Top 40 Nature Photographs - a set on Flickr
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The exercise of selecting the Top Forty Nature Photographs of all time in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day is both an honor and a tremendous challenge. It may not be possible to for anyone to create a definitive selection of the forty "best" or "most important" nature photographs, if only due to the vast variety of criteria that must be considered. We decided to try anyway.
The International League of Conservation Photographers, a fellowship of the top professional conservation photographers working today, was recruited to nominate nature photographs that the member photographers considered to be "the best," in whatever way they chose to define it. They were encouraged, however, to consider factors such as aesthetics, uniqueness, historical and scientific significance, or contribution to conservation efforts. The photographers were not permitted to self-nominate.
The Top Forty nominations, which represent a diverse spectrum of styles and genres and span over 100 years of the history of photography, are presented here. We hope you enjoy them, and that you will express your thoughts about the images that have meaning for you in each image's "comments" section.
Some of these photographs have been generously donated by the photographers or their representatives for the inaugural Christie's Green Auction in support of Conservation International, Oceana, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Central Park Conservancy.
Four photographs by Ely photographer Jim Brandenburg are among the Top 40 Nature Photographs in the history of photography.
The collection was assembled by the International League of Conservation Photographers and includes some of Brandenburg's best-loved photos. The league made its selections to celebrate Earth Day, April 22.
"It's the strangest feeling I've ever had in my life," Brandenburg said from his home in Ely. "Somehow, it's a combination of embarrassment, humility — and pride, because it's your peers."
The Brandenburg photos include a white wolf leaping between ice floes in the Canadian Arctic, a gray wolf peering among trees in northern Minnesota, an oryx on a sand dune in Namibia and bison in Minnesota's Blue Mounds State Park.
The collection includes the work of photographic giants such as Ansel Adams, Ed Weston and several National Geographic photographers. Brandenburg, who grew up near Luverne, Minn., spent more than three decades as a photographer for National Geographic magazine, traveling the world on assignment.