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Roll up, roll up, read all about our 2016 Photographer of the Year

by

Mei Capes

Friday, 27th May 2016

THANK YOU to everyone who shared their fantastic photographs with us. It doesn’t just take talent; it takes guts to enter a competition. So no matter which round you reached, the most crucial part was that you made an effort to come together in this celebration of Africa – and for that, we give you a virtual high five!
Let’s now take the time to look back over some competition highlights that have contributed towards making the past six months such a success. Even though not every image featured below could make it into the winning circle of the six finalists or the final 15, they all stood out in the competition and captured the essence of our continent in their own way.

Portraiture at its best

We have been consistently amazed by the amount of Big Five and predator portraiture in this year’s competition – the fine detail, the fixed stares, and the battle wounds have blown us away! And the following photographers have not missed a beat while taking these difficult shots of some of Africa’s most iconic animals.

A wild dog shows off his best side in Selous Game Reserve ©Jeff Trollip
A painted wolf (African wild dog) shows off its best side in Selous Game Reserve ©Jeff Trollip
A Big Five stand-off in Zambezi National Park ©Simon Webber
An elephant stand-off in Zambezi National Park ©Simon Webber
I got the eye of the leopard in Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa ©Sean Cresswell
It’s the eye of the… leopard in Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa ©Sean Cresswell

Heart thumping action

From pouncing predators to opportunistic scavengers, we’ve seen the natural cycle of life in all its guts and glory. And here are a few moments from the bush that made our hearts skip a beat.

A jackal catches doves in Etosha ©Johan J Botha
A jackal tries to catch doves in Etosha ©Johan J. Botha
Chaos ensues in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya ©Paolo Torchio
Chaos ensues in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya ©Paolo Torchio
"He's behind you!" Screamed the pantomime audience in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, South Africa ©Jonathan Webster
“He’s behind you!” Screamed the pantomime audience in Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park, South Africa ©Jonathan Webster

Continue reading below the advert for the competition’s feel-good factor

The funnies

Not everyone on the panel always liked the same photos, but everyone did share a good giggle at some of the more light-hearted entries. How can you not crack a smile when you see a bird with a moustache?
We hope that these brighten up your day too!

A red-billed oxpecker gets ready for Movember ©Tinus Beyers
A red-billed oxpecker gets ready for Movember ©Tinus Beyers
A jackal-buzzard takes a walk to clear his mind in Giants Castle, South Africa ©Clint Ralph
A jackal-buzzard takes a walk to clear his mind in Giants Castle, South Africa ©Clint Ralph

Adorable babies that made us go ‘ooooohhh’

Who can resist the furry necks, those tiny paws, those big round eyes? It has been said that the challenge of any photographer is to “plead the fleeting moment to remain,” and this has never been truer than when it comes to babies!
Whether capturing the innocence of youth or a touching moment shared with a parent, baby animals aren’t just too cute to handle, but they also remind us what it means to be joyful and to learn and grow instinctively. And that’s why we couldn’t resist bombarding you with these gorgeous faces!

Look at the face of this little cub in the Maasai Mara ©Robyn E Preston
Look at the face of this little cub in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya ©Robyn E Preston
A baby ellie waves at the camera in Savuti, Botswana ©Jack Hochfeld
A baby ellie waves at the camera in Savuti, Botswana ©Jack Hochfeld
Kisses for mum from a gorilla baby in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda ©Matthias Alter
Baby gorilla loving in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda ©Matthias Alter

Views that made us go ‘aaaaahhh’

It’s been hard to flick through sunset photos while chained to our desk on a Monday morning, dreaming about what lies on the other side of the boom gate. But you helped to bring Africa’s landscapes to life for us by shedding a bit of non-fluorescent light on our keyboards with your photos of waterfalls, canyons, oceans, dunes, rivers, deserts, lakes and mountains.
You reminded us that there is a bigger picture and a bigger world out there – one that we aim to protect by creating awareness through photo competitions like this!
And if you’re looking for some travel inspiration, here are a couple of our faves that will have you reaching for your passport and jumping on the first flight to African paradise!

