A unique view of a humpback whale calf has secured Reiko Takahashi of Japan the prestigious grand prize in the 2018 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year contest.
The striking image shows the whale’s tail as it glides through the water ahead off the coast of Japan’s Kumejima Island. Takahashi is a long-time photographer who left her office job to pursue her passion for underwater photography. She travelled to the island in order to photograph humpback whales with their young calves – and the resulting image has now won her the US$10,000 (€8614) prize. Her image was selected from more than 13,000 entries from around the world.
“It was a special scene for me, to be able to take a photo of the calf, completely relaxed in gentle waters,” said Takahashi in a statement. “I really cannot believe it. It was my dream to win. I am honored and it will be the driving force for my future shooting,”
The annual contest recognizes photos taken within the last two years, with entries in three categories: nature, people and cities. Takahashi’s photo took the overall grand prize and well as securing the top spot in the nature category. Hiro Kurashina of Japan took first in the cities category for his photo titled “Another Rainy Day in Nagasaki, Kyushu,” while “Tea Culture” by Alessandra Meniconzi of Switzerland won the people category.
Kurashina’s image is taken from a vintage tram in Nagasaki and shot in black-and-white. He explained that the quiet scene caught his attention, presenting a contrasts to Japan’s busier cities like Osaka. Meniconzi’s image was taken in the Altai Mountains of Western Mongolia, where she followed a family of eagle hunters during their move from their winter to spring camp.
See all of the winning and honorable mention images here.