ANZANG Winner Captures Beauty of Underwater Dangers

09 October 2014

A Flash of Light by Alan Kwok, NSW, Finalist, Animal Portrait, ANZANG 2014.

A Flash of Light by Alan Kwok, NSW, Finalist, Animal Portrait, ANZANG 2014.

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The overall and category winners of the 2014 Australian Geographic ANZANG Nature Photographer of the Year Competition have been announced tonight at the South Australian Museum.

A bioluminescent bluebottle jellyfish floating in the morning light at Bushrangers Bay, Shellharbour, NSW, has been chosen as the winning entry for 2014. Matthew Smith, a mechanical designer and wildlife photographer from New South Wales, is thrilled to be crowned ANZANG’s overall winner for the photo Physalia Physalis: “I felt shocked and surprised then humbled and honoured. Especially when you consider the high standard of photography from my peers in this year’s competition – I believe it could have been any one of the finalists walking away with the prize on any given day; today was just my lucky day,” he said.

'Physalia Physalis' by Matthew Smith, NSW, Overall Winner, ANZANG 2014.

Physalia Physalis by Matthew Smith, NSW, Overall Winner, ANZANG 2014.

For as long as he can remember, Smith has been attracted to water and the visual effects that light creates as it interacts with it. Some of his earliest memories are with his brother, snorkelling on family holidays to France and the Mediterranean Sea. He can clearly remember his first experience of watching shafts of sunlight weave and dance down into the deep blue, carved by the rippling ocean surface.

“I live in NSW and I have the world’s biggest playground at my feet – the Pacific Ocean – and I have truly fallen in love with it,” he said.

“What I really like about an over-under picture is that it gives an underwater image a sense of place. It marries the underwater world with our own familiar world: it links the unknown with the known.”

Judges said, “This photograph stops you in your tracks – the shock of electric blue against the black background is arresting and on contemplation the viewer can become lost in the cosmos-like complexity of the bluebottle’s tentacles. The image is hard to fault. It is superb on all fronts: artistic, technical and choice of subject. The central composition and use of over-under photography allow us to take in the full visual impact of the bluebottle and its environment.”

Mr Smith wins $10,000 cash and a 10-night Kimberley expedition cruise for two aboard the National Geographic Orion, valued at more than $18,000.

South Australian Museum Director Brian Oldman said, “This year we received 1442 photographs from eight countries. Each photographer has seen nature’s beauty in new ways. This year we have also introduced an additional category Animal Habitat and retitled two others to give photographers new opportunities to show their creativity.

“I would like to thank the photographers who submitted a wonderfully diverse range of compelling images and the judges who diligently reviewed the entries and arrived at their decisions.”

Australian Geographic Editor-in-Chief Chrissie Goldrick said, “The Australian Geographic ANZANG Nature Photographer of the Year competition promotes excellence in nature and landscape photography and offers a compelling reason for shutterbugs, professional and amateur, young and not so young to get out and document our beautiful bioregion. The competition also encourages learning about flora, fauna and geology, and fosters an appreciation of the special and often fragile nature of our wild places and creatures.”

The other 2014 category winners and runners-up chosen are:

Animal Portrait
Winner: Michael Gallagher (UK) for Hairy Frogfish in the Spotlight
Runner-up: Ofer Levy (NSW) for Regent Flight

Animal Behaviour
Jesse McCulloch (NSW) for Probe
Runner up: Ofer Levy (NSW) for Soldier Crab Flamenco

Animal Habitat
Winner: Raoul Slater (QLD) for Spider in Mist
Runner up: David Burren (VIC) for Lonely Gentoo Penguin

Winner: Ted Mead (TAS) for Myrtle Glade
Runner-up:  Clive Chesson (SA) for Free in the Breeze

Winner: Kah Kit Yoong (VIC) for What dreams are made of
Runner up: Julie Fletcher (SA) for Sky Drama

Winner: Charles Davis (NSW) for Praise to the Rain
Runner up:  Jordan Ek (USA) for Bird Tree

Winner: Debbie Fowler (NSW) for Tree of Life
Runner-up: Marc Lynch (NSW) for Bats in Blue

Our Impact
Winner: Keith Lightbody (WA) for Salinity by Twighlight
Runner-up: Michael Gallagher (UK) for Shark Net Seahorse

Threatened Species
Winner: Keith Lightbody (WA) for Social Drinking
Runner-up: Matti Ovaska (QLD) for Say ‘Ahh’

Junior (photographers under 18 years)
Winner: Ian Bool (16, NSW) for Australian Emperor Dragonfly
Runner-up: Scott Carnie-Bronca (12, SA) for Rings in the Sky

Portfolio Prize (best portfolio of six or more images)
In 2014 judges selected Ofer Levy (NSW) as the winner.

The 2014 Australian Geographic ANZANG Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition opens at the South Australian Museum from 10 October to 30 November 2014. It will then tour to Western Australia and Tasmania.

Our Sponsors

Principal Sponsor
Australian Geographic

Production Partner
Atkins Technicolour

Media Partner
891 ABC Adelaide 

The South Australian Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of Dr Stuart Miller, founder and patron of ANZANG, and his sister Mrs Alison Huber in memory of their parents, Dr Robert and Mrs Clarice Miller, both late of Waikerie, South Australia.