An arctic fox huddles against the snow.
All photo via NPOTY 2020

45 Stunning Photos That Capture the Majesty of Nature

These gorgeous images are the winners of the Nature Photographer of the Year competition

The overall winner of the latest Nature Photographer of the Year (NPOTY) competition is a photo by Roberto Marchegiani of a lone giraffe emerging from a forest in Kenya, reminiscent of a dinosaur navigating an ancient landscape, standing out in striking contrast to the dark and forbidding forest that frames her. Magdalena Herrera, the chair of the NPOTY jury, which selected the winner from nearly 20,000 submissions, explains their choice:

This image has a fairy-tale quality that goes far beyond a wildlife document. The contrast of the dark forest with branches like flashes of lightning and the little giraffe, who seems so innocent, is astonishing. Equally striking is the difference in scale and the relationship between a vibrant, threatening nature and the living element. The result, paradoxically, is a feeling of harmony and peace. We applaud here the poetic approach to this moment that was made possible by the photographer’s patience and respect for his subject.

Marchegiani’s gorgeous photo joins an incredible array of nature photographs that were selected for commendation in the competition, each a testament to the majesty and variety of nature—whether through glorious, sweeping landscapes, intimate portraits, or powerful images of animals in their natural habitats. Here is a selection of some of the best.

1. ‘Jurassic Park’ by Roberto Marchegiani

Winner | Mammals

A giraffe emerges from a forest.

I took this photo in Nakuru National Park, Kenya. To have a better chance of finding good light I went on a deliberately organized safari in the rainy season. Just before sunset my friends and I notice a group of giraffes walking in front of the forest. With a long lens, the 600mm, I find a magnificent glimpse into the forest that strikes me a lot. Therefore instead of taking pictures to the passing giraffes, I keep the framing still hoping for the passage of the giraffes at that point. In the end, the stubbornness rewarded me because the giraffe passed right by the best spot and the scene reminded me of a Jurassic landscape, with a herbivorous dinosaur in the same position as the giraffe.

2. ‘Big Blue’ by Paul Goldstein

Highly Commended | Underwater

A whale dives deep in the ocean.

This image was taken in the East Coast of Trincomalee Sri Lanka. There is something humble, enchanting and also terrifying about such a huge mammal the size of six double decker buses, when it passes below you. But I pulled myself together, took a deep breath and followed it down. Just being in the water with whales is something close to maritime witchcraft, but when it is a Blue it takes some recovery time, in this case physically and mentally!

3. ‘Caught In A Blizzard’ by David Gibbon

Highly Commended | Black-and-White

An arctic fox huddles against the snow.

In March 2020 my wife Louise and I took a group of photographers to the very remote Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the far north-west of Iceland. We sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to reach our destination and spent five days in a rustic cabin as we followed the blue morph Arctic Fox. As temperatures dipped to -22 with wind chill, I watched this female Arctic Fox as she struggled to stay upright. The winds battering her body while the cold saw ice forming on her face.

4. ‘A World Away’ by Oliver Smart

Highly Commended | Landscape

Penguins march in the Antarctic circle.

Whilst on-board ship heading towards the Antarctic Circle, we were breaking through icefloes that stretched for tens of miles. Navigation was slow and a late overnight decision was made to redirect and head to Yalour Island and to explore the surrounding waters instead. The island is home to many Adelie Penguin Pygoscelis adeliae rookeries; their nesting colonies on the small exposed rocky knolls. This far south there is a feeling of little natural colour and everything looks very bleak albeit beautiful. The explosion of lichens and mosses on this island, vibrant against the backdrop of white, grey and black, really made an impact on me. Having taken hundreds of images of the birds from every conceivable angle, with action, behavior and close-up shots, I felt there was a missing element: context within the environment.

5. ‘Ant in Strange Landscape’ by Paulien Bunskoek

Highly Commended | Other Animals

An ant navigates a muddy landscape.

After spending the night in a mountain hut in the beautiful Fanes-Sennes-Prags Nature Park in the Italian Dolomites I hiked back down again. It was a very calm, overcast October morning. On my way I passed an area with dried-up mud and my eye was caught by red dots in the mud. I really liked the patterns it made in the mud and I started making photographs. To show all the details that were there I used my macrolens and lined it up perfectly to get everything in focus. To my surprise there was also an ant in this strange landscape, which fitted the scene quite well.

6. ‘Brambling Togetherness’ by Andreas Geh

Winner | Birds

A flock of birds in the black forest.

