Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023

Royal British Columbia Museum: Open till April 16, 2023

Yesterday I attended an exhibition in Victoria called Wildlife Photographer of the Year being held downtown at our Royal British Columbia Museum. I was accompanied by fellow VCC member Maureen Reid, and we thoroughly enjoyed reviewing all the images.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year is a traveling exhibition that comes to us from the Natural History Museum of London, England. It is a photo contest that began in 1965 with 361 entries but which has exploded into a worldwide event with over 45,000 entries submitted every year. The submissions are divided into several categories from Animals in their Environment to Photojournalism. and several other categories.

Here is the website location for the Victoria Show:

As Maureen and I traveled up the escalator to begin the tour, we started by watching a large slide show panel. One of the main images being used for advertising is a photo of a polar bear leaning out the window of an abandoned building. What is the story behind this powerful image? The exhibit hall is dark, but all the images are incredibly well-lit and beautifully arranged. We started right at 10 a.m. when the building opened, and it took us two hours to really enjoy every photo.

All of the images are provided with text informing us of the photographer and a short story about the image. The storyboard also provides technical information such as the camera brands, lenses, and metadata on shutter speeds and f-stops for us photo geeks to digest.

There are approximately 100 photos in the exhibit presented as large, easy-to-view displays where we stopped at each one to read the story and really examine each photo. If you are here, you probably have a passion for great photography. You will want to stop at every photo and really examine how that one image was more impactful than thousands of others. 

We were surprised at the variety of images that were photographed using drone technology, hidden wildlife photo cameras, and strobe lights to perfectly light their subjects. There are many underwater images as well as beautifully composed macro photos. There is such a wide variety of themes that no matter what you enjoy photographing you will thoroughly enjoy taking in this exhibition. Keep in mind that some images may be unsettling to you as well. The photojournalism images show hardship and harsh realities in the natural world as well as the impact the human population can push on the natural world. 

As members of a camera club who enjoy submitting our own images to be judged, we couldn’t help but judge some of these images ourselves. I think this is a great way to improve your own photography. Look at award winning images and ask yourself what did they do to achieve this recognition. In most cases, we own the same gear that these photographers used. The lighting in your photograph, overall composition, and subject matter will always impact your photographs. Examining these winning photos may advance how you go forward with your own photography. Sure we may never purchase a drone and fly to the remote tundra to fly it but in our own backyards are lots of opportunities to create unique photographs.

As the crowd continued to grow, I was glad we came early. I think this exhibition will be very well received. 

For yesterday’s visit, we did not even pay an admission price as they we only asking for a cash donation of whatever you were comfortable with. I believe this is a short-term special, but your admission also includes access to the rest of the usual Museum Halls.

One word of caution since it is dark in this area. Be sure you don’t lose anything on the floor! I did find one glove on the floor and was lucky to locate the owner quickly.

If you can attend this show with another photographer, I think that is a plus. At times we both saw different things within a photograph that we of interest to us.

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