A collection of breathtaking photographs has demonstrated the extraordinary lengths – and depths, heights, and not to mention very real risks – snappers endure to capture nature’s exquisite beauty.
An image of a Melbourne wildlife carer who lives with baby flying foxes, and an emotion-stirring shot of a koala in burnt bushland were among the Australian photographs chosen among the finalists in the California Academy of Sciences’ BigPicture competition.
Norwegian photographer and scientist Audun Rikardsen won the top prize for his remarkable image of a bird showing off its tail feathers.
It was a shot that took three years to master, with a motion-detecting camera high up on a perch above the coast of Tromsø in northern Norway.
Rikardsen wrote that the bird had started to enjoy the attention.
“This is taken very close to my home in our beautiful little village,” he said.
“In fact, this brave bird ‘took over’ the tree from my golden eagles that used it during winter and early spring … seemingly found it as a perfect ‘show off display point’ to charm the ladies of its kind.”
The competition aims to present science and conservation through a creative lens.
Rikardsen is also a marine biologist and is known for his spectacular underwater images.
Head judge Suzi Eszterhas said: “This year’s Grand Prize winner is a stunning photo that combines technical skills and creative brilliance.”
“Here, the photographer has managed to capture the grouse’s breeding display in a way that transports the viewer to the scene.
“It is a testament to how patience, dedication, and deeply knowing your subject can produce a remarkable image.
“In this case, Audun spent years trying to capture this photograph, and I am so grateful that he persevered, for it is truly a gift to us all.”
Two Australian photographs were featured in the finalist list.
Other winners included an underwater shot of a Galapagos marine iguana grazing on red and green algae, and an underwater view of a brown bear fishing for salmon in Russia.