Every 5–7 years, huge flocks of several million mountain finches (bramblings) gather in the southern Black Forest during the winter. They rest in a very small area for a few weeks. This mass phenomenon is unique. In January 2019 there was another huge swarm on the South-Eastern edge of the Black Forest. Every evening, some 5 to 5 million mountain finches flew into a small pine forest on a hilltop to fledge early in the morning. For days I observed the behavior of the animals and thought about how to capture this mood best in rainy weather and sparse evening light. I was fascinated by the rhythm and coordination of the countless animals in the apparent chaos and I wanted to capture both aspects in the picture.

7. ‘Cocos Island’ by Sergio Rivero Beneitez

Highly Commended | Other Animals

Crocodiles swim beneath a bridge.

I was traveling south in Costa Rica to a National Reserve called Carara. Just before going over a tall bridge the guide stopped. I stopped right in the center of the bridge and observed the panoramic picture with the huge crocodiles below me. I was immediately reminded of that one Disney scene from Haunted Mansion, where a balancer might fall into a pit full of them. Because of those hot conditions it was not that clear how many animals were down there. As I refocus on the scene through my camera, I started to realize the size and number of the crocodiles. I just started shooting right away.

8. ‘Contact With the Dwarf Minke’ by Craig Parry

Runner-Up | Animal Portraits

A Dwarf Minke makes eye contact.

Capturing that moment when the dominant Dwarf Minke makes eye contact with you is truly humbling and an overwhelming experience. It took over 2 hours to develop trust with this particular Minke; he would swim past at a distance over and over and finally came so close to me at a slow pace that he almost completely stopped in the water column to check me out.

9. ‘Dead Forest’ by Radomir Jakubowski

Winner | Plants and Fungi

Dead trees rise above the fog in a Bavarian forest.

This image was taken in the National Park of Bavarian Forest. I’ve visited this area for 15 years now. Around 25 years ago the bark beetle killed big areas of this forest. In the last 15 years I’ve seen how the forest changes from a dead to a more living forest. I took this image during an autumn morning. The height of the fog was perfect, it only covered the forest. So the shape of the dead trees were coming out of the fog.

10. ‘Electric’ by Joshua Cripps

Runner-Up | Landscapes

Stirling Falls, New Zealand.

Stirling Falls, New Zealand is a marvelous sight in a marvelous country. Located in Milford Sound, it’s a waterfall that plummets 500 feet to land directly on the ocean’s surface. When the conditions are just right, the water falling from the sky impacts the rocks at the base of the cliff and ricochets outward, creating a marvelous display of patterns and textures.

11. ‘Enchanted Forest’ by Kevin De Vree

Runner-Up | Plants and Fungi

Mushrooms grow on a branch in Lamington National Park.

Lamington National park is a fairytale forest teeming with waterfalls, gigantic old trees, and wildlife. Taking in all this magical beauty, I wondered when the ancient trees would start talking and if the fairies would appear. With many trails flooded due to heavy rains, this waterfall and its moss covered surroundings look lush and green. This fungi stairway captures the magic of this century-old, semi-tropical rainforest.

12. ‘Enjoying the Early Morning Sun’ by David Pattyn

Runner-Up | Animals of ‘De Lage Landen’

Animals at dawn in the forest.

The image was taken in the Oisterwijkse Bossen en Vennen nature reserve, the Netherlands. Normally in autumn many cormorants will visit this fen in the early morning. Mainly to dry their wings in the first sunlight after fishing. Finally it all came together: Amazing light, four cormorants posing perfectly, autumn colors, and just enough mist on a windless morning.

13. ‘Evening Walk’ by Giacomo Redaelli

Highly Commended | Youth 10–17 Years

A close-up photo of stone curlews in Sardinia.

I made this picture on a very late evening in Sardinia. I had already passed many sunrises and sunsets, hidden in my pop-up hide, together with a couple of stone curlews I had spotted some days before. I always enjoyed my time watching them. One evening, while I was filming the male hunting, I spotted the female appearing from the tall grass. I decided to take some photos. However, when I looked into the viewfinder I remained breathless. She was bringing her little one for a walk, and was coming exactly towards me.

14. ‘Flyover’ by Jie Fischer

Highly Commended | Landscapes

Flamingos fly across a beautiful lake in Africa.

