35 Winning Nature Images From The NBP Awards 2023 That Might Soothe your Soul

Published 3 months ago

In a world where the beauty of nature often takes our breath away, the NBP (Nature’s Best Photography) Awards 2023 have curated a collection of images that stand as a testament to the awe-inspiring diversity and unparalleled splendor of the natural world. From majestic landscapes to intimate portraits of wildlife, these carefully selected photographs offer a glimpse into the heart of our planet.

Join us as we take a visual journey through the NBP Awards 2023, celebrating the photographers who skillfully captured nature’s beauty and diversity in its purest form.

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#1 Wildlife: Highly Honored – Gharial And Hatchlings By Santosh Jana

Image source: Santosh Jana / NBP Awards

“Gharial offspring frequently fall prey to various predators—both aquatic and avian. An adult will carry babies on its back to keep them out of the reach of fish and will drive away birds by any means necessary. This natural phenomenon is often seen in some of the rivers in India.”

#2 Grand Prize Winner: “Volcano In The Clouds” By Luis Manuel Vilariño

Image source: Luis Manuel Vilariño / NBP Awards

“While a squall covered Reykjanes peninsula, I ascended to the base of Geldigadalir—Iceland’s youngest volcano. Magma rising from the mantle formed gigantic bubbles 30 to 50 feet in diameter, which burst when they reached the surface. Lava was emerging with unusual force, overflowing the drainage channel and scattering the incandescent rock like oil on a canvas.” See the video.

#3 Conservation Story: Highly Honored – “Ice Bears” By Peter Mather

Image source: Peter Mather / NBP Awards

“In the dark, the bears seem like ghosts fishing along the Klukshu River. Their fur is thick and white with icicles. When they move, they sound like chandeliers. Yukon First Nations lore tells how this icy armor serves as a shield to protect the grizzlies—called ‘ice bears’— from arrows. It is a sight and sound that is eerie and beautiful and rare—increasingly so, in more ways than one. There are only a handful of places in the Yukon where ice bears can fish into late fall when temperatures have dropped below zero. Some are scattered around Haines Junction, on the traditional territory of the Champagne Aishihik First Nation, and the Kluane River, on the traditional part of the Kluane First Nation. Others are further north, near Fishing Branch Territorial Park. What all of these spots have in common is that salmon run late enough there for the bears to fish in the dark when the salmon can’t see them, and the bears rely solely on their extraordinary sense of smell to catch the fish. But with winter arriving in the Yukon later every year and rivers disappearing due to receding glaciers, and while salmon numbers are at a record low, we may be seeing the last of these ice bears.”

#4 Conservation Story: Highly Honored – Atlantic Puffin By Derrick Z. Jackson

Image source: Derrick Z. Jackson / NBP Awards

“In 1973, Steve Kress, then an Audubon camp instructor, founded ‘Project Puffin’ to bring these birds back to Maine, where they had been eliminated by hunters in the 1880s. Over the next 15 years, he transported nearly 2,000 puffin chicks from Newfoundland and hand-raised them on Eastern Egg Rock and Seal Island until they began breeding in 1981. It was the world’s first successful seabird restoration to an island. In 1902, there was only one pair of puffins in Maine. Fifty years later, there are more than 1,300 pairs. Techniques of chick translocation and use of decoys (left), mirrors, and taped bird sounds have now been applied in more than 850 seabird restoration projects, assisting nearly 140 species in 36 countries.”

#5 Outdoor Adventure: Winner – “On Edge” By Virgil Reglioni

Image source: Virgil Reglioni / NBP Awards

“This moment is one of the most epic behind-the-shot sessions and adventures. Planning such a shot brings tremendous excitement because, from the beginning, the final result is totally unknown. The goal of our adventure was to drop into a glacier just before the dark of night. But all conditions had to line up for success. We found a hole, or ‘moulin,’ about 130 feet deep. Here, climber Helgi Ragnar Jensson is coming up around midnight under the most incredible conditions with a rising full moon and halo. One can barely see our tent lit up on the right side of the frame.”

#6 Youth: Highly Honored – Mute Swan By Nicolas Stettler

Image source: Nicolas Stettler / NBP Awards

“This mute swan had just noticed another conspecific intruding into its territory. I was focused on the swan as it spread its wings and approached the other to chase it away. Pollen covered the water’s surface, which created beautiful bokeh balls against the golden light of the setting sun.”

#7 Ocean Views: Winner – Wave By Danny Sepkowski

Image source: Danny Sepkowski / NBP Awards

“During the golden hour on The North Shore, I was treading water through the ripping current while numerous waves were coming my way. After numerous swells hit, a massive sandbar was created at this spot. When the sand gets pushed into the water, magic happens! The reef on the left side of the bay caused the waves to wedge and peak onto a shallow sand shelf. I live for days like this because they are rare. I had to make sure these giant waves did not pound my head as I composed the shot.”

