Here in Dunedin we’re pretty darn lucky. We’ve got an abundance of stunning wildlife perched right on our doorstep - the albatrosses, seals and penguins on the coast, the botanic gardens right by campus, and gorgeous countryside only a short drive away. The native birdlife is something to be proud of; our trees are constantly filled with song and the Leith dotted with ducks and gulls. It makes perfect sense, then, for us to be the proud hosts of the Otago Wildlife Photography Competition, held annually at the Otago Museum, across the road from campus.
The 2017 overall winning shot, Rifleman Perched by Douglas Thorne, was taken in Fiordland. It is an exquisite photograph, capturing a tiny Rifleman bird as it clings onto a tree branch while searching for food. The image is of spectacular quality, containing a beautiful range of subtle tones and bringing into sharp emphasis the detail and poise of these small creatures. The difficulty of capturing such a quick, darting creature makes this work all the more impressive.
The winner of the Animal: 14 & Under category was Jack Aubin with Tui on Target, a powerful shot with a streamlined tui poised mid-flight. Helen (Mely) Whitman-Bell’s Broken Bottle, Broken World won the Human Impact on the Environment category with a thought-provoking image of a Heineken bottle partially submerged beneath the lapping tide. A slinky Ayssinian cat and two gorgeous horses against a brooding sky deservedly won the Pets: 14 & Under category and the Jury Prize, while the Plant winners included a bright and cheerful poppy by Lorraine Adams and a delicate image of decaying leaves by Isaac Steel. Time lapse photography proved a popular technique in Night Sky, with several photographers, including category winner Taichi Nakamura, creating blurred images of our beautiful southern stars. Ben Hawke’s static approach to the sky resulted in an equally beautiful image emphasising the mesmerising detail of the constellations above in his 14 & Under winning image.
Other works of note include the odd and intriguing Sacrificial Snakes by Jayne Ladbrook, the stunningly beautiful Snow Monkey Takes His Passport Photo by Syn Jae Ng, and a snap of possibly the sassiest dog ever, Smug Pup by Emma Mitchell.
Overall, I was very impressed by the excellent technical standard throughout the exhibition, and the heart warming, humorous tone which recurred again and again. Each work provides a stilled moment in time in which the detail, beauty, and personality of nature is able to shine through. If you’ve got a break between lectures this week, definitely head on over to the museum to check this exhibition out. You might be surprised, inspired, amused, or a delicious combination of all three. And if you’ve got a camera sitting around at home, it’s never too early to start snapping away for next year’s competition.