The 2017 Outdoor Photographer of the Year category winners have been announced, and this year's collection ranges from larger-than-life landscapes to a tiny snail. Photographers from around the world captured the best that Mother Nature has to offer.
The photos also offer a variety of viewpoints and subject matter — with some focusing on an overall setting in nature while others show off animals in their natural habitat.
Photographer Jose Fragozo captured the image above of two giraffes and three impalas gathered together in the rain at Nairobi National Park in Kenya. "I have observed these lions hunting many times in the rain, which possibly explains why different species of preyed animals stay together," Fragozo said in his submission. "It’s a defense mechanism, so they can collectively sense predators better. In this case, however, the lions were far away."
Fragozo was able to capture this image so closely because he was inside a 4x4 vehicle that kept him and the animals safe.
Photographer Witold Ziomek was traveling in Iceland when he reached his destination of Thórsmörk in southern Iceland. He said he couldn't see the valley at first due to heavy fog.
"We waited, and eventually the fog started to lift," said Ziomek. "But I still needed to wait a lot longer for a car to appear in the perfect position to add a sense of scale to the mountain landscape."
If you look hard enough, you'll see a tiny white vehicle near the water in the center of the photo.
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The contest's overall winner and runner-up images – which will be chosen from the category winners – will be announced live at The Photography Show at the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham, United Kingdom, on March 17. The book entitled 'Outdoor Photographer of the Year: Portfolio III" (published by Ammonite Press) collected the more than 150 photos entered into the competition. The book will be on sale for £25 ($35 U.S.).
Photographer Mikolaj Nowacki was abroad a yacht for the first time when a storm battered the boat as it crossed the Baltic Sea from Sweden to Poland."
"It was a stormy day, but the captain — who has more than 40 years of experience sailing in open seas — remained completely calm and relaxed, even though waves were breaking over him every few minutes," said Nowacki. "While taking this picture I was hiding partly below a folding canvas roof; scared, but pretending not to be."
And now for a calmer setting...
Photographer Simon Baxter frequently visits this private woodland in North Yorkshire and has taken photos in this same spot before — but he'd never captured an image of the mist rolling in with the morning sunrise. Until now.
"The combination of the damp cobwebs, fallen birch, dominant old pine and the soft light filling this atmospheric and shallow valley makes it a favorite spot of mine for solitude," said Baxter.
From larger-than-life scenes, now it's time to look at the tiny world surrounding us.
Photographer William Mallett didn't travel far to capture this image of a snail. One day after a rainstorm, Mallett went to his backyard and saw several snails on his plants.
"The asparagus plant in my garden — which has become a bush and produced berries — is a haven for wildlife," said Mallett. "The light below is from a backlit asparagus berry; I always try to visit after a rain shower, as I find backlit droplets bring the images to life."
The great outdoors goes beyond dry land.
Photographer Saeed Rashid carefully took this photograph of a sohal surgeonfish in the reefs of the Red Sea near Egypt. If he'd gotten any closer, he would have risked getting attacked by the fish.
"In the summer months, sohal surgeonfish tend to mate and lay eggs on the top of the reefs in the Red Sea. They fiercely defend their egg patch and rush upon anything that invades that area," said Rashid. "They will often swipe their tail, which has a bony protrusion sticking from it that can be as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, towards the intruder."
The competition also honors photography enthusiasts who are just starting out.
12-year-old Josiah Launstein braved minus 25 degrees C temperatures in British Columbia, Canada, to take this stoic photo of a bighorn ram, an animal he said is special to him because it's an endangered species. He narrowly missed the opportunity, but he improvised on the spot as many photographers do.
"I was afraid I wouldn’t have time to get my camera on my tripod before the ram disappeared from view. Instead, I leaned my camera against a solid support as I framed up my shot," said Launstein. "I loved all the snow and sagebrush and knew immediately that I wanted it to be black & white."
Sometimes a setting looks better from a bird's-eye view.
Photographer Tom Sweetman used a drone to take this brightly-hued photo of a bridge in Thailand that connects two villages.
"It was just before sunset in Chiang Mai, and I decided to ride my scooter alongside the famous Ping River," said Sweetman. "Some days you just capture the moment."
A winter wonderland with pops of red was the winner of the 'Spirit of Travel' category.
Photographer Andy Holliman was stuck at Kangerlussuaq Airport in Greenland for three days due to severe weather when he noticed that Air Greenland was the largest airline company at the airport.
"Air Greenland has a near monopoly on flights, so almost everything is in the company’s bright red colors. It was the simple colour palette of this scene that appealed to me, including the signposts that are apparently directing the planes to their destinations," said Holliman. "It may not look that way, but the end of winter was near and within weeks the snow would have cleared."
To see the judge's reactions to the category winners, watch this video:
The photos are currently on display at the National Exhibition Center in Birmingham, United Kingdom.