#8 Animal Antics: Winner – Burrowing Owlet By Shane Keena

Image source: Shane Keena / NBP Awards

“I spent several weeks photographing the owlets from a particular burrow throughout the late, blistering hot summer months in this Southern California desert. As they got older and grew bolder, each one would venture further away from the burrow, bouncing around and practicing their flight capabilities. I captured this juvenile burrowing owlet in a fully extended yet humorously failed mid-flight attempt.”

#9 Youth Photographer Of The Year: Winner – Polar Bear By Meline Ellwanger

Image source: Meline Ellwanger / NBP Awards

“On a trip to Churchill during November, when the sea ice usually starts to form, the polar bears are typically seen hunting for seals. However, this time, there was still no sea ice, and the bears were waiting patiently. We followed this individual as it came across an empty hut and disappeared inside. It poked out its head and I got this humorous shot. We were all laughing at the funny and unique moment.”

#10 Wildlife: Highly Honored – Brown Fur Seals By Eduardo Del Álamo

Image source: Eduardo del Álamo / NBP Awards

“From Swakopmund many people go to Pelican Point by boat. I love to drive my car into the peninsula to see the wildlife closer and take my time to wait for special moments. This seal colony is one of the biggest in Southern Africa and I went with the idea to take a picture with my drone. I flew the drone quite high in order to respect the seals and not disturb them. I tried many different angles, but this one was my favorite.”

#11 Wildlife: Highly Honored – Brown Bear And Cub By Jennifer Smith

Image source: Jennifer Smith / NBP Awards

“Only about 50% of brown bear cubs make it past their first year. Their survival depends upon the special relationship between adult females and their young. This close bond is imperative as the mother provides not only food but also protection and guidance. Here, a cub has its eyes on what the sow is eating.”

#12 Animal Antics: Highly Honored – Bull Moose By Deena R. Sveinsson

Image source: Deena R. Sveinsson / NBP Awards

“We awoke one morning to a blanket of fresh powder snow. While the photographers were busy taking photos of the moose, the moose was walking from car to car, licking the salt. But ‘Hoback,’ the largest moose in the Tetons, was licking the tires, the lights, and the car hoods. He then peered into our car and glared at a stuffed moose on the dashboard. Hoback pushed against the Jeep with his nose and began to spar. Getting nowhere, he licked some more and then wandered off.”

#13 Conservation Story: Winner – Iberian Lynx By Amit Eshel

Image source: Amit Eshel / NBP Awards

“To observe and photograph the endangered Iberian lynx, I traveled to Peñalajo— a 5,584- acre estate located between Santa Cruz de Mudela and Almuradiel in Ciudad Real, near the northernmost foothills of Sierra Morena in Spain. These Mediterranean forests, where the Iberian lynx makes its home, are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in Europe. In the early 2000s, just two isolated breeding populations remained worldwide. Located in southern Spain, they totaled about 100 adult animals with only 25 breeding females. It was essential to give the lynx more room to reproduce by creating new populations in other regions. Based on the number of rabbits and the quality of the habitat, sites were selected in eastern Sierra Morena, Montes de Toledo, and the Matachel Valley in Extremadura, as well as the Guadiana Valley in Portugal. Farmers here have been working with local and regional administrations and other NGOs, such as the European Union and WWF, to improve the habitat of the Iberian lynx and expand the local rabbit population. The result, several years later, is that Peñalajo has one of the highest Iberian lynx densities in the Iberian Peninsula, with three breeding populations and ten new cubs spotted. The high density of rabbits has meant that females can successfully breed more than two cubs on average per season and that there is an increased number of young specimens in the area.

In the hot, dry summers where temperatures may climb above 104° Fahrenheit, water holes have been built to help the wildlife survive. I spent many days in a small hide next to a water hole, trying to photograph the elusive cats. Most days, there were no cat sightings, but I got lucky a few times during several trips to Spain and over about three weeks of sitting in the hide. The great news from the field is that due to conservation efforts, the Iberian lynx is now recovering from the brink of extinction, with numbers consistently rising.”

#14 Youth: Highly Honored – Weaver Ants By Sudith Rodrigo

Image source: Sudith Rodrigo / NBP Awards

“This photo was taken one day in my garden when I saw weaver ants collecting leaves to build their nests. So I rushed inside to get my camera and started taking different scenarios. This image depicts a situation where the ants are structured in a triangle to support each other like a ladder. The weaver ants use it to move from leaf to leaf, and through this photo, we can see the unity and teamwork of the weaver ants.”

#15 Wildlife: Highly Honored – Crested Crab Spider Guarding Nest By Yong Miao

Image source: Yong Miao / NBP Awards

“One day, I found this crested crab spider not far from my home. Standing in a strange posture at the mouth of a cave, it was guarding baby spiders on its chest before they hatch.”

