Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners
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Wildlife Photographer of the Year winners

Now in its 54th year, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition continues to celebrate photography of the natural world. This year's winners were selected from over 45,000 entries, with Dutch photographer Marsel van Oosten's portrait of two Qinling golden snub-nosed monkeys taking the top prize. See our favorites from the winning images here, and head to the Natural History Museum's website to enter the 2019 competition – open to submissions through December 13th, 2018.

The golden couple by Marsel van Oosten, The Netherlands
Grand Title Winner 2018, Animal Portraits

A male Qinling golden snub-nosed monkey rests briefly on a stone seat. He has been joined by a female from his small group. Both are watching intently as an altercation takes place down the valley between the lead males of two other groups in the 50-strong troop. It’s spring in the temperate forest of China’s Qinling Mountains, the only place where these endangered monkeys live.

They spend most of the day foraging in the trees, eating a mix of leaves, buds, seeds, bark and lichen, depending on the season. Though they are accustomed to researchers observing them, they are also constantly on the move, and as Marsel couldn’t swing through the trees, the steep slopes and mountain gorges proved challenging. Whenever he did catch up and if the monkeys were on the ground, the light was seldom right. Also, the only way to show both a male’s beautiful pelage and his striking blue face was to shoot at an angle from the back. That became Marsel’s goal.

It took many days to understand the group’s dynamics and predict what might happen next, but finally his perseverance paid off with this gift of a perfect situation, with a perfect forest backdrop and perfect light filtering through the canopy. A low flash brought out the glow of the male’s golden locks to complete the perfect portrait.

Nikon D810 + Tamron 24–70mm f2.8 lens at 24mm; 1/320 sec at f8; ISO 1600; Nikon SB-910 flash.