Photographing Wildlife

It’s got to take a special kind of photo exhibition to take us away from our digital screens — and the newly opened showcase of imagery marvels at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County will mesmerize you with artistry, depth and passion for our natural world. IPhone? What iPhone?

Wildlife Photographer of the Year features 99 award-winning photographs that illustrate the beauty and drama from around the world in compositions that feature microscopic critters to massive marine mammals. Photographs are the result of the work of professionals as well as amateurs.

BEAR HUG — Young photographer Ashleigh Scully captured a moment between mother and cub near Lake Clark in Alaska.

The exhibition is on loan from the Natural History Museum in London and makes its West Coast debut here in Los Angeles; it runs until January 6, 2019.

The photographs are part of an annual competition that was launched in 1965. This year, the competition received 50,000 entries from photographers from 92 countries. The winning images are dazzling and all were taken with SLR cameras (mostly Nikon and Canons) and many involved careful planning and hours of patiently waiting for just the right moment to present itself.  Two-month trip to Artic Russia to catch an image of a wolf snagging a snow goose egg.  Lying motionless for hours in a freezing river to capture spawning trout. Waiting for weeks for the perfect still night and high tide to document grazing green turtles. Spending three months trailing cassowaries in the forest.

There are spur-of-the-moment imagery as well – equally impressive in story or portrait groupings. There are rich colors photographs and the stark honest beauty of black and white images.  Watch for your mouth to drop at the children’s categories which demonstrate that today’s youth are skilled with visual poetry.

EVOCATIVE MOOD — Photographer Mats Andersson’s portrait of a Eurasian red squirrel is fanciful and calming.

While most photographs celebrate the magnificent of wildlife, there are some disturbing images that illustrate mankind’s cruelty and greedy destruction of both habitat and creature.

For us Angelenos, the exhibit is also a travelogue of exciting and exotic locations as well as wildlife depictions in urban areas (wild pigs in Spain are caught in a deserted twilight city street).  To that end, the Natural History Museum is hosting its own nature photo contest, inviting Los Angeles County K-12 students to snap and submit images of wildlife and nature – in both Southern California and the world.

Three winners will be selected from each age category and kids could win free family membership, tickets to the upcoming Haunted Museum, behind-the-scenes dinosaur tours and other goodies.

Photos need to be submitted by September 30.

We suggest an inspirational trip to the NHM followed by some photographic field work to write your own wildlife story.

— Brenda Rees, editor

EYE TO EYE – Photographer Laura Albiac Vilas exchanged a timeless moment with a Canadian lynx.