#16 Birds: Winner – Mute Swan And Cygnet By Andy Parkinson

Image source: Andy Parkinson / NBP Awards

“Throughout the entirety of my more than 20-year professional career, I have always been very much a project photographer. I seek to immerse myself completely in the lives of the animals or birds with which I work, striving to capture images that other photographers have not been able to capture. These local swans are one such example, choosing to live next to a footpath close to my Derbyshire home. Every day, I would visit and sit close by, speaking to them, gaining their trust, and learning about their body language. When the cygnets finally hatched, I was able to work at a unique proximity where the birds would not tolerate other humans to capture this touching family interaction.”

#17 Animal Antics: Highly Honored – Rocky Mountain Goat Kids By Mark Van Liere

Image source: Mark Van Liere / NBP Awards

“I followed a small herd of goats as they made their way up the mountainside. The kids were very active and playful along the journey. Above the timberline, around 14,000 feet above sea level, there are no trees or brush, only short tundra grasses so the goats can see you. But, by sitting instead of standing and giving them space, they see you offer no threat, and you can observe and photograph their natural behavior.”

#18 Wildlife: Highly Honored – Wiley’s Glassfrog By Jaime Culebras

Image source: Jaime Culebras / NBP Awards

“After a few days of heavy rain, I had the opportunity to photograph a gelatinous mass of developing glass frog embryos hanging from a fern leaf over a stream. It was an image I had in my mind for years. To highlight the embryos, my girlfriend held a flash from behind. Once they hatch, the tadpoles will drop into the water below and continue their metamorphosis into adulthood.”

#19 Wildlife: Highly Honored – Mountain Hare By Kevin Morgans

Image source: Kevin Morgans / NBP Awards

“Mountain hare photography is not a pursuit for the impatient. There can often be long periods of sitting near a hare as they sleep, sleep, and sleep some more with little activity, often only stirring to eat a pellet. This can become a war of attrition, battling against the cold weather side by side with a species far more adapted to the conditions than me. But all the waiting becomes worth it for a split-second moment like this.”

#20 Youth: Highly Honored – “One Way” By Gergő Kártyás

Image source: Gergő Kártyás / NBP Awards

“On an April afternoon, I saw this interesting composition in front of our house. A swallow was sitting on the power lines lit by the setting sun. Since I took the picture from a bottom perspective and the lights came from the front, only the bird’s silhouette was visible. After dozens of unsuccessful attempts and a long time waiting, I managed to take a photo where the swallow is in the perfect position.”

#21 Art In Nature: Winner – Green Basilisk By Petr Bambousek

Image source: Petr Bambousek / NBP Awards

“During one of many walks in the natural habitat of the basilisk, I found this male resting on a fallen tree trunk half submerged in water. I carefully moved closer to capture his splendor and avoid any distracting elements in the shot. One of my biggest dreams had come true.”

#22 Animal Antics: Highly Honored – Polar Bear Wave By Jennifer R. Bellon

Image source: Jennifer R. Bellon / NBP Awards

“Loss of the icepack threatens the polar bear by compromising its hunting ability. We waited several days to capture the polar bears in their natural snow and ice. Finally, near the end of our trip, it snowed, and we were fortunate to see this particular bear stand up on his hind legs as if waving to us.”

#23 Youth: Highly Honored – Spotted Owlets By Anirudh Kamakeri

Image source: Anirudh Kamakeri / NBP Awards

“Here, an adult and a juvenile spotted owl perched on a branch. It was one of the last times I saw these nocturnal owls during the daytime before the tree was removed to widen the highway.”

#24 Wildlife: Highly Honored – Galápagos Land Iguana By Marko Dimitrijevic

Image source: Marko Dimitrijevic / NBP Awards

“Finding a soft spot in a cactus, this reptile is feasting on the succulent plant. I could only snap one shot before the iguana changed the angle of its head and had its back to me.”

#25 Youth: Highly Honored – Lion-Tailed Macaque By Arshdeep Singh

Image source: Arshdeep Singh / NBP Awards

“I visited Valparai in South India to see tea plantations and the famous lion-tailed macaques. During my trip, our guide spotted a group of a hundred or more macaques on the forest floor. I saw cute babies playing around with their mothers and a big alpha male approaching. All the others gave way— he was quite large compared to the other macaques. He was the ‘big boss’ of the group; he sat close to us, facing the other side. I watched him intently and noted his beautiful silver- white mane surrounding his head from his cheeks to his chin. I waited for him to look toward me, and soon, we gazed directly at each other. I captured this eye contact on camera and in my mind forever.”

