As a trained biologist and passionate conservationist, wildlife photography is my way of communicating my love for the wild. I’ve come to realize that cameras are a very powerful tool, and as a photographer, I always try to use my images to tell stories from our amazing natural world. Over the years, I have been fortunate to judge and be awarded in several international photo contests, so I was eager to judge the Just Wild Quest.

The number of images submitted to the Quest was overwhelming, and the standard of the top 100 photos was very high. However, by focusing on images that best fit the criteria of the Quest brief, I narrowed it down to these three images as our winners.

The winners

Cranes by the lake by Keren Or on

First place: “Cranes by the lake” by Keren Or

This is a beautiful image of cranes standing in a lake, shot at slow shutter speed, which emphasizes the movement in the birds flying overhead. The image is softly edited to black and white, increasing the contrast between the birds and the background. It’s not only aesthetically pleasing to look at, but at the same time, it captures the animals in their natural environment in a beautiful way.

Sguardi by Daniele Frigida on

Second place: “Sguardi” by Daniele Frigida

This photographer used the foreground in a stunning way to create a portrait of the red deer, including the environment even though it is a very tight frame. The large aperture gives the image a beautiful bokeh, emphasizing the sharpness of the animal’s eye.

Polarbear with seal by Tor Eirik Pollestad on

Third place: “Polarbear with seal” by Tor Eirik Pollestad

This image is all about the light. The polar bear is on the ice in its natural habitat, but it is only rendered as a partial silhouette, which gives the scene a certain serenity to it. I really enjoy images of wildlife in which you don’t “see” the photographer, like in this photo. The animal is relaxed and busy smelling the air, possibly to see if there is any potential competition for food in the area.

My career as a wildlife photographer has shifted in recent years, in that I now make my living primarily through hosting wildlife photo tours through my company, WildPhoto Travel. I’m often asked why I would want to share the amazing places in my tours with other photographers, as opposed to keeping them to myself. But as I mentioned above, wildlife photography is my means of communication—bringing photographers to these incredible places allows me to share my passion not only through my images but also in the field, creating ambassadors for our wild world.

To that end, I hope that this Quest has inspired an interest in wildlife photography for many more creators, and that more photographers have opened their eyes to the beauty that surrounds us, which needs our attention and preservation.

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