The awe-inspiring winners of a prestigious nature photo contest, from a shot of a crocodile attack to a picture of a prancing polar bear cub… which is YOUR favourite?

Dramatic cloud formations over a Chilean mountainscape, a crocodile devouring a wildebeest and a polar bear cub prancing over an ice shelf.

These are some of the scenes captured by the winners of All About Photo (AAP) magazine’s nature photography contest, a prestigious awards that celebrates photographers who ‘beautifully capture the essence of nature, highlighting the magnificence of landscapes, wildlife, and flora and fauna’.

It’s the first nature-themed contest organised by AAP, a monthly online magazine that endeavours to educate and inspire in all things photography-related by providing a platform to ‘exceptional’ work from around the world.

Twenty-five photographers from 11 countries worldwide have been presented with awards. The grand prize winner is Thomas Vijayan, an Indian wildlife photographer whose subjects include Bornean orangutans and Vietnam’s critically endangered golden-headed langur monkeys.

A statement from AAP Magazine says: ‘Nature photography is a captivating genre that explores and captures the breathtaking beauty of the natural world.’ It adds that this style of photography ‘not only celebrates the earth’s majesty but also serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of conservation and our responsibility to protect our planet for future generations’. 

Scroll down to see MailOnline Travel’s pick of the winners – with images from Vijayan’s gold-medal-winning portfolio at the very bottom…

With a tuft of its hair blowing in the wind, this young lion can be seen staring into the distance in Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It was captured by Italian photographer Paolo Ameli, who bags a ‘Merit’ award 

This green-hued shot shows the red-eyed tree frog in a jungle in Costa Rica’s La Fortuna region. Photographer Pablo Trilles Farrington – the recipient of a ‘Merit’ award – describes the creature as ‘hypnotic’, noting that its distinctive features are its red eyes and the blue stripe that colours its sides. He notes that though these frogs are typically nocturnal, ‘this photograph was taken during the day when the frog was looking for a better place to rest’

In this breathtaking shot, a caravan of camels moves through a storm near the town of Merzouga, which lies in the Sahara Desert in Morocco. Photographer Olivier Unia, the recipient of a ‘Merit’ award, describes the scene as a ‘gift from nature’ 

This magnificent image shows a group of gelada monkeys – also known as the bleeding-heart monkey – in Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains. Photographer Turgay Uzer, a ‘Merit’ award-winner, says: ‘To protect themselves from leopards, they spend the night on tiny ledges on the impossibly steep cliffs of the mountains and climb back on the plateau at daybreak to graze’

This magical shot of silhouetted gelada monkeys in Ethiopia’s Simien Mountains is the work of Turgay Uzer

A young polar bear cub walks with a spring in its step in this captivating photograph by Turgay Uzer, which is titled: ‘I’ve Got Things To Do And People To See.’ It was captured in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago

Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park was the setting for this mesmerising shot, which shows a ‘young leopard checking on its hoisted kill’ – which means the kill was tugged onto a tree to keep it out of reach of other carnivores. It’s the handiwork of Turgay Uzer

A lion in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park is the subject of this beautifully composed picture by ‘Merit’ award-winner Turgay Uzer

This transfixing shot of a night monkey in Panama’s Parque Nacional Soberania was captured by Turgay Uzer. Describing the creature, he says: ‘It weighs less than one kilogram, has some of the biggest eyes in nature and those long pianists’ fingers!’ Uzer adds: ‘Sadly, the [night monkey] is endangered in Panama because of deforestation, capture for the pet trade and poaching’ 

Turgay Uzer captured this stunning shot of an elephant feeding on the leaves of acacia trees in Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools National Park

Though it looks like they’re enemies, the jaguars in this powerful shot are actually mating, photographer Turgay Uzer reveals. He explains: ‘Big cat mating starts with courting, continues with purring and ends with snarls and violence. And can go on like that for days.’ The picture was captured in Brazil’s Parque Estadual Encontro das Aguas 

A crocodile feasts on an unfortunate wildebeest in the Mara River in Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve in this jarring shot by Turgay Uzer, titled ‘Dinner Time’ 

This picture of a leopard cub feeding on an impala kill in Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park is the work of Turgay Uzer. He says: ‘We could have been the first humans this cub had seen. The mother left after dragging a heavy impala kill into the thicket. It was aware of us and yet kept on feeding’ 

U.S photographer Jo Fields captured this striking shot of a non-venomous rat snake on a branch. ‘Many people walking by shuddered with fear and kept walking by,’ Fields says, adding that the snake had just come out of hibernation. Fields snaps up a ‘Merit’ award 

This stunning shot shows lenticular clouds over Torres del Paine National Park in Chile’s Patagonia region. Photographer Carmen Villar, who gets a ‘Merit’ award, remarks: ‘Before the sun came up, the colour of the clouds was simply impressive’

This image was captured by overall winner Thomas Vijayan. It shows an inquisitive-looking golden-headed langur, a critically endangered species of monkey endemic to Vietnam’s Cat Ba Island. There are less than 70 golden-headed langurs remaining, the photographer reveals, adding that the species was almost extinct two decades ago, due to poaching for medicine and hunting for sport. Their average body length is 20 inches (50cm) and then their tails extend another three feet (one metre), he says

Behold another spectacular shot captured by overall winner Vijayan, this time showing an orangutan in Tanjung Puting National Park, Borneo 

Travel To These 5 Places To Capture The Beauty Of Nature

New Delhi: Travel is a hobby for most of us as we get to see the beauty that the world has to provide. But, what is travelling without clicking pictures? For when you are back to your regular life, it’s the pictures that give us a whif of freshness and remind us of the sweet days spent in a distant land with your family, friends or even alone. International Photography Day is celebrated every year on August 19 and this year the theme is ‘Understanding Clouds’. 

So, to capture a glimpse of the beautiful clouds and the beauty in nature that it brings, here are 5 plaes that you can visit on the occasion of National Photography Day.

1. Coorg, Karnataka

Coorg, located in the country’s southernmost region, promises an unforgettable experience for nature lovers. Capture the beauty of this quaint little town, with its misty waterfalls, dewy grounds, imposing mountains, gushing waterfalls, and cotton-candy skies. Talacauvery, the origin point of the Cauvery River in the Brahmagiri hills, offers a spellbinding hilltop view. Bring your camera and make sure you don’t miss the sunset from this vantage point.


