The 2021 Big Picture Natural World Photography Winners were announced.
Hope in a Burned Plantation
Iconic Australia is captured in this particular moment as a resilient kangaroo pauses in a burned eucalyptus plantation. Nearly three billion animals perished or were displaced in the cataclysmic Australian bushfires of 2019 and 2020. This eastern grey kangaroo and her joey represent the lucky survivors, escaping from an area that had been transformed by humans for farming and then devastated by fire.
Aquatic Life Category
The photographer swam with this battery of barracuda in the Blue Corner for four days, looking for the perfect angle. At the end of a 50-minute dive on his fifth day, the fish allowed him to swim among them as part of the school and he captured this fisheye view. On the sixth day, he joined the fish without his camera.
Terrestrial Wildlife Category
This spirit bear, one of only a few hundred white bears in this subspecies of black bears in the coastal rainforests of British Columbia, is known by the name “Boss.” After lowering his head into the river in search of salmon roe, he pulled his head up and shook, droplets spiraling around his head, looked at the photographer for a split second, and then plunged back into the water for his meal.
Michelle Valberg has traveled to every continent in search of adventure and photographic opportunities for more than 30 years, and is especially passionate about Canada and the Arctic. She is a Nikon Ambassador, philanthropist, and community leader, has published four books, and is the first Canadian Geographic Photographer-in-Residence.
Winged Life Category
Beak to Beak
After preening each other’s feathers, the ravens took turns inspecting every nook and cranny in each other’s beaks—talking to one another throughout the process. In three winters of observing the gift-sharing, grooming, and singing courtship behaviors of ravens on the mountain, the photographer had never witnessed anything like this.
Landscapes, Waterscapes, and Flora Category
What looked to be mountains from the ground turned out to be extinct volcanoes as captured by this drone shot taken on a cloudy day in June, at the time of the midnight sun. The unusual perspective of an inhospitable landscape stained by traces of iron oxide creates an otherworldly atmosphere.
Fran Rubia is an electrician who has studied photography via the Centro Andaluz de la Fotografía since 1997. His work has won numerous awards and he has contributed to many publications, exhibitions, and conferences. His most extraordinary photographic experience was his first view of the deep green sky of the Northern Lights on a frigid night in the Arctic.
Art of Nature Category
The Goblet of Fire
This mushroom, illuminated by a simple flashlight, was one of many fungi growing around the photographer’s house in the countryside. During the monsoon season, the mushrooms released thick, yellow-brown spores throughout the day for almost a month—a common but often ignored phenomenon.
Sarang Naik is a nature and wildlife photographer who specializes in creative and abstract photography. In recent years, he has been documenting the urban wildlife of Mumbai. He also works with Marine Life of Mumbai, a community-driven initiative that documents and raises awareness about Mumbai’s marine biodiversity through shore walks and social media.