The sun sets in Tigray behind an Ethiopian orthodox priest ©Greg Metro
The sun sets behind an orthodox priest in Tigray, Ethiopia ©Greg Metro
The rolling dunes of Sossusvlei in Namibia ©Panos Laskarakis
An aerial view of the rolling dunes of Sossusvlei in Namibia ©Panos Laskarakis
Magnificent rays of light shine down on Prince Albert, South Africa ©John Vosloo
Magnificent rays of light shine down on Prince Albert, South Africa ©John Vosloo

Iconic photographic destinations

By the end of this competition, our judges could spot straight off the bat where some photos were taken, and we noticed patterns emerge that made it clear why some destinations are regarded as iconic.
Certain places have a certain je ne sais quoi – be that an incomparable golden hour in the Maasai Mara National Reserve, the unique urban terrain of Cape Town, or the ethereal feel of Mana Pools National Park. From Namibia to Ethiopia, it was wonderful to see wildlife, architecture and moments be captured across the continent in different ways – at times in almost the same spots!

The iconic Jetty in Swakopmund, Namibia ©Anna Mart-Kruger
The iconic jetty in Swakopmund, Namibia ©Anna Mart-Kruger
It's hard for other urban strongholds to compete with the view of Cape Town, South Africa ©Dercio Jose Pinto Chim Jin
It’s hard for other cities to compete with the view of Cape Town, South Africa ©Dercio Jose Pinto Chim Jin
The golden light of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya ©Bjorn Persson
The golden light of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya ©Bjorn Persson

 

The faces we adore

A good friend once told me that she travelled to find a sense of common humanity, and I always bear this in mind whenever I venture off to new lands. A smile can light up your heart, a look can speak volumes, and learning about different cultures can enrich your outlook. I’m sure that I carry a little piece of everyone I meet wherever I go, and I am sure that each of these photographers does the same.

A child with its goat in Otjimazeva Village in the Epupa region of Namibia ©Ben Mcrae
A child and a baby goat in the Epupa region of Namibia ©Ben Mcrae
A double take on shooting in the Kalahari ©Ferdinand Veer
A double-take on shooting in the Kalahari Desert ©Ferdinand Veer
Children make friends in a former Lord's Resistance Army village ©Brina Bunt
Children make friends in a former Lord’s Resistance Army village ©Brina Bunt

But now the time has come to announce the winners of this year’s competition! We don’t want to keep you in suspense any longer, so without further ado…

The audience favourite is…

Gal Zanir for his natural illusion in Namibia!
illusions-of-nature-namib-desert-namibia-gal-zanir
The title for the ‘most popular’ photo was in your hands, and the consensus was apparent after one commentator declared: “I ran out of words. This photo deserves to win!” So there you have it, folks, this photo is a winner!
Israeli traveller, Gal Zanir, expands on how this photo accidentally came into being.
“My ex-girlfriend and I spent a night in the middle of the vast Namib Desert in a tent on the roof of our car while we were road-tripping. It was just us surrounded by nature. The next morning, we opened our tent to see a herd of zebras looking very anxious. I jumped out of my sleeping bag, grabbed my camera and saw that a jackal was getting close to a baby zebra that was lying motionless on the ground. The zebra herd was unwilling to move away from the baby’s body and I took pictures while they were all standing guard and blending in with one another. Witnessing a zebra family in grief was a very emotional start to the day, but I managed to capture this particular moment entirely by chance when I was about 50-60 metres from the zebras and about one metre from the baby.
“I only noticed the illusion when I got back home a couple of months later, and absolutely no editing was involved. I took thousands of pictures while travelling in Africa, but this is a unique image that I will never be able to re-create! Its magic lies in its simplicity, and I’ll never forget that morning on the plains of the Namib Desert.”

What has he won?

