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All eyes open: 20 sublime images from the Nature Through The Lens photography competition

Published: 03rd June, 2021 at 04:00
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Nature Through The Lens Photographer of the Year 2021 winners announced

The winners of the prestigious Nature TTL Photographer of the Year Competition 2021 have just been unveiled, with a mind-bending orang-utan image taking the grand prize.

In total, photographers competed amongst 8 different competition categories celebrating the natural world: Animal Behaviour, Camera Traps, Landscapes, Small World, The Night Sky, Underwater, Urban Wildlife, and Wild Portraits.

We bring you our favourites from a huge and impressive selection.


Highly commended - Animal behaviour

Dust Bath Bence Máté Animal Behaviour Highly Commended Wild dog pups play in the dust seen rising from the bone dry soil. I tracked them for 5 weeks, and photographed them in some fascinating situations in South Africa.
Wild dog (Lycaon pictus) pups play in the dust seen rising from the bone dry soil. The photographer tracked them for five weeks, and took images of them in some fascinating situations in South Africa. Photo by Bence Máté/Nature TTL

Highly commended - Underwater

Photo by Celia Kujala/Nature TTL
A young Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) plays with a starfish at Norris Rocks off Hornby Island, Canada. Sadly, Steller sea lions are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List. Photo by Celia Kujala/Nature TTL

Winner - Landscapes

Photo by Jay Roode/Nature TTL
The shadow of an ancient camel thorn tree reaches out towards a delta of the Tsauchab river, Namibia. Photo by Jay Roode/Nature TTL

Highly commended - Animal behaviour

A Crimson Sunbird female is seen refreshing herself with the water which is stored in the petal of an ornamental banana flower. This is showing a very rare behaviour, and is as if nature creates a floral bath tub for her. Photo by Mousam Ray/Nature TTL
A female crimson sunbird (Aethopyga siparaja) is seen refreshing herself with the water which is stored in the petal of an ornamental banana flower, photographed in India. This is showing a very rare behaviour, and is as if nature creates a floral bath tub for her. Photo by Mousam Ray/Nature TTL

Winner - Wild portraits

Photo by Dennis Stogsdill/NatureTTL
A rather photogenic polar bear (Ursus maritimus) takes a nap on the snow in Svalbard, Norway. Photo by Dennis Stogsdill/NatureTTL

Runner-up - Urban wildlife

Framed by the glow of street lights along Kuwait city. An Arabian red fox kitten exploring the night just outside its den. Arabian Red Foxes usually breed in the desert far away from human, this is a really rare case that i monitored for almost three months. I found two dens near the city of Kuwait, each den have a family of 5 kittens with their parents One den was really near the houses next to the shore of Kuwait which amazed me when i first saw them! The other den was still next to houses but in an old palm reserve! Finding breeding foxes near the city is really something unusual! Land degradation, habitat loss , human impact and overhunting in the desert plus hunting! is what made these two families decide to risk it all and breed near the city. This was taken in Kuwait city, an area near to the shore called Doha, the colorful lights are street and car light “ this is why some lights are higher than others ” and all those light were reflecting on the sea water. The rim light/backlight is two small continuous light “hand flash lights” The mother catch something every night and dig a small hall and hide the food, some time its a fish “maybe dead fish from the shore next to them” sometime she come with a bird! sometime with left over food from people! so once she dig and hide the food, i put those flash lights and wait for her and the cubs to come and dig the food back! and this is how i got this shot There was 5 kits with their mom I did go to the foxes den for about three months for maybe 4 days a week or so and stayed there for 3 to 5 hours just after sunset. at first i was a bit far away, lets say 20 meters from where they usually play. i didn’t approach the den for two reasons, first the den was at sea level and there is no empty good place for me to photograph them. Secondly. with high tide the space gets really narrow to even stand there. i hope i can explain this right, the den is down next to the shore, but the ground level is 2 meters. Photo by Mohammad Murad/NatureTTL
An Arabian red fox kitten (Vulpes vulpes arabica) explores the night just outside its den, in an area of Kuwait City near to the shore called Doha, Kuwait. Photo by Mohammad Murad/NatureTTL

Runner-up - Animal behaviour

Taken in South Africa, a fish is caught in the moment it is snapped up by a crocodile. The look of surprise really made this shot stand out to me. Photo by Johan Wandrag/NatureTTL
A crocodile (Crocodylinae) snaps up a rather surprised fish in this great snapshot, taken in South Africa. Photo by Johan Wandrag/NatureTTL

