Ghostly flying birds win World Landscape Photography competition

2022 World Landscape Photographer
Souls Ties - The Dark Hedges, Stranocum, Northern Ireland (Image credit: Paul Killeen - 2022 World Landscape Photographer)

Landscape photography is enduringly popular, and having the best camera for landscapes will certainly help you to take a winning shot.

The World Landscape Photographer was founded in 2020 during the Covid pandemic, and it's a contest that aims to raise money for the environment as well as give amateur and professional photographers a platform to showcase their work. Landscape photographer Nigel Danson is the mind behind the award, and his love of the land shines through.

Belfast-based photographer Paul Killeen was crowned the overall winner and received a Nikon Z7 II and Nikon Z 24 - 70 f/4 S lens for his image The Dark Hedges taken in Stranocum, Northern Ireland. Using a Canon EOS 5D IV, this image is incredibly personal for Paul who took it on the morning of his wife Lynsey’s funeral who had been battling cancer for five years.

On judging the competition and selecting the winning image, professional landscape photographer Verity Milligan said, “I like that there’s a little motion blur proving a sense of narrative, making me wonder if the birds are mid-fight during flight. Whatever the circumstances, it gives the impression of them dancing, existing in this brief and unrepeatable moment

"The shapes created by their wings are echoed in the bare branches of the surrounding trees which is both delightful and satisfying. The monochrome processing pares the image back to its basic elements and eliminates any distractions. Just the woodland, the mist, and the dancing birds. Magical. A special image and a worthy winner.”

2022 World Landscape Photographer

Waves at Reynisfjara Beach - Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland (Image credit: Archie Wallace - 2022 World Landscape Photographer)

Archie Wallace was awarded first prize in the youth category for his image Waves at Reynisfjara Beach in Iceland. The 18-year-old photography student said, “During a school trip to Iceland, on a quick visit to Iceland’s iconic black sand beaches I was drawn to the immense power displayed in the crashing waves. They were unlike anything I’d seen before, and the sea spray illuminated by the light behind, paired with the moody skies, swarming gulls and layers of sand, swash, and sea made for a fantastically dynamic scene that would be criminal not to capture."

Despite only being in its second year, more than 1,600 photographers submitted nearly 9,000 images altogether. The competition is split into five categories: woodlands, seascapes, vistas, abstracts and close-ups plus a youth award. As well as an overall winner, first, second and third place are awarded for each category and judges also choose a series of commended images.

2022 World Landscape Photographer

Matcha Latte - California, USA (Image credit: Siyuan Cao - 2022 World Landscape Photographer)

Other worthy mentions include Florian Hagemann who came first place in the woodlands category and Finn Curry’s dramatic photos of waves crashing won him first prize in the seascape category. American photographer Siyuan Cao came top of the Vistas category for a photo of a foggy valley in Northern California while the image Lava Dragon was taken on a DJI Mavic 2 Pro by Jeroen Van Nieuwenhove was awarded first place n the abstract category. 

To see the full list of winning and commended images, head to the World Landscape Photography website where you can also check out all the prizes and rules should you want to enter next year. 

2022 World Landscape Photographer

Spring Harmony - Teutoburg Forest, Germany (Image credit: Florian Hagemann - 2022 World Landscape Photographer)

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.