Winning Images Showcase Earth's Beauty From Land to Sea

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Near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, England. (Photo: Robert Birkby/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

Now in its eighth year, the Outdoor Photographer of the Year competition celebrates "the outstanding work of the most highly talented image makers out there and offer up a powerfulinsight into the landscapes, wildlife and nature of the planet, and the adventures to be found on it."

This year's competition had over 20,000 submissions by professional and amateur photographers from more than 60 countries. "The category-winning images takeus from beneath the waves in French Polynesia, to the rock face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park; fromthe wetlands of Louisiana to the wrestling pits of Varanasi, India; and from the underwater caves of the YucatánPeninsula to the snowy South Pennines of Yorkshire."

Robert Birkley from the United Kingdom is the grand prize winner for his snowy photo (above) of a herd of sheep huddled together during a storm.

"Robert's image captures just about every aspect of what isrequired to be a top-level outdoor photographer," wrote head judge Steve Watkins. "From the willingness to go the extra mile to be out there shootingin extreme conditions to the calmness and clear thinking then necessary to pull together a technically brilliant andcreatively compelling composition. All of the judges had an immediate and strong emotional response to hisimage, which manages to combine the chilling feeling of being there in the blizzard with the slightest hint ofhumour at the hopeless predicament of the hardy sheep. It's an outstanding image and fully deserves the OverallWinner award."

Judges also awarded winners, runner-ups and commended photographs in nine categories, including Young Photographer of the Year. You can see all of them below. Through each caption, you can learn more about how the photographer captured the image.

Light on the Land — Runner-up

Storvatnet, Flakstadøya, Lofoten, Norway. (Photo: Daniel Laan/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"Stjerntinden is a sheer-walled 930m peak rising from the often frozen and snow-covered Storvatnet lake. Along its shoreline the ice is punctured by unyielding rocks, which create tiny ice caves. I decided to put my camera inside this particular one because its curvy roof and virgin snow complemented the inhospitable background so well. However, therein lay the main challenge. I put the camera in from the front, facing out, but had no idea of the composition. I carefully turned the focus ring each shot with a view to making a final focus stacked image. I then lifted the camera for the final frame to reveal more of the mountain and fill the entirety of the cave mouth." — Daniel Laan, Netherlands

Light on the Land — Commended

Lunsen nature reserve, Uppsala, Sweden. (Photo: Sven Tegelmo/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"The summer of 2018 was very dry and this caused a lot of forest fires in Sweden. Some of these occurred around my hometown, including this one on an evening in July. The fire department extinguished the fire during the night and the next morning there were around 10 volunteers still working to secure the area and prevent the fire from starting to burn again. The ground was still very hot and there were some small fires visible from where I was. The fires cause a lot of serious damage, but at the same time I love the beauty of them." — Sven Tegelmo, Sweden

Light on the Land — Commended

ESO Paranal astronomical observatory, Chile. (Photo: Marcio Esteves Cabral/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"This image shows ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) at work; these are the largest and most modern telescopes in the world. This is a panoramic image consisting of three vertical images. It shows the telescope’s laser guides, which are the most powerful in the world and can reach more than 50 miles. The challenge in getting this image was making a very fast sequence of images in order to avoid parallax errors, because the lasers move along with the stars. As this is a spherical projection the lasers curve along the image." — Marcio Esteves Cabra, Brazil

At the Water's Edge — Winner

Lake Martin, Louisiana, USA. (Photo: Roberto Marchegiani/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"The wetlands of Louisiana are a gigantic tangle of canals, swamps and forests that stretch around the great Mississippi estuary. In autumn the great cypresses are covered with Spanish moss. I was there for a week and every day at dawn and at dusk I went out sailing in a small boat. Eventually the fog and the delicate light of dawn turned the bayou into a fairytale setting, and when this small, solitary tree appeared through the mist in the middle of the canal, it looked like the entrance to a mysterious world. " — Roberto Marchegian, Italy

