Every year, London’s Natural History Museum and the BBC team up to wade through tens of thousands of the very best images of the natural world in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards. Last week, American photographer Michael “Nick” Nichols was awarded the top prize for a dramatic black-and-white image of serene lions lazing in the Serengeti.
The contest, now in its 50th year, attracts entries from professional, amateur and youth photographers in more than 96 countries. The winning photographer in the youth category, Carlos Perez Naval, who captured a scorpion in the midst of sunbathing in the afternoon Spanish sunlight, is only eight years old. Nichols tracked his award-winning lions for a full six months, capturing the image in infrared, an effect that “cuts through the dust and haze, transforms the light and turns the moment into something primal, biblical almost,” as he puts it. The contest’s finalists and winners encompass the wide diversity of the Earth’s ecosystem, from hummingbirds to bioluminescent squid to erupting volcanoes.
The 100 award-winning images in categories like “Earth’s Environment” and “Underwater Species” will be on display at the Natural History Museum until the end of next August, then they’ll embark on a worldwide museum tour. Check out a few of the best images in the slideshow above.