2013 Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition

I spent a rather glorious morning at the Natural History Museum today, persuing the winners of the International Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards and speaking with some of the photographers. If you have the opportunity to drop by and take in the show, you really should. I loved every single photo in the the animal portraits category, and many more. The winners are here for your enjoyment, the rest of the finalists can be seen on the NHM's website. A word for anyone who thinks that wildlife photography is the preserve of the long lens: Greg du Toit used a wide-angle lens to capture the elephants in his winning photo, Essence of elephants and he wasn't the only photographer to make use of a shorter focal length. You expect to see them used for acquatic images, but here they were used to photograph birds and big cats, too. At least four photographers made use of fisheye lenses and one opted for a tilt-shift. It isn't just about the telephoto.

Essence of elephants, by Greg du Toit (South Africa) Nikon D3s + 16-35mm f4 lens + polarising filter; 1/30 sec at f22; ISO 800; Nikon SB- 900 flash + SC28 remote cord; mini-tripod; Nikon cable-release.

I was struck by the intense blue of Greg's image. As he said, it has an underwater intensity to it. He particularly wanted to convey the mysterious energy that he feels when he's around elephants and felt that this shade, captured around sunrise and helped on its way with a polarising filter and white balance, did just that.

Mother's little headful by Udayan Rao Pawar (India) Canon EOS 550D + 100-400mm lens; 1/400 sec at f13; ISO 1600

With a few more young wildlife photographers like Udayan, the genre is in very safe hands. It's not just his obvious ability, but also his passion and dedication. Whether he chooses to pursue conservation photography or a place in the Indian air force, he'll go far.

The exhibition runs from 18 October 2013 until 23 March 2014 at the Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London.