“It’s an unwritten law: You don’t do this”: the photo with the highest award is now under heavy fire

© Terje Kolaas / NPOTY 2021

Norwegian wildlife photographer Terje Kolas has received the highest possible honor in his field for his photograph of a group of bee geese: the 2021 Nature Photographer of the Year award. But according to his peers, the photographer hunted geese with his drone to get the perfect picture. “It is an unwritten law of nature photography: Do not disturb nature in a photograph.”

Arthur Demayer

It is undoubtedly a beautiful picture for the untrained eye: a large flock of geese juts out sharply against a snowy, pure white landscape. In the background you can see how the rest of the group is resting. Striking: the whole picture is sharp, including geese in the background. This indicates that the photo was taken with a wide angle lens. Filming from this perspective is only possible from the air, so using a drone.And soon questions were asked to all kinds of forums and specialized sites. “It may be a beautiful picture, but I mainly see the turbulence of nature,” says Dutch nature photographer Jan Vermeer. “Because the geese in the foreground are so big in the picture, the plane must have been pretty close. The birds are also clearly being hunted. The picture that wins prizes should have a perfect job. We should not encourage animal hunting to get a good picture.”Belgian nature photographer Tom Leinster talks about a very dangerous situation. “I have the same drone, and to get this picture, it must have flown close to the birds. The risk of collision in such situations is very real.” According to him, it is also clear to see how the birds were hunted. “All animals on the ground have their head raised; this indicates their annoyance. Birds in flight crisscross each other, indicating panic. Objectively speaking, this is a very beautiful picture, but it is an unwritten law in wildlife photography: Do not disturb animals. “. According to Leinster, nature photographers are feeling increasing pressure to outsmart each other, in part because of these kinds of competitions. In this case, the Norwegian photographer went too far.

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Denton Watson

"Friend of animals everywhere. Evil twitter fan. Pop culture evangelist. Introvert."

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