At the Water's Edge — Runner-up

Wastwater, Lake District, England. (Photo: Alex Wrigley/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"It was the morning after one of last winter’s vicious storms and I headed to Wastwater hoping for some fresh snow blanketing the iconic peaks at the head of the lake. Unfortunately the gale force winds had stripped the slopes of the majority of the snow, but when one opportunity closes off another one opens up. The clearing storm left a dramatic sky just in time for sunrise, and the eye-wateringly strong winds were creating some coastal-esque waves on the shores of the lake. I waited for the perfect wave and then had to hold the tripod steady to combat the wind." — Alex Wrigley, United Kingdom

At the Water's Edge — Commended

Kallur, Kalsoy, Norðoyar, Faroe Islands. (Photo: Matthew James Turner/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"I spent my final evening in the Faroe Islands at the famous lighthouse on Kalsoy. This wasn’t the picture I’d originally planned, but I loved how from this viewpoint the nearby island of Eysturoy appeared to dramatically surface from the dark waters of Djúpini sound, which literally translates as 'the depths'. I waited for an accumulating rainstorm to envelop the land, but I had limited time as I was due to catch the last ferry back to the main archipelago. Needless to say, the squall was headed my way and I got soaked on the dash back down the hill." — Matthew James Turne, United Kingdom

At the Water's Edge — Commended

Reynisfjara, Vík í Mýrdal, Iceland. (Photo: Mark Cornick/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"I wanted to create an original image at the well-known black sand beach at Reynisfjara, which is famous for its basalt stacks. I felt that this small cave offered some intriguing possibilities. Not only were the rock formations particularly interesting, but the ice shards hanging down created an otherworldly atmosphere, especially when combined with the black sand." — Mark Cornick, United Kingdom

At the Water's Edge — Commended

Saltburn by the Sea, North Yorkshire, England. (Photo: Ian Snowdon/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"This row of houses is known as the coastguard cottages and is situated on the top of Huntcliff at Saltburn by the Sea. I walk this area most days with my partner, and while sometimes we are blessed with beautiful sunrises and sunsets, I have to admit that I love the drama of a wet and windy day just as much. On this particular day I could see that we were in for a treat. The low winter sun produced beautiful light and the darkening sky added to the mood. The shot I wanted was from an elevated view, so I rushed to higher ground. The low winter sun illuminated the turbines beautifully, which were visually engulfed by the dark sky and rough sea." — Ian Snowdon, United Kingdom

At the Water's Edge — Commended

Grand Union Canal, Olton, Solihull, England. (Photo: Chris Fletcher/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"This shot was taken handheld using the diffused sunrise light to soften the subject and surrounding woodland. This helped to bring out the colour of the autumn leaves and of the boat. I regularly explore the canal network in the West Midlands and in autumn the atmosphere and colour of the waterways offer fantastic scenes to capture. The composition was made easy by the diagonal positioning of the canal and towpath, which gave me a natural rule of thirds image." — Chris Fletcher, United Kingdom

Live the Adventure — Winner

Rangiroa, French Polynesia. (Photo: Greg Lecoeur/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"Passionate about the marine world, I usually travel to the different oceans of the planet to photograph marine creatures. But in Polynesia it was another type of creature that I immortalised. One of my dreams was to go and face the waves breaking on the reefs and see how surfers were able to tame the power of nature. It was in Rangiroa in the small pass of Avaturu that I dipped my fins with the local surfers. That day the waves were powerful and I hesitated to get into the water but the good lazy atmosphere on the site motivated me and we shared exciting moments in the middle of thunderous waves." — Greg Lecoeur, France

Live the Adventure — Joint Runner-up

Sistema Sac Actun, Quintana Roo, Mexico. (Photo: Alison Perkins/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"This image shows cave diver Cameron Russo travelling through the Sistema Sac Actun cave system on the Yucatán Peninsula. Photographing underwater caves is difficult. The immensity of the area to light up is a challenge, the water works against you and there are the complexities of maintaining diver safety while executing a photography plan. My partner and I have worked closely together for years to get to a point where I can start to take images like this. I wanted to give the viewer a sense of scale and capture the majesty of the cave, using the cave diver to lead you into the image, but not detract from the main event, which is the cave itself." — Alison Perkins, Australia

