Overall winner

    Fin whale’s demise
    Fin whale
    Balaenoptera physalus

    The fin whale is sighted regularly in this region; seeing one beached, however, is rare. The whale sits less than 5m from shore and 100m from residential homes, giving whale researchers access to an unusual occurrence for this species. Bronze whalers and great whites feasted over the remains before removal.

    Cheynes Beach, Albany, Western Australia

    DJI Phantom 4 Pro Drone, 24mm, 1/500, f/5.6, ISO 100, 118m high, filmed with permission DPAW

    Photo Credit: Mat Beetson, Western Australia

    Portfolio prize

    Life in the esky
    Eastern grey kangaroo
    Macropus gigantus

    Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales

    Photo Credit: Charles Davis, New South Wales

    Portfolio prize

    Gliders home
    Sugar glider
    Petaurus brevicpes

    Cooma, New South Wales

    Photo Credit: Charles Davis, New South Wales

    Portfolio prize

    Big step, little step
    Common wombat
    Vombatus ursinus

    Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales

    Photo Credit: Charles Davis, New South Wales

    Portfolio prize

    Quoll reflections
    Eastern quoll
    Dasyurus viverrinus

    Status: endangered

    Mt Field National Park, Tasmania

    Photo Credit: Charles Davis, New South Wales

    Portfolio prize

    Cradle Mt possum
    Common brushtail possum
    Trichosurus vulpecula

    Cradle Mountain, Tasmania

    Photo Credit: Charles Davis, New South Wales

    Portfolio prize

    Mountain echidna
    Short-beaked echidna
    Tachyglossus aculeatus

    Kosciuszko National Park, New South Wales

    Photo Credit: Charles Davis, New South Wales

    Animal portrait: winner

    Decorator crab
    Decorator crab
    Achaeus Spinosus

    Typically, decorator crabs attach pieces of sponge and seaweed to themselves
    to camouflage and hide from predators (which makes them very poor photographic subjects). However, Achaeus  spinosus attaches stinging
    hydroids to itself to ward off potential predators (making it a very attractive subject for photography).

    Lembeh Strait, North East Sulawesi, Indonesia

    Canon EOS 7D Mk II, Canon EF 100mm, f/2.8 macro USM, 1/250, f/16, ISO 200, INON Z240 strobe with Retra Pro light shaping device, handheld



    Photo Credit: Ross Gudgeon, Western Australia

    Animal portrait: Runner-up

    Bride in the bath
    Unidentified species

    Storms finally broke the dry grip of drought, creating perfect conditions for termite nuptial flights. Making the most of their small window of time, some were lucky, but others were not – like this termite alate. Entranced by the reflective surface, it was trapped by the pond. Serenely beautiful in death.

    Mt Perry, Queensland

    Nikon D610, Tamron 90mm, 1/125, f/5.6, ISO 250, handheld

    Photo Credit: Melissa Christi, Queensland

    Animal behaviour: winner

    The heat run
    Humpback whales, Megaptera novaeangliae
    Dolphins, unidentified species

    The heat run is the ultimate wildlife encounter – multiple whales competing for a female. The chase can last for hours or even days and males can display bubble netting, open mouth gulping, physical contact, loud acoustic sounds, and breaching. Even after 16 years documenting humpback behaviour in the region, it is still truly heart-thumping and adrenaline-pumping action.

    Tonga, South Pacific

    Canon 1DX Mk II, Canon 8–15mm fisheye, 1/320, f/8, ISO 200

    Photo Credit: Scott Portelli, New South Wales

    Animal behaviour: runner-up

    Evil cousin
    Crested horn shark, Heterodontus galeatus

    A crested horn shark feeds on the egg case of the related Port Jackson shark. Each spring Port Jackson sharks gather on shallow reefs to breed and hide up to 10 eggs. Crested horn sharks make the most of the opportunity, searching the rocky crevices for an easy meal.

    Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve, Manly, New South Wales

    Sony NEX7 (mirrorless), Sony 10–18mm, 1/160, f/8, ISO 200, INON strobes, handheld, Nauticam underwater housing

    Photo Credit: Pete McGee, New South Wales

    Animal habitat: winner

    Small but mighty
    Commensal amphiod living in solidarity ascidian

    I was searching for miniature pygmy seahorses on the reefs of West Papua when I happened across this tiny amphipod crustacean. Just 0.5–1cm long, this male is sitting at the mouth of the sea squirt to guard the females and young within. According to an amphipod expert, this is likely a new species.

    Raja Ampat, West Papua, Indonesia

    Nikon D800, Nikkor 105mm macro, 1/125, f/14, ISO 100, twin INON Z240 strobes, handheld, Subal underwater housing

    Photo Credit: Richard Smith, United Kingdom

    Animal habitat: runner-up

    Spider on ice
    Unidentified species

    An overnight blizzard had knocked a myrtle tree down onto the path of the Enchanted Walk next to Cradle Mountain Lodge. I was out in the brilliant sunshine the next morning looking for subjects for my macro lens and came across this tiny spider crossing a patch of snow.

    Enchanted Walk, Cradle Valley, Tasmania

    Canon 5D II, Canon 100mm f2.8L macro, 1/4000, f/3.2,
    ISO 400, handheld

    Photo Credit: Raoul Slater, Queensland

    Botanical: winner

    The ghost of the forest
    Ghost fungus
    Omphalotus nidiformis

    The elusive ghost mushroom show starts after dark, when the green light of its bioluminescence glows across the pine forest on the Bellarine Peninsula. It seems like magic but the glowing works to attract insects that then help disperse the spores and spread the mushroom.

    Ocean Grove, Victoria

    Canon 5D Mk IV, Samyang 14mm, 30, f/2.8, ISO 3200, Manfrotto tripod

    Photo Credit: Marcia Riederer, Victoria

    Botanical: runner-up

    Pandani at Lake Oberon
    Richea pandanifolia

    Found only in Tasmania, the wild tropicallike pandani (Richea pandanifolia) are illuminated at sunrise overlooking Lake Oberon and Mt Pegasus along the rugged Western Arthur Range in Tasmania’s southwest wilderness.

    Western Arthurs, Southwest National Park, Tasmania

    Canon 5D Mk IV, Canon 16–35mm
    f2.8 L 16mm, 1/60, f/11, ISO 200, Feisol CT-3441 tripod

    Photo Credit: Jarrod Castaing, New South Wales

    Landscape: winner

    Barron Falls

    When Barron Falls (Din Din) is in flood, the usually tranquil scene is
    transformed into a tumultuous cataract as huge volumes of water make their way to the coastal plain below. The sheer violence of this display, coupled with the deafening roar, makes it an unforgettable experience.

    Barron Falls, Kuranda, Queensland

    Pentax X-5, 28.3mm, 1/320, f/5, ISO 100, handheld

    Photo Credit: Neil Pritchard, Queensland

    Landscape: runner-up

    Through the curtain

    A small waterfall curtains the rainforest of the Great Western Tiers World Heritage Area.

    Great Western Tiers World Heritage Area, Tasmania

    Nikon D800, Nikon 16–35mm f4, 6, f/16, ISO 100, polarising filter, tripod

    Photo Credit: Nick Monk, Tasmania

    Monochrome: winner

    Honeycomb moray eel
    Gymnothorax favagineus
    Maze coral
    Leptoria SP.

    I came across this amazing juxtaposition of a honeycomb moray eel and a textured brain coral. It screamed monochrome to me, but one
    of the significant disadvantages of shooting under water is that you
    cannot just change your lens to suit the subject. Still, I slowly moved as close to the eel as possible, increased the depth of field, and adjusted my strobes to light up the coral and the eel.

    Banda Sea

    Nikon D850, Nikonos 13mm RS, 1/200, f/16, ISO 400, Seacam housing, Ikelite 161s strobe

    Photo Credit: Tracey Jennings, United Kingdom/Malaysia

    Monochrome: runner-up

    King pair conversation
    King penguin
    Aptenodytes patagonicus

    An enormous king penguin colony is overwhelming to all of one’s senses. Photographically, it pays to sit and watch for a while to find moments of penguin interaction. Flipping the
    frame upside down and black-and-white processing allows for a different and creative interpretation of a common scene.

