National Geographic photographer Paul Nicklen has won the overall Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award 2012, it has been revealed.
The Canadian photographer’s underwater image of a mass of emperor penguins swimming up toward the surface of the water leaving trails of bubbles beat more than 48,000 other entries by wildlife photographers in the 2012 Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards.
“It was a fantastic sight, as hundreds launched themselves out of the water and onto the ice above me – a moment that I felt incredibly fortunate to witness and one I’ll never forget,” Paul said.
Paul took his award-winning image near an emperor colony at the edge of the frozen area of the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Lowering himself into what was the only likely exit hole, he waited for the penguins to return with crops full of icefish for their chicks.
Paul locked his legs under the lip of the ice so he could remain motionless, breathing through a snorkel so as not to spook the penguins when they arrived. When the moment came, Paul had to work quickly with frozen fingers to get the shot.
Paul captured “Bubble-jetting emperors” using a Canon EOS-1D Mark IV with an 8-15mm f/4 lens. He shot the image at 1/1000sec at f/7.1, ISO 500, using a Seacam housing.
British photographer Owen Hearn claims the Veolia Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award 2012 for his shot of a red kite crossing paths with a jet liner.
Shot with a Nikon D90, 300mm f/4 lens and a 1.4x teleconverter, Owen said the shot represents the red kite’s increase in numbers after facing extinction not too long ago.
Paul’s and Owen’s images, along with 100 of the best images from the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards 2012, will be showcased at London’s Natural History Museum from 19 October 2012 to 3 March 2013.