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Walk on the Wildside

Walk on the Wildside

Issue 4 Mar / Apr 2004

The 20 minute queue to get in should not really have been a surprise. Not only has Ken Livingstone ensured a no entrance fee to the Museum, the competition has now grown to be the most prestigious of its kind. It really does attract the crème of photography boffs, both professionals and amateurs worldwide and well may they be proud; the shots are absolutely stunning.


Your reason for visiting would probably heavily influence the categories of photos you most enjoy. For true-green nature lovers, there is an array of delights, to name a few; the Underwater world, Urban and Garden wildlife, and In praise of plants, to Animals in their environment, a magical reflection of contented creatures in their natural habitats.

Particularly humbling is the From Dusk to dawn category with the awesome shades of red and orange skies. Whilst no substitute for a Kenyan safari, the exhibition does provide the Urbanite a great opportunity to reflect upon the magnificence of the Creator: ‘Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alteration of the Night and Day… In the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth…(Here) indeed are Signs for a people that are wise.’ (Quran 2:164)

After careful reading of the captions, it is also apparent how much thought, time and risk is involved in capturing the winning prints. Pete Atkinson, photographer of the Crown jellyfish describes being so mesmerised by the pulsating image, he lost all sense of how far he had drifted offshore. Aside from being a celebration of Creation this competition further illustrates the human capacity to abuse power in the section, aptly named, World in our Hands.

‘We did indeed offer The Trust to the Heavens And the Earth And the Mountains; But they refused to undertake it, being afraid thereof; but man undertook it - He was indeed unjust and foolish’ (Quran:33:72). The Prophet had a great deal of respect for animals, in one narration he is said to have cut off part of a prayer mat in order not to wake a sleeping cat.

Clear oppression is, by contrast, movingly illustrated in the picture of the orang-utan, indicative of utter neglect. The Museum as a whole is definitely a fun place to take children and the exhibition may even serve as inspiration with its ‘Young wildlife photographer section’, with a specialist Under 10 category serving the child prodigies. Children (and adults) may well find it easier to sit and watch the exhibition from the mini-cinema set-up but taking this option you may as well rent a nature video.

For the super-ambitious, as well as taking a trip down to South Kensington, a thought…why not join in the competition too! The deadline for this year’s entries is April 2nd. You may want an upgrade from your Kodak disposable though as 2002 saw 18,500 entries. Take note also of rule 8 where the Judges remind us ‘Domestic animals (cats, dogs, farm animals, etc)’ do not count as wildlife….Best of luck!


Pete Atkinson United Kingdom

The Underwater World - Runner-up

Crown jellyfish

Beautiful hard corals encircle the South Pacific island of Niue. I intended to photograph the reef, but as soon as I entered the water from my dinghy, I saw this 30cm crown float by. I drifted alongside it in the current and was carried out into the blue. To get a more dramatic sunburst, I underexposed the background and used flash to add colour. I was so mesmerised by the pulsating image in my viewfinder that I lost all  sense of how far I had gone. Once thefilm was exhausted, I surfaced, scanned the horizon for my dinghy and realised it was going to be a long swim back.


Karl Ammann Switzerland

The World in Our Hands - Highly Commended Print

Gibbon for sale

Prambuka Market in Jakarta  is supposedly a bird market, but behind the scenes, a wide range of mammals areon offer, including protected species. On this visit, I found two orang-utans and a gibbon for sale. To take pictures like this it’s often necessary to photograph from the hip to prevent confrontation with the people selling the animals.


Urs Lüthi Switzerland

From Dusk to Dawn - Specially Commended


Lions hunting at sunrise A magnificent storm in Namibia’s Etosha National Park brought the dry season to  an end. Just before sunrise, I drove to aspot a few kilometres away from a waterhole. Three adolescent lions and an adult male were already there, gazing intently into the middle distance at two lionesses chasing sprinkbok. But the hunt failed, the panting lionesses rejoined their family empty-handed, and the pride soon moved on.

Nick Oliver United Kingdom

Animal Behaviour: Birds - Winner

Barn owl - a vole’s-eye view

I watched this barn owl hunt over ro ugh grassland in Suffolk for hours, until Iknew her habits intimately. I then set up a camera trigger and lure near a post she sometimes perched on. I focused the camera at the height at which I hoped she would hover. When the owl landed on the post, I tugged at a length of fishing line to twitch the lure. She leapt off the post and hovered above the camera, which I operated using a second line. Once she had satisfied herself that the lure was inedible, she flew off again and soon caught a vole.

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