“The florist” by Thomas Hempelmann. Overall Winner. “This male kestrel could hardly have chosen a more beautiful perch. The picture was taken in Greifswald, northern Germany.”
A young wildlife photographer rose to the top of the competition and took home the title of Nature Photographer of the Year in the German Society for Nature Photographer’s annual contest. Thomas Hempelmann is just 23 years old, but he’s proved to be a force in the photography world. His image of a male kestrel perched on a branch filled with blooms beat out 6,400 other photos for the win.
The GDT Nature Photographer of the Year is an annual celebration for the society’s 400 members. Across several categories that celebrate all aspects of nature, the photographs demonstrate their exceptional talent. From exotic locations in Kenya to the forests of Germany, the images show how award-winning photography can be captured anywhere. In fact, the story behind Hempelmann’s winning photo is a perfect example.
Hempelmann was on his way home from an unremarkable photo tour when he stopped to photograph a bird of prey on a lamppost. Those photos may not have been remarkable, but what happened next certainly was. “When the kestrel rose up and then settled between the white blossoms that I had already spotted from the corner of my eye, my heart began to beat faster as I had imagined such a situation many times before,” the German photographer shares. “While I was still pondering whether to take off my 2x extender to include more of the tree in the picture, he was already gone again. In the end, it was only a few seconds that made my day and I whistled loudly with joy all the way home.”
The other category winners are equally impressive. Felix Wesch’s photo of foxgloves and ferns looks like an oil painting and Radomir Jakubowski’s image of a wave frozen in time is a sculptural masterpiece. Other notable images include Stefan Imig’s portrait of a beech tree. The photographer took home this year’s special award celebrating the beech, which is one of the most ecologically important tree species in Germany.
Take a look at more of the winners and runners up below.
The GDT Nature Photographer of the Year is an annual celebration for Germany’s Nature Photography Society.
“Hippo Spout” by Jose Fragozo. Winner, Mammals. “At sunrise in the Masai Mara National Park (Kenya) a hippo emerges emitting a cloud of water droplets.”
“Foxglove and fern” by Felix Wesch. Winner, Plants and Fungi. “Foxglove and fern in a birch forest near Wahner Heath, western Germany.”
“Barn Owl” by Karsten Mosebach. Runner Up, Birds. “A barn owl passes over an LED light. A flash lights up at the end of the exposure time, and a dark cloth dims the background.”
“Take off” by Heinz Buls. Winner, Other Animals. “Ritualized fight between stag beetles at sunset on the Swabian Albs.”
“The Wave” by Radomir Jakubowski. Winner, Nature’s Studio. “A wave, illuminated by the rising sun. Black lava rocks provide a dark background.”
400 members from 11 countries submitted their best work for consideration.
“Springtime dream” by Stefan Wagner. Runner-up, Plants and Fungi. “Every year in March, the wood anemones (Anemone nemorosa) adorn the forest floor and invite our dreams to flourish after a usually grey winter.”
“Wasgau Illumination” by Steffen Jung. Winner, Landscapes. “Wintery sunrise at Wegelnburg, Palatinate.”
“Curved” by Frauke Fuck. 4th Place, Nature’s Studio. “Detail of a red fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) near Remscheid in the Bergisches Land region of Germany.”
“Seeweed toy” by Celia Kujala. 5th Place, Mammals. “A young California sea lion plays with kelp off Islas Coronado (Mexico) while another juvenile watches.”
“Reflections in the March meadows” by Joachim Wimmer. 3rd Place, Landscapes. “A foggy day at the floodplains of the March, a boundary river between Austria and Slovakia.”
“In motion” by Christian-Dietrich Morawitz. Runner-up, Other Animals. “A tadpole of the green toad in a muddy puddle.”
“Common beech in fog” by Stefan Imig. Special category in cooperation with the NABU-Foundation for National Natural Heritage: The Beech—Tree of the Year 2022. “Old beech tree at Kellerwald-Eidersee National Park.”