Winner. Anna was on a boat in Svalbard – an archipelago midway between mainland Norway and the North Pole – when she saw this polar bear at around four in the morning. It was October, and the bear was walking on broken-up ice floes, seemingly tentatively, not quite sure where to trust its weight. She used her fisheye lens to make the enormous animal appear diminutive and create an impression of ‘the top predator on top of the planet, with its ice world breaking up’. The symbolism, of course, is that polar bears rely almost entirely on the marine sea ice environment for their survival, and year by year, increasing temperatures are reducing the amount of ice cover and the amount of time available for the bears to hunt marine mammals. Scientists maintain that the melting of the ice will soon become a major problem for humans as well as polar bears, not just because of rising sea levels but also because increasing sea temperatures are affecting the weather, sea currents and fish stocks.
[Anna Henly / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012]
Winner. Some of the tallest buildings in London surround the docklands at the heart of the business and financial district of Canary Wharf. As Eve walked along the wharf, a bird caught her eye. It was a black-headed gull, of which there are many in the city. But this one was resting on a very remarkable area of water. Eve realised that she was looking at reflections of the straight lines of the nearby office block, distorted into moving swirls. ‘The effect was so unusual – it gave a beautiful setting for an urban wildlife image.’ Like all true photographers, Eve had noticed what others most often fail to see, even when it’s right in front of them.
[Eve Tucker / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012]
Specially Commended. As the snow started to melt, a thick fog began to wrap itself around the forest near Sandra’s home in Potsdam, Germany. Envisaging the photographic potential, she grabbed her camera and went straight to the forest. The scene was even more beautiful than she’d expected. ‘The evening sun created a glow around the tall, wet trunks of the Scots pines,’ she remembers. ‘It was breathtaking.’ She experimented with several different focal planes and lenses to try to capture the effect. Eventually, she settled on a mirrorless camera with a tilt lens, allowing her to change the layers of sharpness from parallel to horizontal, so the unsharp areas were not in front but behind and below the main focus. She played around with the focus ‘to keep the warm, broken light at the top of the frame and the trunks below relatively sharp’.
[Sandra Bartocha / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012]
Artists Lucie and Simon captured some of the busiest places in the world in complete silence.
Photographer Jay Mark Johnson photographs the passage of time.
Dutch historical consultant Jo Hedwig Teeuwisse merges photographs made during WWII with photographs of the same spot in our time.