Live the Adventure — Joint Runner-up

El Capitan, Yosemite National Park, California, USA. (Photo: Alex Palmer/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"Two climbers approach El Cap Tower on the The Nose route on El Capitan. I was taking a day off from the route that my partner and I were attempting on the West Face of El Capitan. We headed down to the meadow opposite the peak to watch the climbers on the wall and get some images. The hardest thing I’ve found about photographing this rock face is to get any idea of how vast it really is. I spotted two climbers approaching the El Cap Tower feature and just started to snap photos. When I zoomed in to preview the images, I was really pleased with the scale and atmosphere they showed." — Alex Palmer, United Kingdom

Small World — Winner

Parainen, Finland. (Photo: Stefan Gerrits/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"In Finland, the mountain apollo (Parnassius apollo) was one of the first species of insects to be protected by law, as the population decreased because of a disease, acid rain and climate change. The apollos were hardest hit in the south-west, where there had been heat waves and little precipitation. The presence of orpine flowers is critical for apollos and the lack of rain means there are fewer host plants for caterpillars to feed on. I photograph this species each summer, although it gets harder every year; this individual is warming up on a heath that had already turned into autumn colours in June. I overexposed the image to create a high-key effect, which helped to make its red eyes stand out." — Stefan Gerrits , Finland and Netherlands

Small World — Runner-up

Wyming Brook, Peak District, England. (Photo: Jay Birmingham/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"I had gone to Wyming Brook in the Peak District to try to capture some landscape shots. Struggling to find any unique angles, I cast my eyes over the smaller features around me and spotted, in the middle of the water, a small mossy island with a solitary bonnet mushroom growing on it. Even better, there was a small waterfall just behind. I crouched as low down in the water as I could to position the mushroom in front of the waterfall, and then used a neutral density filter to capture the path of the water swirling through this beautiful micro landscape." — Jay Birmingham, United Kingdom

Small World — Commended

Loch Ard Forest, The Trossachs, Scotland. (Photo: Pete Hyde/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"On this morning a friend and I had been watching the clearing mist at Lochan a’ Ghleannain in Loch Ard Forest. Near the western end of the lochan there was an area of mossy humps. I thought this small fern growing up through the frosted tips of the moss made an interesting subject. Using a tripod and a geared head I tried to find a pleasing arrangement for the image." — Pete Hyde, United Kingdom

Small World — Commended

Sandy Heath, Sandy, Bedfordshire, England. (Photo: Daniel Trim/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"A European beewolf (Philanthus triangulum) carrying a European honeybee. Beewolfs nest in sandy soil, burying a paralysed honeybee with a single egg. I waited patiently near an unsealed burrow for the owner to return with a victim. On arrival they hover briefly, so I laid down and waited for that split second of hovering before firing a few frames and hoping for the best. Taking multiple shots increases the chance of getting a good wing position. Being at eye-level made the focus much trickier and the hit rate far lower, but when it’s sharp the photo is more intimate and the background much cleaner, which is a worthwhile trade off." — Daniel Trim, United Kingdom

Spirit of Travel — Winner

Varanasi, India. (Photo: Matt Parry/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"64-year old SiyaRam hangs from the beams above the wrestling pit in Varanasi, India, in the middle of doing stomach crunches as part of an intense warm up routine that belied his age. I was in India on an assignment and had wanted to photograph a Kushti wrestling akhara. This form of the sport is steeped in history, culture and tradition but is gradually dying out due to government pressure for participants to move on to a modern mat-based wrestling format in order to compete at international level. SiyaRam has been training in this akhara for 13 years, and what started as a hobby is now a major part of his daily life." — Matt Parry, United Kingdom

Spirit of Travel — Runner-up

Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia. (Photo: Peter Racz/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"There are many ice caves on the shore of Lake Baikal and I took this picture from inside one of them. I was lying on the ice, trying to frame the vehicle perfectly in the gap in the ice. The cave looks far bigger in the image due to the use of the wideangle lens." — Peter Racz, Hungary

Spirit of Travel — Commended

Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea. (Photo: Jeremy Flint/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"Few lands are as exotic and mysterious as Papua New Guinea, a region of dense, rugged valleys and magnificent tribes. Deep in the jungle highlands of Jiwaka province, I arranged to visit a local tribe in its village. I have always been fascinated with the tribes of Papua New Guinea and wanted to create an image that captured the country’s incredible culture and spirit of humanity. After witnessing a sing-sing (a combination of song and dance) among the tribe members, I captured this moment as two women touched noses to honour their friendship." — Jeremy Flint, United Kingdom

