Local ecologist named Photographer of the Year

CAPTURED: A photo from the winning portfolio of the fringed leaf frog captured at Yasuni National Park in Ecuador. Photo: Jasmine Vink.
CAPTURED: A photo from the winning portfolio of the fringed leaf frog captured at Yasuni National Park in Ecuador. Photo: Jasmine Vink.

LOCAL ecologist Jasmine Vink has been named 2018 Photographer of the Year by Australian Photography magazine.

Ms Vink took out the top prize in the competition— the largest amateur photography contest in the southern hemisphere— with her portfolio entitled On the Edge, which showcased shots of frogs taken in Ecuador in early 2018.

“The challenge for entrants is not just shooting one or two great images, but compiling a series of four that work seamlessly together,”  Australian Photography editor Mike O'Connor said.

“Jasmine's images were not only captured in difficult lighting, they also show a diversity of subject matter and contain an important conservation message. For our judges, it was an absolute standout.”

Ms Vink said she was ecstatic about her win, especially as frogs were often overlooked creatures.

“The aim of my photography is to take things that people don’t really pay much attention to or that are actively maligned and show them in a different light so that people can get a better appreciation for them,” she said.

Having grown up in the Redlands, Ms Vink said her love of animals had been instilled in her from a young age.

“There was a reserve at the end of the street that I used to play in as a child and there would be water dragons and bearded dragons running around that I used to catch,” she said.

“I remember whenever my dad found a snake in the garden he would pick it up and bring it over to (my brother and I) so we could gain an appreciation for it.”

She added that in her job as an ecologist, endangered species searches were among her biggest passions, with amphibians being one of the most threatened animal groups on the planet.

“Nearly half of all amphibian (species) are decreasing (in population) at the moment because they are susceptible to land clearing and habitat disturbance,” she said.

“The Spix's Horned Toad (pictured below) is an incredibly rare species— the biologist we were there with had never seen one, and he had been working in that area for about ten years.”

RARE: Ms Vink's photograph of a Spix's Horned Toad was part of her winning portfolio. Photo: Jasmine Vink.

RARE: Ms Vink's photograph of a Spix's Horned Toad was part of her winning portfolio. Photo: Jasmine Vink.

Ms Vink said risks to amphibian species in Ecuador included mining, logging and pollution. 

In Australia, native frog species also face significant risk, with researchers from the University of Queensland recently identifying a fungal skin infection wiping out native frog species an “alarming” rate.

PhD candidate Nicholas Wu from UQ’s School of Biological Sciences said the unique qualities of frog skin allowed the chytrid fungus to have a devastating impact.

“Frogs are particularly susceptible to the fungus because of their thin-permeable skin, through which they breathe, drink and exchange salts,” he said.

“The fungus feeds on the skin and directly damages it, meaning they can’t regulate themselves and die as a result.”