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Museum Club wildlife photography

Children from Horniman Primary School come to our Museum once a week for an after-school Museum Club.

Last term they created their own photography inspired by our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.

The children wrote their own labels which explain why they chose the animal and how they decided to photograph it.

Their photographs show a talent for composition. A lot of time was taken to think about the characteristics of the animals they were photographing and how the animals act in their natural habitats. 

Here are a few examples of these artistic photographs. 

'Midsummer Night breeze!' by Maisie 

  • Midsummer Night breeze!, A baby rabbit is called a kit, a female rabbit is called a doe and a male is called a buck. I chose this animal because I want people see what would have happened when the sun goes down. It makes a beautiful contrast with the mouse and the bird. The background makes the animals stand out
, Maisie
    A baby rabbit is called a kit, a female rabbit is called a doe and a male is called a buck. I chose this animal because I want people see what would have happened when the sun goes down. It makes a beautiful contrast with the mouse and the bird. The background makes the animals stand out , Maisie

'ΜΑΎΡΟ ΚΑΙ Ξ†ΣΠΡΟ ΖΩΞ‰Σ' (black and white life) by Sophia

  • Black and White Life, I took this photo of a badger because of its large size and secretive way of living. The background shows the pattern of the badger's fur. Badgers are short-legged omnivores in the family mustelidae, which includes otters, polecats, weasels and wolverines, Sophia
    I took this photo of a badger because of its large size and secretive way of living. The background shows the pattern of the badger's fur. Badgers are short-legged omnivores in the family mustelidae, which includes otters, polecats, weasels and wolverines, Sophia

'Criaturas que Cazan' (hunting creatures) by Rosa and Angel

  • Criaturas que Cazan – hunting creatures, These animals circle in a fight for survival. The stoat, a wonderfully deft animal, edges away from the looming buzzard. We angled it so the elegant bird seems to look disdainfully down upon the lonely stoat, Rosa and Angel
    These animals circle in a fight for survival. The stoat, a wonderfully deft animal, edges away from the looming buzzard. We angled it so the elegant bird seems to look disdainfully down upon the lonely stoat, Rosa and Angel

'Awesome Elster' (awesome magpie) by Lucian

  • Awesome Elster – awesome magpie, I love the Magpie because he has a cute face.  I think he has a serious expression.  The feathers of a magpie are very soft.  Its feet are very small.  I angled it so it's looking you in the eye
, Lucian
    I love the Magpie because he has a cute face. I think he has a serious expression. The feathers of a magpie are very soft. Its feet are very small. I angled it so it's looking you in the eye , Lucian

'The Bird with Blue' by Livvy 

  • The Bird With Blue,  I was looking for an animal, then this one stood out like a shining star. I thought that it would look nice on a blue background. Blue jays are sometimes known to eat eggs or nestlings, and it is this practice that has tarnished their reputation
, Livvy
    I was looking for an animal, then this one stood out like a shining star. I thought that it would look nice on a blue background. Blue jays are sometimes known to eat eggs or nestlings, and it is this practice that has tarnished their reputation , Livvy

'The Semi-Darkness' by Caity

  • The Semi-Darkness , I chose to photograph the mongoose because it is interesting how it looks like a meerkat.  I like how pretty the fur is. I think the animal goes well with the background. I hope you like it too, Caity
    I chose to photograph the mongoose because it is interesting how it looks like a meerkat. I like how pretty the fur is. I think the animal goes well with the background. I hope you like it too, Caity

We had the Museum Club's photographs specially printed and they are now on display in our Education Centre.

Find out more about school sessions at the Horniman

Wildlife photography - your winner

You voted for your favourite photo from our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition and we reveal the winner...

Our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition was really popular this winter. 

When coming to see the exhibition, visitors were asked to pick which photo was their favourite and leave their comments on a card. 

It was a close call. All of the photographs received at least one vote from the public and there were only a few votes between the top winners. 

We can now exclusively reveal the top three most popular photographs as chosen by our visitors are...

*atmospheric pause*

In third place, the graceful 'Wild European Lynx' by Laurent Geslin.

  • Wildlife photography - your winner, 'Wild European Lynx', Laurent Geslin
    'Wild European Lynx', Laurent Geslin

Here is what some people said about this photograph:

I was drawn to those big eyes and can just imagine him on his long prowls in the night. 

I really like the way the deep sky is captured in the background and how the photographer spent a long time to capture this. 

The contrast, the composition, the elusiveness of the subject. 

