'Greatest Nature Photographs of All Time' Featured in Earth Day Auction

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The "top 40 nature photographs of all time," as selected by the International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP), will be auctioned by Christie's International on April 22 in honor of Earth Day.

Proceeds will be divided among the following environmental organizations: Conservation International, Oceana, Natural

Resources Defense Council and the Central Park Conservancy.

The collection spans over 100 years of photography and features iconic images of

nature in the 20th and 21st centuries. The photographers include Ansel Adams,

National Geographic Magazine Editor-in-Chief Chris Johns, Pulitzer

Prize-winning landscape photographer Jack Dykinga, and underwater

documentarian Brian Skerry.

For the judging, ILCP members were asked to consider factors such as aesthetics, uniqueness, historical and

scientific significance, or contribution to conservation efforts.

“It was no easy task, selecting just forty images from the incredible

nominations submitted to us by some of the world’s greatest nature

photographers, but it was a tremendous honor for the ILCP to be asked to

take the lead on this challenging project,” said ILCP Executive

Director Justin Black.

“No doubt, there are other notable and worthy photographs that could

have secured a spot in the Top 40 gallery,” Black added, “but this

diverse cross section clearly demonstrates the power of photographs to

educate, enlighten, inspire, and stir us into action to protect our

limited natural resources.”

ILCP President and photographer Cristina Mittermeier said, “One of the

brightest contributions of photography to the preservation of special

landscapes and creatures around the world is that images are able to

shed light on some of the darkest, most remote corners of our planet.

I’ve seen first-hand how photographs like these arrest the eye, invite

reflection, provoke emotion, and become a shared experience that gifts

us with a larger vision of the world.”

Seeing Double

July 2006, northern tip of Baffin Island.

Its image mirrored in icy water, a polar bear travels submerged–a

tactic often used to surprise prey. Scientists fear global warming could

drive bears to extinction sometime this century.

 

Australian sea lions play in the sea grass beds off Little Hopkins

Island Australia

"A group of Australian sea lions relax and frolic in a

sea grass meadow near Little Hopkins Island South Australia. They are a

curious species that nuzzle the lens and playfully pull on fin and

mask straps. While I was photographing them the leader of the group

stood straight up and looked around and then swam straight and fast for

the beach with the entire group following. The sea was still and quiet and something

told us that maybe we should leave too and we climbed into our boat

just as a great white shark came into view. The Australian sea lion is

one of the rarest and most endangered pinnipeds in the world."- David

Doubilet

Australian sea lions play in the sea grass beds off Little Hopkins

Island Australia.."A group of australian sea lions relax and frolic in a

sea grass meadow .near Little Hopkins Island South Australia. They are a

curious species .that nuzzle the lens and playfully pull on fin and

mask straps. While I .was photographing them the leader of the group

stood straight up and .looked around and then swam straight and fast for

the beach with the .entire group following. The sea was still and quiet

and something told .us that maybe we should leave too and we climbed

into our boat just as .great white shark came into view. The Australian

sea lion is one of the .rarest and most endangered pinniped in the

world."..- David Doubilet

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Split

Rock and Cloud, Eastern Sierra, California, 1976 Galen Rowell

Galen

Rowell (1940-2002) was a master of incorporating fleeting qualities of

natural light in compelling compositions. He saw this splendidly

illuminated cirrus cloud floating quickly on the wind while climbing one

evening in the Buttermilk region of California's Eastern Sierra Nevada.

Rather than simply capturing an image of the cloud out of context with

the place, Galen wished to incorporate a sense of the boulder-strewn granite landscape around him. He imagined a composition that paired the

cloud with a strongly graphic silhouette, and traversed the rugged

landscape to find a foreground subject in a suitable position to

photograph against the sky while the cloud passed overhead. He waited

only thirty seconds after setting up his tripod-mounted Nikon before the

cloud floated through the perfect position.

Rock and Cloud, Eastern Sierra, California, 1976 Galen Rowell. .Galen

Rowell (1940-2002) was a master of incorporating fleeting qualities of

natural light in compelling compositions. He saw this splendidly

illuminated cirrus cloud floating quickly on the wind while climbing one

evening in the Buttermilk region of California's Eastern Sierra Nevada.

Rather than simply capturing an image of the cloud out of context with

the place, Galen wished to incorporate a sense of the boulder-strewn

granite landscape around him. He imagined a composition that paired the

cloud with a strongly graphic silhouette, and traversed the rugged

landscape to find a foreground subject in a suitable position to

photograph against the sky while the cloud passed overhead. He waited

only thirty seconds after setting up his tripod-mounted Nikon before the

cloud floated through the perfect position.