This image was taken in Lake Magadi in Africa. Lake Magadi is one of the inland lakes at the southernmost point of Kenya, belonging to the Rift Valley area of Kenya, formed by fault subsidence. The area varies depending on rainy or dry seasons. During the dry season, it is 80% covered by sodium carbonate and is well known for its wading birds, including flamingos. The bottom of the lake deposits about 4 meters of natural alkali. In the dry season, there will be salt deposits around the lake, forming colorful patterns, depending on wind and wave.

15. ‘Gannet Colony’ by Petr Bambousek

Highly Commended | Birds

Gannets huddle in the cliffs off the Shetland Islands.

Visiting the Shetland Islands is always a unique experience for me. Cliffs whipped by strong winds and dramatic waves inhabited by thousands of headed seabird colonies. Many times I just sat there and looked in front of me without taking any picture. I just wanted to enjoy the moment with just me and pure nature. Thanks to that, I was able to perceive the life of bird colonies in a broader context. As the sun began to approach the horizon, a beautiful spectacle of light and shadow unfolded. Photographically, this is a very complicated scene, so I tried to get the maximum brightness and shadows in the photo that can still be worked with.

16. ‘Golden Light With Impala’ by Artur Stankiewicz

Highly Commended | Mammals

A lone impala in the sunlight in a forest in Zimbabwe.

I was on a photographic safari to Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe. One morning, while driving slowly in search of an interesting subject, we noticed an incredible golden light breaking through the canopy a few hundred meters in front of us. We quickly parked our vehicle and got out to photograph the spectacle of light. We soon noticed a male impala moving into the scene. As I started shooting, another vehicle drove by, stirring up a cloud of dust to add even more dramatic effect to the image.

17. ‘Heavenly Showers’ by Neelutpaul Barua

Highly Commended | Mammals

A lion perches on a log during a rainstorm in Lake Nakuru National Park.

I was driving along the meandering forest tracks in Lake Nakuru National Park (Kenya). Black ominous clouds loomed and rain became imminent. I was in pursuit of the well-known tree climbing lion pride in the national park when I chanced upon this lion resting behind a dead tree. As I waited patiently, it started to drizzle and the drizzle soon turned into a heavy shower. I feared the lion might continue to stay behind the dead tree, sheltered from the rain. Time and light were both running out. While rain adds drama, it also depletes the natural light especially under the canopy in a woodland forest. To my good fortune, patience paid off and there was a brief window of opportunity when the king took to his throne, allowing me to capture a rather ethereal moment.

18. ‘I Can Pass?’ by Adriana Claudia Sanz

Winner | Animal Portraits

Close-up of a tree frog in Argentina.

Frogs are commonly associated with tales of witches and curses, and this makes us look down on them. Through photography I seek to dignify them, that they look almost human, that their image impacts, that people fall in love with them. This photo was taken in October, in Misiones (NE of Argentina), one night in spring when they planned to mate. The Missionary Monkey Frog (Phyllomedusa tetraploidea) is a tree frog that moves very slowly. This female carried the male on her back; that made her even slower. It only took a flash to illuminate her slightly as she moved very slowly through the vegetation. This allowed me to generate a climate of intimacy, mystery, and fragility where I show her scared and afraid of being seen.

19. ‘Il Bosco Incantato’ by Stanislao Basileo

Winner | Landscapes

A forest looks magical due to the frost.

One winter morning in January, taking advantage of the spectacle of the frost, I went for a walk along the river Po looking for particular situations. At one point I was observing a spectacular situation created by many branches of larches falling to the ground completely covered by frost. It seemed to me an “Il Bosco Incantato” (enchanted forest).

20. ‘In the Hiding’ by Miloš Prelević

Winner | Underwater

A pike hunts in a lake in Serbia.

I took this photo in a lake next to a small town called Bela Crkva in Serbia. I submerged myself in the murky waters, moved slowly, and paid attention to any sign of a camouflaged predator. Suddenly, I saw the pike under me, resting in lake weed. I instantly backed away, in order not to startle it. To sink to the pike’s level, I emptied my lungs, while being very careful not to stir up any silt, and then gradually made my way to the fish. I put my camera as low as possible to capture the beautiful ambiance. The pike was hunting, making it easier to come close and take a few shots.

21. ‘Living in the Moment’ by Amit Eshel

Highly Commended | Animal Portraits

A young bear appears to wave in Finland.

