Moving, mesmerizing, and just plain jaw-dropping, the winners of BigPicture 2023 showcase life on planet Earth in its diverse splendor.
Amongst over 7,300 entries from more than 58 countries across the world, the winners of the competition include images such as a lone coyote caught walking across a bridge in the still of a Chicago night; a black bear leaning against the rails of a couple’s porch, mere feet away; and a simply exquisite shot of a bird startled by a small fish, which it had its eyes set on, being chased out of the water by a larger fish.
“Catch Me If You Can,” by Xiaoping Lin was the Winged Life winner. (Courtesy of BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition and bioGraphic)
Organized by the California Academy of Sciences, the competition is in its 10th year.
“BigPicture was founded on the belief that photography is one of the most unique and powerful mediums for connecting people with the natural world,” Rhonda Rubinstein, creative director at the Academy and co-founder of BigPicture said in a statement.
Over the last decade, Ms. Rubinstein said, it’s been proven time and again that people from across the world find “inspiration, hope, beauty, and resilience,” from the gallery of images that are shared.
“Blades and Spines,” by Kate Vylet was the Aquatic Life winner. (Courtesy of BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition and bioGraphic)
Of the many entries, one of the most touching images includes conservation and wildlife photojournalist Douglas Gimesy’s portrait of an orphaned baby wombat being cradled by a young veterinary student. The close-up image, “Nose-to-Nose,” was taken at a bat sanctuary in Victoria, Australia, and depicts the tender moment the student touches her nose against that of a bare-nosed wombat whose mother has been killed by a car.
Mr. Gimesy—who had been watching the student bottle feed the 4-month-old Joey—said the animal is enjoying this precious moment of skin-to-skin contact.
“Nose-to-nose” by Douglas Gimesy won the category of Human/Nature. (Courtesy of BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition and bioGraphic)
Another touching portrait from the human/nature category included an entry by Portugal’s Marcus Westberg, who traveled to a primate sanctuary in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where female caregivers treat orphaned chimpanzees with enormous tenderness.
Many caregivers who feed, cuddle, and help rehabilitate chimps are victims of sexual abuse and working with the orphaned animals brings them both employment and solace. Once in this safe, healing space, observed Mr. Westberg, the young chimpanzees behave just like human kids: playful, mischievous, and vulnerable.
“All My Children,” by Marcus Westberg was a Human/Nature finalist. (Courtesy of BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition and bioGraphic)
A dramatic entry called “Life on the Edge,” which was submitted by Amit Eshel depicts two Nubian ibexes locked in a battle on the edge of a cliff in Israel’s Zin Desert, with a sheer drop just steps away.
“Life on the Edge,” by Amit Eshel was a Terrestrial Wildlife finalist. (Courtesy of BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition and bioGraphic)
Meanwhile, an image titled, “Spotted,” was taken by Donglin Zhou, high up on the Tibetan Plateau before a snow leopard pounced on a Pallas’ cat.
Ms. Zhou had spent days watching the mother Pallas’ cat feed her 2-month-old kittens and was brought to tears by the sight of the snow leopard taking her life. In an act of compassion, the photographer, her guide and forest rangers spend the following three weeks guarding and feeding the three orphaned kittens until they were ready to venture out alone.
“Spotted,” by Donglin Zhou was the Terrestrial Wildlife winner. (Courtesy of BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition and bioGraphic)
Many of the winning images in the competition tell a story; both of the photographer’s journey of capturing it and the facet of nature itself. While some share the fight for survival in harsh environments with predators, others narrate a story of an ecosystem under threat.
Jury Chair and renowned wildlife photographer, Suzi Eszterhas, international photo editor Sophie Stafford, and award-winning nature and conservation photographers and filmmakers Diana Caballero Alvarado, Gunjan Menon, Susan Middleton, Cristina Mittermeier, and Ami Vitale joined the judging panel.
The Grand Prize was awarded to Corey Arnold—who is a commercial fisherman and photographer from Washington, United States—for his startling photos series, titled, “Cities Gone Wild.” The series illustrates the ways in which three species—coyotes, raccoons, and black bears—are learning to not only survive but thrive alongside humans in the face of increasing urbanization.
“Coyote Crossing,” by Corey Arnold won the Grand Prize. (Courtesy of BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition and bioGraphic)
Awards from this year’s competition included $11,000 in cash prizes and all 49 winning images are to be showcased in the annual BigPicture photography exhibit, which is slated to open on Oct. 6 at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.
“Regeneration,” by Miquel Angel Artús Illana was the Landscape, Waterscapes, and Flora winner. (Courtesy of BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition and bioGraphic)
“Magical Mushroom,” by J Fritz Rumpf was the Art of Nature winner. (Courtesy of BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition and bioGraphic)
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