wild art by daniela anger photo challenge

“Water as an Element” Challenge 2023

This week’s blog post highlights photographs recognised as Highly Commended and the overall winner in the Water as an Element category of our 2023 Pangolin Photo Challenge. It also includes detailed camera settings for each photo.

In this category, photographers were tasked with exploring the intricate relationship between wildlife and water, capturing breathtaking moments that reveal the beauty, drama, and vitality of life in aquatic environments.

Interested in participating in this year’s challenge? Click here to learn more about joining the 2024 Pangolin Photo Challenge. It’s easy, free, and offers the chance to win fantastic safari prizes!

Didn’t catch the Water as an Element Finalists video?

View the video here, and then share your thoughts on who should win. Afterwards, take a look at our outstanding images below to see if your predictions were correct.

Highly Commended
Every Last Morsel, by Paul Fenton

every last morsel by paul fenton pangolin photo challenge

Canon EOS R5 with a RF600mm F4 L IS USM

f/4.5 | 1/5000 | 600 mm | ISO 100

Paul Fenton captures a striking image of an egret hunting, freezing the motion with precise details using an aperture f/4.5 and shutter speed of 1/5000 at 600mm focal length. The image showcases the egret’s hunting act in a river or lake, creating a dramatic splash resembling suspended crystalline ice.

Highly Commended
Nighttime Glimmer, by Alexander Ponherr

nighttime glimmer by alexander ponherr pangolin photo challenge

Olympus Tough TG-5

f/13 | 1/80 | 74 mm | ISO 100

Alexander Ponherr’s photo, “Nighttime Glimmer,” provides a mesmerising view of the enigmatic ocean depths. Captured during a night dive in Raja Ampat, the picture showcases the otherworldly charm of a squid bathed in a bioluminescent glow, creating a captivating illusion of the creature suspended in space.

Highly Commended
Snow Water Monkey, by Belinda Bell

snow water monkey by belinda bell pangolin photo challenge

SONY ILCE-7RM4 with an FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS

f/5.6 | 1/500 | 148 mm | ISO 400

Belinda Bell’s captivating photograph, “Snow Water Monkey,” offers a glimpse into the playful world of a Japanese macaque, commonly known as the ‘snow monkey.’ Shot with precision using a SONY ILCE-7RM4 camera paired with an FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS lens, this image captures a moment of pure joy as the macaque interacts with the hot spa pool.

Highly Commended
Green Pond Frog, by Asif Hossain

green pond frog by asif hossain photo challenge

NIKON D7500 with a 200.0–500.0 mm f/5.6

f/5.6 | 1/1000 | 750 mm | ISO 400

Asif Hossain’s photo, ‘Green Pond Frog,’ provides a peek into the fascinating realm of amphibians. Taken using a NIKON D7500 camera along with a 200.0–500.0 mm f/5.6 lens, this picture immerses us in the peaceful ambience of the National Botanical Garden in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The stark contrast between the dark background and the vibrant greenery surrounding the lily and frog is truly enchanting. Moreover, the reflection captured in the picture enhances its charm.

Highly Commended
Patient as a Lion, by Glenn Ostle

patient as a lion by glenn ostle pangolin photo challenge


f/6.7 | 1/250 | 19 mm | ISO 800

Glenn Ostle’s photograph “Patient as a Lion” captures a playful sea lion underwater with a halo of fish, showcasing grace and agility. Taken with a NIKON Z 6 camera, the image balances light and motion with an aperture of f/6.7 and a shutter speed of 1/250. The 19mm focal length provides a wide perspective, inviting viewers to appreciate the beauty and vitality of marine life.

Highly Commended
Mirage, by Nicolas Becka

mirage by nicolas becka pangolin photo challenge

NIKON Z 9 with a NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S

f/5.6| 1/2500 | 140 mm | ISO 110

Nicolas Becka’s photo “Mirage” showcases Amboseli National Park in Kenya, capturing wildebeests as silhouettes against the horizon with a mirage-like reflection.

Red Nemo, by John Olewicz

red nemo by john olewicz pangolin photo challenge

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II with an OLYMPUS M.12-40mm F2.8

f/8 | 1/200 | 36 mm | ISO 250

John Olewicz’s “Red Nemo” emerged as the winner of the Water as an Element Challenge. This captivating shot of a maroon anemone fish, commonly known as a clownfish, not only dazzled with its vibrant colours but also told a compelling story of symbiosis in the underwater world.


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