yuan won the Macro category for a photo of a male damselfly waiting on a blade of grass for a female to fly into its territory. To capture the photo, Yuan waded into a stream with rubber overalls in the Dabie Mountains near Wuhan
The People’s Choice Award went to Robert Ferguson for a photo from Singapore of a white pelican in the process of swallowing a large spiky fish, a process that took more than 20 minutes because the fish’s spiky fins kept catching in the pelican’s beak
Teenager Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz was awarded ‘Runner-up’ in the Under 16 category for a photo of Hungary’s famous soda lakes, bodies of water rich with mineral content that support a variety of fish and birdlife
Matej Borjancic won commendations for a photo of a fox in the Slovenian countryside. ‘My grandfather took me on a tour of the quarry to see if there were any animals there,’ Borjancic said. ‘We were lucky; I photographed a young fox as she looked out of her hiding place.’
Saptarshi Gayen won the Under 16 category for a photo of a Black Drongo bird in India flying over seasonal fire set by local farmers to clear brush and weeds for the next year’s crops, something that causes small insects and rodents to come rushing out of the ground, offering an abundant food source for the circling bird
Bence Mate was recognized for a photo of a brown bear in Romania captured growling at a potential intruder into its space, the the cloud of its own breath lingering in the air in front of it
Dave Hudson was commended for a photo of a badger cub taken in the United Kingdom, surrounded by bluebell flowers, the result of several hours spent patiently waiting in the grass for an animal to appear
Norwegian Terje Kolaas was recognized for a photo of a collared dove resting during a light snowfall, with the orange glow of a streetlight forming a halo behind its head