WPY 2017

Photograph Details

Finalist 2017

15–17 Years Old

Knut Erik Alnæs, Norway

An elegant affair

The spectacle of courting great crested grebes had long fascinated Knut Erik. Night after night he lay on a muddy bank, determined to capture their elegance. The light was exquisite, but he couldn’t get a clear shot. On his fifth and final night two birds united in clear water for a few seconds.

Minutes later, the light faded. Every spring, great crested grebes perform a mesmerising ballet, bedecked in black and chestnut head-plumes. Pairs of these elegant birds rise up together out of the water, shaking their long necks. Their grace in the water is not matched on land – their legs are effective propellers but are positioned too far towards their tails for walking.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 5D Mark III; 400mm f2.8 lens and 2x extender; 1/2500 sec at f5.6 (−0.3 e/v); ISO 1600.


Østensjøvannet lake, Oslo, Norway: latitude 59.890472, longitude 10.826021 Østensjøvannet lake, Oslo, Norway: latitude 59.890472, longitude 10.826021

Østensjøvannet lake, Oslo, Norway

Intellectual property rights to all WPY images are retained by the photographers. Reproduction without prior written consent constitutes an actionable infringement. For usage enquiries please contact us.

Sign up to receive emails from the Natural History Museum about events and exhibitions, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year.



Love this image?

Choose your favourite from this year's collection. You can only choose once.

Top five favourites

Knut Erik Alnæs

Knut Erik Alnæs, Norway

Knut Erik has always been interested in nature and wildlife. He started off with his dad's video camera, then invested in his first DSLR. He hopes to raise awareness of the endangered nature around us by capturing images that show emotions and the beauty of nature.