BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2002 exhibition

Story by Jack Foley

THE ANNUAL BG Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, organised by BBC Wildlife Magazine and The Natural History Museum and sponsored by the BG Group, is now in its 19th year. Open to both amateur and professional photographers, it is the most successful event of its kind in the world, attracting over 18,500 entries from more than 60 countries.

This year, 101 winning and commended photographs form a major exhibition at The Natural History Museum, which will remain open until May before touring the world.

In recent years, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year has been exhibited in over 35 countries, including America, Brazil, Spain, Australia, Japan, Sri Lanka and Morocco, and is now a regular event at many museums, galleries, zoos and science centres across the globe.

Past winners have included a leopard under a rising moon, boxing hares, an orang-utan cradling her baby, a common tern fishing and a blue iceberg in Antarctica, while the range of subjects in this year's competition includes striped mackerel feeding, juvenile rats drinking from a water butt, a hawk eagle grappling with a monitor and a quiver tree after sunset.

Represented in the 2002 roll of honour are junior and adult photographers from across the world, including the UK, Japan, France, USA, Belgium, Sweden and Ecuador.

All of the prize-winning pictures were reproduced in a special 48-page souvenir brochure with the November issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine, while the winning and commended images were also published in a commemorative book, Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio 12, priced £25 and available from the museum's bookshop and all good retailers.

This year's overall winner was Angie Scott's photograph of an African elephant family watching a grey heron, which was taken on a Canon EOS-1V with 500mm lens; 1/250 sec at f4.5; Fujichrome Velvia 50; image stabiliser; polarising filter; tripod.

Commenting on the accolade, via the museum's website (link below), Ms Scott explained: "I had seen elephants crossing at this beautiful spot on the Luangwa River in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park the day before and had decided to return in the morning to try to photograph them. I had just got myself settled under a bush when this family came trundling down the sandy bank, eager to cool off and drink.

"Once in the shallows, they relaxed, and the water settled back to its former glassy stillness. A grey heron plopped down in front of them, ready to catch any fish they stirred up, and this became the focus of their attention for a moment, providing that extra element I needed for the composition.

"Then, as the matriarch led her family across, the youngest calf started splashing and rolling, thrashing the water with its tiny trunk, barely able to contain its own boundless energy. It was priceless. The others stopped and waited patiently, almost as if in a trance (or maybe simply dozing), eventually nudging the calf along until, finally, they reached the other bank."

Tickets for the event cost £5 (£3 concessions, £12 family, free to children under 5 and NHM Members). The Natural History Museum, Kensington, London. Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 10am - 5.50pm, Sunday 11am - 5.50pm. Public enquiries: 020 7942 5000; Nearest Tube: South Kensington

MAIN PICTURE: ©Jean-Pierre Zwaenepoel, Belgium; Animal Portraits - Highly Commended Print; Hanuman langurs

Indielondon has chosen its two favourite prints from the exhibition - so click here to get the bigger picture...

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