The breathtaking winning images from the GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2023 contest

From a ‘smiling’ crocodile to an incredible multicoloured iceberg: Breathtaking winning images from a prestigious nature photography contest

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The natural world can mesmerise, startle and take the breath away, as the images here show.

These astonishing photos have been honoured in the German Association for Nature Photography (GDT) Nature Photographer of the Year 2023 competition, which saw nearly 7,000 entries flood in from 13 countries.

Among the entries to capture the attention of the judges is a dynamic shot of a ‘smiling’ crocodile off the coast of Cuba, a dark and moody picture of an iceberg in Greenland and a hypnotising portrait of an owl.

However, it’s a cleverly framed photograph of a pair of kites – birds of prey – symmetrically perched on opposing sides of a telegraph pole that claims the top prize, earning photographer Silke Huttche the title of GDT Nature Photographer of the Year.

Notably, the German photographer is only the second woman to be named the overall winner in the contest’s 51-year history. The contest’s organisers say that this is ‘a good sign that the historically male-dominated genre of nature photography is increasingly reflecting society in a more realistic way’.

Below is a handful of the magnificent winning and commended nature photographs from the awards. Scroll down to the very bottom to see the photograph that’s been named the cream of the crop…

This eye-catching picture, ranking sixth in the ‘Other Animals’ category, shows two American crocodiles in the mangroves of the Jardines de la Reina archipelago off the coast of mainland Cuba. Titled ‘Smile’, it’s the work of photographer Laura Becker

Landing in sixth place in the 'Mammals' category, this stunning shot by photographer Barbara Kaltenborn shows a polar bear with her cub on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard

Landing in sixth place in the ‘Mammals’ category, this stunning shot by photographer Barbara Kaltenborn shows a polar bear with her cub on the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard

Topping the podium in the 'Landscapes' category, this mesmerising picture by Britta Strack shows the 'mystical' Pasterze Glacier at the foot of Austria's Grossglockner mountain

Topping the podium in the ‘Landscapes’ category, this mesmerising picture by Britta Strack shows the ‘mystical’ Pasterze Glacier at the foot of Austria’s Grossglockner mountain

A blackbird is silhouetted by the moon in this beautiful shot, which ranks sixth in the 'Birds' category. Photographer Anton Trexler says that it shows the 'melancholy of the threshold between day and night'

A blackbird is silhouetted by the moon in this beautiful shot, which ranks sixth in the ‘Birds’ category. Photographer Anton Trexler says that it shows the ‘melancholy of the threshold between day and night’

Taking the bronze medal in the 'Urban Nature' category, this brilliant picture by Anton Trexler shows a gecko inside a lantern in Spain

Taking the bronze medal in the ‘Urban Nature’ category, this brilliant picture by Anton Trexler shows a gecko inside a lantern in Spain

This hypnotising close-up of an owl is the work of photographer Karsten Mosebach. The portrait ranks third in the 'Birds' category

This hypnotising close-up of an owl is the work of photographer Karsten Mosebach. The portrait ranks third in the ‘Birds’ category 

This magnificent shot of a roe deer under a full moon was taken before sunrise at the edge of a nature reserve in the State of Brandenburg, Germany. Captured by photographer Andreas Geh, it ranks in eighth place in the 'Mammals' category

Describing this evocative shot, photographer Andy Schmid says: 'A male orca turns his back on the camera in a dark and cold fjord in northern Norway, but leaves positive energy behind.' The image takes ninth place in the 'Mammals' category

LEFT: This magnificent shot of a roe deer under a full moon was taken before sunrise at the edge of a nature reserve in the State of Brandenburg, Germany. Captured by photographer Andreas Geh, it ranks in eighth place in the ‘Mammals’ category.  RIGHT: Describing this evocative shot, photographer Andy Schmid says: ‘A male orca turns his back on the camera in a dark and cold fjord in northern Norway, but leaves positive energy behind.’ The image takes ninth place in the ‘Mammals’ category

This spellbinding picture of a drifting iceberg in Greenland has been captured by photographer Scott Portelli. He notes that 'intertwined layers of ice reveal vivid black, blue and translucent plains' within the iceberg. The shot is placed eighth in the 'Landscapes' category

This spellbinding picture of a drifting iceberg in Greenland has been captured by photographer Scott Portelli. He notes that ‘intertwined layers of ice reveal vivid black, blue and translucent plains’ within the iceberg. The shot is placed eighth in the ‘Landscapes’ category

Photographer Peter Lindel notes that the 'cloud of haze' in this picture is not the breath of the lion that's pictured, but rather 'the body heat of the just-killed zebra' in the centre of the frame. The shot ranks tenth in the 'Mammals' category

Photographer Peter Lindel notes that the ‘cloud of haze’ in this picture is not the breath of the lion that’s pictured, but rather ‘the body heat of the just-killed zebra’ in the centre of the frame. The shot ranks tenth in the ‘Mammals’ category

Recalling taking this transfixing portrait of a female elephant, Peter Lindel says: 'The matriarch cow kept an eye on us until the last member of her small group had passed us.' The image takes the silver medal in the 'Mammals' category

Recalling taking this transfixing portrait of a female elephant, Peter Lindel says: ‘The matriarch cow kept an eye on us until the last member of her small group had passed us.’ The image takes the silver medal in the ‘Mammals’ category

Captured in the autumn, this breathtaking shot shows fog descending over the Vosges Mountains in France during the sunrise. Taken by photographer Radomir Jakubowski, the image - titled 'Autumn Fog Inferno' - takes second place in the 'Landscapes' category

Captured in the autumn, this breathtaking shot shows fog descending over the Vosges Mountains in France during the sunrise. Taken by photographer Radomir Jakubowski, the image – titled ‘Autumn Fog Inferno’ – takes second place in the ‘Landscapes’ category

This dynamic shot shows a mouse 'taking a short break from foraging at night on the ledge of an old and dusty cellar window'. Ranking sixth in the 'Urban Nature' category, it's the work of photographer Maximilian Fellermann

This dynamic shot shows a mouse ‘taking a short break from foraging at night on the ledge of an old and dusty cellar window’. Ranking sixth in the ‘Urban Nature’ category, it’s the work of photographer Maximilian Fellermann

This is the shot that has won Silke Huttche the title of GDT Nature Photographer of the Year. Huttche, who lives in the German city of Wuppertal, says: 'Every time I pass this electricity pole I take a look up for there is always some kind of bird sitting there. As was the case on this somewhat dull day when I glanced up and spotted the kite sitting there on the one end. Shortly after a second one [settled] on the opposite end. This was getting exciting – were the two a pair or rivals? They just seemed to have nothing to say to each other and kept looking in opposite directions.' Huttche titled the shot 'Scenes of a Marriage'. It also takes the top prize in the 'Urban Nature' category

This is the shot that has won Silke Huttche the title of GDT Nature Photographer of the Year. Huttche, who lives in the German city of Wuppertal, says: ‘Every time I pass this electricity pole I take a look up for there is always some kind of bird sitting there. As was the case on this somewhat dull day when I glanced up and spotted the kite sitting there on the one end. Shortly after a second one [settled] on the opposite end. This was getting exciting – were the two a pair or rivals? They just seemed to have nothing to say to each other and kept looking in opposite directions.’ Huttche titled the shot ‘Scenes of a Marriage’. It also takes the top prize in the ‘Urban Nature’ category 

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