On October 21, Spanish photographer José Luis Rodríguez won the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award at a ceremony held at London’s Natural History Museum. His image, “The Storybook Wolf,” won the Animal Portraits category, as well as the Overall Winner award. The Animal Portraits category - one of the most popular in the competition - draws portraits that capture the character or spirit of an animal in an original and memorable way.
© José Luis Rodríguez / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2009.
When Rodríguez realized he had captured his dream shot, he couldn’t believe it. “I risked using a slow shutter speed, 1/30 sec at f/11, to retain the moonlit sky and conjure up the atmosphere of the place,” he says. “I switched from using my Nikon D2X to my Hasselblad 503CW with a Planar 80mm lens so I could get the exact framing I had in mind.” He used a 6x6 Fujichrome backing at ISO 50 with a Ficap infrared camera trap to get the shot.
He told judges he was afraid that the wolves would be too wary to cooperate, because “Iberian wolves are seen as a threat to game and livestock, which they hunt when natural food is scarce. In Spain, the population of Iberian wolves - a subspecies of the grey wolf - is thought to number 1000 to 2000 in the north, with a few tiny, isolated populations in the south.” Rodríguez hopes his picture, “showing the wolf’s great agility and strength,” will become an image that can be used to show just how beautiful the Iberian wolf is. . .”
Wildlife photographer Jim Brandenburg, a competition judge, said of the “The Storybook Wolf” image, “This wolf jumping over the farmer’s enclosure with the supposed intent of killing his livestock speaks for itself. Thousands of years of history are frozen in this masterfully executed moment. This is a more technically complex photograph to achieve than one can imagine.” “The Storybook Wolf” bested 43,135 entries from 94 countries.
All winners, runners-up, and commended photographs from the competition’s 17 categories are on exhibit at the Natural History Museum through April 11, 2010, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:50 p.m. everyday except December 24-26. For more information, click here
.Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year is owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine.
Text by Alice B. Miller