WPY 2017

Photograph Details

Finalist 2017

Plants and Fungi

Jack Dykinga, USA

Saguaro twist

As the dawn light bathed the desert, Jack trained his lens on the distant Sand Tank Mountains. The saguaro cactus had fallen victim to frost damage, allowing Jack to climb inside its contorted and drooping limbs. He has spent a lifetime photographing frost-damaged cacti. ‘This is probably my best effort,’ he says.

Towering over the Sonoran Desert, these cacti have a plethora of amazing adaptions that enable them to survive long droughts. The roots absorb precious rainfall, while the surface pleats expand like accordions as the cactus swells. It is this adaptation that makes the cacti susceptible to frost, as the water in the saturated limbs can freeze.

Technical specification

Nikon D810; 14–24mm f2.8 lens at 14mm; 1/3 sec at f20; ISO 64; Really Right Stuff tripod.


Sonoran Desert National Monument, Arizona, USA: latitude 32.91608, longitude -112.38158 Sonoran Desert National Monument, Arizona, USA: latitude 32.91608, longitude -112.38158

Sonoran Desert National Monument, Arizona, USA

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

Jack Dykinga

Jack Dykinga, USA

A Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, Jack blends fine art photography with documentary photojournalism. He is also a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine and has published 10 large-format books. In 2011 he received the Outstanding Photographer of the Year Award from the North American Nature Photography Association and in 2017, their Lifetime Achievement Award.