Wildlife Photographer of the Year – Natural History Museum

I visited this exhibition, as I have done for several years now. I like many of the images produced, but often it is not the action shots but those in the ‘Plants and Fungi’ category that I find most appealing.

However I found this year’s winning photo absolutely stunning. ‘Still Life in Oil’ by Daniel Beltra shows the effect of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Eight pelicans are huddled together in a wooden pen. They are going through the first stage of cleaning to get rid of the oil they became immersed in. The dark background and rumpled, stained floor cloth all add to the sense of being smothered by oil. The ripple in the floor cloth leads the eye in to the huddle of pelicans. The birds would not survive without this treatment, but the innate elegance of the birds comes through. A devastating critique of the effects of the disaster in just one photograph.

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