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Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Portfolio 14    by BBC order for
Wildlife Photographer of the Year
by BBC
Order:  USA  Can
BBC Books, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Wow, what an amazing world we live in - that's my immediate reaction to the superb photography in BBC Books' Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Portfolio 14. In his Foreword, Chris Packham calls the images astonishing and urges us to think about the collective time taken to capture these ephemereal moments of beauty in nature, and the skills needed to make the pictures so very special.

This coffee table book showcases winning entries in an annual competition run by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine. We are told that the 'judges put aesthetic criteria above all others but at the same time place great emphasis on photographs taken in wild and free conditions, considering that the welfare of the subject is paramount.' A dramatic underwater image of 'Bronze Whalers Charging a Baitball' won marine photographer Doug Perrine the title of Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Additional awards include those for innovation, for endangered wildlife, for animals in their environment, animal behaviour, plants, marine life, wild places, and 'The world in our hands' (darker images of some of the devastation done by mankind).

I love the golden innocence of 'Vicunas' and the forest context of a 'Strolling Chimpanzee', and feel for 'Whooper Swans in a Snowstorm'. The small 'Dipper' is delightfully perched on a boulder by a powerful waterfall, and the mountain surroundings of 'Guanacos' are majestic. The mother in 'Gentoo Penguin Family' looks a mite anxious about her little one's aim as it squirts from its rear, and it's lovely to see a 'Baby Elephant Playing'. Even more than the winning photo, I adore the intensity of expressions in an amazing image of 'Courting White-Capped Albatrosses'. 'Giant Amazon Waterlilies' are pretty incredible too. I could rave on, but do get your own copy of Wildlife Photographer of the Year, a beautiful volume that allows us to immerse ourselves in the glory of the world we inhabit.

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