This image was taken in east Finland. The bears in this area are pretty shy and afraid of people so they are mostly active at dusk and dawn. I spent a few days lying down in a tiny claustrophobic one person hide, hoping for something to come out to an open wetland. One evening I was fortunate to witness a beautiful family of mother and triplet Eurasian Brown Bears stepping out of the forest and playing in the beautiful golden light. When one of the cubs got tired of playing he left his siblings and sat down to rest in a special way with his leg lifted up.
He seemed enjoying the moment watching the beauty of his environment while the golden rays of the sun painted the forest in gold.

22. ‘Lone Egret Among Fall Colors of the Cypress Swamp’ by Rick Beldegreen

Highly Commended | Birds

A lone egret emerges from a large forest in Louisiana.

I spent a week kayaking the Atchafalaya Basin of Louisiana, USA. I was there to photograph the beauty of the cypress swamp in fall colors. It did not disappoint. The morning that this image was taken, the sky was overcast with occasional light rain. This made shooting at higher shutter speeds from my kayak difficult.
As I kayaked this lake lined with brilliantly colored orange and red fall colored cypress trees, I could see the occasional Great egret (Ardea alba) flying about looking for fishing locations. It quickly became apparent to me that the image I was looking for on this morning was one of a majestic lone egret in the distance standing tall among the massive cypress trees.

23. ‘Red Deer in Oostvaardersveld’ by Andius Teijgeler

Highly Commended | Animals of ‘De Lage Landen’

Red Deer in Oostvaardersveld.

Several mornings I’ve been to the Oostvaardersveld in the Netherlands. One of the public hides is ideally located for backlight photography in spring and summertime. This specific morning it was slightly foggy. While I was focused on the area of the sunrise, I kept looking to the right as well. Suddenly I saw a Red Deer entering the first island through the water. I quickly changed position and started taking pictures. The distance is quite far, but still I did not want to zoom in fully. The surrounding was so beautiful that I concluded it should play a great role in the picture.

24. ‘Red Deer in White’ by Kevin Berghmans

Highly Commended | Black-and-White

Deer fight in the snow in the Netherlands.

The photo shows two red deer at the Veluwe at a rare moment in the Netherlands, during heavy snow fall. The photo was taken in a period which I mainly focused on Western Red Deer (Cervus elaphus). That particular day was the perfect moment. After a few hours of waiting, they appeared on the scene, and it was a photographic opportunity that I couldn’t miss.

25. ‘Restless Sea’ by Jiří Hřebíček

Runner-Up | Birds

European Herring Gulls fly above the Fjords.

I spent some time with European Herring Gulls that flew around our boat in Norwegian fjords. I was experimenting with a slow shutter speed and various Intentional Camera Movement techniques (ICM). My aim was to capture the freedom of the birds, the dynamics of the sea and the atmosphere of gloomy twilight all together in one photo. It is fascinating that the camera can capture things that are normally hidden from the human eye.

26. ‘Sound and Vision’ by Alessandro Carboni

Highly Commended | Natural Art

A snowy forest landscape in Alaska.

Every year I try to spend time through the wilderness of Alaska seeking for an intimate way to portray its beauty. This picture represents one the most intense moments I could remember during my life. It was September 2015, when after two weeks waiting I had been lucky enough to experience an amazing mix of extraordinary elements, which I will never forget: the impressive display of the autumn colors at their top and the first snow of the season. During the following travels to Alaska I have never again seen such suggestive moments, despite the fact the opportunities were not lacking. This is the reason why I consider photography a great opportunity for all of us. Every time is a different story. Nature has always something precious to tell us, if only we would listen.

27. ‘The Apocalypse’ by Bart Siebelink

Winner | Animals of ‘De Lage Landen’

Peregrine falcons dive through a large flock of sparrowhawks.

This photo was taken in Friesland, a northern province of the Netherlands. During winter a spectacular cloud of murmurating Eurasian Starlings (Sturnus vularis) gathered. Just after sunset the sky was teeming with zillions. Giant flocks swirling and shapeshifting rapidly as Sparrowhawks and Peregrine Falcons dive through them.

28. ‘Storm Brewing’ by Oscar Diez

Highly Commended | Birds

Birds on a lake in Guatemala.

On the coast close to the town of Livingston in Guatemala large numbers of birds are concentrated. These great egrets benefit from the remaining fish that fishermen throw into the sea. In the late afternoon, a strong storm formed in the background, providing a great contrast between the white of the herons’ feathers and the darkness of the sky.

29. ‘Striped Hunter’ by Karim Iliya

Runner-Up | Underwater

A striped marlin hunts fish.