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Polar

Dance

For centuries, polar bears have gathered along the Western

shores of Hudson Bay during late October and early November waiting for

the bay to freeze. Here at Cape Churchill the land extends far out into

the bay and is one of the first places the bay begins to freeze. When

the ice grows solid, the polar bears move out onto the ice where they

will spend the winter hunting for their main diet of ringed and bearded

seals. While the pregnant females leave the bay and head inland

thirty-five to forty miles. There they will dig dens, and the young will

be born in December and January. Cape Churchill is the largest

gathering of polar bears on earth. Here the relatively solitary bears

come together and socialize waiting for the temperatures to drop and the

ice to freeze. As the winter storm approached the cape, during near

whiteout conditions, two adult polar bears test each other's strength in

what is known as play fighting. From the time polar bears come out of

their dens in March and April, cubs, like most animals, play fight. Male

polar bears continue to play fight into adult hood. It not only keeps

them fit and establishes a hierarchy, but to any viewer it is obviously

something the bears enjoy. Polar bears are my favorite mammal to

photograph, and this image titled "Polar Dance" with its almost

human-like gestures of dance and the mood created by the blowing snow is

my most favorite image I've made. -Tom Mangelsen

RESERVED

Mist, Rock Island Bend, Franklin River, Southwest Tasmania,

Australia."..Photograph Peter Dombrovskis copyright Liz

Dombrovskis….This iconic Photograph was instrumental in allowing the

rivers to run free…First published in "The Australian Newspaper" prior

to the 1983 Australian Federal Elections with the slogan."Could you

vote for a party that would destroy this?"..There was public

outrage…At 10.40 am on 1st July, 1983, The High Court of Australia…

more »

Morning

Mist, Rock Island Bend, Franklin River, Southwest Tasmania,

Australia

Photograph Peter Dombrovskis copyright Liz

Dombrovskis

This iconic photograph was instrumental in allowing the

rivers to run free. It was first published in "The Australian Newspaper" prior

to the 1983 Australian Federal Elections with the slogan: "Could you

vote for a party that would destroy this?" There was public

outrage…The rivers still

run free.

Petrified Sand Dunes and Reflection, Paria Canyon – Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness,

Arizona

Pulitzer-prize winning photojournalist and landscape

photographer Jack Dykinga made this photograph as part of a campaign to

create National Monuments in both the Paria Canyon and Escalante Canyon

drainages. He had tried on six separate occasions to make this image

following seasonal rains, dissatisfied each time with the quality of the

reflections in the standing water. His final effort paid off after

driving south from Salt Lake City and arriving near Paria Canyon around

midnight. Dykinga camped at the mouth of one of the side canyons and

began hiking in around 3:30am in order to arrive on location in time for

dawn and calm water. The Abrams publishing house rewarded the effort

in Dykinga's book Stone Canyons of the Colorado Plateau (1996), creating

a cover free of any type because publisher Lou Gotlieb so loved the

image. Following the successful creation of the Grand

Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Vermilion Cliffs National

Monument, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt sent Dykinga a letter of

thanks, noting the book's help in raising public awareness of these

special places.

Tortoises

at Dawn, Galapagos Islands, 1984. Giant tortoises in pond, Geochelone

elephantopus, Alcedo Volcano, Galapagos Islands

"The Galápagos Islands

provide a window on time. In a geologic sense, the islands are young,

yet they appear ancient. The largest animals native to this archipelago

are giant tortoises, which can live for more than a century. These are

the creatures that provided Darwin with the flash of imagination that

led to his theory of evolution. Immutable as the tortoises seem, they

were utterly vulnerable to the buccaneers and whalers who took them by

the thousands in the last two centuries. But one population eluded

them. Inside the Alcedo volcano on Isabela Island, an earlier era

lingers. This caldera is sealed off from the outside world by steep

lava slopes that rise to 3,860 feet on the equator. It was not until

1965 that an Ecuadorian biologist found a way down inside and discovered

a world where giant tortoises roamed in primordial abundance. This

group had presumably never seen humans. They hadn't seen many more

when I entered the time capsule of the caldera. For one memorable week,

I lived among the tortoises of Alcedo. Photography one morning was one

of those precious experiences where I could be part of a scene rather

than a distant observer. The tortoises were resting in a pond as soft

mist mingled with sulfur steam from nearby fumaroles and dust from an

erupting volcano to the west, and I was able to create an image that

evokes the era when reptiles dominated life on land."- Frans Lanting.