Image Source: Getty

2. Meghalaya:

Meghalaya, or the Land of Clouds, is one of the most beautiful states in North-East India, with a wide range of sights, activities, food, and festivals for visitors. Meghalaya is well known for Cherapunjji, which receives one of the highest amounts of rainfall in the world, but it can also enchant you with its hills, valleys, lakes, caves, and waterfalls, which, when combined with the beautiful clouds, give it a very serene, beautiful appearance. There is nothing that can stop you from taking out your camera and get your Instagram perfect shots.


Image Source: Getty

3. Lonavla, Maharashtra

With its intriguing caves and picturesque roads, there is no denying that Lonavala is an ideal weekend getaway. What few people realise is that it is also an excellent location for a photoshoot. Climb the Tikona or Rajmachi caves for incredible views of the surrounding forest and clouds. Get an early start to capture the first rays of sunlight hitting the clouds as they turn red.


Image Source: Getty

4. Mangalore, Karnataka:

The port city of Mangalore, or Mangaluru, is known for its swaying coconut palms, beautiful beaches, and temple architecture. It is located between the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghats. The beautiful beaches, as well as the temples, churches, and mosques, are major tourist attractions in Mangalore. Some of the places to visit include the Kudroli Temple, Mangaladevi Temple, Someshwara Beach, Panambur Beach, Tannirbavi Beach, and Pilikula Nisargadhama. Yaksha Gana, Mangalore’s folk dance, will add colour to your pictures and cast a spell on you as you witness the beautiful culture that it preserves and glorifies.


Image Source: Getty

5. Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir

Srinagar, which is adorned with beautiful landscapes and heavy snow during the winters, is just as pleasant and picturesque in August. With such a rich culture, the city becomes an ideal location for photography. Climb the Shankaracharya hills and photograph the clouds against the stunning backdrop of Dal Lake and dense green vegetation. Or take a boat ride and photograph the sky just before the sun rises. If you aren’t a morning person, go at dusk to capture the vibrant colours of the late-evening skies.


Image Source: Getty

In Pictures: Photos from a US storm chaser

(Image credit: Camille Seaman)

American photographer Camille Seaman spent eight years chasing supercell storms around the US, capturing their sublime and terrifying splendour in captivating images.


I travel the world capturing fleeting moments of power in diverse landscapes. From melting icebergs at both poles to stormy states across the US, my images showcase the beauty and fragility of nature. I began storm chasing after my daughter, eight years old at the time, suggested it might be of interest while we were watching the Storm Chasers TV show.

It was the light, the colour and the strange nature of the clouds themselves that drew me to actually do a web search, contact a chaser and then just three days later, find myself in a vehicle driving fast through bad weather. After that first chase week, I asked the trip leader if he had any other spaces available and he asked me if I could drive. Then he hired me on the spot, and I officially became a professional chaser.

We would chase as far south as Texas and as far north as the Dakotas. We stayed mostly in the Great Plains but sometimes found ourselves as far west New Mexico. It was for a long time something I enjoyed doing. But after eight years I had had my fill. My book The Big Cloud is an opus to that time.

I wasn’t prepared for just how overwhelming an experience chasing can be. This storm in Kansas was visceral and multisensory: the smell of the charged particles, the sweetness of the grass, the scent of the pavement just before it rains, the sight of the wind blowing through cornfields. Not to mention the colours of the clouds and the light of the sky and the lightning. It was all so beautiful, so awesome and so humbling at the same time.

When I’m storm chasing, I feel a sense of belonging. Not because I’m photographing, but because I am present and realise that our experience as humans on this planet is limitless. Everything is interrelated. The storms provide vital water and nutrients to the very fertile plains. Something about being there as a witness to this incredible force, this elemental force of vortex energy, reminds me that I am part of this great interconnection.

I like images that don’t look overworked or manipulated, such as this one I took in Bartlett, Nebraska. The storm is already so amazing, there’s no need to accentuate it. I look for images that capture the structure and compositional balance and have a sensitivity to colour and light. When you get the image, you feel it.

Supercell storms, like this one near Browerville, Minnesota, can be 50 miles wide, so it’s almost impossible to fit that into a 24mm lens on a full-frame camera, and there’s no time to set up a tripod. Clouds are a little forgiving to photograph because they are soft shapes with no hard edges, but it’s very dark. A lot of my images are taken with a wide aperture to let the most available light in. When photographing storms, my advice would be to have both a long lens (telephoto) as well as a wide-angle lens.

Whenever we pulled into a town, inevitably we’d stand out as we’d have storm chasing equipment on our car. People either saw us as a bad omen or they’d say, “Is it coming our way?”. There is nothing more frightening than hearing those storm sirens go off. You have all this warm, moist air being sucked into the plains, you have rotating clouds. You can feel the warm air against your back, being pulled into the storm.

I grew up always knowing to respect nature and its power. At no point during this storm in Presho, South Dakota, did I feel brazen, like I’m invincible. At the same time, in storm chasing, you want to stay on the chasing side. You don’t want to become chased. That can pivot very quickly. As careful as you want to be, sometimes that’s irrelevant.

Once, after determining we weren’t in danger, we decided to stay put while a massive rotating cloud known as a low precipitation mesocyclone passed overhead of Lodgepole, Nebraska. It looked like a spaceship. It was one of the few times where I didn’t know what to do. Anywhere you looked, it was unreal. The cloud was so large it occupied the entire visual space. I needed a bigger lens. You couldn’t make one wide enough.

Storm chasing isn’t for everyone. When Tim Samaras (one of the US’ most respected and safety-conscious chasers) died in the 2013 El Reno tornado (pictured above), that storm felt like a wake-up call. I tried to chase the following year, but when we were out there, it was like I had lost my nerve. I missed a lot of great opportunities because I wouldn’t get close enough. I could feel that I was done.

But what I learned was that storm chasing offers an insight into some of the most powerful and beautiful forces on our planet. However, you must have immense respect and common sense. Don’t chase on your own. Find responsible, vetted tour leaders. Most of all, be safe out there.

Camille Seaman is an American photographer who applies portraiture strategies to capture the changing natural environment.Many of her photographs focus on the natural world, including icebergs and clouds.


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Photography In The National Parks: Death Valley Days

A morning view at Father Crowley Vista Point, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

“I had absolutely no idea Death Valley National Park was so beautiful,” my amazed sister told me after looking at a few photos I’d emailed her from my May trip to this national park. Truth be told, I had no idea, either, of the beauty, color, and depth of the landscapes I would photograph. Even after poring through Flickr photos of Death Valley, I still envisioned a washed out, hazy, dusty panorama (including a cow skull or two) over which a blindingly bright sun produced furnace-hot air shimmers while sucking the moisture from everything it touched. Yes, it is dry, hot, and dusty out there, especially if you visit May through September. But everything I experienced and photographed, from the geology to the terra cotta colors of the corrugated hillsides, to the crazy slapdash look of the mountain rocks, to the sunrises, sunsets, and brilliant stars, to the quirky history of the park, people and land, won me over completely.

