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European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018

The Society of German Nature Photographers (Gesellschaft Deutscher Tierfotografen - GDT) presents the winning photographs of the competition European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2018

Cristobal Serrano from Spain is this year's overall winner with an aerial photograph of lesser flamingos at Lake Bogoria

The winners of the renowned competition European Wildlife Photographer of the Year have been awarded in a festive award ceremony on Friday, 26 October 2018. This event, which welcomes guests and photographers from Germany and abroad, takes place annually during the International Nature Photography Festival of the GDT.

Photographers from 35 countries entered almost 18 100 photographs in this competition. With Sophie Stafford, Britta Jaschinski, Sandra Bartocha, Roy Mangersnes and Klaus Nigge, the international jury consisted again of a top-class line-up of photography experts. In a pre-jury process of several weeks and a tree-day conclave, the jury selected the best 85 images of the competition – considering the high-quality entries, this was not an easy task.

Cristobal Serrano with his photograph ‘Rainbow city’ came out as the overall winner of the competition. This aerial shot shows lesser flamingos at Lake Bogoria, searching the highly alkaline water for cyanobacteria, their favourite food. Due to high concentrations of mineral salts, the lake is intensely coloured. Serrano's photograph takes a while to sink in. A symphony of colours in combination with an unusual perspective turns the spectacular image into a piece of art. Member of jury Sophie Stafford states: "It soothes the soul and excites the imagination."

GDT EWPY 2018, Christobal Serrano - Spain
Rainbow City

Cristobal Serrano has a love for artistic expression of all sorts, with nature photography taking up a lot of his life. His subjects range from the wildest and most merciless moments that nature has to offer to the softest and emotionally most touching situations.

Sophie Stafford: "Today’s digital world is awash with imagery. Increasingly, photos are created and processed with a view to capturing the attention – but hold it for no longer than the blink of an eye. Their fleeting beauty lacks the depth or complexity to demand deeper consideration. Our jury’s preference proved to be for images with more meaning, photos that required more time and careful contemplation to appreciate the purpose behind their artistic expression. We appreciated images that strived to reveal something new, create a connection, or inspire an appreciation of the fragility of our natural world."

Patron Prof. Dr. Beate Jessel of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation explains another aspect of the winning image: "In their diet, lesser flamingos depend on a type of cyanobacteria typically found in highly alkaline salt lakes, and due to availability and composition of this basic food source, the species is very sensitive to changes in the ecosystem. The population is currently still estimated at up to 2.5 million individuals in East Africa, but the lesser flamingo has already made it onto the Red List of Threatened Species as potentially endangered: there are fears that reduced quality of its habitats and general disturbances will have a negative effect on the development of the population. This makes the lesser flamingo representative of a range of species that face the challenges of changing environmental conditions and the need to adapt.

The winners of the individual categories:
Jaime Culebras from Spain won in the category Birds with his image of a female Anthony's nightjar at her future breeding place. Jan van der Greef (GDT) from the Netherlands came out first in the category Mammals with an atmospheric image of a wolverine in a snow-covered Finnish forest. The category Other Animals was won by Austrian Christian Wappl (GDT) with the glowing image of a firefly larva. 'Lily pads and the first ice' is the name of the winning image by Finnish photographer Hannu Ahonen in the category Plants & Fungi. David Frutos Egea from Spain was successful in the category Landscapes with a mysterious photograph called 'Sandy shapes'. The category The Underwater World was won by Italian Claudio Ceresi with a photograph of a bigfin reef squid. 'Acting under pressure' is the title Joan de la Malla from Spain gave his winning image in the category Man & Nature – a macaque in Indonesia forced to perform in street events. The abstract portrayal of a secretary bird by Johan Siggesson from Sweden highlights the unique beauty of these strange birds and came out on top in the category Nature's Studio.

The category Young Photographers up to 14 years of age was won by Lasse Kurkela from Finland. In the age group 2 (14-17 Years) Simon Johnsen from Norway convinced the jury with his image 'Dipper in flight'.

About the competition European Wildlife Photographer of the Year:
Intended as a one-off event in 2001, the competition GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year quickly and firmly established itself as an event of international renown. Continuously rising numbers of entries and a similarly increasing public interest in the outcome of the competition, assured the organiser to be headed in the right direction. Its on-going success may be explained by the effort made every year anew to meet the requirements of modern nature photography – innovation and  creativity, in the form of new techniques or the audacity for uncommon compositions, have been the declared intention of this competition right from the beginning. Plus, the ambition to show at the same time the great variety of topics in nature photography in modern images, ranging from unseen behaviour patterns, rare species, intimate animal portraits, dreamy plant photographs to critical debate and examination of issues concerning nature conservation and the protection of species. The organizers place also great importance on adherence to ethical standards in photography, supported by a tight set of rules and complete checks to rule out digital manipulation.

The exhibition of this year's competition will be on display at the Hansesaal gallery of the event centre in Lünen until 3.11.2018 November 2017. Admission is free. Later on the awarded images will go on a three-year tour of Germany and Europe.

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