Stunning image of ants wins international environmental photography prize

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In just its third year, CIWEM's (Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Mangagement) Environmental Photographer of the Year is one of the fastest growing photographic competitions in the world, with pictures entered from over 60 countries including Serbia, Jamaica, Belarus, Zimbabwe, Turkey, Romania, India, South Africa, Australia, Israel, USA, China, Belgium, Vietnam and the UK.

The competition is an international showcase for the very best in environmental photography, honouring amateur and professional photographers who use their ability to raise awareness of environmental and social issues.

Only 24 years old, amateur photographer Bolucevschi Vitali described how he was able to take his winning image, "Talk About Stars": "On a sunny day I took a camera and set out to photograph something of the life of ants. At first I was no good as the ants moved very quickly and I was easily distracted. But gradually I was drawn to a group which was climbing up a nearby dandelion. They would each pull out one seed and then parachute to the ground. Unfortunately I could not photograph these moments well, but I did manage to get this one shot of the last few ants before they flew down."

"Since childhood I have loved to observe the life of wildlife, particularly the complex and dramatic life of insects. There is still so much to discover in natural photography so it is very exciting to think you might create something new and special each time you take your camera out. I am overwhelmed that I am the Environmental Photographer of the Year 2009. This victory is very important for me and for my creativity and I hope to keep taking such interesting pictures."

The panel of judges spent all of August going through nearly 2,500 entries, looking for images that were contemporary, creative, resonant, original and beautiful. Bolucevschi Vitali became CIWEM’s Environmental Photographer of the Year after "Talk About Stars" won the Natural World category and was then selected by judge and Chairman of the Environment Agency, Lord Smith, as the overall winner.

"This is a compelling image that conveys the beauty, the fragility, and the delicacy of nature in an extraordinary way," Lord Smith said of the winning image. "It reminds us that the environment, in its smallest detail as well as its grandest sweep, needs care and stewardship from us all."

Winning photographers will have their images showcased in a free international exhibition, which launches at 3 Bedfordbury Gallery, Covent Garden from 7-18 October. Limited edition prints of some of the winning and highly commended entries will be available for sale during this exhibition only.

For more information on the competition and exhibition, go to www.ciwem.org/arts/photographer .

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