A visit to Death Valley with your cameras will reward you with awesome shots and teach you something about handling cameras and capturing photos in 114-degree F heat. Yes, I know, winter is the best time to visit for cooler temps and less haze, but sometimes, the only time you are free to travel to Death Valley is during the summer season. You go when you can go. A visit in the summer will also teach you about handling yourself under constant heat. It’s all about water, water, and more water … plus sunglasses, light clothing, a little sunscreen, and common sense.

Park staff, signs, and other printed materials cautioning the Death Valley visitor to restrict or even curtail their activities after 10 a.m. during the summer season are spot on – especially for photography. Morning and late afternoon / evening times are best for saturated light, shadows, and depth anyway, so you might as well heed those cautions. Besides, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., the sun is, indeed, bright, sharp, and harsh. It’s also quite hazy (actually, it’s hazy by 8 a.m.). And it’s hot, hot, hot. The hotter it gets, the hotter your camera will feel to the touch. The late afternoon heat remained so intense one day that my medium format camera registered a yellow thermometer warning icon on the LCD screen. First time I’d ever seen that! I put that baby back into the backpack pronto, returning to the air-conditioned comfort of my rental truck quickly thereafter.

In addition to the heat, you should remember to affix the lens you wish to whatever camera you have and leave it on. It’s sandy and dusty (especially near the dunes), often quite windy, and if you are at Badwater Basin, there’s salt in the air. Dust and salt can finagle their way onto your camera’s sensor and into your camera’s system a bit or a bunch whenever you switch lenses out in the field. Even when the camera is “weather resistant.” Sometimes, the lens switching can’t be avoided, but try not to do this too much, if possible, and keep your back to the wind.

Ok, so what kind of images can you get, aside from the iconic shots? Well, I strongly advise getting those iconic shots. Why, when a gazillion images exist out there of those places already? Because your image is going to be different from those gazillion others. The change in seasons, the size and shape of the clouds, the quality of the light, the time of day – all these together create a unique image specifically yours captured at that one moment in time. Yes, even if you are standing next to a person aiming their camera in the same general direction. So go ahead and click that shutter button at Zabriskie Point, Dantes View, Badwater Basin, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Father Crowley Vista Point, and all those other famous spots.

Oh, speaking of iconic spots and sunrises, sunsets, and star shots: the views at Zabriskie Point and Dantes View look west, so sunrise will bathe the Panamint Mountains across the valley, eventually moving over the valley and ultimately immersing the nearby hills with golden light. If you wish to photograph the actual sun rising above the mountains, you’ll need to turn your camera and face the landscape behind you.

Sunrise over Manly Beacon at Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

Watching the sun rise behind me at Dantes View, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

In my opinion, you’ll get more sunrise bang for your buck at Zabriskie Point. Ditto for “blue hour,” which is that time of morning and evening when the landscape and sky are colored with shades of purple, blue and pink prior to sunrise and just after sunset.

Blue hour at Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

Dantes View and Zabriskie Point are both great for sunsets and star shots. I’m a sunrise kind of gal, but I photographed more sunsets than sunrises in this national park.

Sunset at Dantes View, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

I did also manage to stay up late enough to capture a starry night at Dantes View. The next time I visit Death Valley, I’m going to try and photograph sunset and stars at Badwater Basin.

Sunset’s afterglow and the beginning of night at Dantes View, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

Look for interesting shapes, patterns, and textures. The polygonal salt patterns reflecting the mud cracks beneath at Badwater Basin make amazing compositions.

Salt flat and storm clouds at Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

Heck, even the geometry of a view area is great for a photo.

The curvy pavement to and from Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

A salt flat seen from the height of Dantes View, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

Why on earth would you want to photograph a view area or a building or something manmade? Well, aside from the fact that most of the infrastructure in the park has some sort of history associated with it, those objects flesh out the story of your Death Valley experience. If you can see the beauty in something like the curving pavement from parking lot to Zabriskie Point view area, and even compare it to a salt flat out on the valley that looks eerily similar in shape, then you’ve got great powers of photographic observation. Remember, capture shots of what interests you, be it a view area, a close-up of salt on a salt flat, or the mud cracks of an ancient lakebed. All these images tell your personal park adventure story.

A delicate crust of salt, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

Creosote bushes, sand, and an ancient lakebed at Mesquite Flat, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

Death Valley is a great national park in which to include shots of people. Really? Yes, really. The people you see in the images below are great scale and reference.

Viewing Artists Palette, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

Walking back to the parking lot at Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

These landscapes are much larger / broader / taller than you’d think, and without some frame of reference your viewers can apply to the landscape, they won’t know the width and breadth of a feature. Humans, vehicles, buildings, anything else man-made helps your viewer get a sense of the size and provides that frame of reference for comparison.

Plus, people can add a bit of human interest.

Waiting for sunrise at Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

Speaking of people, don’t forget to include yourself in some shots. You provide as much scale and reference as the next person, you know.

Becky at Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

If you’ve read any of my other photo columns, you’ll know I’m a huge proponent of the leading line technique. It’s my favorite theme, and Death Valley provides plenty of leading line photo ops guiding the viewer’s eye from one part of your image to the other while allowing them to take in every detail of your composition. The road across the Panamint Valley is a fantastic leading line subject, as is Badwater Road and Artists Drive leading to Artists Palette.

The road across Panamint Valley heading east, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

Don’t forget to experiment with your shots. For instance, I never created many panoramic shots consisting of multiple images stitched together using a photo editor like Adobe Photoshop. Dantes View provided the perfect opportunity for me to try my hand at this technique. The image below is a panorama of seven combined images.

Dantes View morning panorama, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

Any broad landscape provides great panoramic material. You can take as many or as few shots as you wish. Just remember all the images should be at the same level (no moving the tripod up and down for different shots for your panorama). Handholding your camera is not really a good idea for this technique, although you can do it. Even your smartphone creates panoramas. Bear in mind a panorama created from multiple images will take up quite a bit of space on your computer.

Converting a color image to monochrome is a fantastic experiment producing dramatic compositions emphasizing texture, pattern, light, and shadows. Death Valley, in addition to being a land of extremes, is also a land of contrasts: sharp, textured clarity versus soft, shadowy curves. Black-and-white imagery highlights these contrasts without the distraction (if you can call it that) of added color, allowing your viewer to concentrate on those textural and light differences.

