Best Animals, People And Nature Photography: 21 Winners Of Siena International Photo Awards – Forbes

The exceptional images that won this year’s prestigious Siena International Photo Award (SIPA) highlight, once again, the diversity and artistry of the craft.

Now in its seven year, the 2021 SIPA competition drew tens of thousands of images submitted by amateur and professional photographers from 163 countries.

The heartbreaking photo below of a Syrian father and his son entitled “Hardship of Life” by Turkish photographer Mehmet Aslan was selected as the overall “Photo Of The Year.”

The emotional image was taken in the district of Reyhanli in the Turkish province of Hatay on the border with Syria.

A father who lost a leg is holding his son who was born without lower or upper limbs due to tetra-amelia, a congenital disorder caused by the medications his mother was prescribed after being sickened by nerve gas released during the war in Syria.

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“Mustafa will need a special electronic prosthesis in the future, which unfortunately, is not yet available in Turkey,” reads the caption under the award-winning photo.

“We wanted to bring attention to this,” said Aslan, who hopes the image will highlight the refugee child’s quest for prosthetics. “The boy always has lots of energy. The father seems to have given up.”

The family has relied mostly on charity since they escaped Idlib, the last major pocket of Syria in the hands of Islamist rebels after 10 years of war and which has suffered frequent attack by government forces and their allies.

Throughout a decade of conflict, millions of Syrians have poured into Turkey and other countries in the region. 

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The overall winning image, along with the winners in 11 categories — Street Photography, Journey & Adventures, Fascinating Faces and Characters, The Beauty of Nature, Animals in Their Environment, Architecture and Urban Spaces, Sports in Action, Documentary & Photojournalism and Under 20 — are on exhibit in the Italian city of Siena as a feature of the Siena Awards festival of visual arts running from October 23 to December 5.

As the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has marked and changed our lives, the competition this year included a Covid-19 category that was won by a remarkable image entitled Birthday by photographer Brais Lorenzo Couto.

The Siena International Photo Awards is free to enter and applications are open.

“Munzir lost his right leg when a bomb was dropped as he walked through a bazaar in Idlib, Syria,” the photographer explains.

A camera trap placed inside the carcass of a large musk was used to take this shot of a pack of 10 wolves, the members of which returned to feed for more than a month. This location became the de facto rendezvous site for the pack over the months to come.

An elephant that died of natural causes offered a big opportunity for a young lion.

A lion’s daily meat requirement can reach five kilos for adult females and seven kilos for males, but the animals can eat much more when more food is available.

Polar Foxes change color to blend in with their environment through the seasons. Nearly extinct in Norway, climate change makes them even more vulnerable as their camouflage fails to function when snow is late.

In the swamps of south Louisiana, a Great White Egret perches on a rotting stump in the majestic Bald Cypress and Tupelo Gum Forest draped in Spanish Moss.

Two tigers roar and fight at a nerve-wracking distance of 15 feet from a vehicle. This image almost makes it seem as if a single tiger has four forearms.

In Wufeng, Taiwan, a mountain path in the middle of a forest is set alight by a multitude of “sparkling” fireflies that give the landscape a fairy-tale atmosphere. Their bioluminescence is a phase in the mating ritual at the end of which the eggs are laid.

Unfortunately, pollution hinders the reproduction of fireflies, making it increasingly difficult to see shows like this one.

Three hyenas, a jackal, and two elephants endure a sandstorm on a hot, humid late afternoon while the wind picks up before the squall begins. The hyenas cool off in the water to rid themselves of parasites.

The dry season is over and the rainy season is on the way, promising relief for every animal in parched Chobe National Park.

During a spring dive at a depth of six meters, a small hydromedusa of the Pandea conica genus, among an infinity of tiny tunicates, is carried by the current of the Calabrian side of the Strait of Messina.

The photo is one of the “Poisoned Beauty” project dealing with the sad story of the village of Geamana, in the Apuseni mountains in Transylvania, Romania, recently buried by toxic waters and chemical waste produced by the processing of copper and gold.

In a pond lined with a thin blanket of snow hiding a deep layer of ice, a portion of the surface exposed to the sun and free of snow allowed the photographer to capture the autumn colours still present under the ice.

Bee-eater birds gather before flying away to spend the night in their underground nests. The birds on the branch were motionless while the faded wings of the bird flying in the background refract the light like a prism.

Extreme proximity, a huge pouch and the perspective produced by a 180-degree fish-eye lens combine to make this surreal image. The pelican’s bill, which is almost touching the camera, is swollen and colorful from hormones generated in the breeding season.

An artisanal trap created by local fishermen, a plastic net container is filled with dead fish that act as bait for some molluscs which, once inside, are harvested.

Such containers are often abandoned in the sea, trapping other fish and creating further plastic pollution.

The Bishwa Ijtema, an annual gathering of Muslims that attracts five million pilgrims, is a three-day affair held in Tongi, a small town by the banks of the River Turag on the outskirts of Dhaka.

A balloon seller remains at the station while the arriving pilgrims have already left to attend the gathering.

Every morning, the herds of buffalo are brought out of their enclosures and taken to pasture. The image captures the moment of their return at sunset.

In Turkey’s eastern Black Sea Region, shepherds make the journey across a snowy plateau to return to their village.

Mt. Bromo, part of the Tengger mountains in East Java, Indonesia, is an active volcano that erupted for exactly one year from November 12, 2015 to November 12, 2016.

It emitted ashes that disrupted flights and local tourism. Despite the eruption, local inhabitants continue life as usual, the volcanic activity a feature of their way of life.

Staff of the San Carlos de Celanova nursing home in the Galicia, Spain, town of Ourense, celebrate the 98th birthday of Elena Pérez just two weeks after she survived Covid-19.

Nine residents died at this nursing home and more than 40 tested positive for the coronavirus.

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