Whangārei photographer Robert Saunders has one of his stunning images shortlisted in the prestigious 2019 Sony World Photography Awards.

Saunders is shortlisted in the Awards' Open Landscape category with an image of Sterling Falls in the heart of Milford Sound.

The stunning image was shot in March 2018, on his fourth and final attempt to capture the power of Sterling Falls.

"The water at Sterling Falls drops a staggering 151m into the basin with such force that it rips across the surface in a beautiful web like texture throwing spray in every direction.

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"The scene truly emphasises the raw power and wildness of Fiordland. To capture this image, I had to approach the falls by boat,'' he said.

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''Standing on the bow I managed to get a few frames off before spray completely drenched both me and my camera, just one of the implications of wanting to capture this scene at 24mm."

Based in Whangārei, Saunders has been shooting for more than 5 years and is passionate about nature and conservation.

Whangārei photographer Robert Sanders takes his inspiration from nature.
Whangārei photographer Robert Sanders takes his inspiration from nature.

Saunders will now go on to compete against talented photographers from across the world to win his categories and have the chance to become Open Photographer of the Year.

He said he got into photography to help him sell camera equipment while at university.

''During my second year of university I took up a sales job over summer. I was tasked with selling imaging equipment that I didn't have the faintest idea about.'' Saunders said.

''In an attempt to be less ignorant, I purchased a Canon Rebel and started taking photos. I wasn't very good. But if you stick at something long enough, I hear you do improve.''

He takes his inspiration from nature.

''Notably the juxtaposition of its raw and powerful magnificence and its fragility.

"I have the luxury of experiencing some truly beautiful places and I often forget just how fortunate I am. I would be in these awe-inspiring environments, slipping over, getting stung, soaking wet, windblown, sometimes sunburnt and almost always aching, exclaiming to the world that this sucks, when suddenly something special happens and I alone am there to capture it.''

Photographer of the Year, with prizes including the latest Sony camera equipment, flights to the London Awards ceremony, and US$5000.

All the shortlisted will be shown at the 2019 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition at Somerset House, London before going on a global tour and being published in the annual Awards' book.

A total of 326,997 entries from 195 countries and territories were submitted across the four competitions of the 2019 Awards, the highest ever number of entries to date.