Animals, aurorae and amazing landscapes

Animals, aurorae and amazing landscapes

Every year, countless stunning images are submitted to a variety of photography competitions around the world, and 2023 was no exception. From cosmic structures light-years wide to microscopic marvels and everything in between, here are some of this year’s most awe-inspiring images.

Whatever it is you’re interested in photographing, chances are there’s a competition suited to your tastes. Animals feature pretty heavily in competitions like the World Nature Photography Awards, Nature TTL Photographer of the Year, and the Environmental Photographer of the Year, as well as their own specific awards like Wildlife Photographer of the Year. The Bird Photographer of the Year and the Audubon Photo Awards focus on our flying feathered friends, while the Comedy Wildlife and Comedy Pet Photo Awards showcase the lighter side of nature.

"Milky Way," winner of The Night Sky category in the 2023 Nature TTL Photographer of the Year Awards, captures an incredible close-up of a wild boar against the night sky using a remote camera
“Milky Way,” winner of The Night Sky category in the 2023 Nature TTL Photographer of the Year Awards, captures an incredible close-up of a wild boar against the night sky using a remote camera

Bence Mate/Nature TTL

Among the highlights are “Milky Way” by Hungarian photographer Bence Mate, which won The Night Sky category of this year’s Nature TTL competition. A remote-controlled camera was placed inside a fish tank and left on the ground, where a curious wild boar came to investigate at just the right time. The resulting image gives the impression that the animal is a celestial being, peering down from the stars.

The night sky is a focus of other competitions too. The Astronomy Photographer of the Year covers everything from the Sun and Moon to galaxies. One of its standout entries was Angel An’s Grand Cosmic Fireworks, capturing a rare atmospheric phenomenon called red sprites in exceptional detail. Meanwhile, travel blog Capture the Atlas runs two annual competitions, one focusing on the Milky Way and the other on aurorae, always with spectacular results.

"Grand Cosmic Fireworks," winner of the Skyscapes category of the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2023 competition. The image captures a rare atmospherical phenomenon known as red sprites
“Grand Cosmic Fireworks,” winner of the Skyscapes category of the Royal Observatory Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2023 competition. The image captures a rare atmospherical phenomenon known as red sprites

Angel An

At the opposite end of the scale from the giant cosmos is the tiny world of insects, fungi, and even microscopic cells and structures, which is covered by the Nikon Small World Photomicrography competition and the Close-Up Photographer of the Year. An intriguing image from the former is Ole Bielfeldt’s entry of a matchstick catching fire as it’s struck across the box, captured within 1/8,000th of a second.

Nikon Small World Photomicrography competition, second place winner. An extreme close-up of a matchstick igniting by the friction surface of the box
Nikon Small World Photomicrography competition, second place winner. An extreme close-up of a matchstick igniting by the friction surface of the box

Ole Bielfeldt

Other niches covered this year include the Urban, Mobile, Mangrove, Canarian, and Black and White Photo Awards, and even an image competition from the BMC Ecology and Evolution journal.

Browse through our gallery to see the best of the best from the year’s photography competitions.

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