Take a sneak peek at Wildlife Photographer of the Year finalists 2022

The Natural History Museum's Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022
Underwater wonderland - Canon EOS R5 + 15–35mm f2.8 lens (Image credit: Tiina Törmänen / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022)

The 58th edition of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition and exhibition 2022 will be hosted at the Natural History Museum in London, UK on October 14 – following the the awards ceremony and Wildlife Photographer of the Year 58 winner announcement on October 11. 

A first look at images from the world-leading wildlife photography competition has revealed some absolutely astounding captures that include interesting animal behaviors, powerful photojournalism and fine-art aesthetic fish. 

• Wondering which is the best camera for wildlife photography?

Ahead of the anticipation on discovering which photographer will be crowned the latest winner of Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the Natural History Museum has rounded up the most highly Commended images from this year's entries, that will eventually make up the 100-image exhibition, for us to take a look at. 

The image above of a school of European perch fish was captured by photographer Tiina Törmänen, from Finland, and is extremely reminiscent of fine-art paintings that show statues perching (get it) in the clouds. In this case however, the clouds are in fact algal blooms. A discoloration and rapid increase in algae population that is common result of water and sea pollution.

The below portrait of a spectacularly framed Polar Bear was captured by Dmitry Kokh, from Russia, and shows the inquisitive bear on the island of Kolyuchin, in the Russian High Arctic, exploring an abandoned settlement left empty since 1992. Using binoculars, Dmitry says he spotted over 20 polar bears in total exploring the ghost town! He claims to have used a low-noise drone to capture the surreal experience. 

Polar frame - DJI Mavic 2 Pro + Hasselblad L1D-20c + 28mm f2.8 lens. (Image credit: Dmitry Kokh / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022)

Director of the Natural History Museum, Dr Doug Gurr, has stated that: "Captured by some of the best photography talent from around the world, the 100 photographs encourage curiosity, connection and wonder. These inspiring images convey human impact on the natural world in a way that words cannot –from the urgency of declining biodiversity to the inspiring bounce back of a protected species."

Chair of the judging panel, Roz Kidman Cox, shares, "What’s stayed with me is not just the extraordinary mix of subjects in this year’s collection –a vast panorama of the natural world –but the emotional strength of so many of the pictures."

The octopus case (15-17 Years category) - Nikon D300 + 105mm f2.8 lens, 2x Inon Z-240 strobes; Nauticam housing. (Image credit: Samuel Sloss / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022)

An image of a Coconut Octopus emerging from a clam shell was captured by Samuel Sloss in Indonesia, while muck diving. He is said to have lowered the power of his strobe lamp when approaching the Octopus so not to distress it. The octopus shut the lid of the shell when Samuel approached, but then slowly reopened it, revealing an amazing glow of colors and coils.

The below image of a stag in the snow was captured by young Joshua Cox when he was only six years old! Now eight, Joshua claims to have captured this image using a compact camera when with his dad, in London's Richmond Park, during a time of heavy snowfall. "He almost looked like he was having a snow shower," Joshua said.

The snow stag - Panasonic Lumix DC-TZ90 (Image credit: Joshua Cox / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022)

Possibly the most controversial and thought-provoking image from the Highly Commended choices is the image by photographer Christian Ziegler, from Germany, that depicts a Bonobo ape gently holding a mongoose pup deep in the rainforest, while posing poisedly and staring at something above. 

This shot is mesmerising for a number of reasons, but many have expressed concern at the intentions of the chimp and what became of the small mongoose following the capture of the image. Rest assured, the mongoose pup was eventually released unharmed by the ape, after holding and stroking the little creature for more than an hour, shares Ziegler. 

Though, there may have potentially been a darker beginning to the image, as Bonobo's are said to be hunter's when fruit gets a bit too repetitive, and the little mongoose may have been taken following the death of its mother.

The bonobo and the mongoose - Canon EOS R5 + 100–500mm f4.5–7.1 lens at 200mm. (Image credit: Christian Ziegler / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022)

Other images selected for the exhibition can be found below, all displaying exemplary talent in the areas of wildlife and nature photography, capturing the intense moments of fight or flight, climate change impacts, and the more beautiful scenes of nature that we often don't get to experience or witness for ourselves. 

Be sure to check out the Natural History Museum website to see the full selection and first look at the Highly commended images from the 58th edition of the competition.

Treefrog pool party - Canon EOS 70D + 50mm f1.8 lens (Image credit: Brandon Güell / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022)

The disappearing giraffe - Canon EOS-1D X Mark II + 600mm f4 lens. (Image credit: Jose Fragozo / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022)

Sloth dilemma - Canon EOS-1D X Mark III + 24–70mm f2.8 lens at 41mm (Image credit: Suzi Eszterhas / Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022)

The 59th edition of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition will open for entries on October 17 2022, and the closing deadline for entries will be 11:30am GMT December 08 2022. Note that an entry fee of £30 (about $35 / AU$51) applies when entering the adult competition, expected to increase by the final week.

You may also want to take a look at our recommendations for the best portable hides and camouflage gear for wildlife photography, or the best spotting scopes and the best cellular trail cameras for capturing great wildlife shots. 

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.