#26 Polar Passion: Winner – Polar Bear And Cubs By Hung Tsui

Image source: Hung Tsui / NBP Awards

“This mother polar bear was exhausted from finding food for her babies and just wanted to steal a moment to sleep. After being fed, the cubs would not let the mother rest and tried to wake her up to play.”

#27 Video | Nature In Motion: Winner – Polar Bears And Beluga Whales By Martin Gregus

Image source: Martin Gregus / NBP Awards

“As the pandemic raged during the summer of 2020 and 2021, I decided to turn my attention to documenting and exploring the Hudson Bay area. Utilizing drones and our custom-built equipment allowed us to observe unique hunting behaviors of beluga whales and get up close and personal with the polar bears, all while staying invisible to be able to capture intimate moments. Observing the wildlife has changed the lives of me and my team forever.” See the video.

#28 Animal Antics: Highly Honored – African Savanna Elephants By Kathy Karn

Image source: Kathy Karn / NBP Awards

“I laughed out loud watching this pair of adolescent bull elephants tussle with each other like a pair of rambunctious boys on the playground. When one bull had enough, he sat down in resistance. His friend would have none of it! Determined to continue the match, he pushed his buddy back to his feet. Elephants are extraordinary animals capable of a full range of emotions, like love, grief, and compassion. The sense of joy and silliness in this pair was contagious. The grins on their faces added to the playful mood. I smile every time I see this image.”

#29 Animal Antics: Highly Honored – Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk And Giant Ground Gecko By Willie Van Schalkwyk

Image source: Willie van Schalkwyk / NBP Awards

“Here a gecko was putting up a brave fight trying to attack the immature goshawk. Unfortunately for the gecko, there was only one possible outcome—I had to blink back tears.”

#30 Youth: Highly Honored – Orb Weaver Spider By Anirudh Kamakeri

Image source: Anirudh Kamakeri / NBP Awards

“This is an in-camera composed Penta-exposure photograph of an orb weaver spider ambushing its prey. Most orb weavers build a new web daily and are active in the evening, so I observed this individual every day out on our terrace. I created a bokeh of lights in the background by applying multiple exposures, as there were only two light sources. The first four images visualize a bokeh framed at different angles, while the last image is the silhouette of the spider. This combination of creative nature photography and urban wildlife shows the coexistence of these creatures in a human-dominated world.”

#31 Landscapes: Winner – Superstition Mountains Sunrise By Peter Coskun

Image source: Peter Coskun / NBP Awards

“I made my way to this duo of teddy bear cholla and barrel cactus beneath my favorite peaks in the Superstition Mountains and carefully composed this scene before sunrise. The warm glow of sunrise began to paint the mountain peak, and the sky lit up with various shades of pink and orange, creating a mosaic of color in this desert landscape. The image is comprised of three consecutive frames with each frame using a different focal point to stack for optimal detail.”

#32 Animal Antics: Highly Honored – Alaskan Brown Bears By Amit Eshel

Image source: Amit Eshel / NBP Awards

“Born to a mother estimated to be about 25 years old, the little blonde female cub had no other brothers or sisters to play with. All this cub wanted to do was play with other bears. I took this shot at eye level using a floating hide to create an intimate feeling.”

#33 Animal Antics: Highly Honored – Grevy’s Zebra By Vijayram Harinathan

Image source: Vijayram Harinathan / NBP Awards

“During a late evening safari, we came across a few zebras. I was taking some close-up portraits when we observed one sniffing the air. The zebra held its head high, lips open, and teeth exposed. This behavior looked as if he was having a hearty laugh. After review, I understood this was a Flehmen response.”

#34 Animal Antics: Highly Honored – African Savanna Elephant By Staffan Widstrand

Image source: Staffan Widstrand / NBP Awards

“This African savannah elephant was trying to camouflage itself behind a too-small bush. When we came driving by, the elephant had stepped behind the bush in an apparent attempt to hide. When we stopped to watch, it seemed to realize its cover was blown, so it calmly walked away.”

#35 Wildlife: Highly Honored – Cheetah And Cubs By Krishnan Gopala Krishnan

Image source: Krishnan Gopala Krishnan / NBP Awards

“The image shows a cheetah and her cubs waking up at sunrise. While their mother was stretching, the curious cubs sat and watched our vehicle. Cheetah cubs typically will stay with their mom for 18 to 24 months before going their independent ways. They watch and learn all the tricks of survival from their mothers. Visiting the Mara over the past eight years, I have seen fewer and fewer cheetahs. Recently, the authorities laid down strict rules regarding the viewing of cheetah cubs to ensure their population grows in the future. We will have to wait and see if this is successful.”

Saumya Ratan

Saumya is an explorer of all things beautiful, quirky, and heartwarming. With her knack for art, design, photography, fun trivia, and internet humor, she takes you on a journey through the lighter side of pop culture.

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