A monochrome morning view toward the Badwater Basin parking lot waaay in the distance, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

I know I’ve already stressed how hot it can get during the summer months (which includes late spring and autumn). What I have not yet mentioned but what you will see for yourself – usually after uploading the file to your computer – is product of the heat out there – a wavey, almost unfocused appearance to your images when using a telephoto lens. This issue is known as “heat shimmer” or “heat haze” and I noticed this with photos I’d taken of Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes using my 100 – 400mm lens. Heat shimmer occurs when you look at objects (or photograph them) through a layer of heated air. writes that heat changes the air density and thus its index of refraction (i.e., how much the light bends between your eye and the object). A further search on Google indicates this issue may be mitigated to a certain extent by using a lens hood and polarizing filter. I used both, but my sand dune images still show heat shimmer. Maybe the effect would have been greater had I not used a hood and polarizer filter – I don’t know. Even if your image displays a little heat haze, doesn’t it shout out to you “it’s HOT here”?

An example of heat shimmer effect on an image, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

Exploring the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes – the full view, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

A caveat of visiting Death Valley during the summer season (aside from the heat) is that your backgrounds will be hazy. According to the NPS, pollutants blow into the park “from metropolitan areas, industrial areas, and transportation corridors from the west.” Nature also adds its own two-cents’-worth of haze by “blowing dust into the air. But humans increase the amount of dust available to be blown by the wind when they drive on unpaved roads or break up the salt crust by walking on it.”

Can you mitigate haze in your images? Sometimes, a circular polarizing filter diminishes some of that haze, as does a grad ND filter. There is also a fix you can apply while processing your hazy images, depending upon what your photo editor offers. It’s called “dehazing.” I use Adobe Lightroom for a first pass at editing and there’s a dehaze slider on that program. Judicious use of that slider helps reduce or eliminate atmospheric haze. On the other hand, sometimes haze makes for a nice effect to tell your photographic story. To see less haze in your landscapes, Death Valley during the winter is the ideal time because of improved air quality since the winds and air mass originate “in a less developed area,” as opposed to LA, San Francisco, Sacramento, and all those other West Coast big cities.

The salt trail to a salt flat at Badwater Basin – original view, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

The salt trail to a salt flat at Badwater Basin – dehazed mountains, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

Despite the haze created by mid-May heat, this hottest, driest, lowest national park provides photographic surprises around every corner. A visit to Death Valley National Park, no matter what time of year, will win you over as completely as it’s done me. And like me, you might even wish to return for a second visit.

That one moment in time at Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park / Rebecca Latson

How to take great photos on a smartphone: Travel photography tips

Scott Howes shares his top tips for taking photographs on a phone while travelling. Photo / Scott Howes

Whether you’re spending the summer in Europe or embracing a South Island ski season, capturing photographs is the ultimate way to create memories and share your travels with loved ones.

Thanks to the ever-improving quality of smartphone cameras, you don’t have to spend thousands on a DSLR camera to take stunningly detailed photos and high-definition videos.

However, there are a few tips and tricks to know if you want your travel snaps to stand out. Herald Travel asks talented photographer and content creator Scott Howes to share his five biggest tips for nailing ‘the shot’ on a smartphone camera.

Hailing from London, Scott Howes has lived and worked as a commercial photographer in New Zealand for several years. Photo / Scott Howes

1. Use grids and guides


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I would always recommend people turn on the grids and guides and level on their camera phone, it’s game-changing.

Most phones have the option to add a grid, which basically puts two lines down the middle and two lines across your screen. This helps you follow a popular rule in photography called the ‘rule of thirds’.

I use the grids feature every day on my phone and on my actual cameras and it means you can line up the subject or the frame that you’re trying to shoot, and place them in one of the ‘thirds’, which makes it more aesthetically pleasing.

Most smartphones also have a level in them, to save you from taking wonky photos and videos.


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2. Take time and take it right

Travel can be crazy and super fast-paced and it’s easy to get excited and just snap away. It’s only when you get home to edit or review the photos you may realise you’re not happy with them.

So, despite having taken photos professionally for years, I still often take a step back and pause before taking the shot, because if you get it right ‘in camera’ it saves you so much work editing later on.

Howes recently travelled around Japan and took many photographs on an Oppo phone. Photo / Scott Howes

3. Think differently

I think one of the keys of photography is not to just point and shoot. Maybe research your destination beforehand and find unique places to photograph or a way to capture a popular spot differently. For instance, everyone who goes to Roys Peak takes that same standard shot looking down the viewpoint but there are endless possibilities for different photos; it just takes some time to find them.

4. Don’t forget the light

The time of day is key because the lighting is what makes a photo. For me personally, sunrise and sunset are the best times of day to shoot. The sun isn’t as high in the sky so you don’t get harsh light, it’s softer and creates nicer shadows too.

I’ll admit, getting up at 4am for a sunrise shot isn’t for everybody, some people go on holiday just to chill. Either way, lighting is worth thinking about when you take a photo and going a little earlier or later in the day can help you miss crowds at popular attractions.

Howes said Chureito Pagoda, in Fujiyoshida, was an iconic ‘tourist shot’ many people take while visiting. Photo / Scott Howes

5. Try shooting in Raw

Usually, you can let the smartphone choose the camera settings for you. But if you want to take your photos a step further, you can shoot in RAW if your phone camera has a ‘pro mode’. This is how we shoot on a DSLR camera and the image is minimally processed, which gives you more freedom when editing your photos in an app like Lightroom.


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Thanks to OPPO, we have one Find N2 Flip smartphone to give away, valued at $1679.

The OPPO Find N2 Flip is full of great features, including an invisible crease, large front screen, 50MP Hasselblad camera setup, fast charge, long-lasting battery, and cool designs.

To enter, go to and fill in your details.

The competition closes at 11.59pm on Monday August 7. Terms and conditions apply.

Be in to win an OPPO Find N2 Flip smartphone with Herald Travel. Photo / Supplied

The breathtaking winning images from the GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2023 contest

From a ‘smiling’ crocodile to an incredible multicoloured iceberg: Breathtaking winning images from a prestigious nature photography contest


The natural world can mesmerise, startle and take the breath away, as the images here show.

These astonishing photos have been honoured in the German Association for Nature Photography (GDT) Nature Photographer of the Year 2023 competition, which saw nearly 7,000 entries flood in from 13 countries.

Among the entries to capture the attention of the judges is a dynamic shot of a ‘smiling’ crocodile off the coast of Cuba, a dark and moody picture of an iceberg in Greenland and a hypnotising portrait of an owl.