In second place, the characterful 'Lightness' by Matteo Lonati. 

  • Wildlife photography - your winner, 'Lightness', Matteo Lonati
    'Lightness', Matteo Lonati

Here is what some people said about this photograph:

It is simple and yet still beautiful.

I like the way the owl is standing to attention like a soldier.

A very arresting photo.

It looks like Hedwig. 

The winner of the public vote is the excellent 'Shadow Walker' by Richard Peters. 

  • Wildlife photography - your winner, 'Shadow Walker', Richard Peters
    'Shadow Walker', Richard Peters

Here is what some people said about this photograph:

It has a beautiful atmosphere.

It reflects the nature in London.

It says so much about the life of the fox - not in shot, he is the hidden king of the urban jungle. 

Because it captures wildlife in an urban setting and reminds us of its presence and beauty. 

Congratulations Richard for winning the public vote as well as the overall competition. 

You can read more about wildlife photography in our interviews with the photographers from this exhibition on our blog

Wildlife photography - your views

Our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition has been very popular this winter, with people of all ages coming to see the 84 extraordinary photographs on display. 

Visitors to the exhibition were invited to fill out a card where they voted for their favourite photo and gave a reason why. 

Next week we will be announcing who came first, second and third in our visitor vote, but until then, here are some of our favourite responses so far: 

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Dragon Duel', Tom Way
    'Dragon Duel', Tom Way

It is brutal, other worldly, ancient, timeless. Somehow both alien and godlike. 

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Lion Love in the Rain', Jon Langeland
    'Lion Love in the Rain', Jon Langeland

The photographer has really captured the lioness's expression and the way the water is spraying is excellent.

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Wink', Ingo Arndt
    'Wink', Ingo Arndt

Extremely flirtatious and seductive, like a Spanish dancer or the seducing dance of tango. 

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Like from a Fairy tale', Giuseppe Bonali
    'Like from a Fairy tale', Giuseppe Bonali

A magical look into a micro world

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Under the water, above the water', Mike Korostelev
    'Under the water, above the water', Mike Korostelev

It tells a story in a really inventive way. Being upside down makes it magical, compelling, mysterious and majestic!

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Alien Sighting', David Burtuleit
    'Alien Sighting', David Burtuleit

Sometimes the things on our doorstep can be the most interesting. 

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Shadow Walker', Richard Peters
    'Shadow Walker', Richard Peters

It connects you somehow with a night story happening next to you that you don't know about. It's just outside. 

  • Wildlife photography - your views, 'Surprised Newt', Pekka Tuuri
    'Surprised Newt', Pekka Tuuri

There are many amazing photos in this exhibition. This one is my favourite because it is a common animal in an amazing situation and it is the only animal with a mohican hairstyle. 

Read our series of interviews with the photogrpahers from this exhibition on our blog

Send us your own wildlife photography by tagging your photos #horniman on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 

About the Art: Marco Urso

As part of our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, we chat to Marco Urso about his wildlife photography. 

  • About the Art: Marco Urso, 'Missed', Marco Urso
    'Missed', Marco Urso

Tell us the story behind your photo 'Missed'.

Every summer for the last five years, I have spent time at Kuril Lake in Kamchatka. Year after year my idea is to concentrate my photography on uncommon situations. These only occur when you follow a bear around and watch him in his daily life.

The bear in this photograph was a young one and therefore inexperienced. He caught the salmon but relaxed soon afterwards. The salmon 'felt' that and managed to escape, leaving the bear with a strange expression.

How long did you have to wait for this shot?

Quite a bit, I have seen something similar before but I wanted the salmon parallel to the surface of the water so I tried for almost a day.

Did you use any particular equipment?

Not really, a tripod and my normal 500 mm lens.

What are the difficulties of wildlife photography you face?

The challenges are several. Weather, technical equipment problems and recently the misbehaviour of some photographers that forget they have to respect the environment and the species.

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

That I was looking for something different, unusual and less stereotyped. I often try to show the feeling and personality in animals’ behaviour.

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started in your career?

I have been photographing since the age of 14 but only seriously since 2010. I started publishing for magazines, writing articles, organising workshop and participating in competitions.

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife in their local environment?

That there is a lot to see and take pictures of without travelling a great distance. It is important to have self-assessment, so there is discipline and a selected view.

What projects are you working on now?

I like bears both browns and polar. I like to photograph their interaction and the cubs. I have just published a book on Polar Bear with WWF: the Lord of the Arctic and soon there will be a second book about the brown bear.

