European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010

Back in May I was in Germany to be a jury member in the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010 Competition, invited by GDT Gesellschaft Deutscher Tierfotografen. This year the contest is celebrating its 10th Anniversary.

Just announced the Winners of the competition, you can see the images here: LINK

Jury members: Georg Kantioler (I), Klaus Echle (D), Sandra Bartocha (D), Jesper Tønning (DK) - nature photographers and finally - Kathrin Müller (D), Photo editor National Geographic Germany.

The winning photographs…
… have been presented to the public in an exhibition at the International Nature Photography Festival in Lünen, Germany last weekend. After the festival the exhibition will be shown in various museums and exhibition-centers in Germany and abroad. In addition an exhibition catalogue with all photographs that have been awarded a prize have been published. The award ceremony was held last Friday, at the Heinz-Hilpert-Theater in Lünen.

Introductory note by the patroness Prof. Dr. Beate Jessel

Dear visitors of the gallery of the contest "European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010"!

Rarely have I seen as many wonderful nature photographs as in the selection of this year's winning images. Every single photo is special, with its own unique atmosphere, its own individual statement. I would like to congratulate all winners on their achievement. Once again, wildlife photography is utilized here in an excep-tional way to give people access to fresh viewpoints and emotions that otherwise often would be excluded from their experience. For this very reason nature conservation cannot do without this important means of communication and as an environmentalist I am therefore particularly delighted about this competition.

Looking at the breathtaking perfection of the winning photographs, I found myself wondering if some of them had been manipulated in any way - nothing too unusual in the age of digital photography, I guess. I was all the more impressed when I learned that manipulated images were eliminated from the competition altogether and authenticity is a most important criterion. As I also discovered the jury was in particular looking for atmospheric subjects of great symbolic value and photographs with unusual details. In my opinion they did very well as can be seen in the overall winning photograph: a cheetah, as a shape of light, moves along the edge of an otherwise dark, mysterious background. His vigilance seems almost tangible, the source of it remaining unknown to the observer. A certain amount of confusion may also be read in his eyes. At any rate, it is a photograph that allows your imagination to draw up many interpretations: What has startled this animal, which is according to the Red List an endangered species? Is it the presence of people, maybe even poachers, or other animals? To me this picture brings home the responsibility we humans have for the Creation - but I am sure, everybody will have an individual approach to each photograph and that's just fine!

With this in mind, I wish everybody who looks at these photographs the chance to stop for a moment to become aware of the beauty of our nature. Because awareness is the first step towards action to preserve this beauty!

Prof. Dr. Beate Jessel
President of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation
Patroness of the competition

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