Archive for Wildlife

I am the 2014 European Wildlife Photographer of the Year!

Posted in African Wildlife, European Wildlife, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2014 by Neil Aldridge

It’s with humility and immense pride that I can announce that my photograph ‘Living Rock Art‘ has won me the overall title of 2014 GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

The photograph is an artistic take on two blesbok antelope stampeding across the plains of South Africa’s Kariega Game Reserve. The shot was entered in the competition’s Nature’s Studio category before being awarded the overall title by the panel of judges. However, it’s a photo that very nearly didn’t happen…

I was in South Africa working on a story about the rhino poaching crisis and one particular rhino named Thandi that had survived a brutal attack by poachers. I think I had photographed Thandi from every possible angle so my guide – and now good friend – Brendon Jennings and I decided to take a break and explore the floodplains of the Bushman’s River. That’s when we found the herd of blesbok.

With the light on the plains fading fast, I decided to switch to a longer exposure and shoot in a more artistic style than my usual documentary approach. I stepped off the side of the vehicle to use the vehicle as a blind and to get a ground-level angle of the animals stampeding past. That’s when I heard a loud crack…

My ankle had turned in a hole. I landed in a heap in the dust. The pain was unbelievable but, fortunately, I had somehow planted my tripod and camera safely as I fell. I was able to sit up just in time to see the blesbok approaching. I grabbed my camera, locked my focus on them and panned smoothly as they careered past. Only once they had disappeared in a cloud of dust did I turn my attention to my injuries.

My fall may have been but the picture was no accident. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, I know that, but I was working hard to capture their movement in a still photograph. What I hadn’t banked on was that the shapes created by their striking black and white leg markings would so closely resemble Bushman rock art, which influenced the title of the image.

I collected my prize in Lunen, Germany at a ceremony marking the competition’s 14th year surrounded by incredibly talented photographers that I have nothing but respect for…which makes this win all the more special.

I’m pleased to say that my success in the competition was not just restricted to Africa’s plains. My photograph of a shoal of tiny Okavango robber fish swimming up the Selinda Spillway in northern Botswana was selected as Highly Commended in the Underwater category too.

All of the winning images can be seen on the competition’s website www.gdtfoto.de

You can see my winning shots and more on my website www.conservationphotojournalism.com

Join me in Botswana in 2015…

Posted in African Wildlife, Photography, Travel, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2014 by Neil Aldridge

I’ve teamed up with friends at ODPSafaris and Pangolin Photo Safaris to offer two exciting photo safaris to Botswana in June 2015. Both tours will give you the chance to join me in the famous Okavango Delta and vast Chobe National Park as we go in search for elephants, fish eagles and my own favourite species, the African wild dog, amongst others.

Combining these two exceptionally diverse destinations in one tour puts this safari head and shoulders above others. Both the Okavango and Chobe offer unequaled opportunities to experience and photograph Botswana’s incredible wildlife. While staying in Chobe we will make the most of both land and water based activities. This includes shooting elephants and other visitors to a waterhole from a bunker hide and utilising the famous Pangolin photography boat, which is equipped with swivel chairs and gimbal heads built into a sturdy photographic setup that will offer the best possible solution for your needs.

The area of the Okavango Delta that we will be visiting – the game rich floodplains of the Khwai river – is well known for its unrivaled African wild dog sightings with up to three packs of this endangered carnivore denning and roaming within close proximity of the camp. We will be timing our visit with when the packs usually den so our chances of encountering this endangered carnivore are good. The Khwai river also offers some of the finest birding with the area boasting a count of more than 420 bird species. Chobe’s famously high population of elephant provides unforgettable photo opportunities but we will also use boats to help you get close to kingfishers, hippos, fish eagles, buffalo and crocodiles.

Each tour lasts eight nights – with four nights spent at each destination – and there are eight places available on each. The first tour runs from the 7th to the 15th of June while the second runs from the 15th to the 23rd. Further information, tour itineraries, costs and links to how you can secure your booking can be found on my website at conservationphotojournalism.com/tours. I hope you will join us…

Vote for the meerkat…

Posted in African Wildlife, Photography, Take Action, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2014 by Neil Aldridge

My black and white photograph of a meerkat standing on the edge of Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans has been selected in a special 50th anniversary People’s Choice vote in the coveted Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition. There are some exceptional pictures in the shortlist taken by some great photographers but please visit the voting page and vote for the picture as your favourite.

