Hide and Seek by Malaysian-based photographer Tracey Jennings.
Hide and Seek by Malaysian-based photographer Tracey Jennings.

Photo where ‘death plays around you’

A MESMERISING image of a school of fish fleeing from predators has won the 2018 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year.

Hide and Seek by Malaysia-based, British photographer Tracey Jennings captured the exact moment the chase began.

Ms Jennings took the winning photograph underneath Arborek Jetty in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.

"I'd seen images on social media previously shot under this jetty which inspired me to travel to Raja Ampat. I dived the site over several days; land based and then again a week or so later on a live aboard trip." Ms Jennings said.

"I spent about six hours in total at a depth of less than five metres under the single relatively small jetty, only leaving when I finished my second air tank, way after sunset. This picture actually lay unloved on my hard drive for almost a year."

Hide and Seek by Malaysian-based photographer Tracey Jennings.
Hide and Seek by Malaysian-based photographer Tracey Jennings.

"When I did finally go through my images, this one jumped out at me. I love how the light plays through the fish, and how it really describes the essence of the feeling I experienced when below the jetty where life and death plays around you."

Ms Jennings is the first individual woman to win the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition. Her prize is $10,000 and a trip to Antarctica.

"It's such a great honour to be named this year's Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year. It's an important opportunity to showcase the beauty of our oceans to all people who visit this exhibition," she said.

"I am so proud to be the first woman recognised as the winner of this competition. I first started taking photographs five years ago, entering my first Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition in 2015 where one of my first underwater photographs was a finalist in the monochrome category. I always enter this fantastic competition," she said.

Tracy Jennings spent about six hours under the jetty at Arborek in awe and wonder of the schooling fish, but this scene was only visible for a minute or so. As a boat pushed off from the jetty a beam of light highlighted the small patch of reef.
Tracy Jennings spent about six hours under the jetty at Arborek in awe and wonder of the schooling fish, but this scene was only visible for a minute or so. As a boat pushed off from the jetty a beam of light highlighted the small patch of reef.

The judges described Ms Jennings' intriguing photograph as "having a huge amount of energy with a rich cacophony of shapes and an explosion of tonality. Removing colour from the image allows us to focus on the subject. The vortex of fish draws us in and makes us want to be there, to take up underwater photography so we can experience the situation. A great shot with significant wow factor."

"The photographs shown in the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year exhibition are a powerful collection of action shots, memorable underwater images, dramatic landscapes and unforgettable environmental reportage. Many of the photographers have used their art to highlight pressing environmental issues, and together the images are a reminder of the splendour, drama and variety of life on Earth," Kim McKay AO, Director and CEO, Australian Museum said.



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