    Salisbury Plain, South Georgia Island

    Canon EOS 7D Mk II, EF 100–400mm f4.5–5.6 L IS II USM, 1/800, f/10, ISO 400, handheld

    Photo Credit: Andrew Peacock, Queensland

    Junior: winner

    In the dark

    This night was the most amazing display of lightning that I have ever seen, with constant flashes of lightning lasting hours. For the composition, I decided to focus on a man standing at the edge of the water
    with an umbrella to add a sense of scale to the image.

    Fingal Bay, New South Wales

    Canon EOS 5D Mk lll, Canon 17–40mm f4 L, 15, f/4, ISO 200, tripod

    Photo Credit: Floyd Mallon, New South Wales. Age 17

    Junior: runner-up

    Under the spikes
    Short-beaked echidna
    Tachyglossus aculeatus

    On the way back from the Murray River we saw this echidna crossing the road. It hid its face and I knew it wasn’t coming out, so I decided to take a close-up. That was the best shot I took.

    Near Blanchetown, South Australia

    Nikon Coolpix B700, 4.3–258mm, 1/100, f/3.3, ISO 100, handheld

    Photo Credit: Isaac Wilson, South Australia. Age 10

    Our impact: winner

    The watering hole

    The Menindee Lakes were deliberately drained in 2016–17 and New South Wales has experienced a lengthy drought. Animals and birds desperately seek food and water and there is very little left due to these human-made and natural events. Lake Cawndilla is now just a drying lakebed scattered with the remains of our native animals.

    Cawndilla Creek, Menindee, New South Wales

    DJI Phantom 3 Advanced, 20mm, 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 200, ND4 filter

    Photo Credit: Melissa Williams-Brown, South Australia

    Our impact: runner-up

    End of the line
    Eastern quoll
    Dasyurus viverrinus

    Country roads + speed × darkness = the end of the line. And not only for this poor eastern quoll, but for so many other native mammals across our country. In places like Bruny Island, more needs to be done to limit drivers’ speed at night. Too many
    animals lose their lives every night, not only to speed, but carelessness,
    and, even more sadly, wanton cruelty.

    Bruny Island, Tasmania

    Canon 5D Mk IV, EF 16–35mm f4 L IS, 1/100, f/8, ISO 640, Canon 600RT-EX flash (off camera), handheld, additional fill light with Wolf Eyes torch

    Photo Credit: David Stowe, New South Wales

    Threatened species: winner

    Curious encounter
    Merten’s water monitor
    Varanus mertensi


    Mertens’ water monitors are highly inquisitive. This extremely bold specimen ostentatiously approached
    me to investigate the good-looking lizard in my dome port while I observed another nearby pair engaged in courtship – sadly for him he was staring at his own reflection, not the mate of his dreams.

    Adelaide River, Northern Territory

    Olympus OMD EM-1 Mk II, Olympus
    8mm f1.8, 1/125, f/11, ISO 64, two Sea & Sea YS-D2 strobes, manual flash output, handheld, Nauticam underwater housing

    Photo Credit: Etienne Littlefair, Northern Territory

    Threatened species: runner-up

    Just hanging on
    Grey-headed flying fox
    Pteropus poliocephalus


    On extremely hot evenings grey-headed flyingfoxes will dip their bellies into the river so they can lick their wet fur for a drink. This female still carrying her young misjudged her approach and nearly dropped the baby on impact with the river, but somehow it just managed to hang on.

    River Torrens, Adelaide, South Australia

    Canon 7D Mk II, Canon 100–400mm
    f4.5–5.6 L IS USM and Canon Extender EF 1.4X III, 1/1600, f/8, ISO 1600, handheld

    Photo Credit: Neil Edwards, South Australia

2019 AG Nature Photographer of the Year winners

By AG Staff | August 15, 2019

The winning images from the 2019 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the year contest have been revealed.

Congratulations to all winners, runners-up and shortlisted photographers.

These photos will be exhibited at the South Australian Museum in Adelaide (16 August – 10 November 2019 ) and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney (16 August – 20 October 2019).

You can buy a copy of our book, Australasian Nature Photography 2019: The Year’s Best Wildlife and Landscape Photos, featuring the award-winning images here.