….well almost the end of the year as I’m still hard at it until the Christmas weekend, but it’s good news nonetheless!
I was advised today that not only had I won 2 of the categories in this years Outdoor Photographer of the Year Competition (organised by Outdoor Photography magazine, a publication I’ve been a reader of for many many years) but I had also won the overall competition itself!
The image in question was taken earlier this year when running a trip to Yellowstone in February and we were fortunate enough to enjoy some dramatic blizzard conditions as they day came to an end and a nearby herd of Bison decided it was time to move to a thermal area for extra overnight warmth. Tough conditions to photograph in, predominantly because of the falling snow which meant I had to manually focus, but a truly amazing experience.
This image had won the World Wildlife category, but I also managed to win the On The Wing category which covered birdlife from anywhere in the world with this image of Sandhill Cranes in the early morning mists at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico around this time last year as it happens.
There was more than a stoke of good fortune with this particular shot – we’d enjoyed sunrise at our usual spot and decided to leave earlier than normal to check out some pools which were a short drive away – en route we spotted this one patch of rising mist with a small group of over-nighting cranes roosting there: we bundled out of the car took some shots, a few minutes later the cranes had gone and the moment had passed: it’s the only morning in the course of two week long trips there in the last 2 years that I’ve encountered these idyllic conditions and it was pretty much only us that enjoyed them too!
I don’t really like blowing my own trumpet but along with the BWPA video category success earlier in the autumn and my first publication in the form of Wild Shropshire last month 2011 is certainly a year I’ll be remembering for the right reasons!
PS Both images were taken on Natures Images trips…need I say more?
Well it’s finally here. Many of you will know that for the last couple of years I’ve been working on a fairly substantial collaborative project with Shropshire Wildlife Trust in preparation for and ultimately celebration of thier 50th anniversary in 2012. The cornerstone of the project is my very first book – self-published too – called Wild Shropshire and this week it arrived from the printers and it’s now out there selling – with a very positive initial uptake too my wholesaler advises me!
There’s much much more to the whole Wild Shropshire proposition than the book though and you can read all about the various talk, exhibitions and a brand new photographic competition we’re running for next year too on it’s own bespoke website www.wildshropshire.co.uk . There’s a separate blog too which I’ll be updating with different stuff to here and I’m even being persuaded to wander into the realms of Facebook on there ….. shortly for that though! Perhaps more importantly (or so my accountant reminds me) you can also order a copy of the book there – it won’t be available on Amazon and we’re only looking to distribute it locally too so that all the earnings (including contributions to Shropshire Wildlife Trust) look to stay locally within the county too.
At the heart of the whole project is a desire to highlight that in a county such as Shropshire, probably not the first on the wildlife hotspot radar, there is still an incredible array of diversity in terms of wildlife and habitat to be found: if you’re prepared to put the time in trying to find it. My recent BWPA video award is a typical such example – the lake in question is in the middle of a Telford housing estate and for many not worth a second glance but for almost 2 months I was drawn every morning to record and observe the dramas of one family of Great Crested Grebes and their neighbouring Coots. How many more such dramatic opportunities play themselves out every day near to your home?
We also want to encourage and inspire residents and visitors to the county to take some time to find their own bit of Wild Shropshire and record it on camera themselves – hence the photography competition which is open to all.
It’s been a great deal of work, has caused several sleepless nights (particularly filling in some of the more difficult gaps in terms of iconic and important species or habitats that I wanted to include) and there has been much help and support along the way from Ellie, Mike, and John and Sarah from SWT – many many thanks to you all, and without getting too far ahead of myself (and also proving that I’m a real glutton for punishment) the next book project is already well underway too!