A terrifying scene for the small fish, fleeing for their lives as a striped marlin hunts them. Here, the slightest mistake means life or death as the marlin’s bill slices through the water during a high speed hunt. These fish have very little respite, as birds try to hunt from above and more than a dozen other marlin and sea lions all attacking the same small ball of fish. Marlin are one of the fastest fish in the world, a terrifying predator for a small fish in the great blue desert.

30. ’Take Care’ by Yuhui Hu

Runner-Up | Other Animals

An Ono Spider tends to her eggs.

This photo was taken in Guangdong Gaoming Lutian Nature Reserve in China. In the early summer, insects have entered the breeding season. An Ono spider is hiding under the green banana leaves. The green little life and the banana leaves merge into a green world.

31. ‘The Birds’ by Isoon Tepsaskul

Highly Commended | Underwater

Mobula rays visit the coast lines of the Sea of Cortez in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula.

Every year tens of thousands of Mobula rays visit the coast lines of Sea of Cortez in Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. The congregations of rays are one of the most incredible natural spectacles on our planet. We luckily found a big school of Mobula rays swimming below us. Hundreds of Mobula rays elegantly flapping their wings like a flock of birds on the bottom of the sea and some times come up near the surface. It was one of the most beautiful scenes I have ever seen in my life.

32. ‘The Cry of Pain’ by Francisco Negroni

Highly Commended | Man and Nature

A llama calls for her herd after a forest fire.

I made this picture in the early morning in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile (chilean Patagonia, Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica region). The Scream of Pain is a testament of how human carelessness can destroy an environment, even a protected one. In 2011 due to the negligence of a tourist, a fire started and 17,600 hectares were burned. On a slope I heard the cries of a guanaco (Lama guanicoe, a characteristic animal of the area). With my camera in my hand I hurried to discover what was happening and there it was; a guanaco shouting to the horizon in search of his family or herd, a cry that never got answered.

33. ‘The Earthen Mattress’ by Swapnil Deshpande

Highly commended | Plants and Fungi

Rainbow colors in the West Fjords in Iceland.

This image was made during autumn in the West Fjords in Iceland en route to the famous Dynjandi Waterfall. I’ve always loved observing the nuances in nature and I was really surprised by the patch of the land adjoining the road. Due to the autumn colors along with volcanic sedimentation and soil color in Iceland the colors look magnificent and out of this world. Using a long focal length I could select the curvy patch and select the area that had maximum color contrast to make an abstract representation of our natural world.

34. ‘The Ice Grin’ by Dmitry Kokh

Highly Commended | Underwater

A leopard seal bares its teeth.

One fine day of our Antarctica trip we were diving next to a beautiful iceberg. Our expedition was coming to an end, and we already made nice leopard seal’s shots, which was our main target. In the middle of the dive my strobes ran out of batteries, and I switched to static lights. Just minutes later I saw two Crabeater seals making circles around us and coming closer and closer. They were in a very playful and curious mood and I’m very sure they were attracted with those lights. Then one of the seals showed me teeth; it looks a bit scary on the picture, but I’d consider this gesture as a sign of curiosity and excitement.

35. ‘The Lynx King’ by Ismael Domínguez Guttiérez

Highly Commended | Youth 10–17 Years

A lynx stalks the landscape in Spain.

I was on a road in the Sierra de Andújar (Jaén) Spain, when suddenly the Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) appeared amid the bushes. He stopped several times to sniff and mark its territory. Later he walked until he stopped on a rock resting his legs on it. Although he was facing the sun, I was able to focus well and take the backlighting photograph.

36. ‘The Perfect Marriage’ by Andrea Pozzi

Highly Commended | Plants and Fungi

Colorful trees in the Araucanía region of Chile.

I took this image after sunset for better color rendering, while hiking in the Araucanía region of Chile. The araucarias are primeval plants that are found in the wild only in a few areas of the planet. Ancient araucarias were combined with the last shades of autumn shown by the incredible southern beech forest. That evening my legs brought me on a mountain crest after a long hike, allowing me to attend the perfect marriage between the colors and shapes in the valley below.

37. ‘The World Is Going Upside Down’ by Thomas Vijayan

Highly Commended | Mammals

An orangutan climbs a tree in Borneo.

After spending a few days in Borneo, I got this frame stuck in my mind. To get this shot, I selected a tree that was located in the water so that I could get a good reflection of the sky and its leaves on the tree on the water surface. It created a mirror effect that made the photo look upside down. Then I climbed up on the tree and waited for hours. This is a regular path for the orangutans to cross to a small island on the other side. I was sure to get this frame if I could wait patiently. This frame confuses the viewer at the first glance and that makes the photo unique.

