Queenslander named Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year
31 August 2020
Hosted by the South Australian Museum, the winners of the annual Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition have recently been announced. An image of a fire in Mount Barney National Park by Ben Blanche has taken out top honours. The photograph beat 1795 other entries. The Queensland photographer, who’s been shooting for over 20 years, captured the image in November after a lightning strike hit the extremely dry national park, located about 120km south-west of Brisbane. Named the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year, Blanche’s prize includes $10,000 and a Coral Expeditions holiday.
“The fire was rather slow moving and took some hours to move across the mountain, luckily I had a local telling me what the fire conditions were like leading up to the day so I could plan,” Blanche said. “I got to the location with ample time before the sun had gone down so I could form a rough idea of when the balance of fire and ambient light would be right,” he explained.
2020 competition judges
Michael Aw – wildlife photographer, explorer, and conservationist.
Drew Hopper – Australian documentary and editorial photographer.
Georgina Steytler – nature photographer with a passion for birds, ethics, and conservation.
The judges said: “This image not only skilfully captures a landscape, it captures a defining moment in the modern history of Australian nature. Its raw beauty is confronting, as it documents the energy and scale of the recent bushfire crisis. In the wave of flames snaking across the mountain we see the true scale of the fire, and for every burning tree that we see, we imagine the shrubs, the vines, the insects, the marsupials and the birds that we can’t.”
Ms Chrissie Goldrick, Editor-in-Chief, Australian Geographic said: “Each year we get an opportunity to see the wild world presented from new viewpoints and with fresh interpretations of familiar subjects and themes. The entry period for this year’s contest spanned a catastrophic bushfire season in Australia. The scale of the devastation was unprecedented and the toll on native wildlife heartbreaking. It’s a context that’s reflected in this year’s winning image and one that’s likely to influence how we view the photographs presented here, which so artfully demonstrate both the magnificence and the fragility of the natural realm that we hold so precious.”
Category winners and runners-up
The winner and runners-up of the ten categories appear below.
Winner: Leopard Anemone, Richard Robinson (NZ)
Runner-up: Wyulda, Matt Clancy (VIC)
Winner: A Fever of Cownose Rays, Alex Kydd (WA)
Runner-up: Spawning Jewel Anemones, Richard Robinson (NZ)
Winner:Storm Dragon, Jari Cornelis (WA)
Runner-up: Firestorm, Raoul Slater (QLD)
Winner: Enchanted Forest, Kevin De Vree (Belgium)
Runner-up: Gondwanan Link, Nick Monk (TAS)
Winner: Bolt on Stormy Ocean, Mat Beetson (WA)
Runner-up: The Main Range, Karl Strand (NSW)
Winner: Phil’s World, Charles Davis (NSW)
Runner-up: Face Off, Andy Wingate (QLD)
Junior (photographers under 18 years of age)
Winner: Graceful and Green, Tess Poyner (NSW)
Runner-up: Scrub Python, Robert Irwin (NSW)
Our Impact (depicting human impact on nature)
Winner: The Wreck of the Penguins, Richard Robinson (NZ)
Runner-up: Don’t Forget to Check for Me, Doug Gimesy (VIC)
Threatened Species (threatened, rare, vulnerable or endangered species)
Winner: Tasmanian Devil, Jasmine Vink (QLD)
Runner-up: Facing Extinction, Kevin De Vree (Belgium)
Portfolio Prize (best portfolio of six or more images)
Ethan Mann (QLD)
The South Australian Museum is hosting a public exhibition featuring all finalists until Sunday 15 November. The Australian Museum in Sydney will also host the exhibition as part of their grand opening later this year.