Ian Brown, McKinley Moens and Peter Hill are three photographers in line for 2018 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition

A trio of Mountains snappers is in line for top honours in the 2018 Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year competition.

Finalists in the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year: Ian Brown, McKinley Moens and Peter Hill.

Finalists in the Australian Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year: Ian Brown, McKinley Moens and Peter Hill.

Peter Hill of North Katoomba has been selected as a finalist in the monochrome category, 13-year-old McKinley Moens of Springwood is in the juniors section, and Ian Brown of Mt Victoria is a finalist in the botanical category.

The exhibition of finalists is being shown at the South Australian Museum – who produce the event –  and at the Australian Museum simultaneously from Friday August 24.

The trio were selected from a record 2288 photo entries, submitted by more than 508 photographers in 16 countries. 

McKinley, who is home schooled, loves spending time in the outdoors and was able to closely watch a Peron’s Tree Frog to get just the right shot.

“Initially, the frog was in the bottom of a bucket but then it made it’s way to the top and just sat on the rim,” she said. “It looked as though it was smiling up at me and I knew that it was the shot,” 

It’s the first time McKinley has been a finalist in the competition, but three years ago she won a National Parks and Wildlife competition with a photograph of a Sacred Kingfisher, also taken in her garden. She also won BirdLife Photography Australia’s “Best of 2017” entry level competition with an image of a female Satin Bowerbird. She hopes to be an ornithologist.

Fellow finalist Peter Hill said he is always "on alert" for shooting particular places in the Mountains when the right conditions arise, and will be taking pictures in Iceland, Norway, and Spain later this year.

His shot this year at Junction Falls in Lawson, was all about timing when “the waterfall went from a trickle to a torrent in a matter of seconds, just as the afternoon sun - which was above the Falls - burst through the storm clouds”. 

Hill has been a previous winner of the landscape prize in this award, for a waterfall in Wentworth Falls. 

His finalist photograph was also selected by the director of the Max Dupain gallery in Leura to be included in Hill's latest exhibition of monochrome photography.

“To be hung alongside one of Australia's iconic photographers of the 20th century is a great honour for me, especially as my photography remains a hobby.”

The third finalist, Ian Brown, said capturing a moment in time in nature was “about standing up for the voiceless landscape, wilderness, plants and animals that continue to be destroyed”.

Brown’s been taking photos for 40 years and has been a finalist in this competition four times.

“Living in the Mountains IS my craft. As a nature photographer I travel to other places but most of my photography is done here and much of my best work arises from walking the bush.

“The bark on the Blue Mountains Ash trees ... changes with the season … I loved the way the clean white trunk stood out against the slowly shifting mist. I wanted to capture the grace and independence of this tree on its windswept cliff-top, and the curve of its trunk reminded me of a human torso.”

The exhibition features more than 100 photographs showcasing the extraordinary natural wonder of the Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica and New Guinea regions.

​A spokeswoman for the event said the exhibition was about raising awareness of the fragility of the natural world. The professional, emerging and junior photographers had shown impeccable timing, patience, artistry and technique, she said. The overall winner of the best nature photograph will win a voyage to Antarctica.

The Australian Museum will be holding photography workshop and photographer talks in the September school holidays. Peter Hill’s exhibition Essays in Light is currently on display at the Light and Shadow Fine Art Gallery in Leura.