38. ‘Timothy Pollen Spread’ by Pål Hermansen

Highly Commended | Plants and Fungi

Timothy pollen wafts off of flowers in Norway.

This photo of Timothy (Phleum Pratense) was taken in Ski, Akershus, Norway.
As a pollen allergic, I have an ambivalent relation to the Timothy. In the middle of the summer, when the pollen spreads, I’m very careful not to contribute to the act. On the other hand, I have also felt an obsession to try to depict the “monster.” In early midsummer mornings, after a silent night, the pollen can be spread widely. I found a backlit place where the sun highlighted the pollen.

39. ‘Birch Columns’ by Kirsi MacKenzie

Highly Commended | Black-and-White

Black and white birch columns in Finland.

This photo was taken in Finland. In preparation for the summer season, a crowd of birch trees sets off from deep in the forest to assume their seasonal postings throughout the Finnish landscape. Simplicity and tranquility create a Zen-like mood. I converted this image to black and white to emphasize the texture. The absence of color allows concentrating on lines and forms without any distracting elements.

40. ‘Vigneti’ by Stanislao Basileo

Runner-Up | Man and Nature

Roe deer jump across hedgerows.

I decided to take a tour to the famous vineyards of the Langhe (Piemonte-Italy). After a short night with snowfall l was lucky enough the following morning to see a group of roe deer jumping between the rows.

41. ‘Web Design’ by Kallol Mukherjee

Highly Commended | Animal Portraits

A green lynx spider set against a blue background.

The Green lynx spider is found on all kinds of shrub-like plants throughout most parts of India and surrounding countries. Although they are very selective about their host plants, I found them in different habitats and even very close to the web created by other spiders. I found this tiny green lynx spider near a large web created by a giant wood spider on an afternoon.

42. ‘When the Wind Blows’ by Alessandro Carboni

Runner-Up | Natural Art

Birds congregate on a lake in the western region of Borgarfjörður, Iceland.

I took this photo in Iceland, on the Snæfellsnes peninsula which is located in the western region of Borgarfjörður, in the west of Iceland. When I took this image I could strongly feel the elements of nature: a wind storm, a blizzard, the rough sea and the presence of the birds made the landscape of haunting and poignant beauty. This image is special for me; it represents for me a moment of great intimacy and great belonging to nature.

43. ‘Wild Is the Wind’ by Alessandro Carboni

Highly Commended | Landscapes

A blizzard rages through the trees in Sardinia.

I took this picture on an early morning in the Park of the Giara, located in the center of Sardinia. This photo was taken in January after having waited for years. I was standing by my tripod, my default setting, waiting for the big blizzard and finally all the elements were coming together. I was ready, I was in the right place at the right time, focused and at the same time worried that everything was fine. A few moments that repay every wait, a joy that goes beyond images.

44. ‘Woods in a Pod’ by Yuan Minghui

Highly Commended | Natural Art

A micro world of seed pods in Yiwulu Mountain National Nature Reserve in Liaoning Province, China.

I received an assignment to shoot spring at Yiwulu Mountain National Nature Reserve in Liaoning Province, China. But the spring in the north of China comes later than in the south. Many of the trees in the mountains have not yet sprouted. I saw the pods of the tree falling to the ground. I saw the roots in the soil, the ground, and the rows of trees in three rows of pods. The micro world has the macro world in the image. I finally found a future spring in my heart.

45. ‘Hope in a Burned Forest’ by Jo-Anne McArthur

Winner | Man and Nature

A kangaroo and her joey stand on a path in the middle of a burned forest.

As the Australian climate fires raged, I knew that it was a story that I had to document. Specifically the stories of the animals, both domestic and wild, who were suffering and dying as a result of the fires. It was an honor and pleasure to partner with the organization Animals Australia, who were instrumental in providing access to where I needed to be. This photo was taken in Mallacoota, Victoria. When I saw this Eastern Grey kangaroo and her pouched joey, I was abut 100 feet away from where I knew I’d be able to get a fantastic photograph. I had time to crouch down and take this photo, the one I had envisioned. Then …she hopped away into the burned eucalyptus plantation. She was one of the lucky survivors. An estimated 3 billion animals died from these cataclysmic fires.

You can find more commended photos from the competition at the Nature Photographer of the Year site.

Formerly editorial director @BuzzFeed. Currently editor @Tenderly and writer at large. Email: JackAShepherd at gmail

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