Highly commended - Small world

Photo by Christian Brockes/NatureTTL
An acorn weevil (Curculio glandium) spreading its wings, ready to take off. Photo by Christian Brockes/NatureTTL

Overall winner

Photo by Thomas Vijayan/NatureTTL
A Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus) climbs up a tree towards the photographer in Borneo. The water below formed a mirror, making the image look upside-down. This is a regular path for the orangutans to use, but the photographer had to be patient in order to get this shot. Photo by Thomas Vijayan/NatureTTL

If you are enjoying this gallery, why not take a look at some of our other great images:

Winner - The night sky

Photo by Marcus Westberg/NatureTTL
A rare type of aurora over an alpine lake in northern Sweden, far from any disturbing light pollution. Photo by Marcus Westberg/NatureTTL

Highly commended - Wild portraits

The elusive Pallas’s cat. A 5 days searching in the Mongolian steppe ended with a single sighting but it was a very special one! On our last day of searching the elusive cat was found out in the open hunting in early morning when a blizzard came from nowhere and covered it with a white blanket that made it almost invisible. Photo by Amit Eshel/NatureTTL
The elusive Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul) photographed in the Mongolian steppe. The elusive cat is shown here out in the open hunting in early morning during a blizzard covering it with a white blanket of snow and making it almost invisible. Photo by Amit Eshel/NatureTTL

Highly commended - Urban wildlife

Photo by Tom Cawdron/NatureTTL
A family of red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) were regularly passing through the photographer's garden using a gap in the fence as a passageway. It was the perfect opportunity for him to set up a camera trap to capture some images. After weeks of trying, he managed to capture this intimate photo of a vixen and her cub. Photo by Thomas Cawdron/NatureTTL

Runner-up - Small world

Photo by Samantha Stephens/NatureTTL
Juvenile spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum) trapped by northern pitcher plants as they make their autumn migration from aquatic hatching grounds to wintering sites beneath the forest floor. This is the first discovery of salamanders being regularly caught by northern pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea). Photo by Samantha Stephens/NatureTTL

Winner - Under 16

Photo by Thomas Easterbrook/NatureTTL
A starling murmuration is threatened when a peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) swoops in to attack the group, in this dramatic image. Photo by Thomas Easterbrook/NatureTTL

Highly commended - Small world

Photo by Simon Jenkins/NatureTTL
The bee wolf (Philanthus triangulum) is a solitary wasp, and predates on honeybees. In this image, you can see the wasp carrying away its unfortunate prey. Photo by Simon Jenkins/NatureTTL

Highly commended - Animal behaviour

Photo by David Gibbon/NatureTTL
A blue morph Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) struggles in gale force winds, sub-zero temperatures and heavy snow, and makes hunting very tough for this individual. Photo by David Gibbon/NatureTTL

Highly commended - Landscapes

Photo by Marek Biegalski/NatureTTL
Sand patterns seen from above on the Baltray in Ireland, with little terns (Sternula albifrons) nesting right on the beach. The terns are Ireland's rarest breeding sea birds. They tend to nest on the beaches and are extremely noisy in the breeding season. Photo by Marek Biegalski/NatureTTL

Highly commended - Small world

A semi-transparent spider begins to weave its new web after shedding its old skin. Photo by Ben Nicholson/NatureTTL

Highly commended - Landscapes

Photo by Zdeněk Vošický/NatureTTL
Picturesque and fertile landscape in the rolling fields of southern Moravia, Czech Republic. Photo by Zdeněk Vošický/NatureTTL

Winner - Underwater

Photo by Grant Thomas/NatureTTL
Manta rays like this reef manta ray (Mobula alfredi) are filter feeders, sustaining their huge size by consuming large amounts of plankton and small crustaceans, like krill. The Maldives is one of the only places in the world where you can dive with these majestic animals at night time. Photo by Grant Thomas/NatureTTL

For more images from this year's Nature TTL competition check out the complete winners gallery available here


James CutmorePicture Editor, BBC Science Focus

James Cutmore is the picture editor of BBC Science Focus Magazine, researching striking images for the magazine and on the website. He is also has a passion for taking his own photographs


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