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Press release

Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2005 winners announced

Winning image to take centre stage in exhibition at the Natural History Museum

Exhibition open to the public: 22 October 2005 - 23 April 2006

The winners of this year's Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition were announced on Wednesday 19 October 2005, at a special viewing at the Natural History Museum, London. Manuel Presti of Italy was awarded Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2005 for his image Sky chase and Jesse Ritonen, 10, of Finland was named Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2005 for his image Inquisitive jay. 

The winning image of a swirling flock of starlings evading a peregrine falcon was among nearly 17,000 entries from over 55 countries. The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition is the world's largest and most prestigious wildlife photographic competition, jointly organised each year by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine.

'Sky chase is a powerful image and, like it or not, it's one that you will never forget.' said judge Mark Carwardine. 'I particularly like its graphic simplicity and the starkness of black against white. But it works on another level too, because it is full of energy and movement and captures an absolutely perfect wildlife moment.'

Thousands of starlings roost in city parks in Rome, where it is warmer than the surrounding countryside and usually safer - except for the resident peregrines. When capturing the phenomenon, Manuel chose to work with two cameras: a hand-held zoom to rapidly follow the flocks as they whirled across the skies, merging into bigger and bigger clouds; and another on a tripod with a long lens, to capture details of the event. 'This allowed me to take pictures of the amazing flock shapes as well as the dynamics of the peregrine attacks,' he says. It's a stark, dramatic picture of a great natural spectacle that is becoming increasingly rare as European starling populations decline.

An engineer by trade, Manuel has been taking photographs in his spare time for 20 years. Through his creative images he aims to show the simple beauty in nature and hopes to inspire people to care for its conservation. This is only the second time he has entered the competition.

Inquisitive jay by 10-year-old Jesse Ritonen shows a jay perched on a snowy pine branch. Last January for his tenth birthday Jesse received what he had been wanting since he was eight - an SLR digital camera. In February, his father took him for a couple of days to a hide in Utti, Finland, to photograph birds. Jesse has been interested in wildlife since he could walk, and so this was a special trip for him. The weather was overcast, but several jays, crows and two goshawks visited them. This jay came in the early morning and perched on the snowy branch of a pine tree opposite, staring directly into Jesse's camera. 'I was so excited,' says Jesse, 'to have such long eye-contact with a wild bird.'

Jesse entered the competition after his older brother Ville won the 10 years and under category last year. 'So much talent so young! It is hard enough to get a sharp image of a bird this close at a key moment, but to do it in a way that has real charm and humour is magnificent,' said judge Lewis Blackwell.

Sky chase and Inquisitive jay will join the category winners and others in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which displays all 84 winning and commended images from the 2005 competition. The exhibition opens to visitors at the Natural History Museum on Saturday 22 October 2005 and runs until 23 April 2006. It will then tour across the country and five continents after its London debut.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, organised by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine, is the most successful event of its kind. It is open to amateur and professional photographers, and this year a panel of wildlife and photography experts scrutinised entries from over 55 countries for their composition and originality.

The competition showcases the very best photographic images of nature to a worldwide audience, displaying the splendour, drama and variety of life on Earth. It also aims to show the artistry involved in wildlife photography and encourage a new generation of photographers to produce visionary and evocative interpretations of nature.

The award-winning images for 2005 are:

  • Eric Hosking Award - Bence Máté of Hungary with a portfolio of six images
  • Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife - Martin Eisenhawer of Switzerland with Crane snowflight
  • Innovation Award - Michel Loup of France with River of dreams
  • Animals in Their Environment - Martin Eisenhawer of Switzerland with Whooper swans at dawn
  • Animal Behaviour: Birds - Manuel Presti of Italy for Sky chase
  • Animal Behaviour: Mammals - Kristin Mosher of the USA with Termite catching
  • Animal Behaviour: All Other Animals - Ruben Smit of the Netherlands with Common toad orgy
  • The Underwater World - George Duffield of the UK with Leopard seal pass
  • Animal Portraits - Alexander Mustard of the UK with Snapper shoal
  • In Praise of Plants - László Novák of Hungary with Spring snowflakes in the flooded forest
  • Urban and Garden Wildlife - Julian Smith of Australia with Bogong swarm
  • Nature in Black and White - Martyn Colbeck of the UK with Elephants below Kilimanjaro
  • Composition and Form - Michel Loup of France with River of dreams
  • The World in Our Hands - Allessandro Bee of Italy with Behind bars
  • Wild Places - Staffan Widstrand of Sweden with Ice rainbow
  • 15-17 years old - Matthew Burrard-Lucas with Chimpanzee meditation
  • 11-14 years old - Mart Smit of the Netherlands with Red squirrel pose
  • 10 years and under - Jesse Ritonen of Finland for Inquisitive jay

