A MATURE male African elephant eyeballs the photographer as it traverses the savanna; snow falls on a remote Icelandic petrol station, making it seem both pretty and desolate at the same time; and the torsos of swimmers, twisting in a filthy German river, call to mind the figures of the damned from Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment.

These are just three of the standout images submitted so far for the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards.

The annual competition, now in its tenth year, again showcases a diverse array of styles and content, but if a point of commonality among the images must be found, it could be simply that sense of the moment: those breathtaking instances when the world’s randomness gets momentarily replaced by a sense of perfect order.

As always, the natural world has yielded bountiful inspiration for photographers, with images of feather-fluffing flamingoes, mighty waterfalls and the star-spangled night sky appearing in the latest batch of entries released by the organisers.

Photographers of all ages and skill levels are invited to enter their best single frames before Thursday January 4 to be in the running. Professionals have until January 11 to enter.

Prizes include $25,000 cash, the latest Sony Digital Imaging equipment and flights to London to attend the awards dinner on April 19.

Ten categories reflect the diversity of the competition, while its international flavour is reinforced by national awards being awarded for photographers from more than 60 participating countries.

British curator and photography lecturer Zelda Cheatle will chair the juries for the category competitions.

Young photographers aged between 12 and 19 are encouraged to enter the Youth Award division with an image that pertains to the theme ‘My Environment’.

media_cameraA herd of elephants are seen on a march through a rainy landscape in Swedish photographer Bjorn Perron’s image, Exodus.
media_cameraSpanish photographer Carlos Alejo says of his image, Natural Identity in Fjord: ‘I took this photo on August 2017 in the north of Iceland. This beautiful whale gave me a majestic and smooth presence showing me her natural tattoo-like symbols in her tail, while swimming in a Fjord. It was a really touching experience with such a charming and elegant animal.’
media_cameraPedro Jarque Krebs from Peru took this shot of a curious red flamingo, which he titled Watch Your Back.
media_cameraGerman snapper Klaus Lenzen was overhead when he captured Every Breath You Take, composed of 35 individual swimmers competing in the Dusseldorf triathlon.
media_cameraNorwegian photographer Tine Poppe captured the first snowy day in Oslo in this image, Whiteout.
media_cameraMakoto Nishikura from Japan says of this image, Colorful Umbrellas: ‘My idea was good contrast of colourful umbrellas and black-and-white stripe image. I took this photo in rainy day of June 13th 2017 from the top of a building in Ginza Tokyo looking down the crossing.
media_cameraLopez Lumeras from Spain took this image of Teatro Cervantes de Tánger. The venue hosted great opera singers such as Maria Callas and Enrico Caruso in the 1920s, and became a cinema in the 1960s. It was shut in the 1980s and has remained so, ever since.
media_cameraHungarian photographer Peter Csakvari took this image River, Ice, Bird from the Margit Bridge overlooking the Danube in Budapest ‘on a very-very cold day’.
media_cameraCarlos M Almagro from Spain titled his shot of the Porís lighthouse in the Canary Islands ‘Stay’. ‘This image is the result of two different shots taken with an approximately 75 minutes difference in time, without moving the camera or tripod, to get in the same image the milky way and the sunrise,’ he says. ‘The milky way starts to get invisible during astronomical sunrise, which takes place in Canary Islands about 75 minutes before the civil sunrise.’
media_cameraSouth Korean photographer Chul-ui Song took this image, Gas Station, in Iceland. ‘I accidentally found a gas station in the middle of driving in the snow for over four hours,’ the photographer writes.
media_cameraSphiwo Hlatshwayo from South Africa took this shot, Redivine, a portrait of a woman with freckles taken earlier in 2017. ‘This image was taken in studio using two soft lights (softness altered in post production). This image was taken because I simply found the model to be beautiful. She caught my eye at an event and I had to bring her into the studio so I could capture every single freckle on her,’ the photographer writes.
media_cameraIceland features again in this image, Waterfall, by Witold Ziomek from Poland. It shows the waterfall called Skogafoss.
media_cameraKeiny Andrade from Brazil entered this shot in the portraiture division. ‘Sao Paulo is known for being huge and with few recreational areas for the population on the periphery. These portraits were made on the artificial beach of Sitio do Borges, in Itapevi, where locals go to enjoy the hot days,’ the photographer writes. ‘The nursing technicians Marco Afonso Aires, 53, and Lilian de Matos Batista, 31, with daughter Larissa Ayres, 10.’
media_cameraJassen Todorov from the USA took this shot, The Labyrinth, showing the town of Cadiz, Spain from a plane ‘during the golden hour’. ‘(Cadiz) is as fascinating as it is from ground level — charming streets, narrow alleys, beautiful architecture, fun markets and people, glorious churches. It has got it all — now go visit and get lost for a while,’ Todorov writes.
media_cameraGalaxies Above The Winter Forest by Slovakian photographer Ales Krivec shows the forests of Pokljuka in Slovenia. ‘Trees are illuminated by the nearby car on the road. For this image, I simply put the camera directly in the middle of the road,’ the photographer writes.

All entries are free and can be submitted online at www.worldphoto.org/swpa

All winning and shortlisted images will be included in the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London from April 20 — May 6, 2018.

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Originally published as Nature is ready for its close-up

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