Winners of the Sigma 'Wild Life' photo competition

Just to remind you we asked for "images of human, animal or natural activity in the outdoors which capture the essence of wilderness".  We received well over 200 entries from amateurs and professionals alike. Some were funny. Some were odd. But most were just astonishingly stunning images.

Our Guest Judge

The competition was judged for us by Jodie Deakin. Jodie has over 10 years' experience as a picture editor in the world of magazine publishing. She is currently Group Picture Editor at Reed Business Information, where her responsibilities include Farmers Weekly, the PPA Business magazine of the year.

This is what Jodie had to say about judging the entries:
"There was a fantastic number of images entered into this competition and the selection process was certainly not easy. I was particularly impressed by some of the wildlife and nature images but I'm sorry to say that these were quickly discounted during the initial editing process, as although they capture 'wild life' I didn't feel that they fully satisfied the brief of capturing the Essence of Wilderness. I'm aware that my interpretation of what 'the nature of wilderness' is has influenced my decision making process but I trust that you'll all allow me that."

The Winner
First prize went to "Kayaking On A Big Sea" by David Johnston, who is a kayak instructor in Canada.

(c) David H. Johnston

Jodie's comments:
"Wilderness to me is about wide open spaces and our sense of scale in relation to that space. This image captures that wonderfully, you feel in awe of what the kayaker is doing and also slightly afraid for him as he looks so small against the menacing water."

What Jodie didn't know was... the shot was captured using an Aquapac.

David writes:
"I was pretty excited to open an email this morning from Aquapac and Sigma telling me that I was the grand prize winner for their photo contest.  The photo was taken on a cold day in December while I was out paddling the rough waters of Lake Ontario just outside of Toronto, Ontario. It was shot using my trusty Canon Rebel Xti and the Aquapac SLR Camera Case.  The Aquapac SLR Camera Case comes out with me every time I'm on the water and it allows me to shoot high quality photos without worrying that I'm going to ruin the camera due to water. For me, it's the essential tool that enables me to get the action shots I'm looking for."

We really hadn't expected this to turn into an advert for our products. NOT that we're complaining!

Winging their way across the pond to David are two prizes. A fabulous Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM ultra-wide zoom lens (SRP £549.99). And an Aquapac Stormproof SLR Camera Pouch (SRP £55.00).

The Runners Up
Then we asked Jodie to pick two runners up. First was this shot entitled 'Tree Dismantles Abandoned Car'.

(c) Aidan Gribbin

Jodie's comments:
"Being in the wilderness allows us time to notice the little details which tend to pass us by when we are hemmed in by our everyday surroundings. The fact that the photographer chose to shoot this tree growing through the car in the close up/abstract way sums this up perfectly."

More than one of us assumed that this image was taken in the jungles of Cambodia or Honduras. But we couldn't have been more wrong.

Aidan writes:
"It was taken about 15 years ago near my then home in the west of Ireland, where a couple of old mark 1 Vauxhall Vivas had been dumped in the bog. The "sally" willow had grown up through one of the door handles (and later, I was pleased to see, it had forced the handle away from the door); I had to step down into the bog at the time, wearing wellies, and was besieged by gnats while I tried to steady myself; there is a little camera shake evident, but overall I think the shot works, simply because it successfully records the nature of the event taking place. The camera was a Mamiya C330 with a 55mm lens, and it was only transferred to digital specifically for the competition, by means of a home-made DSLR scanner, utilising my humble Canon 1000D and a 50mm prime lens; I then dragged it into Photoshop and with my extremely limited skills I tweaked the tone and contrast a little."

The other runner up was Paul Evans with this wonderful desert panorama.

(c) Paul Evans

Sadly the constraints of our blog template mean it has to be shrunk down which detracts a bit from the impact (you can see this and all the other images in their full glory on our Facebook page).

Jodie's comments:
"I was immediately struck by the panoramic format of this shot and how appropriate it was for the content. You wonder where the road is going to. It must be important as it's paved, but why then the abandoned looking structure on side of the road. I like the sense of scale of the low flat road and the mountains looming either side."

Paul writes:
"The picture was taken in 2011, in Morocco close to the Saharan desert, just before a dust storm picked up. We were heading to Erg Chebbi (an area of vast sand dunes). The shot was taken on a Sony Alpha NEX-5, shutter speed was 1/320 F-stop f13. The building in the mid ground was a  Berber building most likely built by goat herders."

And finally, two Honourable Mentions

(c) Felicia Simion

Jodie's comments:
"A beautiful art-worked image that embraces not only the scale of wilderness but also the peace that it can bring."

(c) John Del Rio

Jodie's comments:
"A very poignant and moving shot that conveys the power that mother nature has."

We didn't promise a prize for Honourable Mentions, but we will be sending a little something to Felicia and John all the same.

A huge thank you, and our commiserations, to everyone else who entered images into this contest. We were bowled over by both the number and the standard of images entered. And thank you also to Sigma Imaging (UK) Ltd for their extremely generous prize.

Tim Turnbull
Chief Executive
4th October 2012