Today we made it to the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition that we missed last time.
This year’s exhibition was set up just like last year’s, and the one before that, and was as pleasant an experience as the previous ones were. The organisers have obviously worked out a great concept and continue to run it successfully year after year.
The exhibition is relatively small – 45 minutes’ worth of photos, an hour tops – but well worth seeing. The photos, of course, are generally interesting and all of high quality (although Eric said this year’s best photos were not as striking as last year’s, and I had to agree).
The photos are also well presented, so the atmosphere of the exhibition is quite pleasant. The number tickets sold is limited (which is why we didn’t get to see it last time) so it never gets too crowded. The room has good but soft light, and the photos all back-lit and displayed with no glare (which can otherwise kill any exhibition of photos or paintings). Each photo is accompanied by a brief one-paragraph comment by the author, and another paragraph about the subject of the photo.
Like last year we noted without much surprise that almost all the photos had been taken with a digital camera. Interestingly the two exceptions I noticed were both photos of plants.
Another trend was towards more and more technology (remote cameras, infrared triggers etc) which felt, well, sort of like cheating. If you just point your camera at animals and let it automatically take thousands of photos, then the result may be original, educational, beautiful etc, but to what extent can you really say that you took that photo?
There were also several photos which had been produced in highly contrived settings that in my mind are not really suitable for such an exhibition. Putting out food to attract animals is one thing, but putting out an aquarium to catch a view of a heron or a window frame to frame a swallow definitely feels like cheating.
But despite these minor quibbles I found the majority of the exhibition well worth seeing. If you are in London and have a spare few hours, this would be a great way to spend them.
If you’re not, try the online gallery which has all the photos. It’s not a very satisfying way of viewing them (too small) but will give you a taste at least.