Weather Photographer of the Year or Nature as You Have (Not) Seen It

credit: Rudolf Sulgan and Royal Meteorological Society


No, this post is not about that old European movie with the same title. It is literally about weather.  Good. Or bad. But always different. Always new. And always amazing. If only we had eyes to see it...

Five years in a row, the Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS) which in 2020 celebrated its 170th anniversary, in collaboration with AccuWeather, called on photographers from all over the world to take part in the annual contest "Weather Photographer of the Year 2020" and "Young Weather Photographer of the Year 2020" (17 and under). There were no restrictions in terms of age, experience, equipment or even year. Just photography. And weather...

"Weather is consistently on people's minds because it impacts so much of our daily lives. It also lends itself fantastically to photography" - the organizers said. And the awarded projects absolutely prove it...

And the Winners Are... 

Here are the winners in the two main categories: "Weather Photographer of the Year 2020" and "Young Weather Photographer of the Year 2020". 

credit: Rudolf Sulgan and Royal Meteorological Society

Weather Photographer of the Year 2020 Rudolf Sulgan and "Blizzard"

Rudolf Sulgan's image "Blizzard"  shows  Brooklyn Bridge in New York. Of a shortlist of 26 images chosen from over 7700 entered into the competition, Blizzard was chosen as the overall winner by an esteemed panel of judges.

Here is what Rudolf Sulgan said about the award:" I'm extremely pleased and humbled just to be among the very talented finalists and becoming the Weather Photographer of the Year is an amazing experience for me. Global warming is the primary cause of the current sea level rise. As a result, hundreds of millions of people living in coastal areas will become increasingly vulnerable to flooding. Higher sea levels would force them to abandon their homes and relocate. To combat this change in global temperature rise, we can reduce emissions and ensure communities have the resources they need to withstand the effects of climate change. Today's choices will determine how high sea levels rise, how fast it occurs, and how much time we have to protect our communities. I made this image in 2018, during a strong blizzard as El Nino's periodic warming of water often disrupts normal weather patterns. My main concern and inspiration is that my images hopefully do a small part in combating climate change."

Liz Bentley, Chief Executive of RMetS and panel judge, commented: "The weather affects all of our lives and this picture captures that perfectly. Brooklyn Bridge provides an iconic backdrop, but it is the combined effect of snow, wind and freezing temperatures on the people trying to cross the bridge that tells the whole story – it sends a shiver down my spine."

Jesse Ferrell, judge  in the contest and AccuWeather expert meteorologist, said: "The best photos make me feel like I was there when they took it, as if I were having their experience. 'Blizzard' does this for me. I feel the full impact – the chill of the winter air, the snowflakes hitting my face, and the people enjoying the snow, with older folks remembering previous snows and children just forming memories that will last for years. The framing is impeccable and pleasing. It captures that moment when snow is falling so hard that it adds a ghostly, otherworldly essence to your surroundings."

credit: Kolesnik Stephanie Sergeevna and Royal Meteorological Society

Young Weather Photographer of the Year 2020  (17 and under) - Kolesnik Stephanie Sergeevna and "Frozen Life"

Kolesnik Stephanie Sergeevna is 17 years old. She took the photo "Frozen Life" in her hometown Shakhty in Russia. "The photo is of a leaf stuck in the ice,- said Kolesnik. - I wanted to take this shot because it is a "part of sunny summer frozen in ice". Time seems to have stopped for this leaf."

An Interesting detail: The solubility of air in water is related to temperature: the cooler the water, the more air is dissolved within. However, this changes once water freezes, as gas solubility in ice is much less than in water. Upon freezing, the dissolved air separates from the water and can become trapped by the forming ice to create bubbles. Typically, the faster the freezing rate, the greater the number and size of the bubbles.

Liz Bentley said: "Frozen Life freezes time - both figuratively and literally. Captured forever is this moment in time when the leaf slowly froze into the water, but more importantly, as the photographer says, it's a strange juxtaposition of seasons - Summer taken over by Winter, and I think the progression of the seasons is always fascinating." 

Jesse Ferrell describes "what particularly caught my eye was how the sunlight accentuates the detail of the air bubbles trapped in the ice, the contrast from dark to light, and the vibrant color of the leaf that is partially masked by the ice. Quite stunning."

credit: Alexey Trofimov and 

The Public Favorite

26 finalists were chosen from 15 countries. 11 275 votes were made. The  public favorite was Baikal Treasure, taken by Alexey Trofimov from Siberia.

An interesting fact: Located in the Russian region of Siberia, Lake Baikal is the world's deepest and largest freshwater lake – containing about one-fifth of the freshwater on Earth. The lake is covered in ice for almost five months and as the temperature drops through winter, the uneven freezing of the lake results in some blocks being pushed up, which are then sculpted by the wind, sublimation, melting and refreezing. Lake Baikal is renowned for its many ice formations and their turquoise appearance.

And Here Comes the Shortlist...

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