CONSERVATION PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE YEAR: Sea Otters
Photographer: Florian Schulz
Location: Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA
"While scouting Prince William Sound by plane on an overcast day, we headed out low over a massive expanse of fractured icebergs and spotted a large group of sea otters. To capture this shot, I steadied my camera in the fast-moving craft as we approached from a steep angle. This image is part of my conservation photography project, 'Freedom to Roam,' which aims to increase awareness of the necessity to preserve wildlife travel corridors.
"Just as America created Yellowstone as the very first national park, I see the potential in developing the first National Corridor, linking natural areas to each other to build a healthier and more sustainable ecosystem for wildlife and human communities."
The 2008 Conservation Photographer of the Year Award, presented in alliance with the National Wildlife Federation, recognizes a special individual who has used his or her skills as a nature photographer to implement meaningful and measurable conservation efforts that inspire and educate the public about environmental concerns.
Florian Schulz is a professional nature photographer with a mission to help protect endangered ecosystems across America. As a founding member of the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP), he is constantly searching for unique images that will inspire the public to take action. For more than 15 years, Schulz has worked on projects concerning wildlife corridors. These geographic arteries of unmatched biodiversity and pristine wilderness are essential for wildlife survival.
PEOPLE IN NATURE WINNER: Sunset Over Telendos
Photographer: Lukasz Warzecha
Location: Kalymos Island, Greece
Kalymnos Island, once known as a prime Mediterranean sponge diving spot, is a world-famous sport climbing area with huge limestone overhangs, stalactites, and tower-like limestone formations called tufas.
"I had seen images from this vantage point with Telendos Island in the background before, but all had been taken in springtime, with a climber silhouetted by the sunset. The shot I was after would have to be taken in the fall; I wanted the sun to be positioned on the left over the island, making for a more balanced, striking composition. This photograph of my friend Kenichi Ode climbing the strenuous vertical route was taken in October. Normally I take climbing photos while hanging off ropes-but a camera bag, ropes, and the climbing gear necessary to set good anchor points is a lot of equipment to carry with you. Fortunately, Grande Grotto is situated on a hillside overlooking the sea. Therefore it's possible to get good angles from inside the cave.
"We decided to spend the whole evening session within the cave, and we were lucky because the whole place was very quiet. At the end of the day, I was satisfied with the many great shots already on my memory card. But I was rewarded once again when Ken decided to climb just before sunset, giving me the shot I wanted."