Photography

 

Doomed by a gill net, a thresher shark in Mexico's Gulf of California

is among an estimated 100 million sharks killed yearly for their fins.

They add to the devastating global fish catch: nearly 100 million

tons.

2005

 

Water Lilies, Nymphaea nouchali, Okavango Delta, Botswana

"One of the

greatest challenges in photography to me is to define a personal point

of view. During my work in Botswana's Okavango Delta, I looked for ways

to capture the essence of this great wetland and my own response to the

wonder of it. The Okavango covers thousands of square miles, but it is

really just a thin sheet of water stretched across the sands of the

Kalahari. The delta's water lilies drew me in because they symbolize

life made possible by water in this dry land. I photographed lilies

covering lakes and giving shelter to an array of animal life, but I was

searching for something more lyrical. One day I looked down in a clear

lagoon and noticed how a patch of lilies was anchored in desert sand.

An idea took hold. I plunged into the swamp. Actually, I slipped in.

Quietly. Crocodiles abound here. While an assistant stood guard in a

small boat, I sank to the bottom with a camera encased in a

bubble-shaped underwater housing. I held my breath on each dive, which

allowed for less than a minute at the bottom. It took many attempts and

the better part of a day for the image to become refined. I was

intrigued by the sinuous curves of the lily stems. In an interesting

reversal of the maxim about magic light peaking around sunrise and

sunset, underwater photography conditions get better towards high noon,

when light penetrates farther into the depths. By the time I had

figured out solutions to the technical problems of this shot, the midday

sun backlit the lily pads suspended at the water's surface. From the

bottom of the swamp I saw that the lilies told a larger story, about the

anomaly of water in the desert. In one sense the margin for life was

exactly the distance from the lilies above my head to my toes buried in

the sand. But my perspective was of the exuberance, not the limits, of

life. The water was only a few feet deep, but the lilies reached for

the sky."- Frans Lanting

Twilight

of the Giants, Botswana 1989

African elephants at twilight, Loxodonta

africana, Chobe National Park, Botswana

"During the year I spent living

in the Okavango Delta of Botswana, I worked at night for periods of

time, waking up at sunset to follow animals through the hours of

darkness. I often started the evening at a favorite water hole where I

hunkered down by the edge and made myself a fixture in the landscape.

Elephants moved around me in the waning light like shadowy forms. One

evening a herd of bulls gathered across the water from me, rising above

their reflections under an October moon, in a primeval scene of ancient

Africa. Elephants move seasonally in and out of the Okavango and

across northern Botswana, ranging over huge territories to find what

they need to survive. In an earlier era, elephant trails crisscrossed

the entire African continent. If you fly over the land, you see

elephant trails, some abandoned, others still followed. Older elephants

pass on their knowledge to younger generations, and the matriarchs and

old bulls know of places that are used as refuges in times of drought or

stress–places that may be visited only once in a lifetime. What maps

are carried in the minds of elephants? Their epic wanderings over

northern Botswana may be part of larger ecological patterns that go

beyond rainy and dry seasons, years of drought and decades of plenty.

What elephants know lies on the fringes of our understanding, like the

indistinct forms of animals in the night, moving just beyond the edge of

human vision. The existence of huge free-roaming herds of elephants in

Botswana is a symbol for both the nature of this landscape and for the

human decisions that must be made about the fate of wild places and

wildlife both here and elsewhere on earth. How we balance those

interests will be the legacy of our time, the path we leave on the land." – Frans Lanting

Photography

The auction will take place on April 22 to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Earth Day and will be held at

Christie’s, Rockefeller Center, New York and carried live globally via

Christie’s LIVE™ on www.christies.com. Members of the Green

Auction Host Committee in NY include Leonardo DiCaprio, Harrison Ford,

Tobey Maguire, François-Henri Pinault, Salma Hayek, Bob Fisher, Candice

Bergen, Ed Norton, Evelyn Lauder, Alec Baldwin, Zaha Hadid, Brooke

Shields, and Matt Lauer.

You can also bid on select items after the evening

event through Christie’s partner, Charitybuzz, the leading destination

for online charity benefit auctions. The companion silent auction

will be hosted at www.ABidtoSavetheEarth.org It'll run through May 6th.

Christie’s will waive all fees and commissions for the auction.

Visit www.abidtosavetheearth.org to bid on items in the

silent auction, including signed prints of some of the Top 40 images. You can also check out the complete gallery of 40 photographs at this Flickr page.

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