The prize-winning pictures will feature in a special souvenir magazine free with the November issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine. All the winning and commended images will also be published by the BBC in a commemorative book, Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio 15, priced £25, available from the Museum Shop, through BBC Wildlife Magazine, bbcshop.com and all good retailers.

Photographers inspired by the 2005 winners have until 31 March 2006 to submit their entries to next year's competition. Entry forms will be available in the February issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine, from the Natural History Museum (020 7942 5015) and through the web, www.nhm.ac.uk/wildphoto.

Ends

Notes for editors

The Natural History Museum (co-organiser and exhibition venue) and BBC Wildlife Magazine
 (co-organiser) must be mentioned in all editorial pieces.

The two overall winning titles, Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year, are selected from the category winners.

The 12 adult entry categories are:
 Animals in Their Environment, Animal Behaviour: Birds, Animal Behaviour: Mammals, Animal Behaviour: All Other Animals, Animal Portraits, In Praise of Plants, Composition and Form, Nature in Black and White, Urban and Garden Wildlife, Wild Places, The Underwater World and The World in Our Hands.

The three special awards are:
the Innovation Award - given for the image that best illustrates originality of both composition and execution; the Eric Hosking Award - given for the best portfolio of six images taken by a photographer in the age range 18-26; the Gerald Durrell Award for Endangered Wildlife - given for the best image of a species officially listed in the 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

The Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition is open to photographers aged 17 years and under, in three age categories: 10 years and under, 11-14 years and 15-17 years.

Microsoft Corporation is the digital technology sponsor for the competition.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2005 judges are:
 Frances Abraham, picture researcher; Simon Bishop, art editor, BBC Wildlife Magazine; Lewis Blackwell, group creative director of Getty Images; Mark Carwardine, writer, photographer and radio presenter; Ceri Crump, picture editor BBC Wildlife Magazine; Laura Goodchild, picture researcher; Rob Jordan, wildlife photographer; Rosamund Kidman Cox, editor and writer; John Norris Wood, wildlife photographer; Tim Parmenter, special projects officer in the Natural History Museum's Photographic Unit; Kevin Schafer, wildlife photographer; Jan Töve, nature and landscape photographer; Vickie Walters, picture researcher; Art Wolfe - wildlife photographer.

A range of merchandise will be on sale from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year website (www.nhm.ac.uk/wildphoto), the Natural History Museum from 22 October and selected retail outlets throughout the UK from the end of October 2005.

Winner of the 2004 Large Visitor Attraction of the Year award, the Natural History Museum is also a world-leading science research centre. Through its collections and scientific expertise, the Museum is helping to conserve the extraordinary richness and diversity of the natural world with groundbreaking projects in 68 countries.

Visitor information:
Dates: Saturday 22 October 2005 - Sunday 23 April 2006
Tickets: £6, £3.50 concessions, £15 family (up to five, minimum one adult), FREE to under 5s
Joint evening tickets with Diamonds: £12, £8 concessions, £30 family (up to five, minimum one adult), FREE to under 5s. Tickets are available on Fridays from 18.00 until 20.50.
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday 10.00-17.50, Friday 10.00-20.50, Saturday 10. 00-17.50,
Sunday 11.00-17.50
Visitor enquiries: + 44 (0) 20 7942 5000
Nearest tube: South Kensington
Museum website: www.nhm.ac.uk
Competition website: www.nhm.ac.uk/wildphoto

BBC Wildlife Magazine reader information:
BBC Wildlife Magazine publishes a sneak preview of the year's commended shots in the October issue and a glossy portfolio supplement of all the year's winners and runners-up in the November issue.
The magazine is available from all good newsagents, by subscription or through its online shop at www.bbcwildlifemagazine.com/bookshop.asp
Email: wildlife@galleon.co.uk
Magazine enquiries: 0117 927 9009
BBC Wildlife Magazine website: www.bbcwildlifemagazine.com