(c) Neil Aldridge

The photograph was selected as a finalist in the competition alongside ten more of my pictures. While it would have been nice to have had more success after having so many make the final, it’s a pleasure and privilege to be involved in this special 50th anniversary competition. You can vote for the meerkat and see the other shortlisted shots on the competition website at:

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/wpy/community/peoples-choice/2014/28/sentry-duty.html

Choose the cover of my new book…

Posted in African Wildlife, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2014 by Neil Aldridge

I’m excited to announce that I am working on a new book and I am giving you the opportunity to have your say on what the front cover photograph should be.

I would really like to hear from you so I’ve made it easy for you. The choice has been narrowed down to portraits of two of Africa’s truly iconic endangered heavyweights – the African elephant and the critically endangered black rhino. Both shots were taken in the wild at two of my favourite locations. So, which do you prefer…

Cover_elephant Cover_rhino

 

Thank you for voting. The book will be available for pre-orders shortly. So keep an eye on this blog and my website.

I’m also excited to say that you can see a preview of some of the shots from my upcoming book in my two talks at the British Birdfair in August. More information on the talks can be found on my Facebook page

BBC Wildlife feature my Estonia tour images…

Posted in Conservation Photography, European Wildlife, Photography, Travel, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2013 by Neil Aldridge

estonia_2014_1

I’m proud to say that BBC Wildlife Magazine has chosen to feature a selection of photographs taken by myself and Remo Savisaar during the trip that we co-led for Estonian Nature Tours in 2013. You can enjoy the gallery online at their website discoverwildlife.com

estonia_2014_3

If this taster of what Estonia has to offer excites you, Remo and I will be introducing guests to Estonia’s fantastic wildlife again in 2014. During this nine-day tour you will have the chance to photograph from hides, boats, vehicles, viewing towers and on foot as we seek out bears, beavers, birds and other animals in Estonia’s vast forests, bogs and wetlands. You can see the full itinerary and tour details on my website conservationphotojournalism.com

estonia_2014_2

Badger vaccination story wins BWPA

Posted in Conservation, Conservation Photography, European Wildlife, Exhibition, Photography, UK Wildlife, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2013 by Neil Aldridge

I’m proud and excited to announce that my badger vaccination story the alternative is a winner of the 2013 British Wildlife Photography Awards. The six-image portfolio picked up the top award in the Documentary category – my second win in as many years of entering the category (my last win was in 2011 as I served as a judge of the competition in 2012).

The set of photographs documents the process of trapping and vaccinating badgers against bovine TB. Many of the UK’s most influential scientists, NGOs and landowners – such as The Wildlife Trusts and The National Trust – believe vaccination is a viable alternative to culling. Yet, the government has chosen to press ahead with a cull in England, claiming that culling badgers is the best method for controlling bovine TB in Britain’s cattle. Find out more on the Badger Trust website.

This six image edit is taken from my autumn 2011 BBC Wildlife magazine cover feature Kill or Cure, which also featured as an online gallery on their website discoverwildlife.com. You can also see a more complete set of images on my website conservationphotojournalism.com

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the awards in London as I am currently working in Africa but I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to all winners in the 2013 British Wildlife Photography Awards. Please support the awards by attending the exhibition as it travels around the UK and by buying the book on the BWPA website.

What do you do when you meet a hero?

Posted in Conservation, Wildlife with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2013 by Neil Aldridge

So last night I had the privilege of meeting Sir David Attenborough at a Galapagos Conservation Trust event at BAFTA on London’s Piccadilly. The question is: what do you do when you meet an inspiration, someone who through their life’s work has influenced your decisions about your own career? Some people go quiet in awe, some people go straight in for the autograph, others ask for their photograph to be taken with that person.

So what did I do? Happily, I don’t actually get star-struck and so it was none of the above. As he had given so much to an appreciative audience on a fantastic evening barely three weeks after having heart surgery, I chose to give something back to him – something he could take away – in the form of a signed copy of my book Underdogs with a personal letter of appreciation slipped inside. My love for African wild dogs and my drive to understand them and share their plight has been influenced by memorable scenes in series such as Trials of Life and Planet Earth. Beyond that though, Sir David’s greatest influence on my own work has been in his ethical appreciation for the natural world around him and avoiding sensationalising wildlife encounters by provoking behaviour just for better ratings.

