Wildlife Photography Competition – March Winners

At Close Quarters


The wait is finally over! Here are the Judges’ Choice and Public Favourite winners for March in the 2018 Indlovu River Lodge Wildlife Photography Competition in association with At Close Quarters.

When At Close Quarters teamed up with Indlovu River Lodge to spice up this year’s Wildlife Photography Competition, it was decided to move away from the more typical Big Five portraits that inundate our Facebook walls and to rather create four brand new categories that test entrants creatively.

Every month until the end of August 2018 you can enter one photograph in each of the following categories: Animals in the Environment, Black & White, Creative Lighting and Movement in Nature. After much deliberation, and a month gathering likes on Facebook, the March Judges’ Choice and Public Favourite winners have been selected. Here are the stunning photos, along with feedback from the judges, Villiers Steyn and Lance van de Vyver:


JUDGES’ CHOICE WINNER, March 2018: Geo Jooste

Villiers: “Geo stuck to the brief perfectly, entering a photograph that shows this magnificent male lion walking in a classic and striking Kalahari environment. On top of that, the image is perfectly lit and beautifully composed, making it a very worthy monthly winner and a strong contender for the grand prize.

Lance: “This is a stunning image of an animal and its environment. You can very easily see that it is a tough place to live. The location is baron and dry, and there’s dust flying through the air that makes my eyes feel scratchy just looking at it. The composition is great, the lighting amazing and the exposure controlled perfectly. Well done indeed!
The only thing I would change would be to rotate ever so slightly anticlockwise to straighten the bottom of the tree trunks, but even I am clutching at straws with this one!


PUBLIC FAVOURITE WINNER, March 2018: Graeme Mitchley

Villiers: “Greame’s klipspringer photo is exactly what we were hoping to see in this category and is a very deserved public favourite winner!

Lance: “Well done Greame. A fitting image for Public Favourite winner. This image was one that I also considered for my judges’ pick. It shows the klipspringer’s natural habitat perfectly. I would have liked the framing to be a little more to the left, closer to the boulder, but again – well done!


JUDGES’ CHOICE WINNER, March 2018: Nicolas de Vaulx

Villiers: “Although elephants look fantastic in black and white, Nicolas’s photo was chosen less for the stunning texture of their skins in this conversion and more for the superb composition of the shot. The mirror-like pose of the two animals is extremely eye-catching and would take years to recapture in the wild.

Lance: “There is a lot to like about this elephant portrait: the symmetry, well-controlled exposure, detail, clean background, composition and the leading lines taking you back to the center of the image. Well done. My only suggestion would be a touch more contrast or clarity, however, this is my personal preference.


PUBLIC FAVOURITE WINNER, March 2018: Richard Damian Knight

Villiers: “Personally, I think wild dogs make for excellent black and white subjects. I think this image would have been even more striking had Richard included the dog’s characteristic round ears.

Lance: “A very nice portrait, Richard. A clean background that has no distractions and a subject with a clear intent written on its face. Personally, I’m a fan of these minimalist compositions and I think this image in particular views very nicely. For me this would be top notch if it were just a tad darker, bringing detail back into the dog’s cheek. A fine image none the less. Well done.


JUDGES’ CHOICE WINNER, March 2018: Geo Jooste

Villiers: “In a category full of impressive entries, Geo’s photo of two backlit ostriches won by the narrowest of margins. The stunning combination of golden dust and spectacular rim light around the birds was enough to outweigh the slight lack of space on the far right of the frame.

Lance: “This was a highly competitive category this month with loads of amazing images. For me this hits the brief, creative lighting, and so much more.
I love the sense of action portrayed with the dust flying in the background and the puff of it at their feet. There is great layering of exposures with the dark in the back, slightly lighter dust and then bright dust where the action is. Great exposure controlling the highlights.
One thing I would have liked to see is a touch more space between the ostrich on the right’s foot and the edge of the frame, but overall a fantastic image.


PUBLIC FAVOURITE WINNER, March 2018: Braeme Holland

Villiers: “This meerkat is exquisitely lit and I just love the catch-light in its eye! To be honest, I would have loved to see it sitting in a slightly more natural environment.

Lance: “This is extremely well captured. I love the use of side lighting in wildlife photography and this is a great example of such a technique. You have got your exposure bang on, ensuring lovely detail in both the shadows and highlights. Great use of a dark background to emphasise the subject and brilliant timing to capture the catch light in the eye. A fantastic image you should be very proud of. Well done.


JUDGES’ CHOICE WINNER, March 2018: Richard Damian Knight

Villiers: “In what is most certainly the toughest of the four categories, Richard’s shot clearly stood out above the rest. Getting an animal to appear so sharp in a panning shot is extremely challenging and Richard managed to do it near perfectly. Personally I think the black and white conversion makes the image even more striking.

Lance: “This is an excellent shot for many reasons. I love the sense of motion in this image used by the slow shutter, which hits the brief perfectly. The amount of blur is just enough to leave detail in the main zebra, yet sufficient enough to cancel out a very busy background. The composition is fantastic with the main subject on a third “running into the scene”. Managing to find one zebra that is on the move in a sea of calmness is the main key for me. Not much I would change here except for cleaning up a few bits of sensor dust.


PUBLIC FAVOURITE WINNER, March 2018: Tayla Jane McCurdy

Villiers: “I love this dark, moody image of Tayla’s – it’s a fresh look at a scene that’s usually photographed at fast shutter speeds that freeze the action.

Lance: “This is a lovely image where you can feel the elephants’ sense of joy as they play in the water. The exposure is controlled well with nice details in both the shadows and the highlights. There is a nice leading line between the two points of interest, the eye and the trunk, which move your eye around the image. An interesting image to look at. Well done.

Entries for May are now open! Simply visit http://www.irl.co.za/collections/2018-photography-competition-2/ to enter and make sure to read through the rules and category briefs carefully before you decide which photo to enter. Remember – you may only enter one per category each month…

April’s winners will be announced during the first week of June 2018.

Good luck!

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