However, it’s a cleverly framed photograph of a pair of kites – birds of prey – symmetrically perched on opposing sides of a telegraph pole that claims the top prize, earning photographer Silke Huttche the title of GDT Nature Photographer of the Year.

Notably, the German photographer is only the second woman to be named the overall winner in the contest’s 51-year history. The contest’s organisers say that this is ‘a good sign that the historically male-dominated genre of nature photography is increasingly reflecting society in a more realistic way’.

Below is a handful of the magnificent winning and commended nature photographs from the awards. Scroll down to the very bottom to see the photograph that’s been named the cream of the crop…

This eye-catching picture, ranking sixth in the ‘Other Animals’ category, shows two American crocodiles in the mangroves of the Jardines de la Reina archipelago off the coast of mainland Cuba. Titled ‘Smile’, it’s the work of photographer Laura Becker

Landing in sixth place in the ‘Mammals’ category, this stunning shot by photographer Barbara Kaltenborn shows a polar bear with her cub on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard

Topping the podium in the ‘Landscapes’ category, this mesmerising picture by Britta Strack shows the ‘mystical’ Pasterze Glacier at the foot of Austria’s Grossglockner mountain

A blackbird is silhouetted by the moon in this beautiful shot, which ranks sixth in the ‘Birds’ category. Photographer Anton Trexler says that it shows the ‘melancholy of the threshold between day and night’

Taking the bronze medal in the ‘Urban Nature’ category, this brilliant picture by Anton Trexler shows a gecko inside a lantern in Spain

This hypnotising close-up of an owl is the work of photographer Karsten Mosebach. The portrait ranks third in the ‘Birds’ category 

LEFT: This magnificent shot of a roe deer under a full moon was taken before sunrise at the edge of a nature reserve in the State of Brandenburg, Germany. Captured by photographer Andreas Geh, it ranks in eighth place in the ‘Mammals’ category.  RIGHT: Describing this evocative shot, photographer Andy Schmid says: ‘A male orca turns his back on the camera in a dark and cold fjord in northern Norway, but leaves positive energy behind.’ The image takes ninth place in the ‘Mammals’ category

This spellbinding picture of a drifting iceberg in Greenland has been captured by photographer Scott Portelli. He notes that ‘intertwined layers of ice reveal vivid black, blue and translucent plains’ within the iceberg. The shot is placed eighth in the ‘Landscapes’ category

Photographer Peter Lindel notes that the ‘cloud of haze’ in this picture is not the breath of the lion that’s pictured, but rather ‘the body heat of the just-killed zebra’ in the centre of the frame. The shot ranks tenth in the ‘Mammals’ category

Recalling taking this transfixing portrait of a female elephant, Peter Lindel says: ‘The matriarch cow kept an eye on us until the last member of her small group had passed us.’ The image takes the silver medal in the ‘Mammals’ category

Captured in the autumn, this breathtaking shot shows fog descending over the Vosges Mountains in France during the sunrise. Taken by photographer Radomir Jakubowski, the image – titled ‘Autumn Fog Inferno’ – takes second place in the ‘Landscapes’ category

This dynamic shot shows a mouse ‘taking a short break from foraging at night on the ledge of an old and dusty cellar window’. Ranking sixth in the ‘Urban Nature’ category, it’s the work of photographer Maximilian Fellermann

This is the shot that has won Silke Huttche the title of GDT Nature Photographer of the Year. Huttche, who lives in the German city of Wuppertal, says: ‘Every time I pass this electricity pole I take a look up for there is always some kind of bird sitting there. As was the case on this somewhat dull day when I glanced up and spotted the kite sitting there on the one end. Shortly after a second one [settled] on the opposite end. This was getting exciting – were the two a pair or rivals? They just seemed to have nothing to say to each other and kept looking in opposite directions.’ Huttche titled the shot ‘Scenes of a Marriage’. It also takes the top prize in the ‘Urban Nature’ category 

From bees to baby owls, the stunning winning images in the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2023

Britain’s breathtaking landscapes and wonderous creatures have been showcased in memorable style – by entries to this year’s British Wildlife Photography Awards (BWPA).

The 2023 contest received more than 13,000 images, with amateur and professional photographers competing for a £5,000 grand prize.

Twenty-eight-year-old Charlie Page was declared the grand prize winner for his ‘powerful’ image of a fox in front of an industrial backdrop, while Billy Evans-Freke took home the RSPB Young British Wildlife Photographer of the Year award for his beautiful picture of a tawny owlet.

‘The talented photographers in this year’s competition have given us an exceptional window into Britain’s nature,’ says Will Nicholls, Director of BWPA. ‘It’s an important reminder of the wildlife and wild spaces that still remain in the UK, and are in need of our care and protection.’

All awarded images are published by Bird Eye Books in a hard-back coffee-table book, which is now available online at, with a foreword by Dame Judi Dench.

Scroll down to see the winning images by Page and Evans-Freke, plus a selection of category winners and shortlisted entries that impressed MailOnline Travel…

This heartwarming picture of a fox in London covered in dandelion seeds was taken by Lewis Newman and won the Animal Portraits category. Newman said: ‘After spending a lot of time with this particular vixen, she began to learn I was not a threat. This gave me some great photographic opportunities. I got to know her routine, and as the wild flowers began to grow, I would find her curled up amongst them. As the dandelions began to open there were a couple of days when she would wake up covered in them. Although she got used to my presence, if I were to move too fast or drop anything she would immediately leave. Later on in spring, I was blessed with her bringing her cubs to me and have watched them grow ever since’

A quirky scene captured by James Roddie in Scotland, with the image snaring the gold medal in the Animal Behaviour category. Roddie explained that he took the picture during a common toad migration, which apparently can be ‘spectacular to watch’. He continued: ‘As the large females make their way to the water, the smaller males approach them to try and “hitch a lift”. It can result in some amusing behaviour, as multiple males will often try to mount the same female. This image was captured just as one of the males tried to push away another. It can be quite a difficult thing to photograph, as this is one situation when toads move surprisingly quickly’

A mesmerising image taken by Ed Phillips of a Willughby’s leafcutter bee in his Staffordshire garden. The shot was a runner-up in the Animal Portraits category. Phillips said: ‘I have a particular interest in the UK’s solitary bees and like to photograph the species that visit our Staffordshire garden. I had seen this male Willughby’s leafcutter bee looking out of a hole, but it kept retreating whenever I approached. They often pause to warm-up at the entrance before flying off, so I waited, camera poised for the right moment. It eventually reappeared and I carefully framed the shot. At the last moment it cocked its head to one side to what I felt was a pleasing angle’