See more of Marco's work on his website and see 'Missed' on display at the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition until 15 January 2017. 

About the Art: Jan van der Greef

As part of our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, we chat to Jan van der Greef about his wildlife photography. 

  • About the Art: Jan van der Greef, 'Mystical Sunset', Jan van der Greef
    'Mystical Sunset', Jan van der Greef

Tell us the story behind your photo 'Mystical Sunset' in this exhibition.

One evening, the sunset nearby our house in the middle of the Netherlands became suddenly very colourful and dynamic due to the sky being filled with clouds and heavy winds.

We drove our car towards a nearby river and while my wife was driving I made an artistic image by using long shutter speeds in order to capture the mystical feeling of that moment.

Photographing from a moving car with longer shutter speeds needs fine-tuning depending on the speed of the car, the movement of the camera, the objective 70-200mm zoom @192mm and the shutter speed (0.5s).

What are the difficulties of wildlife photography you face?

First of all, I typically need quite some time in an area to settle down to feel connected. This is a prerequisite for the artistic (impressionistic, abstract) style of photography.

Furthermore, given my physical challenge, the outcome of having polio at an early age, it is sometimes difficult to find solutions for transport to remote places.

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

I would like them to stop thinking and start feeling.

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started in your career?

As a child, I became interested in nature and since my mother was an amateur photographer, she 'infected' me with the photography-virus. It really started off when I got my first camera - a Konica C35 in my teenage years.

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife in their local environment?

Study the animal's behaviour first. Observe and observe some more. Then decide how you would like to capture the essence of the animal or landscape. The focus more on possibilities and not on probabilities. Let your own interest and passion be your guide, forget about rules.

Focus more on possibilities and not on probabilities. Let your own interest and passion be your guide. Forget about rules.

What have you been up to since the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 competition?

I am currently working on capturing the essence of wildlife in Africa, a multi-year project. I will also continue my hummingbird project in South America hopefully next year.

What are your favourite scenes to photograph?

I love mystical scenes that give the opportunity for everybody to initiate their imagination.

See more of Jan's work on his website and see 'Mystical Sunset' on display at the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition until 15 January 2017. 

About the Art: Tom Way

As part of our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, we chat to Tom Way about his wildlife photography. 

  • About the Art: Tom Way, 'Dragon Duel', Tom Way
    'Dragon Duel', Tom Way

Tell us the story behind your photo in this exhibition

To photograph the largest lizard on the planet is a challenge in itself.

Not only is Komodo National Park difficult to access but getting close enough to the animals can be extremely dangerous. Komodo dragons weigh up to 150kg and have venom and carry fatal bacteria in their bite.

I wanted to try and take close-up portraits of the dragons, so we drifted silently in a small Zodiac boat towards two resting on the shoreline of Rinca Island. The only sound was that of the lapping waves against the beach and the buzz of cicada in the trees. Suddenly there was an explosive whip of the tale as the dragons reared themselves on their back legs clashing together. I wanted to frame the action as large as I could in the frame to show the detail of the skin and to highlight the sand blast against the dark background. There was something extremely prehistoric about this titanic battle as the claws grated against the scales. I felt like it was a snap shot back into a bygone age.

How long did you have to wait for this shot?

I was in Komodo National Park for 3 days.

Did you use any particular equipment?

Canon EOS-1d X, 500mm, 1/3200 sec at f4; ISO 320

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

Typically when photographing large mammals, I am looking to portray the beauty, power and majesty of these wonderful animals.

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started in your career?

I have been a professional wildlife photographer for five years. My passion began whilst travelling after university and wanting to document what I was seeing in the most aesthetic way possible. I decided that with both my passion for wildlife and travel a career as a wildlife photographer would be perfect. After leaving my job, I have spent the last five years building a business in this industry.

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife in their local environment?

I would advise that they would need to both spend time with the subject and learn the lay of the land. In this way, you can foresee where the light focuses at certain times of day and also where the subject is likely to be. By knowing your subject well, you are more likely to photograph unusual behaviour.

What have you been up to since the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 competition? What projects are you working on now?

Since the 2015 competition, I have been working mostly in East Africa photographing both Lions and Elephants. As a result, I was very pleased to have one of my images awarded in the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2016.

What are your favourite scenes to photograph?

I enjoy photographing in scenes of pure simplicity with no tension points. The open savannahs of East Africa appeal to me as I can separate my subject from the background with ease.

