Nature TTL crowns its Photographer of the Year


posted Wednesday, June 2, 2021 at 7:00 PM EST


The Nature TTL Photographer of the Year 2021 contest attracted over 8,000 total images. Photographers from around the globe competed for the title and a £1,500 cash prize, which is over $2,100 USD at current conversion rates. Nature TTL has announced the winner, and it's Canadian photographer Thomas Vijayan. The photographer won for his incredible image of an orangutan, titled 'The World is Going Upside Down.'

At first glance, the image appears to be looking upward at the sky. However, the image is actually of a reflection in the water beneath the tree that the orangutan is climbing on. 'Thomas' image is really unique, and immediately stood out to the judging panel,' said Will Nicholls, the founder of Nature TTL. 'It's one of those photos where you can't skim past it. The unique perspective and composition means you are immediately trying to figure out what exactly you are looking at.'

© Thomas Vijayan / Nature TTL - 'The World is Going Upside Down' by Thomas Vijayan. Winner of the Animal Behavior category and the Overall Winner. Of the image, Vijayan said, 'After spending few days in Borneo, I got this frame stuck in my mind. To get this shot, I selected a tree that was in the water so that I could get a good reflection of the sky and its leaves on the tree. The water formed a mirror, making the image look upside-down. Then I climbed up on the tree and waited for hours. This is a regular path for the orangutans to use, so patience would surely pay off.' Shot with a Nikon D850 with an 8-15mm lens. 1/400s, f/4.5, ISO 5000.

'This image means a lot to me because presently the orangutan population is reducing at an alarming rate,' says Vijayan of his winning image. 'Deforestation and humans are the key cause behind this. Trees over 1,000 years old - which are a major asset to our planet are being cut down for palm oil plantation. As humans we have a lot of alternative choices to replace the oil, but the orangutans don’t have any options other than losing their home. I am very happy to see this image be successful, as it gives me an opportunity to spread the issue to the wider world.'

Thomas Easterbrook, a 13-year-old photographer from the United Kingdom, was crowned Young Nature TTL Photographer of the Year 2021. His image, seen below, shows a peregrine falcon stalking a murmuration of starlings.

© Thomas Easterbrook / Nature TTL - 'Spoilt for Choice.' Easterbrook won the Under 16 category with this image. He was photographing the starling murmuration when the peregrine falcon arrived. Easterbrook used a Nikon D7500 with Nikon 18-300mm lens to capture this shot.

There were many incredible images submitted across the competition's eight categories (Animal Behavior, Camera Traps, Landscapes, Small World, The Night Sky, Underwater, Urban Wildlife and Wild Portraits). You can see the winning images at We have also selected some of our favorites to share with you below.

© Bence Máté / Nature TTL - 'Dust Bath,' Highly Commended in the Animal Behavior category. Máté said, 'Wild dog pups play in the dust seen rising from the bone dry soil. I tracked them for 5 weeks, and photographed them in some fascinating situations in South Africa.' Shot with a Nikon D5 with 200mm lens.
© Vladimir Cech Jr. / Nature TTL - 'Moonwalker,' Highly Commended in Camera Traps category. Cech said, 'Wild eurasian lynx walking in front of my homemade camera trap with a beautiful starry sky in the background and shining full moon. The long exposure brings out the night sky, whilst the use of flash renders the lynx sharp in the frame.' Captured with a Canon 5D Mark III with 16-35mm lens. 32s exposure at ISO 3,200.
© Samantha Stephens / Nature TTL - 'Nature's Pitfall,' Runner-up in the Small World category. This image shows juvenile Spotted Salamanders trapped by Northern Pitcher Plants as they make their fall migration. Shot with Canon 5D Mark III with Laowa 15mm macro lens.
© Zdeněk Vošický / Nature TTL - 'Rainbow Landscape,' Highly Commended in Landscapes category. Shot with Nikon D5500 with 105mm f/2.8 lens.
© Thomas Vijayan / Nature TTL - 'Fun for All Ages.' Highly Commended in the Animal Behavior category. Shot with Nikon D4 with Nikon 300mm lens.
© Yevhen Samuchenko / Nature TTL - 'Under Aurora Bridge.' Highly Commended in The Night Sky category. Shot with Nikon D750 with Nikon 16mm lens.
© Zhi’yue Shi / Nature TTL - 'Round.' Runner-up in the Underwater category. Shot with Canon 5D Mark IV with Canon 100mm macro lens.
© Dennis Stogsdill / Nature TTL - 'Sleepy Polar Bear.' Winner of the Wild Portraits category. Shot with a Canon 5DS R with Canon 600mm f/4 lens.
© Celia Kujala / Nature TTL - 'My New Toy.' Highly Commended in the Underwater category. Shot with a Nikon D500 with Tokina 10-17mm fisheye lens.

To see the rest of the awarded and commended images, head over to Nature TTL. The images are incredible, so be sure to check them out.