This amazing image was the runner-up in the Black & White category and taken by Paula Cooper in Scotland on Bass Rock, a volcanic plug in the Firth of Forth that’s home to over 150,000 gannets. Cooper said: ‘I wanted to show the drama of the place so converted it to black and white and darkened the image’

This spellbinding picture won the Black & White category. It shows woodland at Great Mell Fell in the Lake District, with photographer Matthew Turner describing it as ‘a strange and otherworldly place, with gnarled bark, distorted branches and dank moss everywhere’. He added: ‘I clambered through the jumble of fallen trees and eventually stumbled upon this decaying specimen, which to me looked like a claw reaching out from the decomposing pile of tree carcasses beneath. I used my tripod to avoid any camera shake due to the dark and dingy conditions, which suited the scene perfectly’

The competition has a Wild Woods category – and this was the runner-up. A stunning image taken in Abernethy in Scotland by Graham Niven. He said: ‘The Abernethy Forest in the Cairngorm National Park is a very special place which I am fortunate to call home. It encompasses one of the largest remnants of Caledonian pinewood, as well as moorland, wetlands and mountains, and is home to a host of specialist pinewood and upland plants and animals. A wonderful place for photography, I am always trying to capture its splendour and translate some of the magic and value it holds. During a spell of sunny August weather, I managed to convince a pal to meet me at the summit of the nearest hill (Meall a’ Bhuachaille) at 5am before sunrise. As the sun rose, it illuminated the swirling mist in the forest below, accentuating the shapes and layers of trees. A magical but brief moment, lasting only a few minutes before the mist burned off’

The winner in the Wild Woods category was this breathtaking image of an ethereal scene on Badbury Hill in Oxfordshire. It was taken by Philip Selby, who said he was ‘struck by the sense of endlessness as the beech trees eerily dissolved into the silent, misty obscurity’

Taken in Scotland’s Western Highlands by Neil McIntyre, this beautiful picture was the winner of the Habitat category

The runner-up in the Habitat category was this picture of mountain hares in the Cairngorms in Scotland. The photographer, Peter Bartholomew, said: ‘Deep snow drifts had left ridges and contours on the plateau. Visibility was limited as strong winds buffeted the cornices and snow swirled down the valley. Across the bowl, the male hare moved slowly towards the female hare above it and stopped. For a moment the blizzard abated, allowing me to capture the hares in their special mountain environment’

Matthew Cattell snapped this picture of a murmuration of starlings in Brighton and was honoured with a runner-up accolade in the Urban Wildlife category for his efforts. He said: ‘On this particular evening, an approaching storm was illuminating the horizon, and as the light levels dropped, the brightness of the sky balanced with the lights on the Palace Pier. As the starlings arrived to roost, they swept across the sea, producing graceful, elegant curves across my view finder. I particularly love the shape of their movement in this photograph’

Billy Evans-Freke has been named the RSPB Young British Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023 and 15-17 Years Winner for this shot of a tawny owlet near his home in East Sussex

Feast your eyes on the image that made photographer Charlie Page British Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2023. It was taken in Lee Valley Park, with Page revealing: ‘I knew this area was reliable for foxes, and I wanted a shot with the industrial backdrop. One day when setting up my camera with a remote shutter release, a fox approached from my left. Hesitant about what to do, I stayed still, and surprisingly the fox stopped right in my frame. I took the shot but was confused why it had come so close. In hindsight, this encounter probably tells the story more than the photo itself. Wildlife has become used to us encroaching on them. I think the felled tree and longing look on the fox’s face portray this tragedy perfectly. I hope that all wildlife photography doesn’t look like this in years to come’

See 15 Amazing Wildlife Images From the Sony World Photography Awards | Smart News

From a playful-looking stoat to a mantis shrimp guarding its eggs, the animal subjects in the 2023 Sony World Photography Awards are captivating. This year’s winning photographers captured creatures in Svalbard, Norway; Bangladesh; Brazil and the depths of the Indo-Pacific.

On Tuesday, the World Photography Organization announced the shortlist and winners in the open competition, which allowed submissions from people of all ages and experience levels. Of the 415,000 total entries, which also included images in the youth and professional categories, the open awards received 200,000.

The contest accepted photos that fit under ten wide umbrellas: architecture, creative, landscape, lifestyle, motion, natural world and wildlife, object, portraiture, street photography and travel. From all of these subjects, one winner will be crowned on April 13.

“Finding original and different viewpoints photographically is challenging—but ever more rewarding,” Mike Trow, chair of the jury that judged the entries, said in a statement when the contest’s professional winners were announced. “They covered the profound and ongoing discussions around narrative truth and agency in art, as well as wider environmental, political and societal viewpoints.”

Here are the stunning animal and nature photos commended in the open competition’s natural world and wildlife category. (Standout pictures from all the categories can be seen here.) After viewing these awe-inspiring images, cast a vote for the Reader’s Choice award in Smithsonian magazine’s own annual photo contest.

“Mighty Pair” by Dinorah Graue Obscura, Winner

Two crested caracaras sit on a branch in nearly identical poses.

© Dinorah Graue Obscura, Mexico, Winner, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

Mexican photographer Dinorah Graue Obscura was taking pictures of crested caracaras flying in Texas when she found two of them sitting together on a branch. Here, these carrion-feeding birds in the falcon family were sitting very still and looking in the same direction, as if posing for the camera.

“I think that a good picture does not need color, it just needs to capture the desired moment in time,” writes the photographer in a statement. But in the case of this image, the subjects also made it stand out. “I was amazed by their powerful personalities,” she writes.

“Stoat’s game” by Jose Manuel Grandio

A stoat leaps in a dance in a snow-covered landscape.

© Jose Manuel Grandio, Spain, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

This snow-white stoat in midair is demonstrating a mysterious behavior. Such twisting jumps are fairly common for the ferret-like creatures, but scientists aren’t exactly sure why. Some theorize it’s an involuntary response to infection by parasites, while others suggest it’s part of hunting.

“Sometimes, the dances are performed in front of a rabbit or large bird in an apparent attempt to confuse or distract potential prey,” Spanish photographer Jose Manuel Grandio writes in a statement. “But on other occasions—as here—there is no prey animal in sight.”

“Pandora” by Marcio Esteves Cabral

Wildflowers in a field under a sky bright with stars.

© Marcio Esteves Cabral, Brazil, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

To capture these Paepalanthus wildflowers that form balls of tiny blooms, Marcio Esteves Cabral used a lantern to illuminate them. In the background, the Milky Way lights up the sky.

