Wildlife photographer Illia Shalemaev commended in Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition for images of little owls in Israel’s coastal region

Erez Erlichman
Published: 10.05.10, 07:28

The British competition, Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year, considered one of the most important wildlife photography competitions, announced Saturday that Israeli Illia Shalemaev has been commended for his photography of little owls (Athene Noctua) on a branch in the coastal region.

The competition, held jointly by London’s Natural History Museum and the BBC’s Wildlife Magazine, and sponsored by Veolia Environment, draws thousands of wildlife photographers each year from throughout the world, both professional and amateur.

צילום: איליה שלמייב
Last year marked the competition’s 45th anniversary, and before announcing the official results, the management released a number of the finest images from the various categories.

צילום: איליה שלמייב
“This was the second time I sent photos to the competition,” Shalemaev (33) told Ynet. “I am happy and proud they chose me.” Shalemaev, employed at Intel, is also a scenic photography teacher at the Galitz school of photography, and lives in the Latrun area.

צילום: איליה שלמייב
The group of owls was photographed two years ago. Shalemaev knew the images were good after he won third place in a bird photography competition in 2008, organized by the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel.

צילום: איליה שלמייב
“During the spring and beginning of summer, many kinds of birds come to an abandoned quarry not far from Kiryat Gat to raise their offspring,” said Shalemaev, who spent many days in a hide near the quarry during the nesting season.

However, these photos were taken during the first day of photographing these nocturnal birds of prey, and despite many more days there he was unable to replicate the success of this first day.

Though Shalemaev will not be flying to Britain this month to receive his award, his photos will be included in a book produced by the competition’s organizers, and will also be exhibited in the Natural History Museum.