See more of Tom's work on his website and see 'Dragon Duel' on display at the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition until 15 January 2017. 

About the Art: Heike Odermatt

As part of our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, we chat to Heike Odermatt about her work and her photograph, 'New Life'.

  • About the Art: Heike Odermatt, Patiently waiting for the walrus to do something in Svalbard, Heike Odermatt
    Patiently waiting for the walrus to do something in Svalbard, Heike Odermatt

Tell us the story behind your photo in this exhibition.

One life has ended and another life arises. In July 2010, there was a big wildfire in the natural heathland – the ‘Strabrechtse Heide’ – in the Netherlands. It affected about 200 hectares of forest and heath, over 10% of the total area. It took several days to master the fire and over a week to put it out completely.

Two years later, I went there to look how the nature has recovered. In the severely affected area, new life was emerging including plants such as young heather, pine, Senecio and pionieer plants such as various types of grasses and fireweed.

I visited this area for several times. During my last visit, I found this place with beautiful grey dead heather and I went in search of a new life and some colour among it. In this photograph, you can see a young pine sheltered by the heath plants which died during the wildfire.

The idea of the photograph was to focus on life and death, old and new. An area destroyed by fire where life seemed extinguished but where new life arises.

  • About the Art: Heike Odermatt, 'New Life', Heike Odermatt
    'New Life', Heike Odermatt

Did you use any particular equipment?

This picture was taken without a tripod because there was enough light to easily frame the image. I didn’t want to damage or change the shape of any part of the plant with the legs of the tripod.

What are the difficulties of wildlife photography you face?

Too many humans and buildings.

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

I like that people get inspired from my images and so also in nature. I want to bring the beauty of nature closer to humans and make them more sensitive to it. I want people to fall in love with nature so they understand how much we need living things and need to be careful with them.

  • About the Art: Heike Odermatt, Northern Gannet on Helgoland (Germany) during the last light. With an exposure of 1/8 seconds I was able to depict the movement of this landing bird, Heike Odermatt
    Northern Gannet on Helgoland (Germany) during the last light. With an exposure of 1/8 seconds I was able to depict the movement of this landing bird, Heike Odermatt

  • About the Art: Heike Odermatt, Sleeping King Penguin on the Falkland Islands. I played with the colour and sharpness to create a more abstract image from the colourful markings of the penguins, Heike Odermatt
    Sleeping King Penguin on the Falkland Islands. I played with the colour and sharpness to create a more abstract image from the colourful markings of the penguins, Heike Odermatt

  • About the Art: Heike Odermatt, I love it when autumn and winter touch each other, like here in a moor in the Vosges., Heike Odermatt
    I love it when autumn and winter touch each other, like here in a moor in the Vosges., Heike Odermatt

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started in your career?

As a child I was fond of pictures, especially pictures of animals and nature. I dreamed of being the person behind the camera, creating those beautiful pictures of wild animals and stunning landscapes.
I had never dared to dream that this would become a reality.

  • About the Art: Heike Odermatt, I shot this image of the Gullfoss waterfall during my first visit to Iceland in the winter in 2004. It was a rainy day and all was green. It looks like a fairy tail., Heike Odermatt
    I shot this image of the Gullfoss waterfall during my first visit to Iceland in the winter in 2004. It was a rainy day and all was green. It looks like a fairy tail., Heike Odermatt

It was years later that I had the opportunity to emerge myself into photography. In 2002, I started to work in nature photography. I was photographing in my holidays – trips that I took purely for nature photography. In my daily life I barely had a chance to go out. Lately though, a lot has changed in my life and I hope that nature photography will be a major part of my life in the future.

  • About the Art: Heike Odermatt, The slope of a mountain with snow and the interplay of light and shadow creates an abstract image. I found this detail during my trip to Svalbard., Heike Odermatt
    The slope of a mountain with snow and the interplay of light and shadow creates an abstract image. I found this detail during my trip to Svalbard., Heike Odermatt

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife in their local environment?

Photograph with an open mind and be passionate. Dare to experiment. Use your heart and your eye to create your images. It is up to us to deal with nature in a fair and responsible manner.

  • About the Art: Heike Odermatt, Photoshoot with curious wild Konik horses in the Netherlands. This picture shows my two passions: horses and Nature Photography., Heike Odermatt
    Photoshoot with curious wild Konik horses in the Netherlands. This picture shows my two passions: horses and Nature Photography., Heike Odermatt

What are your favourite scenes to photograph?

