Discovery

Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year 2022 Winners Released—Contemplate Circle of Life and Death

BY Michael Wing TIMESeptember 22, 2022 PRINT

“Tour boats had been watching the young whale for days as it slowly moved through the bay, appearing sicker and slower with more shark bites over its body day after day.”

The scene was visceral. While making its annual migration north along Ningaloo Reef off Australia’s northwest coast, the fledgling-adult humpback, maimed and ailing, inched toward the natural terminus of its life’s journey.

Ashlee Jansen, a budding marine photographer from Western Australia, was there. That day in July 2021, she captured a profound visual allegory of life and death—one that would garner ample renown.

“Friends had spotted an oil slick on the surface caused by the fallen whale,” Jansen stated in a press release. “As they got closer, they were hit by the distinct smell and knew that they had found the location of the carcass resting on the ocean floor.

“Excited to share their find, I rushed out to their location and jumped in the water to find the skeleton of the young humpback whale [lying] still on the ocean floor. Surrounding the bare bones were several different species of well-fed sharks.”

She added, “We spent a few hours floating above the whale carcass, watching the sharks come closer and closer, unfazed by our presence as they searched the area for any remaining food.”

Her palpably stirring photo, a faithful testament to the circle of life, won Jansen the distinction of becoming the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year 2022.

Overall Winner

Epoch Times Photo
“Nature’s Prey” by Ashlee Jansen. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Still a novice in the art of underwater photography, having taken up the pursuit in 2017, Jansen shared how proud she felt to be crowned the top prize.

“This competition is such a prestigious award and being named overall winner is something I had never even considered happening, especially so early in my photography career,” she said.

“I have always looked at this competition and award so highly, so to be selected as the winner out of so many talented photographers, some of whom I have looked up to and have inspired me over my career, is absolutely incredible.”

The judges were unified in choosing Jansen’s image among the 2,443 entries submitted—the most the competition’s ever received.

The considerable aesthetic appeal in Jansen’s compelling portrait involves its “artful circular composition,” the judges stated. The curve of the whale’s skeletal ribs mirror the patterns of the sand and waves, keeping the viewers’ eyes within the frame moving between the living and the dead.

Along with the title, Jansen received a $10,000 cash prize and a travel prize from Coral Expeditions. The contest was a joint venture between Australian Geographic and Adelaide’s South Australian Museum.

“This year’s winning image by Ashlee Jansen is a powerful statement about the circle of life and the interdependence of species,” stated Australian Geographic Editor-in-Chief Ms. Chrissie Goldrick.

Animals in Nature Winner

Epoch Times Photo
“Night Light Dining” by Jannico Kelk. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Not to be outshone too brightly, a host of other awe-inspiring nature photography comprised the rest of the competition winners in several categories. Those categories included Animals in Nature, Urban Animals, Botanical Landscape, the newly minted Astrophotography category, and others.

Featured is one dramatically-lit seahorse in the pitch deep, as well as the gaping jaws of a great white confronting the camera lens, an acrobatic cave-dwelling bat dining on fireflies in flight, aerial scenes of lush jungle with mist and white water to take one’s breath away, and much more.

Astrophotography Winner

Epoch Times Photo
“The Outlier” by Jason Perry. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

“Each year I am amazed by the quality of entries we receive for this competition, with entrants capturing incredible moments in time that inspire us to deepen our relationship with the natural world, whilst also challenging us to reflect on our impact,” stated Brian Oldman, director of the South Australian Museum.

Added our winner, “This unforgettable experience is a reminder of how harsh nature and the food chain can be, yet such an important part of the natural ecosystem. One animal’s sacrifice can provide so many nutrients to so many other species of wildlife for years to come.”

These top selections will be staged at the South Australian Museum until Sunday, October 30, and at the Australian Museum in Sydney until Sunday, December 11, 2022.

Animals in Nature Runner-Up

Epoch Times Photo
“Midnight Seahorse” by Matt Testoni. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Urban Animals Winner

Epoch Times Photo
“The Tunnel of Eerie Blue Light” by Zichen Wang. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Urban Animals Runner-Up

Epoch Times Photo
“Sleeping Dragon” by Gary Meredith. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Botanical Winner

Epoch Times Photo
“A pink tomb” by James Dorey. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Botanical Runner-Up

Epoch Times Photo
“Gnarled Mossy Cloud Forest” by Justin Gilligan. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Landscape Winner

Epoch Times Photo
“Breaking Dawn” by Yan Zhang. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Landscape Runner-Up

Epoch Times Photo
“Forces of Nature” by Ellie Morris. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Threatened Species Winner

Epoch Times Photo
“Ocean Giant” by Jake Wilton. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Threatened Species Runner-Up

Epoch Times Photo
“Head On” by Matty Smith. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Monochrome Winner

Epoch Times Photo
“Fish Rock Cave” by Matt Krumins. Shot in South West Rocks, NSW, Australia. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Monochrome Runner-Up

Epoch Times Photo
“Crackle and Pop” by Jarrod Koh. Single frame capturing a downpour and lightning strike. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Our Impact Winner

Epoch Times Photo
“Snagged” by Alan Kwok. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Astrophotography Runner-Up

Epoch Times Photo
“Flinders Rise by William Godward. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Portfolio Winner

Epoch Times Photo
By Alejandro Trevino. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)
Epoch Times Photo
By Alejandro Trevino. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)
Epoch Times Photo
By Alejandro Trevino. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)
Epoch Times Photo
By Alejandro Trevino. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)
Epoch Times Photo
By Alejandro Trevino. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)
Epoch Times Photo
By Alejandro Trevino. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Junior Winner

Epoch Times Photo
“Impermanence” by Cian O’Hagan. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Junior Runner-Up

Epoch Times Photo
“Abstraction of an Icon” by Cian O’Hagan. (Courtesy of South Australian Museum)

Share your stories with us at emg.inspired@epochtimes.com, and continue to get your daily dose of inspiration by signing up for the Inspired newsletter at TheEpochTimes.com/newsletter

Michael Wing
Editor and Writer
Michael Wing is a writer and editor based in Calgary, Canada, where he was born and educated in the arts. He writes mainly on culture, human interest, and trending news.
You May Also Like