The flowers are “firework-like,” the Brazilian photographer writes in a statement. “It took several attempts, as I needed to capture the flowers without any wind to avoid motion blur during the long exposure.”

“The Captivating Eyes” by Protap Shekhor Mohanto

A young owl’s piercing yellow eyes stare into the camera.

© Protap Shekhor Mohanto, Bangladesh, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, Sony World Photography Awards 2023

At the National Botanical Garden of Bangladesh, Protap Shekhor Mohanto concealed himself in order to capture this image of a young owl.

“During the day, these amazing birds tend to hide in nests made in the holes of tree trunks, but they sometimes peep out to observe their surroundings with their captivating yellow eyes,” the photographer from Bangladesh writes in a statement.

“Home Alone” by Pietro Formis

A fish inside a discarded waste basket.

© Pietro Formis, Italy, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

Italian photographer Pietro Formis found beauty in a piece of trash in the ocean. And this fish, a brown comber, found a place to hide.

The walls of the waste basket are lined with crinoids, plant-like marine animals that have been around since the Paleozoic. They make “beautiful decorations for the wall of this house,” Formis writes in a statement.

“Kingdom of the Parakeet” by Subrata Dey

The sky above a rice paddy is filled with parrots.

© Subrata Dey, Bangladesh, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

Thousands of parakeets swarm above a field of rice in the agricultural area of Gumai Bill in Bangladesh. This highly productive field attracts droves of the seed-eating parrots when it is ripe. As Bangladeshi photographer Subrata Dey writes in a statement, “this area could be called a ‘parrot sanctuary.’”

“Puffin at Sunset” by James Hunter

A puffin in soft light surrounded by faint raindrops.

© James Hunter, United States, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

As daylight faded, American photographer James Hunter put the sun at his back, hoping to capture a village in the Faroe Islands bathed in a soft golden glow. Then, a duo of puffins showed up.

“As it started to rain, I lay down and photographed this one in the spectacular light,” Hunter writes in a statement.

“Untitled” by Tibor Prisznyák

Three deer in an orange glow.

© Tibor Prisznyák, Hungary, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

Hungarian photographer Tibor Prisznyák snapped this orange-tinted shot of deer in the morning light. A stag with antlers appears through the haze in the center of the image.

“Proud” by Patrick Ems

A goat in front of the Aiguille du Grépon peak in France.

© Patrick Ems, Switzerland, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

To Swiss photographer Patrick Ems, this goat looked to be standing proud and “enjoying the last rays of sunlight,” as he writes in a statement. The animal is standing in front of the peak of an 11,424-foot-tall French mountain known informally as “The Grepon.”

“Frozen Feet” by Alex Pansier

A small penguin on an icy landscape.

© Alex Pansier, Netherlands, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

A chinstrap penguin walks amid icy slopes, immortalized by Dutch photographer Alex Pansier.

“Pretty in Pink” by Charly Clérisse

A Bargibant’s Pygmy Seahorse

© Charly Clérisse, France, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

Perfect to blend in with its surroundings, this Bargibant’s pygmy seahorse is covered in small red bumps. The tiny species grows to no more than an inch long and lives in fan corals.

French photographer Charly Clérisse captured its likeness in the Indo-Pacific in Tulamben, Bali. In a statement, Clérisse writes that the seahorse was a “very shy subject.”

“The River Crossing” by Arnfinn Johansen

Wildebeest descend a dusty slope and cross a river.

© Arnfinn Johansen, Norway, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

In July 2022, Norse photographer Arnfinn Johansen snapped this image of wildebeest crossing the Mara River, a waterway in Tanzania and Kenya. They moved forward even though the water was infested with crocodiles, the photographer writes in a statement.

“Eye on the Prize” by Vince Burton

A barn owl flies over grain.

© Vince Burton, United Kingdom, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

United Kingdom-based photographer Vince Burton captured this photo from below a barn owl swooping down on its prey.

“My precious” by Andrea Michelutti

A mantis shrimp sits atop a bundle of its red eggs.

© Andrea Michelutti, Italy, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

This harlequin mantis shrimp (also called a peacock mantis shrimp) was photographed with its eggs in the Lembeh Strait of Indonesia. Italian photographer Andrea Michelutti took this image underwater, using a snoot, or a device that narrows the camera’s flash down to a point. The shrimp is a multicolored species known for its powerful punch.

“This mantis shrimp embraces and protects its treasure: thousands of eggs,” Michelutti writes in a statement. “It takes a few minutes to obtain this visual contact with both eyes, considering they can be moved independently in all directions.”

“Climate Change” by Mark Fitzsimmons

A polar bear stands on a rocky ridge.

© Mark Fitzsimmons, Australia, Shortlist, Open Competition, Natural World & Wildlife, 2023 Sony World Photography Awards

In Nordenskjøld Land National Park in the Svalbard archipelago, Norway, a polar bear walks along a rocky landscape.

“A decade ago there was a glacier,” Australian photographer Mark Fitzsimmons writes in a statement. “Despite relatively healthy numbers in the Svalbard region of the Arctic, polar bears face many issues, including increased human/wildlife conflict, warmer summers and receding glaciers.”

Top five spots where dining meets nature

Dining with breath-taking views of nature makes the entire experience memorable, check out these five spots where the food syncs with the ambience so beautifully

Schweizerischen Bundesbahnen, Switzerland
Travelling by train in Switzerland is all about gorgeous scenic views merged impeccably with the gastronomic emphasises of the nation. The menus in the dining cars and bistros of Schweizerischen Bundesbahnen (SBB) look like an epicurean expedition through Switzerland and scores tops with freshly made local and cyclical dishes such as the prevalent Swiss ‘Birchermuesli’ or a ‘Risotto Ticinese’, Fruit Nectar from Valais or Zurich Ragout. A distinct acme is the Swiss wine that is bottled solely for SBB. These dining cars and bistros are on IC and EC trains distinct with the relevant sign and are operational from 6 AM until 9 PM. Most of the enjoyable food can be picked up and relished at the seat too. Highly recommend the panoramic Glacier Express (Rhatische Bahn), simply the best!

Glacier Express Excellence Class, Switzerland

Riverside Bbq, Amankora Bhutan
If you are chasing river and forest views, you will certainly find them at Amankora Punakha lodge in Bhutan. The exterior of this sanctuary seems like a sumptuous garden patio situated on a hillside. But if you’re able to pry your eyes away from the beautiful interior for a minute, you’ll also see that this curated restaurant offers unreal views of the river. Take a seat on one of the plush chairs, order yourself a selection of Momo’s and a plate of fresh Ema Datshi, and raise a toast to the views before you. As you dine on the BBQ dishes made with the premium ingredients from local suppliers, order a glass of rose and inhale in that mountain air. All tastes better from the sunny alfresco table, ideal for kicking back and savouring in that the slayer view.

