This year’s grand prize was awarded to Hungarian photographer Tibor Litauszki, for his underwater image of an alpine newt feeding on freshly laid frog eggs. Illuminated with an LED lamp, and captured using a camera in a waterproof case with a home-made wired remote release, Tibor said the photograph shows the “cycle and sensitivity of nature.”
According to The Nature Conservancy, a global environmental nonprofit, this year’s competition saw a record-breaking number of submissions, with 189,000 entries from over 80,000 photographers, but Litauszki won on merit of capturing a unique and often overlooked event in nature.
“A simple stream teeming with life turned into another world — a galaxy of greens and blues shining through a dark canvas,” said contest director and judging coordinator Alex Snyder of the winning image. “The technical difficulty alone gave the image high marks, but the overall composition and aesthetic made it a winner.”
Other winning photographs depict the beauty of wildlife, such as a sunrise silhouette of a graceful hoopoe bird and the glowing skin of a corn snake under ultraviolet light.
Some images depict the peril of the natural world, like photographer Raphael Alves’ winning photograph in the Climate category, illustrating rising rivers in Anama, Brazil, in May 2021.
“Anama is a special place. It is a small city that gets completely flooded every single year. But at the moment that photo was taken, the Amazon Basin was facing its longest and highest flood in history,” said Alves. “Although people have adapted their lives to the cycle of waters, extreme events such as huge floods or droughts force people to their limits.”
This year, the competition was divided into 12 categories, up from six for the first time in the contest’s history. The Nature Conservancy hopes the images will raise awareness, evoke an emotional connection to the natural world, and help support global conservation efforts.
“Early images of Yellowstone helped convince the US Congress to establish the area as the first ever National Park,” said Snyder. “Additionally, photography has long been a tool used by scientists and researchers to document and monitor every aspect of our natural world. Photography shows us what matters.”