As is the end of year thing for many photographers, a top pictures of the year is in order. 2011 bought much success for me, in particular that of the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year award and its book cover, but that photo was taken in 2010 even if in some sense it belonged to 2011. But my top five’s criteria is that they were taken in 2011. So here, in no particular order, are my five for 2011.
In August I took seven other keen photographers down to the Mara, and those who shared our truck were taken by this zebra pair. It is not uncommon to see zebra pairs like this, it partly acts as a defense mechanism (and it’s been suggested that their opposing tails keep their faces free of flies). But what made this one special was the clear and clean background they were set in. The three of us picked up on this, and this is my take. This one is available as a print here, and you can see a colour version here too.
Mara River Flyby
One morning during the annual wildebeest migration we were down by the Mara river first thing – just after 6:00am – and found ourselves using ISO settings of 6400 and even 12800 sometimes to catch a crossing. A little later, when the light was a little brighter there was a part two of the crossing, and on this occasion I noticed a steady stream of vultures and maribu storks flying over the top of the assembling wildebeest which had gathered down at the riverside. I managed a couple, and this is one of them.
Richmond Park Stag
I was in Richmond Park with Richard Peters one morning with no special plan in mind except just to see what we could find. The best time is early in the morning, when the light is most likely at its best, and also when there is nobody else about. There was a herd of bachelor males, not doing anything particularly interesting, when I noticed this one right in front of me. I took the picture but it was only afterwards that I realised what I had. It was consequently published shortly after in the first edition of N-Photo, the consumer Nikon enthusiasts magazine.
Our April visit to the Mara was probably not as satisfying as our previous trips if it wasn’t for the last early morning encounter of two young leopards, a male and his younger sibling as here. The light was just wonderful, we were positioned well, and we found ourselves with twenty minutes with these two. The only thing I wished for, was that this little one would look right at me, right into the camera. But he didn’t, not once, not for a second.
During the same April trip we had a fleeting sighting of this one under the canopy. Again it was early, about an hour after sunrise. The light beam shone through a gap in the trees just briefly as she turned back on herself. I managed three, but for this one her tail was perfect and the light on her completed the picture.
Well I said five, but I couldn’t resist a sixth one because in the end I couldn’t leave this guy out. This male lion was had just finished feeding on a wildebeest with his pride and was off for a lie down somewhere. The look of intensity was ever present and I was delighted to have caught it.
As I said many of my pictures from 2010 played their part in 2011, so I hope with a little luck some of my pictures from 2011 might play their part for me in 2012 in some way or another too.