Winner & Finalists of the MalaMala 2012 Photograph of the Year Award

Winners for MalaMala Game Reserve, Photograph of the Year 2012

With close on 500 images submitted, selecting just one winner was no easy task. But the judges have chosen their favourite picture, as well as the 9 runners up.

The judging panel included:

Images were randomly numbered, and submitted to members of the judging panel in a folder with no reference to authors. The shortlist and finalists were based entirely on the pictures themselves.

Interestingly enough, four of our entrants have more than one picture in the Top 10!  Congratulations go to Hennie van Heerden, Arun Mohanraj, Don Ashabranner and Doug Croft for each getting two pictures onto the shortlist.

We were absolutely amazed at the caliber of visuals we received, and would like to congratulate and thank each and every entrant to the 2012 Photograph of the Year competition.

Without further ado [add drumroll please….] here they are.


Coming in at NUMBER 1!

“Troubled Water” by Hennie van Heerden, captured in December 2012 with Matt Meyer as ranger.

“Troubled Water” by Hennie van Heerden, captured in December 2012 with Matt Meyer as ranger.

Says Hennie, “Troubled Water is shot at the flooded causeway. The croc has only half of a lower jaw, but had found a perfect way to get some food; he just lay there just with his jaws open. The fish, disorientated and stunned by the strong current of the rapid that had formed over the causeway, jumped right into his mouth. By the looks of his size he had done this trick before :-)”

Judges:

Shem Compion: “Very creative image executed well to show a very different picture of a crocodile. Of importance is that the face of the subject is sharp while the water flowing around it adds to the mood”.

Shane Doyle: “Along comes an image that shouts out. It explores the avenues of soft, speed, aggression, danger, beware – all in one. The use of shutter speeds to create this effect with the moving water is great. The colours are superb, and any wildlife magazine would love this image.”

Why we love it:

This is such an unusual picture of a crocodile. Perfectly balanced is the speed of the rushing water (you can even see the individual drops flying) with the utter stillness of the crocodile. The way the water runs over and between the scales on the reptile’s back almost looks like steam.


At number 2

This magnificent elephant was captured by Don Ashabranner in July 2012 with Robin Hester as ranger.

This magnificent elephant was captured by Don Ashabranner in July 2012 with Robin Hester as ranger.

Judges:

Shem Compion: “A high impact image created by use of portrait mode. The golden light is fantastic and the added extra is the dust flicked up by the elephant caught by the backlight. This makes for a striking portrait of an animal”.

Shane Doyle: “Great use of backlight to emphasise the action and mood of the image. Although the composition could be improved, the image is sharp and the elephant is well exposed. The play of light adds to the WOW factor.”

Why we love it:

We can almost feel the winter chill, hear the sound of the elephant blowing the dust from its trunk, and hear our heartbeats escalate as its eyes bore right into us.


At number 3

“Got It” by Martha Jansen van Rensburg, captured in September 2012 with ranger Roan Ravenhill.

“Got It” by Martha Jansen van Rensburg, captured in September 2012 with ranger Roan Ravenhill.

Judges:

Shem Compion: “A perfect action photo. These birds fly so fast that capturing them in mid flight is quite an achievement. The framing is very good too, with the perch leading through the image.”

Shane Doyle: “A great image. The fact that the eyes of the birds can be seen is fantastic. I am sure a great deal of patience was needed to capture this, as these images are hard to come by necessitating split second timing. The fast shutter speed captures the mood perfectly.”

Why we love it:

Such a perfect moment frozen in time. We love the perfectly matched colours, clear and focused in the foreground, while completely blurred in the background.


At number 4

‘Leopard in a tree’ captured by Don Ashabranner in July 2012, with Roan Ravenhill as ranger.

‘Leopard in a tree’ captured by Don Ashabranner in July 2012, with Robin Hester as ranger.

Judges:

Shem Compion: “A lovely capture of an animal going about its daily business. The lighting is soft, creating a subtle mood which adds to the intrigue.”

Shane Doyle: “A very well balanced picture. Colour saturation is spot on, as well as sharpness. Backlight, texture, colour and diagonal composition rate this as another WOW picture in my view.”

Why we love it:

There is such a mysterious ambience to this picture through the light and muted tones. The balance of the three trunks, and the way the leopard’s “svelte” shape is framed as it descends presents an a-typical view of this most magnificent and elusive cat.


At number 5

“Aged Warrior” by Arun Mohanraj, captured in December 2012 with Gary Hill as ranger.

“Aged Warrior” by Arun Mohanraj, captured in December 2012 with Gary Hill as ranger.

Said Arun, “During my last day of stay at Mala Mala we were told that a big heard of Cape buffaloes moved in the reserve the night before. Knowing that there is a pride of lions nearby we anticipated that there might be a kill during the night and went in search of the lions at sunrise. We didn’t actually see the kill but one of the lionesses was injured with a badly torn thigh muscle and ligaments and blood spots near by. On the way back we were met with a buffalo herd and I noticed this particular one had some bleeding from the fore head and was limping. Might not be true, but I liked to imagine that this one tried to defend the herd and was injured in the process.”

Judges:

Shem Compion: “An excellent portrait image. The symmetry is perfect and the black and white conversion make the brooding buffalo really stand out. However, the coup de grace is the small red blood stain that draws the viewer closer and into the image. The darkening background works well by adding depth in the photo.”

Shane Doyle: “A well composed portrait of a buffalo. The black and white conversion lends perfectly to this buffalo image, showing off the textures in the horns of the animal.”

