Wildlife Photographer of the Year best picture: Pop culture battles

Image copyright Justin Bedsole Image caption The Golden Calf of Lativar, Russia, been photographed by Justin Bedsole

Just 48 hours after filming this extraordinary image, British wildlife photographer Justin Bedsole had his life back on track.

That was thanks to his photograph of a majestic, double-trope golden stag standing on a red cliff in the Sierra de Laguna, Mexico.

As part of Wildlife Photographer of the Year, experts have now voted the deer the best picture of 2018.

And it will go up against some of the greatest wildlife images of all time in the prize’s People’s Choice award.

Image copyright Justin Bedsole Image caption Mr Bedsole was set up on the mountain by local guides

“Our work and our photographs are meant to spark debate – it’s a tool for conservation,” Mr Bedsole told BBC News.

“The wildlife beauty in the Sierra de Laguna is one of a kind, and you have to carefully watch that you get your equipment close enough to get the best picture.”

Image copyright Justin Bedsole Image caption It took Mr Bedsole almost two years to film the stag

He was particularly struck by the raucous jousts which took place among this lively population of raptors.

“You get to see a whole different species of raptor – and then you’re thrown off their axis,” he added.

As ever in this category, it is what you don’t see in the picture that can make it the best.

Now for the wildcard: another winner spotted by a wildlife photographer – but not by him.

The day after being able to go back home again after the photo shoot was dedicated to Jean-Baptiste Lefebvre, whose skull and facial features resemble that of a bat in a piece of art.

Mr Bedsole kept the image secret for the best part of two years as the French artist figured out how to get hold of it.

Image copyright Justin Bedsole Image caption Wildlife photographer Justin Bedsole watched Jean-Baptiste Lefebvre develop his nose motif for the portrait

“Maybe I was a bit naïve, but it was my best thought, my best work, and I was protective of it,” Mr Bedsole explained.

“When my photographer friends started telling me Jean-Baptiste wanted it, I was very proud of it.

“No-one could really believe it, until the Bat Crew from Quebec – guys with bats they’ve been flying for years – took it to bat man in Sarthe, and he’s really captured something remarkable.

“It was a big deal for me when he released it, and I am really proud of the finished piece.”

It was the people’s choice winner in this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year prize, which was presented to the winner at Somerset House in London on Thursday night.

Even though the final shortlist was dominated by very good wildlife photography, the public’s vote was a foregone conclusion.

There were some sensational shots which by chance not only captured a beautiful image, but could therefore have big future potential.

One of those was of two eagles, and a bird of prey, were spotted in the darkness of a remote cliff in Normandy.

The owl only flitted into view when the pair were framed by an antsel in his food.

The experts have chosen a wonderfully odd image, but even better is the other winner of 2018, taken by YouTube gator hunter Dan Hesse.

Images © Nature

You can see the judging panel and prizes here.

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