The winners of the Nature TTL Photographer of the Year 2021 competition have been unveiled, with a highly original orangutan image taking the grand prize.

Canadian photographer Thomas Vijayan took the winning image, called The World is Going Upside Down. The orangutan is not a reflection, but the sky around it is – if you look at the base of the tree it should make sense. The tree is coming out of water, so you’re looking at the ground as the orangutan is climbing up.

“Thomas’ image is really unique, and immediately stood out to the judging panel,” said Will Nicholls, Founder of Nature TTL. “The unique perspective and composition means you are immediately trying to figure out what exactly you are looking at.”

Vijayan takes the £1,500 grand prize and title of Nature TTL Photographer of the Year 2021.

“This image means a lot to me because presently the orangutan population is reducing at an alarming rate,” says Vijayan of his winning image. “Deforestation and humans are the key cause behind this. Trees over 1,000 years old – which are a major asset to our planet – are being cut down for palm oil plantation.

As humans we have a lot of alternative choices to replace the oil, but the orangutans don’t have any options other than losing their home. I am very happy to see this image be successful, as it gives me an opportunity to spread the issue to the wider world.”

Meanwhile 13-year-old Thomas Easterbrook from the UK was crowned the Young Nature TTL Photographer of the Year 2021 with his image of a peregrine falcon tackling a starling murmuration.

Over 8,000 images were entered into the competition this year, with nature photographers from all over the world competing in eight categories: Animal Behaviour, Camera Traps, Landscapes, Small World, The Night Sky, Underwater, Urban Wildlife, and Wild Portraits.

You can see the category winners below, and view the full gallery of commended images over on the competition website.

Animal Behaviour
Thomas Vijayan: Category Winner & Overall Winner

Johan Wandrag: Runner-up

Camera Traps
John Formstone: Category Winner

James Roddie: Runner-up

Jay Roode: Category Winner

Fanny Reed: Runner-up

Small World
James Gifford: Category Winner

Samantha Stephens: Runner-up

The Night Sky
Ivan Pedretti: Category Winner

Amos Ravid: Runner-up

Grant Thomas: Category Winner

Zhi’yue Shi: Runner-up

Urban Wildlife
Kallol Mukherjee, Category Winner

Mohammad Murad, Runner-up

Wild Portraits
Dennis Stogsdill, Category Winner

James Gifford, Runner-up

Under 16
Thomas Easterbrook, Young Overall Winner

Raphael Schenker, Runner-up

Further reading
Wildlife photography tips and techniques