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GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

"GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012" is the Finnish photographer Tommy Vikars with his image "Stargazer". The photograph is a night shot of white-tailed deer, which are invasive to Finland, in winter at their feeding place.
To capture this scene Tommy Vikars spent countless hours at night in the forest: "In the dark it was extremely difficult to see what was going on at the feeding place, and many images would come out useless. Often the deer would move too fast or in the wrong direction given the long exposure time."
Tommy worked with a hidden camera, which he could trigger with a remote shutter release, while he sat in his hide about 50m away from the feeding place observing the scene through the 300mm lens of a second camera.
The international jury was immediately taken by this image: the composition is fantastic, highly evocative and truly convincing.
Jury member Manuel Presti continues: "This image fuses aesthetics, technical ability, emotions, magic and originality and is also telling a story about the life of wild animals. When checking the RAW data, we were therefore delighted all the more to find that the photographer also showed a very honest approach to image editing."
Tommy Vikars is a "man of the forest" with all his heart and soul. "For years I spent almost every spare minute in the forest. In the beginning I did not photograph that much; mostly I just wandered around thinking what a fascinating place the forest was with all its secrets to discover, and I realized how healthy, happy and whole I felt on these hikes. This is the kind of feeling I aim to convey in my photographs. I wanted to capture the essence of the forest, its spirit.
The cottage is still a kind of base for me, a retreat, but now I spend more time near my home village Norrnäs, which is close to the sea. There are more animal species to photograph and I love the late evening sun in this area. Most of my images are captured somewhere in the vicinity within a 30-km radius."
The nomination wins Tommy Vikars the Canon-sponsored award with a prize money of 2000 Euro. His image succeeded in a field of almost 12,500 entries by photographers from 27 countries. The GDT (Society of German Nature Photographers) awarded this prize for the 12th time; the competition is open to professional and non-professional photographers from all over Europe.
The international special prize Fritz Pölking Award, which the GDT hosts together with Tecklenborg publishing house, and likewise with a prize money of 2000 Euro, goes for the second time to Ingo Arndt from Germany.
Jury member Theo Bosboom: "All members of the jury agreed that his project "New Life" about the birth of insects and reptiles has an original theme, is very well photographed in a consequent and recognizable style, and contains pictures that are fresh and show behaviour that many people have never witnessed before."
Once again, the jury was positively surprised by the submissions to the Fritz Pölking Junior Award. "It seems that young photographers are more creative, feel more free to experiment and less restricted by the golden rules of photography." Finally, the jury decided unanimously to give the award to Zoltán Gergely Nagy, a young photographer from Romania. His story about the starlings in Blackpool is creative and coherent and contains some very strong pictures.
Patron Prof. Dr. Beate Jessel of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation:
"Once again the competition "GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year" has a multitude of often exceptional and in any case authentic images to offer. I am especially impressed that not the indeed fascinating natural world of exotic destinations set the tone. On the contrary, to me the different ways photographers deal with "common" subjects are the measure of their outstanding photographic skills. Using their cameras, they create funny, surprising or poetic images that give plenty of room for the onlooker to develop their own individual stories, be they long or short.
This year's winning photograph is also an image full of stories. The title "Stargazer" represents the dense, atmospheric feel of this unique photograph by Tommy Vikars from Finland. I can hardly imagine anyone not being drawn in by it. The peaceful animals in this picture are actually new inhabitants, an invasive species. Indeed, white-tailed deer are indigenous to North America."
The competition "GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year" is run annually by the GDT, the Society of German Nature Photographers. Photographs can be entered in eight different categories as well as the Fritz Pölking Award and Fritz Pölking Junior Award. Again, this year's top-class jury consisting of Markus Botzek (nature photographer, Germany), Anders Geidemark (nature photographer, Sweden), Rosamund Kidman Cox (photo editor and author, Great Britain), Laurent Geslin (nature photographer, France), Manuel Presti (nature photographer, Italy), Dieter Damschen (nature photographer, Germany) and Sven Začek (nature photographer, Estonia) did not take their decisions easy.
The winners of individual categories are as follows:
In the category Birds the winner is Markus Zadra from Italy with his image "Mysterious and secretive". With "Badger in underwood at dusk" Florent Cardinaux from France succeeded in the category Mammals. "In flying sand" is the title of the winning image by German Uwe Hasubek (GDT) in the category Other Animals. Sébatien Lamadon from France won the category Plants & Fungi with his image "In the heart of spring". In the category Landscapes Norwegian Lars Andreas Dybvik succeeded with "Winter forest"; the category Under Water was won by Cristóbal Serrano Pérez from Spain with the image "The pursuit". "Survivor" is the name Ferenc Somodi from Hungary gave his winning image in the category Man & Nature; Norwegian Knut-Sverre Horn's image "Happy feet" won the category Nature's Studio.
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