Eduardo Blanco Mendizabal from Spain wins the competition with the photo of a lynx in the twilight
The winners of the renowned competition European Wildlife Photographer of the Year were awarded in a festive award ceremony on Friday, 25 October 2019.
Photographers from more than 30 countries entered almost 15,800 photographs in this competition. With Magdalena Herrera, Richard Peters, Emmanuel Boitier, Werner Bollmann and Hermann Hirsch, 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.
Overall winner of the competition is Eduardo Blanco Mendizabal from Spain with his photo 'The ghost'. This photo was taken during twilight. It shows one of the most endangered European cat species, the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus). Jury member Richard Peters: "This photo grabbed the jury’s attention because it is different. It is an image that will not be obvious to everyone immediately but more so a photo that draws you in the more you view it. As your eye adjusts to the darkness of the frame, the image begins to come alive."
As is often the case with photos of this kind, the effect is backed by careful use of camera technology. Here, the photographer took a brave decision: the jury were impressed that, despite the incredibly low light, Eduardo Blanco Mendizabal took the risk of taking this shot with a 6 second shutter speed.
Eduardo Blanco Mendizabal was born in Corella, Spain in 1977. He only got his first camera at the age of 19. Growing up in a small town in pre digital times, his road to photography was a long and hard learning process. He loves to discover new countries, but ends up finding motivation near home.
Jury member Richard Peters: "Whilst all styles of photography have their place, in a time when camera-traps, drones, perfectly lit and stylised imagery are at their most fashionable, it can be easy to forget the power of stripping it all back to basics. To a simple concept. To a photo that takes us back to the fundamentals of wildlife photography. To evoking raw emotions and sparking debate. The power of such photographs doesn’t come from technical perfection, impeccable workflow or the latest innovative gadget. It comes from offering the viewer a sense of connection to the subject, of atmosphere, of how the photographer must have felt at the moment of capture."
Patron Prof. Dr. Beate Jessel of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation explains another aspect of the winning image: "The Iberian lynx as well as the European lynx, whose traditional habitat includes Germany, are extremely rare species today. At the end of the monitoring year 2017/2018, there was evidence of 85 independent adults and 43 juveniles in Germany. This means, the conservation status in our part of the world is still to be considered as critical. In addition to the outstanding technical qualities and expressive power, this year's overall winning photo draws attention to a species threatened by us humans, thus drumming up support for the issues of nature conservation. In view of the continuous decline of species this is as pressing as never before."
The winners of the individual categories
The category Birds was won by Dr. Siegmar Bergfeld (GDT) from Germany with a high key portrait of a white egret in the Everglades. Ingo Arndt (GDT) spent seven months in the wilderness of Patagonia to work on a photo reportage about cougars. His most important piece of work is the photo of a guanaco hunt, which came out on top in the category Mammals. The photograph '101 crocodiles' by Ignacio Medem Seghers from Spain won the category Other Animals – more than 100 crocodiles feeding off the carcass of a hippopotamus at Luangwa River. 'Sturdy' is the title of the winning photograph in the category Plants and Fungi by Romanian photographer Dorin Bofan. It depicts Scots pines in a snowstorm in the nature reserve of Invereshie and Inshriach in Scotland. The category Landscapes was won by Frenchman Guillaume Bily with the mystical photo 'Rainbow mist'. Italian Manuel Plaickner won in the category Under Water with the photo 'Pond world'. 'My hands' is the title Miguel Ángel Rubio Robles from Spain gave his winning photo in the category Man and Nature – it shows a mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx) at the zoo in Madrid. Fran Rubia discovered a formation reminiscent of a human face in turbidite sedimentary rock in the Tabernas desert near Almería in Spain's south-east,
which is the winning photograph of the category Nature's Studio.
The category Young Photographers up to 14 years was won by Carlos Pérez Naval from Spain with 'In the canopy'. In age group 2 (14-17 Years) Patrick Moser from Switzerland convinced the jury with his photo of a coal tit.
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. 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. The great variety of topics in nature photography is reflected in the competition by 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 organisers 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 was opened 25 October after the award ceremony at the GDT International Nature Photography Festival. Later on, the awarded images will go on a three-year tour of Germany and Europe.
Galleries of the award-winning images can be viewed at www.gdtfoto.de