04/12/2013
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Swarovski Optik announces winner of Digiscoper of the Year 2013

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"Love without barriers" by Juan Manuel Benjumea from the US is the title of the image that has won the Digiscoper of the Year 2013 competition, organized by Swarovski Optik. His entry was awarded first place in the competition by a jury of international photographers, birding and digiscoping experts, as well as the general public.

Swarovski Optik has been running the Digiscoper of the Year competition for eight years now. It invites digiscopers from all around the world to share their finest shots with a wide expert audience and have them judged for a prize by an expert jury. Yet again the competition enjoyed an increase in the numbers of participants, highlighting the growing popularity of digiscoping. More than 1,600 pictures were entered, an increase of about 15 per cent compared to 2012, and a total of 510 new digiscopers registered to take part in the competition.

This year's competition featured four categories: Behaviour & Action, Portrait, Mammals, and Videos. The winning photo in each category was selected by a separate expert jury. The overall winner was then chosen from these four category winners.


"Love without barriers" (Photo: Jaua Manuel Benjumea).

The overall winner of the competition is Juan Manuel Benjumea from the US. He is also the winner of the category Behaviour & Action (above). He impressed both the expert and public jury with his unique shot of two different bird species — a female Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis) and a male Clark's Grebe (Aechmophorus clarkii) — during their courtship ritual, hence the title of the picture: 'Love without barriers'.

His prize for winning the competition is a set of Swarovski Optik digiscoping equipment comprising the new ATX/STX spotting scope (own choice) with a TLS APO adapter, a spotting scope rail, tripod and tripod head.

The winner in the Portrait category is Jorge de la Cruz Martin from Spain. He impressed the jury with his shot of a Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis). The sharpness of the image particularly highlights the fine detail and structure of the feathers beautifully. The colour and image composition gives the portrait a particularly balanced look, making it attractive to the observer.


Female Rock Thrush (Photo: Jorge de la Cruz Martin).

Robert Wilson from the US will be delighted at winning the Mammals category. He impressed the jury with his portrait shot of a moose (Alces alces), entitled 'One big boy!'. He managed to capture a portrait depicting the imposing size of this shy, majestic king of the forests in quite a natural way.

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Frank Resseler from Belgium was the winner in the newly introduced Video category. Numerous different species of birds and insects can be seen in his digiscoping video. In this case, the jury was impressed by the video's composition, displaying different birds and insects by using particularly fascinating close-up and slow-motion shots.

The three category winners will each receive a pair of EL 32 binoculars from Swarovski Optik as their prize.

The Digiscoper of the Year 2013 competition was decided again this year on the basis of the combined scores from an international jury of experts and a public vote by registered visitors to the website www.digiscoperoftheyear.com. The selection criteria for the jury were as follows: the relevance to the competition's theme, the aesthetic aspect of the shots, and picture sharpness. The best 15 digiscoping photographs and five videos submitted in each category have been published by Swarovski Optik on the website.

During the four-month-long competition, fans on the Swarovski Optik Facebook page chose the three most popular digiscoping photos and the best digiscoping video each month, and the relevant photographers were awarded a top-quality Swarovski Optik fleece jacket as a prize.

Swarovski Optik warmly congratulates all the winners!

The winning photos, including the control images, are available for you to download here (PIN Code: GUUBA2)

A special 2014 calendar featuring a superb selection of images from the competition, published in association with Swarovski Optik, is available free with the new-look December issue of Birdwatch magazine, on sale now.

Written by: Swarovski Optik