Gallery: Astonishing images of the natural world in the 2019 BigPicture winners

The Human Touch by James Gifford, Human/Nature Winner, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Human Touch by James Gifford, Human/Nature Winner, Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo. (Credit: James Gifford / BigPicture).

At a time when hours of incredible documentary vision of the natural world are just a click away it’s easy to become jaded with nature photography. The winners of this year’s BigPicture: Natural World Photography Competition will surely snap you out of that complacency with a truly jaw-dropping selection of images, including the profoundly moving snap above of an orphaned gorilla with its human caretaker.

Presented by the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, the BigPicture competition is only in its sixth year, but has quickly become one of the most impressive nature photography competitions in an increasingly crowded photo-contest community. The competition features six main categories covering standard wildlife and landscape topics, plus there is an additional Photo Story category asking for five to eight images that tell a story. This year the story theme was Pushing the Limits.

Taking Center Stage by Audun Rikardsen, Grand Prize Winner, Tromsø, Norway.

The overall Grand Prize in the 2019 contest went to Audun Rikardsen for a magnificently timed shot of a black grouse performing an exuberant display in front of a gorgeous Norwegian landscape (above). Wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas, Chair of this year’s jury, called the image a stunning combination of technical skill and creative brilliance.

“Here, the photographer has managed to capture the grouse’s breeding display in a way that transports the viewer to the scene,” says Eszterhas. “It is a testament to how patience, dedication, and deeply knowing your subject can produce a remarkable image.”

Boneyard Waltz by Daniel Dietrich, Terrestrial Wildlife Finalist, Kaktovic, Alaska

Other amazing highlights include Daniel Dietrich’s shot of polar bears wandering past a pile of whale bones in Alaska (above), Chiara Salvadori’s psychedelic and alien snap of one of the world’s largest salt pans, and Peter Mather’s Photo Story winning narrative chronicling animal migrations in Alaska.

Take a look through the gallery to see more of this year’s stunning winners and finalists.

These images originally appeared on bioGraphic, an online magazine about science and sustainability and the official media sponsor for the California Academy of Sciences’ BigPicture: Natural World Photography Competition.

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