My favourite scenes are the rough landscapes of the North. Mountains, snow and ice and the animals of these environments. For my next project, I will go to the arctic regions again.

See more of Heike's work on her website and see her photograph, 'New Life', on display at the Horniman until 15 January. 

Send us photos of your local wildlife on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #horniman

About the Art: Juan Carlos MuΓ±oz

Our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is running until 15 January. We spoke to photographer Juan Carlos Muñoz about his passion for wildlife photography.

Tell us the story behind your winning photograph ‘Fishing in the Evening in the Hula Valley’.

This photo is based on a beautiful story about wetland conservation as an important stage for birds crossing Israel in their migratory flights between northern territories of Europe and Asia and Africa.

The collaboration between Hula Valley conservationist non-governmental organisations and fish farms plays a crucial role for offering resting sites to birds.

Sighting during an afternoon among fish farm ponds, I was attracted not by the huge concentration of birds resting nearby the water but for a quiet pool with remaining small ponds at its bottom due to fish movement. The light was gorgeous, shining on them and giving a golden ambiance to the moment. The concentration of a black-winged stilt fishing among them gave me the shot.

  • Juan Carlos Muñoz Fishing in the Evening in Hula Valley, Fishing in the Evening in Hula Valley, Juan Carlos Munoz
    Fishing in the Evening in Hula Valley, Juan Carlos Munoz

How did you go about getting that shot?

When I saw the circles pattern with such beautiful natural light I made my decision of getting something special of the site. The continuous motion of the bird wandering among the ponds gave me the chance of waiting for a good position of the bird for doing what I love the most on nature photography: catching surprising moments in wilderness.

How long did you have to wait for this shot?

It was a sort time because of the fading sun on the pond’s surface.

What sort of camera and lens did you use?

I used a camera Canon 7D equipped with a lens 70-300 mm.

What are the difficulties of wildlife photography you face?

Mostly to reach the site where is possible to shoot wildlife.

Sometimes you have to travel far away to get good pics. In Europe there are a lot of restrictions for taking photos of wild animals in nature and to get all the permissions in these rules could be a nightmare and a long stage. Also, this kind of photos require a more sophisticated equipment: heavy to carry, expensive and most difficult to manage in the wilderness.

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

Through my passion and effort I want to show that most important to me is a commitment with nature and its conservation. So showing the astonishing wildlife of the Earth I hope to engage more and more people to recognise the essential importance of nature for us.

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started in your career?

Since I had my university degree in Biology I went for using photography as a vehicle for being close to my passion, nature. However since my childhood wilderness was the best place in the world for me and I spent long time in nature.

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife in their local environment?

First off, to learn about the local environments natural process, deals of conservation and challenges to keep it untouched. Knowing and respecting the environment and spending more time in contact with nature is the way to be experienced about wildlife behaviour.

What have you been up to since the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 competition? What projects are you working on now?

I am engaged with conservation projects for the return of emblematic species as the Iberian lynx and bearded vulture in Spain. With my photo stories I am helping to protect more territories to be included at the Natura 2000 network.

I support international non-governmental organisations devoted to conservation issues. I work for Rewilding Europe shooting some of the areas included in this European project. Due to the interest of my photo travels I started to organise personalised trips to the most exciting hot spots of worldwide nature.

What are your favourite scenes to photograph?

I feel confident in wilderness, so I go for every scene. However I prefer natural ambiance with wildlife, it is the best way to show a habitat in an attractive and emotional manner.

Because just touching emotions we will engage humankind in preservation of nature.

You can see this photograph in the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition until the 15 January 2017 and you can find more of Jaun's photography on his website.

About the Art: Marijn Heuts

Our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is running until 15 January. We spoke to photographer Marijn Heuts about his photograph, Intimacy through the keyhole, as well as his approach to wildlife photography.

Tell us the story behind your photo Intimacy through the Keyhole...

It was a cold, foggy morning during the rutting season for red deer (Cervus elaphus). Before dawn, the site was completely covered by fog and darkness. Only the stag’s rutting calls gave away their presence.

When dawn broke and the first rays of the sun penetrated the fog, most of the animals were already retreating into the woods. But one pair of lovers stayed for another moment. I positioned myself behind an oak tree and focused through a gap in the canopy to gain an intimate insight into their turbulent love life.

  • About the Art: Marijn Heuts, Heuts' photograph Intimacy through the keyhole, which is featured in the exhibition, Marijn Heuts
    Heuts' photograph Intimacy through the keyhole, which is featured in the exhibition, Marijn Heuts

How did you go about getting that shot and how long did you have to wait for it?