Amankora Punakha, Bhutan – Riverside BBQ lunch

Sip Tea Lounge, Amingiri Maldives
A modern tea establishment that hugs tea philosophies from round the world. From a scrumptious Silver Needle to the potent black teas of South Asia or the organic glistening teas of Denmark, SIP at the brand-new Hilton Amingiri in the Maldives has a tea experience anticipating for all ages. This glamorous heaven is merged with earthy hues of comfy couches, surrounded by the Ocean. You can try the diverse blends of tea along with a light snack. You can request the Chef for some Local Maldivian short eats as well. It is the perfect spot to curl up with a book or design your itinerary for the day.

Hilton Amingiri Maldives, Sip Tea Lounge exterior

Ninive, Dubai
One of Dubai’s trendier Middle Eastern restaurants. . . . No trendiest! This spectacular space is a tranquil haven on the western borders of midtown. The gently lit setting, glowing candles that silhouette the bar and the covers that trigger the light to fall in sprinkled pattern offer a gorgeous background to the fresh pan middle eastern cuisine. Each dish is exceptional, but the Zaatar chickpea dip; tender fried eggplant, festooned generously with zingy chermoula, crispy garlic and smoked bell pepper is stellar. Then there’s the bewitchingly Turkish coffee milk cake, which make for the immaculate finish to a captivating meal. Finish with a round of Turkish coffee for the concluding hit.

Hot & Cold Mezze at Ninive

Seaweed Foraging Lunch, Ireland
Join this experience in Ballintleva to understand the aquaculture of Ireland! Post a stroll alongside the seaside coast foraging for some eatable plants with Sinead, the owner’s daughter guiding you through each plant; you head to the abalone farm and gets an up-close look at popular and workable aquaculture farming. The best part is tasting the Atlantic. Indulge in the delectable menu which comprises a Seaweed Salad and Tempura with some tea to wash it all down. Top off the tasting with some homemade seaweed cookies for dessert!

Seaweed Tempura, Rossaveal

Rupali Dean is a food & travel writer based out of Delhi.

‘Hauntingly beautiful’ picture of the Milky Way over Tudor ruins wins UK astrophotography contest

This photographer has aimed for the stars – and succeeded with aplomb.  

Photographer Richard Murray’s ‘hauntingly beautiful’ photograph of the Milky Way rising over the ruins of a Tudor mansion has won the top prize in the South Downs National Park astrophotography competition.

The picture captures the atmospheric night-time scene at Cowdray House in Midhurst, West Sussex. 

In September 1793, while it was undergoing repairs and refurbishments for the impending marriage of the 8th Viscount Montague, a devastating fire destroyed most of the property, leaving the ruins that remain.

The competition – which received around 60 entries this year – celebrates the national park’s status as one of only 20 International Dark Sky Reserves in the world, which recognises the region as one of the best places globally to stargaze.

Photographer Richard Murray’s ‘hauntingly beautiful’ photograph of the Milky Way rising over the ruins of Cowdray House in  West Sussex has won the top prize in the South Downs National Park astrophotography competition

Named a Dark Sky Reserve in 2016, it enjoys the same status as regions such as Snowdonia, the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Dales.  

South Downs lead ranger Dan Oakley says of the winning image: ‘It’s such a well-framed image and shows what the landscape would have been like a couple of centuries ago. 

‘It’s a great little chocolate box photo of the South Downs.’ 

Hampshire photographer Murray, who wins a £100 prize, reveals: ‘We were blessed with crystal clear skies… it demonstrates that you don’t have to travel too far from town to enjoy the spectacular dark skies the South Downs National Park has to offer. 

‘The national park has such a wide variety of beautiful landscapes and buildings to photograph and is truly a special part of the UK, both by day and night.’

Runner-up in the main category – ‘Dark Skyscapes’ – is a mesmerising shot of the moon rising behind Beachy Head lighthouse, near Eastbourne. The picture was snared by London photographer Andrew Parker, who wins a £75 prize. 

Parker says: ‘Despite travelling around the country to pursue my hobby of landscape and astrophotography I still go to the South Downs more than most other places. 

‘The skies around Birling Gap are fantastic.’

This awe-inspiring picture of Beachy Head Lighthouse by Andrew Parker has claimed the runner-up prize in the ‘Dark Skyscapes’ category

This shot of a toad crossing a road near Cuckmere Haven tops the podium in the ‘Nature at Night’ category. It was captured by Peter Brooks

Taking the top prize in the ‘Nature at Night’ category is a picture of a toad crossing a road near Cuckmere Haven, in East Sussex, captured by Eastbourne-based photographer Peter Brooks. 

Reflecting on the strength of the image, Oakley says: ‘I like this image because it’s a bit different. It sums up the theme of “nature at night” and really highlights the fragility of nature.’

Brooks notes: ‘I took this particular image to highlight the dangers toads face when migrating back to their breeding ponds. I headed to the spot where I know a great number of toads cross after it had been raining.’

This stunning picture of the Seven Sisters cliffs by photographer Giles Smith is highly-commended in the ‘Dark Skyscapes’ category

Titled ‘Reach for the Sky’, this striking picture of the South Downs at night by Carl Gough is a runner-up in the ‘Nature at Night’ category 

The photographer reveals that he lay on the road to get down to eye level with the toad. 

He adds: ‘I then spent some time helping toads across the road safely. This is actually a designated toad patrol area.’ 

Highly-commended pictures in the contest include a magnificent shot of the Comet Neowise hurtling through the night sky above West Sussex’s Hiorne Tower, an enchanting picture of the Milky Way over St Hubert’s Church in Hampshire and a stunning picture of the Seven Sisters cliffs at night. 

A range of images from the awards will be exhibited during the National Park’s Dark Skies Festival, which runs in the South Downs National Park until February 17.  The park covers 628 square miles (1,627 square kilometres) across Hampshire, West Sussex and East Sussex.

The Milky Way over St Hubert’s Church in the Hampshire hamlet of Idsworth is the subject of this enchanting picture by Alan Crossland, which is highly commended in the ‘Dark Skyscapes’ category

This magnificent shot shows the Comet Neowise hurtling through the night sky above Hiorne Tower in West Sussex. Captured by Neale Thibaut, it’s highly commended in the ‘Dark Skyscapes’ category