Rudolf Sulgan’s image, Blizzard, showing Brooklyn Bridge in New York, has been announced the winner of the Royal Meteorological Society’s Weather Photographer of the Year 2020, in association with AccuWeather.
Of a shortlist of 26 images chosen from over 7,700 entered into the competition, Blizzard was chosen as the overall winner by an esteemed panel of judges.
Rudolf said: “I’m extremely pleased and humbled just to be among the very talented finalists and becoming the Weather Photographer of the Year is an amazing experience for me.
I made this image in 2018, during a strong blizzard as El Nino’s periodic warming of water often disrupts normal weather patterns. My main concern and inspiration are that my images hopefully do a small part in combating climate change.”
Liz Bentley, Chief Executive of the Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS) and panel judge, said:
“The weather affects all of our lives and this picture captures that perfectly. Brooklyn Bridge provides an iconic backdrop, but it is the combined effect of snow, wind and freezing temperatures on the people trying to cross the bridge that tells the whole story – it sends a shiver down my spine.”
This was echoed by judge Jesse Ferrell, AccuWeather expert meteorologist and Social Media Manager.
“The best photos make me feel like I was there when they took it, as if I were having their experience. ‘Blizzard’ does this for me. I feel the full impact – the chill of the winter air, the snowflakes hitting my face, and the people enjoying the snow, with older folks remembering previous snows and children just forming memories that will last for years. The framing is impeccable and pleasing. It captures that moment when snow is falling so hard that it adds a ghostly, otherworldly essence to your surroundings.”
Mark Boardman, Owner of StormHour Ltd, also part of this year’s judging panel, added:
"I love the composition of the image itself, with the symmetry of the famous bridge's structure and the howling winds driving the snow across the scene. I am always fascinated by photographs of people interacting with severe weather. Who are these people struggling across the bridge? Are they happy or sad? Are they local workers or tourists maybe? What are their stories, how did they get to be here at this moment, and where are they going? A picture like this allows you to look, ponder and daydream, you could write a novel about these people on the bridge!"
The other judges were Gareth Mon Jones; winner of Weather Photographer of the Year 2019 and Matt Clark; photo editor of RMetS Weather magazine.
Young Weather Photographer of the Year
The Young Weather Photographer of the Year 2020 (17 and under category) was awarded to 17-year-old Kolesnik Stephanie Sergeevna, from Russia, with her image Frozen Life.
Kolesnik said: “The photo is of a leaf stuck in the ice. I wanted to take this shot because it is a "part of sunny Summer frozen in ice". Time seems to have stopped for this leaf.”
Liz Bentley said: “Frozen Life freezes time - both figuratively and literally. Captured forever is this moment in time when the leaf slowly froze into the water, but more importantly, as the photographer says, it's a strange juxtaposition of seasons - Summer taken over by Winter, and I think the progression of the seasons is always fascinating.”
Jesse Ferrell describes “what particularly caught my eye was how the sunlight accentuates the detail of the air bubbles trapped in the ice, the contrast from dark to light, and the vibrant colour of the leaf that is partially masked by the ice. Quite stunning.”
The Public Favourite
The shortlisted images were put to a public vote, with an overwhelming response of 11,275 votes cast for the 26 finalists representing 15 countries. The winning image was Baikal Treasure, taken by Alexey Trofimov from Siberia.
Located in the Russian region of Siberia, Lake Baikal is the world’s deepest and largest freshwater lake – containing about one-fifth of the freshwater on Earth. The lake is covered in ice for almost five months and as the temperature drops through winter, the uneven freezing of the lake results in some blocks being pushed up, which are then sculpted by the wind, sublimation, melting and refreezing. Lake Baikal is renowned for its many ice formations and their turquoise appearance.
The Runners Up (decided by Judging Panel)
First runner up: Vu Trung Huan – Tea Hills
Second runner up: Maja Kraljik - Monster
Runner up in the Young Weather Photographer category was Emma Rose Karsten – Surf’s Up.
The winners were announced on Saturday 17 October, at RMetS WeatherLive: Past, Present and Future - Celebrating 170 years of the Royal Meteorological Society.
The 2021 calendar featuring all the winners and finalists of Weather and Young Weather Photographer of the Year 2020 is now available to buy via the RMetS online shop.