SELECTED FROM MORE THAN 25,000 IMAGES submitted to National Wildlife magazine’s 2017 photo contest, the glorious winners on these pages showcase what makes a photograph shine. A vivid play of color or pattern. A mood, either tender or bleak. A fleeting moment frozen in time. Raw power, pure emotion. Whatever the root of the magic, these images, and so many more given honorable mention, reflect the passion and craft of photographers from around the world whose vision brings nature to life. Some painstakingly planned a shot, using trial, error and patience to capture it. Others transformed a lucky moment into something unforgettable. And all of them help us see and feel that the natural world is worth our vigilant care.
You can almost feel the earth tremble with the massive footsteps of an African elephant as it returns home with its herd after drinking at a marsh in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. Kenyan photographer Manoj Shah placed his remote camera on the ground where he thought the elephants would pass, then tripped the shutter while staying a safe distance away. “If I tried to take the picture lying down, most likely I would not be able to get up again,” he quips. A lifelong photographer, Manoj Shah speaks almost mystically about his quest to document this majestic species in decline. “My daughter Neha Shah worries that the elephant will be just a memory, a dream where they will walk on Earth at peace, as they were born to do, but kept alive only in our minds.” Moved by the animal’s power and frailty, he warns, “Their future is in our hands.”
National WildlifeGrand prize winnerAfrican Elephant2017 contest