From misty mountains to stormy seas: The stunning shortlisted images in the Outdoor Photographer of the Year competition

ByJennifer Newton for MailOnline

Published: 08:28 EST, 23 January 2018 | Updated: 11:42 EST, 23 January 2018

© Josiah Launstein

The winner of the young photographer award goes to Josiah Launstein of Canada, who snapped this scene of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep in British Columbia. He said: ‘Just as the light was beginning to fade I spotted this ram standing majestically on a high ridge. Photographing at -25°C is always a challenge and I was afraid I wouldn’t have time to get my camera on my tripod before the ram disappeared from view. Instead, I leaned my camera against a solid support as I framed up my shot. I loved all the snow and sagebrush and knew immediately that I wanted it to be black and white’

These are the stunning landscape images that have been shortlisted in a prestigious photography competition.

The Outdoor Photographer of the Year contest is running for a seventh year, and has received 18,000 entries from around the globe.

Among the entries this year are dramatic snaps of the stormy waters of the Baltic Sea and the aquatic splendor of the Egyptian Red Sea coral reefs as well as the magnificent Icelandic ‘valley of Thor’ and the atmospheric mystery of a North Yorkshire forest.

There are also giraffes and impalas captured in the Nairobi National Park in Kenya and a drone-snapped aerial photo of a Thai motorbike bridge along the famous Ping River.

Meanwhile, over 150 of the very best submissions will be featured in a jaw-dropping book – Outdoor Photographer of the Year: Portfolio III, set to be published by Ammonite Press, RRP £25, in March.

The overall winner and runner-up – chosen from the category winners – will be announced live on stage at The Photography Show at the NEC, Birmingham, on Saturday, March 17. Scroll down to see the amazing category winners and other entries that caught the judges’ eyes – and a video of the judges explaining their decisions.

© Witold Ziomek

Polish snapper Witold Ziomek won the award for the ‘water’s edge’ category thanks to this picture of the valley of the Thor in Iceland. He said: ‘We walked up to a viewpoint where we could see… exactly nothing, due to the fog. We waited, and eventually the fog started to lift, but I still needed to wait a lot longer for a car to appear in the perfect position to add a sense of scale to the mountain landscape’

© Jaak Sarv

Coming highly commended in the ‘water’s edge’ category is this snap of Prandi Springs in Estonia by Jaak Sarv. He said: ‘This is the magic of an Estonian winter: although the temperature was -20°C, the water at this spring was flowing like it was summer. As the morning sun peeked out from behind the frostcovered trees it was like being in a fairy tale, with the warm orange light starting to penetrate the desolate blue landscape. To make the most of the scene I created a stitched panorama, reflecting the cinematic drama of the location’

© Wojciech Kruczynski

Polish photographer Wojciech Kruczynski won praise for his snap of the Kallur lighthouse in the Faroe Island in the ‘light on the land’ section. He explained: ‘The picture consists of nine frames arranged in a three-by-three grid, which is quite difficult to put together and requires a lot of work, but with this beautiful place it was worth the effort. Weather conditions like this do not often occur in the Faroe Islands – I had to wait for three days in a tent in the rain for them. Because the cliff I was shooting from is very tall and vertical – and the wind blows hard – you definitely need a head for heights, and the rain will soak you again and again. You need to quickly take pictures and run away, again fighting with angry birds. The life of a landscape photographer is beautiful, isn’t it?’

© Simon Baxter

Simon Baxter from the UK was the winner of the ‘light on the land’ category with his image of a forest in North Yorkshire. He explained: ‘I originally captured a similar scene to this during a flurry of unexpected snow in April 2016. It’s typically the first spot I come to when exploring this private woodland, and I couldn’t help but capture it again when I was treated to these wonderful – but rare – conditions of mist with a hint of warm light as the morning sun tried to break through. The combination of the damp cobwebs, fallen birch, dominant old pine and the soft light filling this atmospheric and shallow valley makes it a favourite spot of mine for solitude’

© Saeed Rashid

Saeed Rashid from the United Kingdom won the ‘under exposed’ category with a picture of fish in the Red Sea in Egypt. He said: ‘In the summer months, sohal surgeonfish tend to mate and lay eggs on the top of the reefs in the Red Sea. They fiercely defend their egg patch and rush upon anything that invades that area. They will often swipe their tail, which has a bony protrusion sticking from it that can be as sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, towards the intruder. Because of this you need to make sure you don’t get too close as a photographer’s hands make a very easy target and often get cut’

© Pekka Tuuri

Pekka Tuuri from Finland captured this shot of a great white shark in Mexico for the ‘under exposed’ category. She explained: ‘Isla Guadalupe is the world capital when it comes to observing great white sharks, but cage diving seriously limits the possibilities to take fresh pictures. When I took this, the water close to the surface was quite milky, making photography very challenging. From out of the “mist”, I saw this great white shark lurking behind a school of fusiliers. I quickly focused on the shark and set a wide aperture to get focus blur on the fish, along with a fast shutter to avoid excessive motion blur’

© Tom Sweetman

British photographer Tom Sweetman won the ‘view from above category’ with his picture of the landscape in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He explained: ‘It was just before sunset in Chiang Mai and I decided to ride my scooter alongside the famous Ping River. As I was approaching a bridge I stopped to take a break and noticed that it was a motorbike bridge for locals, connecting two villages. I took this aerial photograph with my drone to document the incredible patterns in the river and the locals crossing the bridge on their scooters. Some days you just capture the moment’

