Through the lens I see a beautiful Earth
An avid photographer may do just about anything to get the perfect shot: whether contorting their body (to shoot in a novel perspective), hiding for hours on end to catch a glimpse of a rarity, or, in the same light, trekking through all types of terrain to bring a light to little-known places on Earth. On World Wildlife Day (celebrated every March 3rd) I am remembering the various ways in which I’ve come to enjoy nature — including through photography.
This past February I had the chance to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year international travelling photo exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum. I was completely taken aback by the sheer beauty captured on camera: how light falls on the subject, the juxtaposition of foreground and background, the expressive movements of time and space. Some highlights of the exhibit for me included the works of younger photographers (under 10 years old!) and the images of wild places outside Canada. Interestingly, there were a few photos that were taken in urban centres; a great reminder that you can find nature in the city, if you know where to look.
As I moved through the exhibit, I found the backstory of each of the 100 pictures on display as compelling as the photos themselves. Pictures do tell a thousand words, but without the words, only half the story gets told.
Perhaps more well known is the story of Don Gutoski, the grand winner of this year’s contest, and his masterpiece, “A Tale of Two Foxes,” which depicts a hauntingly beautiful scene of a red fox standing with its prey — an Arctic fox in Wapusk National Park in Cape Churchill, Manitoba. Gutoski captured a rare sight; the range of red foxes has been extending northwards due to a changing climate. This line from the description panel echoes an inevitable ripple effect that comes with a shift in the natural balance:
“For Arctic foxes, red foxes now represent not just their main competitor — both hunt small animals such as lemmings — but also their main predator. Few actual kills by red foxes have been witnessed so far, but it is likely that conflicts between the two mammals will become more common.”
Moving from one display panel to another, I started to see a theme emerge: everything displayed in this exhibit is connected, from the red fox hunting in the north to the vixen in urban Surrey. Amidst the constant reporting of gloomy outlooks on the environmental front, it was nice to see many breathtaking places and living things thriving in the world.
I finished touring the exhibit thinking perhaps there will always tension between humans and the rest of the natural world. Yet as a creative species (and as part of this world), humans have the capacity to recognize the intrinsic and extrinsic value of lands, waters and species, and to conserve the natural world creatively.
Hopefully this photo exhibit will inspire more people to get outside and observe the natural world, whether at a local greenspace or a nature destination abroad. Thank you to the photographers who use their lenses to bring us a glimpse of a world we’re sometimes too busy to stop and see.
Find out where the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit is hosted near you by checking this website.
Here are 10 images from the exhibit for your enjoyment. Photos are posted with permission from Wildlife Photographer of the Year, developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London.
Click to enlarge the photos in the slideshow below.
©Don Gutoski (Canada), "A tale of two foxes"
©Connor Stefanison (Canada), "Creekside nursery"
©Morkel Erasmus (South Africa), "Natural frame"
©Josiah Launstein (Canada), "Goose attack"
©Andrey Gudkov (Russia), "Komodo judo"
©Thomas P. Peschak (Germany/South Africa), "The shark surfer"
©Connor Stefanison (Canada), "Raven strut"
©Josiah Launstein (Canada), "Snowy scene"
©David Doubilet (USA), "Turtle flight"
©Klaus Tamm (Germany), "Wings of summer"