Sir David continues to lead his field of wildlife film-making and he uses his position to engage people in the most uncomfortable and pressing issues facing our own species and our planet. His recent heart surgery should also come as a reminder that he is merely human. For those reasons, among many more, he needs to be respected and treated with dignity. I hope that others will remember this if they should ever get the chance to meet this incredibly inspiring man. While I completely understand the desire to have a record of such meaningful events in life, a digital photograph could be lost on a phone or stolen on a laptop whereas a shared moment with a warm handshake and the exchange of a few sincere words will stay with you for ever. I know it will stay with me. I just hope he likes the book…

One last push – please help by donating…

Posted in African Wildlife, Conservation, Conservation Photography, Photography, Take Action, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2013 by Neil Aldridge

© Neil Aldridge

When I set out to photograph my African wild dog project Underdogs four and half years ago I did so with two goals – to raise awareness of this incredible species and to make a financial contribution towards their conservation. Now, with a major new project on the horizon, I am launching one final push to raise funds for their protection. Please donate to my campaign on indiegogo.com. 100% of the money raised will be donated to wild dog conservation projects in Africa and used to send you ‘perks’ – personal thank yous for donating.

This project has been everything from exciting and fun to testing and emotional. The highs of winning international awards with photographs from this story contrast severely with the lows of coming to terms with knowing that every dog that I followed day-in-day-out in South African has since been killed. I am proud to think that the project has succeeded in raising awareness of the wild dog’s plight. Millions of people around the world have seen this work through international exhibitions, sales of my book, magazine features and online galleries. However, it is contributing to efforts on the ground that will make the greatest impact to the future of this species and this 48-day campaign aims to achieve just that.

Please donate what you can. If you can afford to give between £10 and £25, I will send you a print of one of my award-winning photographs. Any donation between £25 and £100 will see you receive a signed copy of my African wild dog book Underdogs. Donations over £100 will earn you a signed copy of my book and a print of an award-winning photograph in recognition of your generosity. I understand that not everyone can donate but that doesn’t mean you can’t help. Please send this link to others who may be able to contribute.

The African wild dog is in trouble. There are as few wild dogs in Africa as their are Tigers in Asia but, as pack animals, only a small number will ever breed. This means that the future of the entire species rests on only about 10% of the total number of wild dogs remaining – so about 400 individuals. We need to help equip those with the skills to save the species with the right tools. On the campaign page you will see a list of things that I am aiming to help projects access. Your help is appreciated and will make a difference. Thank you!

To donate, visit indiegogo.com/projects/save-the-african-wild-dog/x/3412838

Sony World Photography Awards 2013

Posted in Exhibition, Photography, Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , on May 10, 2013 by Neil Aldridge

The exhibition of the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards is currently on at London’s Somerset House and, while I don’t usually use my blog to review exhibitions or publications, I just felt there was a little too much to say for one tweet…

As expected, the breadth of the concepts on show at the exhibition is considerable and should inspire any photographer to develop a new way of looking at the world…until you get to the ‘Nature and Wildlife’ category, that is. With so many important issues affecting our natural world to communicate through a powerful medium like photography with the backing of a global brand like Sony, I couldn’t help leaving the exhibition feeling let down. Not to take anything away from those photographers that brought us beautiful, amusing and striking studio portraits of chickens and flowers, the organisers simply need to think very carefully about what it is they want to achieve through this category. Quite simply, the ‘Nature and Wildlife’ selection fails to deliver insight into any real issues in the way that other categories do. The competition’s website does actually feature a shortlisted story on gorillas, proclaiming that the “series is about the gorillas, these apes losing their natural habitat”. Yet, rather disappointingly, the photo set turns out to be a bunch of close-ups of captive gorillas, expressed in black and white to presumably add some element of eloquence and poignancy. If this category is not meant to convey any serious message (or place any real importance on showing wild animals or places), the best move the organisers could make is to rename it something less assuming, like the ‘Animals and Plants’ category.

For all of these reasons, the greatest example of application in photographing wildlife and nature in its true form is in fact evident in the open competition, instead of amongst the professionals. Above and beyond creating a beautiful image, in taking his winning photograph Krasimir Matarov has actually bothered to take us out of the studio or zoo and into the wild, alien world of the spider.

But these are just my thoughts. The 2013 Sony World Photography Awards exhibition is at Somerset House until 12 May 2013. Why not see for yourself?

Canvas prints of my work now available to buy on my website…

Posted in African Wildlife, Photography, UK Wildlife, Wildlife Photography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2013 by Neil Aldridge

I am really pleased to say that canvas prints of my photographs are now available to buy from the online shop on my website. The collection available includes limited editions, new and never before seen images, award-winning shots and some old favourites. I personally selected those images that could have a real impact on any wall. To see the selection, go to conservationphotojournalism.com/canvasses

Canvas Prints (c) Neil Aldridge

Canvasses are available in two sizes – A1 and A2 – and are sorted into six categories – Limited Editions, Black and White, African Wildlife, European Wildlife, Landscapes and North American Wildlife.  Fine art prints of my work will also be available shortly, so please keep an eye on conservationphotojournalism.com/shop.