Over 14,000 of you showed your love for this image by clicking that little thumbs-up button on Facebook, and it’s hard to argue with so many ‘WOW’ emoji faces. Now, thanks to all of you, Gal has won a three-night getaway for two people at Mseni Lodge in Sodwana Bay in iSimangaliso Wetland Park. He’ll also be going turtling for two of those nights with Ufudu Tours and will enjoy a game-watching experience in the nearby uMkhuze section of the park.
isimangaliso-wetland-park-winner
Let’s hope he captures another great photo like this during his trip so that he can enter it into next year’s competition!
To find out who has won the title of Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2016, continue reading below the advert

The Africa Geographic Photographer of the Year 2016 is…

Robin Stuart for his incredible photo of a Maasai warrior teaching his son about the stars!
maasai-warrior-teaches-his-son-about-the-stars-robin-stuart
Photographer, Robin Stuart, offers a bit of background as to how he created his masterpiece.
“A few years ago, I became very passionate about space and the stars, and it took me to the world of astrophotography, which I decided to delve into last year. The main inspiration behind the shot came from hearing that the Maasai were semi-nomadic and used the stars to navigate across the East African plains in search of new grazing grounds for their livestock. This struck a major chord with me. Having just started astrophotography, I wanted to capture this idea in an image, knowing that something similar had probably not been done before, as astrophotography is a relatively new photographic genre – especially here in Africa.
“My family has been doing business in the Maasai Mara National Reserve for over 100 years, and we have built a stable relationship with the local community. We run a luxury camp in the Siana area just outside the reserve, which is close to where I took this photograph. Over the years, we have supported a local primary school by installing a six-kilometre water pipeline, building classrooms and dormitories, and providing internet access and a computer lab. So when I approached the Maasai people, they were very welcoming and happily allowed me to spend the evening taking photographs of them. The shoot was mostly just something fun to do that night, and I felt privileged to meet the Maasai in their home and to capture their rich culture on camera.
“I had not initially planned to capture the moment with a father and his son, but the idea came while we were waiting for the sun to set. The young boys were herding cattle back to their manyattas, and I guess it just hit me. At a young age, a Maasai boy must learn how to become a man and a warrior, and insights and wisdom are passed down the generations. My goal was, therefore, to capture on camera the moment when a father passed down his knowledge of the stars to his son; using the Milky Way and the setting of their semi-permanent hut as compositional elements.”

What has he won?

Robin is now the new owner of a Canon EOS 70D Body and 18-135 IS STM Kit from Canon South Africa. He will also be jetting off with a lucky someone on an Airlink flight from Johannesburg to Pemba to spend five nights in a Beach Pool Villa at Anantara Medjumbe Island Resort. All meals, a selection of beverages, non-motorised water sports, a dhow sailing activity and a spa treatment will also be thrown in for good measure.
prizes-photo-competition-winner
Meanwhile, our runners-up won’t be going home empty-handed! William Walldén will be lapping up two nights of South African luxury at Tintswalo Atlantic in Cape Town on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis, for his image of a hornbill catching a hare (wildlife category winner). And Trevor Cole will be soaking up the delights of Zimbabwe during a two-night stay at African Luxury Hideaways’ Elephant’s Eye, Hwange on an all-inclusive basis, for his image of the Dallol sulphur pools in Ethiopia (travel category winner).

runners-up-and-prizes
The Dallol sulphur fields by Trevor Cole (top left) and a snapshot of what awaits him at African Luxury Hideaways’ Elephant’s Eye, Hwange (bottom left); The hornbill and the hare by William Walldén (top right) and a glimpse of what he can expect at Tintswalo Atlantic in Cape Town (bottom right)

And this is all on top of the Wildlife Photographic Course from Big 5 Photos that six of our category winners won last week! Lucky things!

As the photographers take their final bow and the curtain falls on this year’s competition, we hope that you are left with a heightened love for our continent and that you feel more inspired than ever to explore the wilds of Africa and your imagination. Keep the passion.