The most difficult part was finding a gap in the canopy that gave a clear enough view of the deer. That required careful, small movement of my gear and me. Therefore, use of a tripod was impossible. Since I was using a heavy 500mm lens, I had to increase the ISO to get a shutter speed that still enabled me to get sharp results.

When I saw it happen, I could execute the plan I had had in my mind for quite some time. It took several days of visiting the site over three years before the deer took a position that made shooting through the canopy possible.

Did you use any particular equipment?

Nothing except my camera and long lens. No tripod as mentioned.

What are the difficulties of wildlife photography you face?

In the Netherlands, most animals are very wary so getting close is usually the difficult part. Not in this case, as the deer are used to people and get relatively close. The difficulty was trying for a photograph that had not been taken before. Not easy, with the enormous number of wildlife photography enthusiasts visiting the deer during the rutting season and the thousands of images made every day of these enigmatic animals.

  • About the Art: Marijn Heuts, Little Fox, Marijn Heuts
    Little Fox, Marijn Heuts

Although I mainly focus on landscapes and abstract images, I find it very hard to resist a good old game of waiting every now and then. I can spend hours on end in a hide or under a camouflage cloth to wait for birds or mammals to show themselves.

Kingfishers, badgers and foxes are animals I go after just about every year. No matter how many images of them I have already ‘bagged’. There’s always a better image waiting to be made. And also, just sitting in a quiet spot, watching animals go about their thing without being disturbed, is something I really enjoy. It’s almost like meditation.

Where do you go to look for shots?

  • About the Art: Marijn Heuts, Heather landscape, Marijn Heuts
    Heather landscape, Marijn Heuts

I spend most of my photography time (very) close to home. It enables me to go back time and time again, get to learn the landscape and its inhabitants and research the best vantage points for landscape photography. When the weather is right, I can go to the right spot immediately and don’t waste a perfectly good sunrise searching for a composition that will probably never materialise. Also, images from your own backyard can really aid in showing other people in your area how beautiful and diverse our direct surroundings can be. You don’t need to go far to find interesting things.

  • About the Art: Marijn Heuts, Autumn intimate landscape, Marijn Heuts
    Autumn intimate landscape, Marijn Heuts

When the skies are full of puffy pink clouds, I will go for the drama of the larger landscape. After all, it would be a crime not to include a perfect sky in your images. But when the weather is more adverse, or the sky is just plain boring, I will mount a longer lens and start looking for more intimate landscapes. Small, hidden corners in the forest that I normally pass, on my way to something more dramatic, now become the subjects of choice.

  • About the Art: Marijn Heuts, Ice abstract, Marijn Heuts
    Ice abstract, Marijn Heuts

It’s not all about landscapes. I really enjoy trying to find abstracts, patterns and shapes in common subjects. Subjects that don’t scream ‘photograph me’ right away. This kind of abstract images can be found just about everywhere, as long as you move slowly and with an open mind. It pays to look down every now and then, because sometimes images are literally there right at your feet.

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

My main goal would be to create a longing to put on the hiking boots and go explore nature yourself. But also, I would like people to look longer than just a first glance and make up their own story to go with the photograph. I don’t want my images to be so obvious that they tell the whole story at first glance. Let people dream, fantasise, imagine. And then go for a walk. On a larger scale, it would be nice when exhibitions like this one create awareness among people about the natural world and the need to preserve what we have. One person at a time, every single one counts.

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started in your career?

I have been a nature photographer for about 12 years now. When I started out, I mainly focused on birds and wanted to fill the frame with as many feathers as I could. Nowadays, I hardly photograph birds and am more a landscape, abstract and detail photographer. I guess one does not only grow as a person but also as a photographer!

  • About the Art: Marijn Heuts, Lion portrait, Marijn Heuts
    Lion portrait, Marijn Heuts

About 90% of my work is made within a 20km radius from my home. That said, over the years I have developed a strong love for the African continent, and especially its wildlife. I try to get the dust of Africa on my feet as often as I can. There’s nothing that gets my heart beat faster than the sound, smell and feel of the African bush. Think campfire, braai and roaring lions and laughing hyena’s at night.