Why we love it:

Dramatic, dark and dangerous. In a picture like this, it is not hard to understand why the buffalo has earned its reputation as one of the most dangerous animals in the bush.


At number 6

“Squirrels” by Max Waugh, captured in August 2012 with Nick du Plessis as ranger.

“Squirrels” by Max Waugh, captured in August 2012 with Nick du Plessis as ranger.

No stranger to MalaMala is Max Waugh, winner of the Photograph of the Year 2011. (insert link)

Says Max, “I had several shots I liked which I could choose from, but unfortunately none really stood out enough to give me a great shot at winning.  So I decided to go with the most bizarre one. ;)”

Judges:

Shem Compion: “The cute factor on this image is amazing. Three squirrels is quite something and all hugging together makes for a very intimate picture. Strong composition helps with keeping you riveted, and the soft light accentuates the detail in the fur. All factors add positively to the overall image.”

Shane Doyle: “This will be hard to beat. WOW factor scores top marks. Colour, sharpness, subject matter and composition rank very highly. I LOVE the comical nature of the picture. This one will certainly make it very difficult for the judges.”

Why we love it:

This image is funny, cute, beautiful, unique, and even to the untrained eye is a very pleasing balance. It looks almost staged. Opportune moments such as these are rare.


At number 7

This elephant mother and baby by Doug Croft was captured in July 2012, with Gary Hill as ranger (and Stu Porter with Wild4 Safaris).

This elephant mother and baby by Doug Croft was captured in July 2012, with Gary Hill as ranger (and Stu Porter with Wild4 Safaris).

Judges:

Shem Compion: “An intimate moment captured at the height of what could be deemed a dangerous crossing. The light is fantastic with dark shadows contrasting against the light on the elephants. This holds the image, but what makes it is the maternal care that is exhibited. This image shows more than technical detail, but emotion too.”

Shane Doyle: “This image is great, with fantastic symmetry. It speaks to me. It is a wonderful picture showing me the caring nature and strong maternal instinct of elephants. I might have liked to see more of the reflection as well. I enjoy the little banded plover as an onlooker.”

Why we love it:

It is only when a baby elephant is seen in contrast to another large elephant that its size can be truly appreciated. In this case, the way the tiny pachyderm is almost tucked between its mother’s trunk and front legs presents a perfect balance, and is a very intimate view of the strong maternal bond … so like humans.


At number 8

“Cheetah Baby” by Hennie van Heerden, captured in December 2012 with ranger Matt Meyer.

“Cheetah Baby” by Hennie van Heerden, captured in December 2012 with ranger Matt Meyer.

Says Hennie, “The Cheetah baby was an absolutely unique sighting in my 6 years of visiting MalaMala. Although the sun had already gone down, I was thrilled with this cutie!”

Judges:

Shem Compion: “A crisp, clear portrait that makes for a striking, high impact image of a cheetah juvenile. The view through the grass gives the image depth, while the shallow depth of field focuses on the cheetah’s eyes to make it stand out in the grass. The soft, diffused light makes for perfect portrait and brings out the detail beautifully.”

Shane Doyle: “It is only the likes of the Mala Mala of the worlds that allow us to capture these rare sightings of young cheetah. This is a wonderful and well balanced portrait. The good use of camera knowledge has allowed the photographer to be able to separate the cub from the surrounds adding to some striking contrast between the grass and the animal. A lovely image.”

Why we love it:

For its ‘cute-ness’, colours and balance of with the cheetah dead-centre, its stark facial lines and vivid eyes surrounded by the less focused green and beige grasses.


At number 9

“Elephant Crossing” by Doug Croft, captured in July 2012 with Gary Hill as ranger.

“Elephant Crossing” by Doug Croft, captured in July 2012 with Gary Hill as ranger.

Another great elephant shot by Doug Croft. This one made its way into National Geographic, was featured in their on-line gallery in November 2012 and was listed as their “Photo of the Day”.

Judges:

Shem Compion: “The light in this image is a play between going from the light into the darkness. The last rays playing over the herd add an extra dimension to the image, giving it more of a story. The positioning of the animals in the frame balances out beautifully.”

Shane Doyle: “A superb image and one that will certainly be making a run for one of the finalists. Texture, colour and overall composition make this another WOW, hard-to-beat picture.”

Why we love it:

We can almost hear the slow and gentle splash of the elephants walking away from the camera in the calm dark water. For us this picture is about the feeling we got looking at it.


At number 10

“Strength in Numbers” by Arun Mohanraj, captured in December 2012 with Gary Hill as ranger.

“Strength in Numbers” by Arun Mohanraj, captured in December 2012 with Gary Hill as ranger.

Judges:

Shem Compion: “An abstract image that works incredibly well. The first impression is “what is this?” But the sharpness on one of the horns makes you look closer and study the picture until you realise it is a horn. Then the other horns come out at you, and you are drawn into the image by the complexity of the scene.”

Shane Doyle:”Another great image in the running for finalists. The mass of horns creates its own unique symmetry. It’s a speedy image as the eyes jostle around for a place to settle, taking one all the way through this image.”

Why we love it: Arun has managed to capture two of the most unique buffalo pictures we have seen.

Congratulations to all authors of the the Top Ten images!

Hennie, we look forward to hosting you and a guest at Rattray’s on MalaMala for two nights (and to hopefully seeing more of your beautiful pictures).
The winner of our Video of the Year for 2012 will be announced over the course of this week.

Thanks to everyone for their patience in waiting for this announcement.

From all of us at MalaMala.

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