May 24, 2024

When you look at this picture, what do you see?

A huge, ominous visage that looks to be emerging from the ocean abruptly is seen in the photograph.

But what you’re truly seeing is a stargazer fish that has burrowed itself into the Mediterranean’s sandy bottom.

The image was captured by Italian Pietro Formis and is one of many to receive high praise in this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

Mr. Formis clarified that he often avoids taking images for contests. He submitted this picture because he “really liked it,” but he had no idea that it would get any attention.

“I’m overjoyed and counting down the days till the ceremony. I believe I will see the majority of my, shall we say, colleagues; yet, they are my idols and the pinnacle of photography, so I cannot adequately express how thrilled I am,” Mr. Formis remarked.

On October 10, there will be an event where the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition’s overall winners will be announced. The annual Natural History Museum exhibition, which will feature 100 images chosen from among the thousands that submitted entries, will debut the following Friday, October 13. It will then, as usual, embark on a global tour.

In this 59th year of the competition, scroll down this page to view some of the other highly praised photos.

Top wildlife photo prize goes to the frenzied bee ball.

Does this ape actually have a pet mongoose in his arms?

Top wildlife photo prize goes to “Explosive sex”

Because of the way their eyeballs protrude up, Atlantic Stargazer fish, also known by their Latin name Uranoscopus scaber, got their name. In Mr. Formis’ photo, you can see that they are also predators who hide under sand to catch their prey, leaving only their eyes and mouth exposed.

“To me, it resembles a voodoo mask or a human face, and those are the species I enjoy best—those with human-like faces that have large eyes and mouths. It’s a gorgeous creature, Mr. Formis said.

Mr. Formis explained how he was able to get the stargazer almost completely lighted in the crystal-clear water by concentrating light from a flash, using a slow shutter speed, and moving deliberately.

“To me, it resembles a waterfall, followed by the appearance of a frightful visage from behind. I tried a couple different shots, but I think I like this one best,” he remarked.

Since his father, who is also a photographer, introduced him to diving and altered his life, Mr. Formis has virtually developed a “obsession” with underwater photography.

I feel honored to be able to go in the sea and take images of all the beauty, he remarked.

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