The Wonderful GDT Nature Photographer of the Year Winners

A serene, snowy forest surrounds a calm, semi-frozen lake. Bare trees, covered in a light layer of snow, mirror off the water's surface. The scene is tranquil and still, capturing the quiet beauty of a winter landscape.
‘Winter flood in a riparian forest’ by Dieter Damschen | GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2024

The German Society for Nature Photography (GDT) has announced the winner of its prestigious GDT Nature Photographer of the Year competition. The 2024 winner is Dieter Damschen for his photo Winter flood in a riparian forest.

“Winter is my favorite time of year, and one of my favored motifs is the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Elbe River Landscape,” Damschen explains.” I often visit this hardwood riparian forest in the fore land of the dyke to take photographs at fixed points with lines of sight that reveal carefully selected compositions.”

While the photographer has spent a lot of time in this forest and captured many images over the years, he says he is “regularly surprised” by how different the location can appear in various conditions.

“After several years with extremely low water levels, a long awaited winter flood inundated the old oak trees in January 2024. On this particular morning, the trunks and branches of the trees were plastered with snow on one side, thanks to snowfall in combination with strong winds during the previous night. The resulting contrasting lines emphasize the time-worn structures of the mighty trees, creating the special graphic effect of this fleeting moment.”

Although Damschen has long been interested in nature, thanks partly to regular bird-watching adventures as a child, an internship at a photo studio initially convinced the award-winning photographer that maybe life behind the camera wasn’t for him, even though his father recognized the young Dieter’s skills.

However, a few years later, after getting one of the late Fritz Pölking’s bird photography books, Damschen decided to become a nature photographer when he was 18. He worked as a print shop assistant for a while and then “quit his day job” to go all-in on nature photography. “Career goal achieved!” says GDT.

Category Winners

Damschen’s prize-winning image was selected from just under 8,000 images submitted by GDT members from 13 countries. Alongside the overall winner, the jury also picked winners across seven categories: Birds, Mammals, Other Animals, Plants and Fungi, Landscapes, Nature’s Studio, and the special category for this year, Germany’s River Landscapes, which Damschen won. The winners of each category are featured below.

A black bird, resembling a cormorant, is seen swimming just beneath the surface of a translucent turquoise wave as it crests, illuminated by sunlight. The ocean in the background is tranquil, with layers of blue hues.
‘Surfing on the other side’ by Levi Fitze, Birds category winner | GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2024
An aerial view of two whales swimming close together in a blue-green ocean. The whales are creating large circular bubble nets, which form intricate, spiraling patterns on the water's surface.
‘Bubblenet’ by Scott Portelli, Mammals category winner | GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2024
A macro shot of a small insect with delicate wings perched on a thin vertical surface against a dark blue background. Three out-of-focus circular lights in shades of blue and yellow create a bokeh effect in the background.
‘Thread-winged’ by Gerald Haas, Other Animals category winner | GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2024
Minimalist photograph of aquatic plants on a white background. Two tall, slender reeds stand straight, while a single, curved stem with a small, heart-shaped leaf and reflection creates an elegant, abstract composition.
‘Arrowhead’ by Heike Odermatt, Plants and Fungi category winner | GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2024
A misty forest scene showing white-barked birch trees and ferns in autumn colors of yellow, red, and orange. Foliage is dense, and the fog adds a mystical, serene atmosphere to the woodland panorama.
‘Birches in autumn’ by Felix Wesche, Landscapes category winner | GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2024
A solitary, windswept tree stands on a grassy hillside under a misty, overcast sky. The surrounding landscape appears blurred by fog, creating an ethereal and dreamlike atmosphere.
‘Flag tree’ by Marte Engelbrecht, Nature’s Studio category winner | GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2024
Two black and white birds swim in a calm, misty body of water. One bird is diving, and the other is partially submerged, splashing water while a small object flies into the air. The background is a soft and hazy white.
‘Predator and prey’ by Jan Sohler, Jury Prize Winner | GDT Nature Photographer of the Year 2024

Many wonderful, amazing photos didn’t win their respective categories. An entire gallery of the top 10 images for each category is available on GDT’s website.

Image credits: Photos courtesy of the GDT Nature Photographer of the Year contest. Individual photographers are credited in each image caption.