Smithsonian Grand Prize Winner

The Smithsonian Institute has just announced the winners of their 10th annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo contest, which is one of the biggest and most prestigious in the world.  This year it drew over 37,600 paid entries from photographers in 112 countries around the world.

This year the Grand Prize went to wildlife photographer Bjorn Olesen.   Below some more details: –

Smithsonian Grand Price Winner 2012

Smithsonian Grand Price Winner 2012

Detailed description of picture:

While Borneo in many places can be proud of its bio diversity, the Malaysian State of Sarawak have had more than its fair share of rampant logging and oil palm plantations, depleting large tracts of the original pristine habitat. However, there are still areas left with an unique bird life like the Penrissen Mountain Range, which sits on a plateau more than 1,000 m above sea level between Sarawak and Kalimantan.  It is located in the world’s oldest and 2nd largest tropical rainforest, and isolated from the central highland spine of Borneo, and has a distinct ecology.  It is a very important area for endemic and migratory birds.

I had spent the whole morning trying to capture some photos of the Spectacled Spiderhunter (Arachnothere flavigester), which has been extinct in Singapore for 90 years.  But unsuccessful because of bad lighting conditions.  It had, however, been a total delight to watch some of these spiderhunters slurping nectar from wild Banana flowers, while at the same time trying to monopolize the feeding area by chasing away all other sunbirds and spiderhunters.  Early in the morning they were quite shy, but after a couple of hours they somehow got used to my presence.

Just before I was packing up for the morning, I suddenly heard the familiar ‘chi-chit’ call from a shady collection of Fern and Pine trees.  I went over to investigate, and there I saw a newly fledged Spectacled Spiderhunter trying to attract the attention of its parents above, by calling chi-chit chi-chit, and flapping its wings.  It was one of those magic memorable moments where everything fell into place for a perfect photographic opportunity.  However, this magic only lasted for a brief instance, as the parents ignored it, and the juvenile flew away, and I did not see it again.

Even today I can still clearly visualize this encounter, which for me symbolizes youth, vitality & hope for the future. In my view this photo demonstrates the great strength of still photography: to freeze those magic moments that may otherwise have been unnoticed.  The soft light, the inspiring pose, the colour of the bird goes very well together with the beautiful pallet of greens of the ferns.

Link to the Smithsonian Institute:



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