  • About the Art: Marijn Heuts, Wildebeest crossing, Marijn Heuts
    Wildebeest crossing, Marijn Heuts

Africa is not only about the enigmatic big cats: lion, leopard and cheetah. The common plain game such as zebra, giraffe, antelope and wildebeest are wonderful subjects in their own right. Especially when lit by the rising or setting sun, hidden by dust clouds or soaked in a heavy downpour. Or when their numbers are larger then one can comprehend such as during a frantic river crossing in the Maasai Mara.

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife in their local environment?

Stay true to yourself. It is all too easy to be taken away by the heat of the moment, the work of others on Facebook and the next hot subject. Go out when you want to, stay home when you just don’t feel like photographing. Go after the subjects you like, enjoy discovering a new area and be open to the opportunities it has to offer. Enjoy adverse weather, try new things, dismiss preconceived ideas and find beauty in nondescript, small things in nature. Don’t be driven by the ever-worsening rush for likes and approval by others. After all, it’s a hobby, isn’t it? Before being marked a mister-know-it-all, I should mention the above mainly comes from experience! Been there, done that.

What have you been up to since the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 competition? What projects are you working on now?

I am not really a photographer that works on long-term projects. I go with the seasons and photograph whatever comes my way. That said, I just finished a multi-year project on a local nature reserve. That started out as a small collection of images 10 years ago and grew into a ‘thing’ I had to finish over the years. I am also working on documenting a long list of nature reserves for a handbook for the conservation organisation that owns them.

I am more and more spending time on my writing. I love to write about nature photography and contribute to books, magazines and websites. Finally, I am offering photo tours to (currently) Norway, South Africa and Kenya and just returned from an amazing two weeks in the Maasai Mara.

What are your favourite scenes to photograph?

I consider myself an allround nature photographer and like landscapes, abstracts, macro, birds and mammals. Possibilities of the season and moment dictate my subject, but also so does my mind. Abstract photography and intimate landscapes are only possible when my mind is clear and calm enough to be open to that kind of subject. Sometimes that just does not work and then I resort to more obvious subjects like landscapes and animals.

  • About the Art: Marijn Heuts, Marijn in the heather, Marijn Heuts
    Marijn in the heather, Marijn Heuts

You can see Marijn's photograph in the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition until the 15 January 2017 and you can follow Marijn on Twitter @MarijnHeuts.

About the Art: Dirk Funhoff

Our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition is running until 15 January. To celebrate, we talk to photographer Dirk Funhoff about how he captured the birth of a grey seal. 

  • About the Art: Dirk Funhoff, My typical setup for Heligoland. In fact, camouflage is not needed there, but the protection against sand is important for the camera/lens and I need some tough clothing to allow crawling over wet sand
, Petra Funhoff
    My typical setup for Heligoland. In fact, camouflage is not needed there, but the protection against sand is important for the camera/lens and I need some tough clothing to allow crawling over wet sand , Petra Funhoff

Tell us the animals in your photograph, 'First view on earth'.

It was winter on Dune, a small island in the North Sea. Grey seals (Halichoerus grypus) give birth on Dune during November – January. The number of pups born on Dune has increased dramatically from around six in 2001/2002 to 316 during last winter.

  • About the Art: Dirk Funhoff, 'First view on Earth', Dirk Funhoff
    'First view on Earth', Dirk Funhoff

Despite the increased frequency of births, to actually observe one during daytime is very rare. Emotions are very high and the experience is beyond words. The pup shown in this photograph is still in its amniotic sac but has opened its eyes already. The first shapes it sees belong to good-willing humans – nature observers and nature photographers – all people who are well-disposed towards it and grey seals overall.

The coexistence of humans and grey seals works very well on the Dune. Tolerance and respect towards the 'largest German predator' is key. Hopefully, it will stay like this in the future.

How did you go about getting that shot?

Dune is an island just close to Heligoland, where one cannot stay overnight during winter. Therefore you need to catch the first ferry at 8am (before sunrise) and you don't want to miss the last ferry at 4pm (before sunset). During the day I normally roam the beaches of the small island taking into account restrictions based upon tide, weather and grey seal occurrence and location (you are asked to maintain a 30m distance although not all seals obey the rule).

In order to photograph a birth you need to be there at the right time – a trivial request, but not easily fulfilled. Firstly, you need to identify a pregnant cow ready to deliver. Once the female decides on a nice birth-place, it will take two - three days until she gives birth.