© Laura Daly

Laura Daly snapped this stunning picture for the ‘view from above’ category on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. She said: ‘On our last night on the Isle of Skye, we ventured just five minutes from our accommodation to Duntulm Castle at sunset. Sharing the hillside with the midges and the sheep, we launched the drone, knowing the ruins were best seen from above. I chose to include the bright blue water of the ocean as it perfectly complemented the lush green grass, especially with the soft sunset light catching the walls of the castle. The view from above captures the beauty and lure of Skye, both natural and man-made’

© Mikolaj Nowacki

The winner of the ‘live the adventure’ category is this picture taken by Mikolaj Nowacki showing a fisherman sailing on the Baltic Sea. Mr Nowacki said: ‘ It was my first cruise on a yacht on the open sea and there were only two of us – myself and captain Jacek Pasikowski. I was helping Jacek take his small yacht Fri (“Free” in Danish) from the coast of Sweden to Poland, across the Baltic Sea. It was a stormy day, but the captain – who has more than 40 years of experience sailing in open seas – remained completely calm and relaxed, even though waves were breaking over him every few minutes. While taking this picture I was hiding partly below a folding canvas roof; scared, but pretending not to be’

© Mark Bridgwater

Mark Bridgwater from New Zealand captured this shot of Temple Basin in Canterbury for the ‘live the adventure’ category. Mark added: ‘There are some moments in time when the photography stars align; clouds break in the perfect spot and the sun shines exactly where you are standing. This was one of those moments for skiier Charlie Lyons and myself. While most people were oblivious to the perfection we had found on our mid-week excursion, we were having the time of our lives’

© Jose Fragozo

A charming picture of two giraffes and three impalas in a Kenyan National Park in Nairobi by Jose Fragozo from Portugal won the wildlife insight award. Jose explained: ‘I have observed lions hunting many times in the rain, which possibly explains why different species of preyed animals stay together; it’s a defence mechanism, so they can collectively sense predators better. In this case however, the lions were far away. The photo was taken from inside a 4×4 vehicle, and the major challenge was keeping the camera and lens dry’

© Bence Máté

Bence Mate snapped this impressive picture of a red fox and a white-tailed eagle in Kiskunsag National Park in Hungary for the ‘wildlife’ category. He explained: ‘Over the last four winters I have spent more than 200 full days photographing from a hide, and in this time there have been only three occasions when I’ve seen a fox and an eagle together. In this instance the fox didn’t approach the hide, but deliberately teased the birds resting on the ice. They occasionally flapped towards him, which emboldened the fox more and more – he continued to provoke the birds for about 10 minutes before vanishing into the reeds. The scene was strengthened by the snow sitting on the ice and the foggy conditions, which enabled me to show my subjects in a completely white environment: this happens just a few times every winter’

© Andy Holliman

The ‘spirit of travel’ award was won by Andy Holliman with his picure of Kangerlussuaq airport in Greenland. He said: ‘Air Greenland has a near monopoly on flights, so almost everything is in the company’s bright red colours. It was the simple colour palette of this scene that appealed to me, including the signposts that are apparently directing the planes to their destinations. My departure had been delayed by three days due to bad weather on the coast, so seeing the arrival of the plane that would return me to Copenhagen was welcome. It may not look that way, but the end of winter was near and within weeks the snow would have cleared’

© Gunarto Gunawan

Indonesian photogrpaher Gunarto Gunawan captured this sweet shot of young Buddhist monks at Shwe Gu monastery in Myanmar in the ‘spirit of travel’ category. He said: ‘I took this photograph when I visited Shwe Gu monastery, which cares for orphans and trains them to be Buddhist monks. The orphans were gathering and playing, and I showed them a funny video on my iPhone – I did not expect them to be so excited! In the end, they were all scrambling to watch the video. Seeing them laugh, I immediately took my camera and photographed this magical moment’

© William Mallett

This intricate picture of a tiny snail by William Mallet from Essex is the winner of the ‘small world’ category. Mr Mallet explained: ‘The asparagus plant in my garden – which has become a bush and produced berries – is a haven for wildlife. I normally look for spiders in it to photograph, but on this particular evening, after a rain shower, it was covered in tiny snails. The light below is from a backlit asparagus berry; I always try to visit after a rain shower, as I find backlit droplets bring the images to life’

© Amy Bateman

A picture that was commended in the small world category was this of frogspawn taken in Cumbria by Amy Bateman. Amy explained: ‘This frogspawn had been spawned in a puddle that was drying up on our farm in Cumbria. We rescued it as a way to teach my children about wildlife conservation and ecology, keeping it on our patio in a fish tank. I photographed it regularly throughout its growth to show the incredible rapid morphological development. We released the fully grown froglets back to a site close to their spawn site’

© Alicia Hayden

A puffin with fish hanging out of its mouth on the Isle of May in Scotland was taken by Alicia Hayden, who entered it into the young outdoor photographer of the year category. She said: ‘The misty grey background and subtle yellow lichens were the perfect background for the beautiful colours of this puffin’s bright, breeding-season beak. I chose a close-up shot to show as much detail as possible, including the internal structure of the sand eels and the puffin’s bill. I waited behind a rock for the perfect moment to arise when this puffin returned to land. Due to the low light and misty conditions, I used a wide aperture to deliver a sharp, yet atmospheric, portrait’

Over 150 of the very best submissions will be featured in a jaw-dropping book – Outdoor Photographer of the Year: Portfolio III, set to be published by Ammonite Press, RRP £25, in March

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