Grand Prize winner of the 2019 Indlovu River Lodge Wildlife Photography Competition!
It took super human skills to capture this year’s Indlovu River Lodge Wildlife Photography Competition winning image, which contains an animal with super hunting skills!
In the beginning of March, hundreds of photos started streaming in for this year’s competition, including one on the 3rd, that would eventually see its creator walk away with the Grand Prize – an unforgettable 4-night photographic safari for two at Indlovu River Lodge!
At Close Quarters photographic guides, Villiers Steyn and Lance van de Vyver, thought last year’s judging was tough, but they were in for a surprise this year. The standard of submissions was through the roof, making it nearly impossible to decide whose photos took top honours each month.
On the 1st of August, Villiers and Lance relooked at all the monthly winners, both Judges’ Choice and Public Favourite, and independently ranked their five favourite shots by scoring them 1 to 5. Believe it or not, but only one image overlapped, further emphasising the number of true contenders in this year’s competition. That shot belongs to Michiel Duvenhage, the 2019 Grand Prize winner with a photo of a black-backed jackal rocketing through the air while attempting to catch a Cape turtle-dove.
This is what the judges had to say about Michiel’s winning image, as well as three other close contenders each of them personally liked a lot:
OVERALL WINNER: Michiel Duvenhage
March Judges’ Choice-winner in the Freeze the Action category
Villiers: “Each and every year, countless wildlife photographers stake out the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park’s waterholes in the hope of capturing a series of photos of a black-backed jackal hunting birds that come down to drink. And every year, many succeed! Photos of this interaction regularly pop up in in magazine galleries or Facebook groups like Kgalagadi Sightings, so you would be excused for thinking that something so well-documented stands little chance of edging past the competition, let alone winning the Grand Prize…
And that’s exactly what I love so much about this shot – Michiel managed to capture an interaction we’ve all come to know so well in a completely new way! First of all, this image is much less cluttered than the typical jackal-hunting-doves photos we’ve all seen. This, together with an extremely shallow depth of field that is spot-on on Mr. Jackal’s face, isolates the hunter beautifully. And what makes the shot, is the jackal’s Superman pose – a moment in time frozen to showcase the agility and hunting technique of this resourceful desert predator. And to top it all off, there’s even a twinkle in its eye! Michiel, I keep catching myself staring at your photograph and I sincerely appreciate you sharing it, and your talent, with us all!”
Lance: “This year’s winning image is a fabulous snapshot of time. Michiel’s timing was outstanding and the focus is bang on! After waiting for so long, these types of shots are easy to miss by not using a small enough aperture and/or pre-focussing. For me, the out of focus doves make this image a real winner, because the drama would have been lost with front-to-back sharpness in the photo. The light and exposure are also beautiful. Well done, Michiel!”
Three other favourites of Villiers’s
March’s Judges’ Choice-winner in the Creative Visions category: Annemarie Du Plessis
Villiers: “This was one of my favourite images of the whole competition! Annemarie’s eye for creativity out in the field is second to none and I love that she’s not afraid to play with reflections and aspect ratios, like she did in this case. Even if you gave me a month in Etosha or Hwange, this shot would be near-impossible to recreate…”
Why it didn’t win: “The only thing I would have loved to see, is a little bit more space on the right and top of the image, just to balance the photograph a little bit better.”
May’s Judges’ Choice-winner in the Freeze the Action category: Japie Bornman
Villiers: “Why did Japie’s photo not win? Because there can only be one winner, unfortunately. It takes incredible technical ability to nail this shot and if you combine it with great light and a superb angle, you end up with a colourful masterpiece like this!”
Why it didn’t win: “Just like Annemarie’s photograph of the drinking giraffe reflections, Japie’s needed a little bit more space on the right to balance the image.”
April’s Judges’ Choice-winner in the Birds category: Vittorio Ricci
Villiers: “Vittorio’s oyster-catcher photo is by far one of best bird-in-its-environment photos I’ve ever seen. The bird’s calm pose in the middle of the crashing wave just cements the fact that it’s exactly where it belongs!”
Why it didn’t win: “If you ask me, the only thing that could have enhanced the overall beauty of this photo is side-light, which would have given a little bit of depth to the scene.”
Three other favourites of Lance’s:
May’s Judges’ Choice-winner in the Animal Close-ups category: Adri Erasmus
Lance: “This is one of my favourite images from this year’s competition! The amazing colours and textures on the bird’s feathers are gorgeous and I can easily see this in a marketing campaign or on someone’s wall. Well done, Adri, for capturing such a beautifully creative image.”
Why it didn’t win: “The composition is great, with the feathers leading you around the image, however, without any real focal point, my eyes never seem to stop.”
March’s Judges’ Choice-winner in the Animal Close-ups category: Dee Roelofsz
Lance: “Aren’t you jealous of this ostrich’s fabulous eyelashes? I think this photo would be great for an eyelash brush advertisement! Dee’s superb use of a large aperture narrowed down the depth of field perfectly and the focus is exactly where it’s meant to be. The overall sharpness is great and I seriously wish this photo was mine. Well done!”
Why it didn’t win: “Despite the fact that most of the detail is retained in the highlights and shadows, this image is a little bit on the ‘hot’ side if you ask me.”
May’s Judges’ Choice-winner in the Creative Visions category: Trix Jonker
Lance: “Trix’s image is an absolute cracker! When you first look at it, it seems like just another pretty sunset photo, but when you lean in and look closely, you keep finding little pockets of magic. The first and most obvious is the impala, beautifully silhouetted against the golden sky. And then there’s the slightly less conspicuous flock of birds flying overhead, further adding to the story…”
Why it didn’t win: “I would have loved to see the composition even wider and the trees places a tad further to the right.”
Congratulations again to all the monthly category winners and especially to Michiel, who will hopefully have an unforgettable time at Indlovu River Lodge later this year…!
Follow our judges on Instagram:
Villiers Steyn: @villierssteyn
Lance van de Vyver: @lancevandevyver