  • About the Art: Dirk Funhoff, The highly pregnant female at 11am. We hope we can make it, the ferry leaves at 4pm and we need to walk about 20 min from here to catch it, Dirk Funhoff
    The highly pregnant female at 11am. We hope we can make it, the ferry leaves at 4pm and we need to walk about 20 min from here to catch it, Dirk Funhoff

You need to observe those closely and decide where to spend your time waiting. Even with my experience of a couple of winters it is not a sure guess.

Secondly, you need to see whether you can approach without disturbing her. There are large differences in the tolerances of the pregnant females to accept neighbours – not only for humans but towards other grey seals as well. Usually, you want to avoid placing yourself between the cow and the water. In any case I use a long lens to minimise impact, as a longer distance means it is not as disturbing to the seal if I change position.

  • About the Art: Dirk Funhoff, The pup is coming. Here, the amniotic sac is still intact. Time is about 2.55pm - looking good timewise, Dirk Funhoff
    The pup is coming. Here, the amniotic sac is still intact. Time is about 2.55pm - looking good timewise, Dirk Funhoff

In this particular case, we observed the mother-to-be already on the second day. At 11am we thought it was going to happen soon, but it actually took place at 3pm. This particular mother was very tolerant towards us, she even moved during the whole process to get closer to our small group of observers.

  • About the Art: Dirk Funhoff, After birth, it is very important that mother and pup contact each other to learn about the specific smell. They will recognise each other based on the scent. Up to now, there are no large groups of seals with pups around, so normally mother and pup stay close together. After some days some mothers leave their pups in order to catch some fish or simply cool down in the North Sea, Dirk Funhoff
    After birth, it is very important that mother and pup contact each other to learn about the specific smell. They will recognise each other based on the scent. Up to now, there are no large groups of seals with pups around, so normally mother and pup stay close together. After some days some mothers leave their pups in order to catch some fish or simply cool down in the North Sea, Dirk Funhoff

  • About the Art: Dirk Funhoff, After all this labour the mother takes a nap and the baby recognises the observers. Well, not really, this is a picture of the baby turning over on the gravel, Dirk Funhoff
    After all this labour the mother takes a nap and the baby recognises the observers. Well, not really, this is a picture of the baby turning over on the gravel, Dirk Funhoff

Did you use any particular equipment?

Long lens: Sigma 300-800mm f/5.6 at 800mm on a Nikon D700 (full-frame), tripod

I strongly recommend using long lenses even if one could come closer to get the picture, it simply minimises the impact on the subject.

Although wide-angle images certainly appeal to many, I would only tackle those remotely controlled for the grey seals.

What would you like people to think about when they see your work?

I would like them to think it is a great image (one that is aesthetically pleasing and creates interest). I would like them to ask ‘what does it show?’ and to try and understand what it is about. It would be great to create a connection with their own knowledge and experience and get people thinking about what they can do to preserve the nature shown in the image.

How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started in your career?

I am taking nature photography 'seriously' since 2004 when I made my first visit to Lunga (Treshnish Isles, Scotland) together with the first use of a digital SLR. Nowadays I call myself a part-time nature photographer.

What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife in their local environment?

Get a camera you like to operate, get into contact with local nature conservation organisations to learn about locations and wildlife opportunities to be seen where and when and start by ‘recording’ nature to get a feel for it and becoming more able to decide where to concentrate upon.

  • About the Art: Dirk Funhoff, Area close to the birth location - one year before. A little bit of snow shows nicely in the evening sun, Dirk Funhoff
    Area close to the birth location - one year before. A little bit of snow shows nicely in the evening sun, Dirk Funhoff

What are your favourite scenes to photograph?

I like to observe and photograph animals without the need to hide but there are only a few places in Germany or Europe where you can do this. Heligoland is certainly one of them.

Additionally, the whole macro world is open for this as well. Overall, I am very flexible, trying to take advantage of the place and circumstances. Time-wise, I cannot react on short notice so I need to use the opportunities which arise or are given once I am out photographing.

  • About the Art: Dirk Funhoff, Morning view over sea, beach and seals, Dirk Funhoff
    Morning view over sea, beach and seals, Dirk Funhoff

What projects are you working on now?

My main project currently is Hallo Nachbar – Meet Your Neighbours in Rheinland-Pfalz. It is part of the global Meet-Your-Neighbours project started by Niall Benvie and Clay Bolt. Currently, I am focussing on the region Rhineland-Palatinate but will extend it to the south-west of Germany. I created an exhibition together with two nature conservation NGOs. This exhibition will tour for about five years through our region.

You can see Dirk's photograph on display in our European Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition until the 15 January 2017. Find out more about Dirks's work on his website.

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