Under Exposed — Winner

Shetland Islands, Scotland. (Photo: Greg Lecoeur/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"Presumed to have been introduced to the Shetland Isles during Viking times, or maybe earlier, the otter has adapted to marine life and proliferated. More used to living in the rivers and lakes of Scotland, they are now found along the coastline and dive into the sea to feed on marine animals, especially crustaceans – some of the more experienced otters attack octopuses. The otter is a very fearful and shy animal, so to make this image it was necessary to spend time studying its behavior and habits at sea. Once I was immersed, it was necessary to be patient. I was lucky to eventually have the opportunity to capture this image." — Greg Lecoeur, France

Under Exposed — Runner-up

Protea Banks, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. (Photo: Pier Mane/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"Protea Banks is an underwater reef on the east coast of South Africa that is under consideration for protected area status. Amazing creatures such as this cephea (or crown) jellyfish live there. It was the biggest jellyfish I’ve ever seen, over one metre in diameter. Its purple head and yellow fuselage were simply amazing. With no background objects present to provide perspective, and wishing to exalt this crown jellyfish with its stunning colours, majestic size and dancing elegance, I opted to purposefully crop the jellyfish to fill the frame." — Pier Mane, Italy and South Africa

Under Exposed — Commended

Vava’u, Kingdom of Tonga. (Photo: Judith Conning/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"This image was captured on a dream trip to swim and snorkel with the magnificent humpback whales and their calves in the warm tropical waters of Tonga, their winter breeding ground. On the first trip of the day a very energetic calf joined us that just wanted to play with these tiny creatures that were bobbing around on the surface, while his mother slept 20m below. I allowed myself to sink a little below the surface so I could fill the frame as the calf slowly rose towards the light, surrounded by a fizz of bubbles." — Judith Conning, Australia

View from Above — Winner

Namib Desert, Namibia. (Photo: Tom Putt/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"Flying low over the endless sand dunes of the Namib Desert, I noticed the cloud cover provided this interesting play of light on the landscape. When the sun heats up the dunes, it draws the black minerals to the surface. When I came to process the image, the stunning colours revealed themselves." — Tom Putt, Australia

View from Above — Runner-up

Lake Kuril, Kamchatka, Russia. (Photo: Roie Galitz/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"Lake Kuril in southern Kamchatka attracts millions of sockeye salmon on their last journey in life to spawn, and the brown bears come to the lake for that reason – an all you can eat salmon buffet so they can gain enough fat for winter hibernation. I wanted to show the abundance of salmon and the lone bear in one image, but from the ground it’s very difficult to see through the water and grasp the quantity of fish, so I flew a drone high above the scene. On seeing the view, my eyes opened wide, as this was exactly what I was looking for. It’s interesting to observe how the fish keep an exact radius from the bear, which in turn is waiting for the right opportunity to charge." — Roie Galitz, Israel

View from Above — Commended

Farnborough, Kent, England. (Photo: Ross Farnham/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"This allotment, which is a few miles from my home, was a real draw for me when I first started using my Phantom 4 Pro+, as unlike other allotments that I have seen it is huge. I had already visited this spot when snow hit at the end of February last year and I thought that would be it until the following winter, so when it snowed again in mid-March I headed back to the allotment to take this image. I love the way that the snow has covered everything but the shapes that protrude from each of the plots, which makes it look like an etching." — Ross Farnham, United Kingdom

Wildlife Insight — Winner

Valencia, Spain. (Photo: Salvador Colvée Nebo/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"I was taking pictures near a waterhole that attracts several species of mammals and birds. I was hidden 30m away and saw that a pair of common kestrels (Falco tinnunculus) were using these dead agave flower plants as a perch from which to access the waterhole. The weather that day was cloudy and the light wasn’t good, so I decided to increase the exposure to create a high-key image." — Salvador Colvée Nebo, Spain

Wildlife Insight — Runner-up

Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. (Photo: Jose Fragozo/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"Imani is a well-known female cheetah in the Masai Mara. She is recognisable by the ‘bracelet’ of spots around the left front leg. This image shows Imani and her cub during a rainstorm, crossing an area with a high density of lions and hyenas. To avoid predators, cheetahs move their cubs around to different places every few days. However, seeing a cheetah moving its cub in a severe rainstorm is a very rare phenomenon." — Jose Fragoz, Portugal

Wildlife Insight — Commended

Pyramiden, Svalbard, Norway. (Photo: Roie Galitz/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"The Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) is one of the ultimate survivors in the high Arctic, thanks to its super-insulating fur and food storing and collecting strategies. This specific fox’s territory is in and around the abandoned Russian town of Pyramiden, so it is less concerned about people, which gave me the opportunity to get closer without him running away. He felt comfortable and eventually yawned before falling asleep." — Olav Thokle, Norway

Wildlife Insight — Commended

Isfjorden, Svalbard, Norway. (Photo: Olav Thokle/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"A few years ago I was part of a photo expedition by boat around the Svalbard archipelago. On the day of departure from the capital Longyearbyen, there was great light that created nice reflections in the water. Some birds followed the vessel out of the fjord and I saw an opportunity to take this sort of image. It was hard to handhold my 600mm lens steady on the moving ship, so I had to use my tripod with a gimbal head. After a couple of hours of trying I got some nice pictures, including this one of a northern fulmar." — Olaf Thokle, Norway

Wildlife Insight — Commended

Tsavo East National Park, Kenya. (Photo: James Lewin/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"The opportunity for this shot happened while I was waiting for an elephant to drink at the waterhole located a few metres behind the camera. My camera was already placed in the perfect positon as I watched the Burchell’s zebras enter the frame. I could never have imagined the way the elements came together, but I couldn’t have been better prepared to take the opportunity. The locusts combined with the fighting zebras tells us a story about how tough the drought is for these animals." — James Lewin, United Kingdom

Wildlife Insight — Commended

Lake Neusiedl region, Austria. (Photo: Christoph Ruisz/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"I took this picture of a European hare (Lepus europaeus) on a cloudy morning in March, during the mating season. When I spotted two hares in a field, I hid behind a tree. After some minutes of waiting, I lay down and started crawling in the direction of them. The hares didn’t realise that I was next to them. Suddenly one of them started running in my direction and stopped only a few metres in front of me. I pressed the shutter release and took the first pictures. He came closer and closer until he was within the minimum focusing distance of my lens." — Christoph Ruisz, Austria

Young Photographer of the Year — Winner

Simien National Park, Ethiopia. (Photo: Riccardo Marchegiani/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"The gelada monkeys are an endemic species to Ethiopia, living mainly in the Simien Mountains in groups that at night find shelter in caves located on steep slopes – some are more than 800m up. These monkeys are very photogenic both for the colour of their thick manes, which are similar to those of lions, and for their red breasts that look like hearts. Every morning they explore the slopes and then return to the caves at sunset." — Riccardo Marchegian, Italy

Young Photographer of the Year — Runner-up

Berry Head, Brixham, Devon, England. (Photo: Anya Burnell/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"I spotted this common blue butterfly perching on some dry wheatgrass ready to roost as the sun was setting. I set up low in the grass and cleared the area surrounding the subject so there were no distractions in front of the butterfly. Timing was crucial as there was only a brief moment when the sun aligned perfectly behind the butterfly. I really enjoy being among nature in the great outdoors, and this has inspired me to take many photographs of butterflies." — Anya Burnell, United Kingdom

Young Photographer of the Year — Commended

Porcupine Hills near Pincher Creek, Alberta, Canada. (Photo: Josiah Launs/Outdoor Photographer of the Year)

"My dad, sister and I were loading our truck to photograph grizzly bears in the mountains when we saw a streak of yellow fly by. Right away I knew it might be a male American goldfinch, and it didn’t take me long to find him in the native grass on our acreage. I grabbed my gear as quickly as I could and crawled through the grass to get this image of him surrounded by all the other wildflowers. In this image he is snacking on a seedhead known in Alberta as 'Prairie Smoke.' I couldn’t believe he chose such a colour-coordinated place to perch!" – Josiah Launstein, Canada