The 24th September was the inaugural British Wildlife Photography Awards 2009 held at Hoopers Gallery in London.
The awards, the organisers explained, ‘were created to celebrate the talents of both amateur and professional photographers while simultaneously high lighting the great wealth and diversity of British natural history’.
There were seven categories up for grabs and an overall winner for Best Wildlife Photographer and Young British Wildlife Photographer (under 18).
Categories included Animal Portraits and Animal Behaviour and my particular favourite Urban Wildlife. I think I like the latter because I know it’s on my doorstep, but I haven’t captured it, which seems to make the people who have, all the more admirable.
First Prize for the British wildlife photographer was £5000. This was won by Ross Hoddinott for an amazing picture of a damselfly in silhouette (right). What really lifts this picture is the detail in the wings and the tiny water droplets caused by the early morning mist. An outstanding image and worthy winner.
As I wandered around the exhibition, sipping on Pinot Noir, I was excited and amazed by the quality and extremely high standard of the images on display. Many of them are stunning. Out of the thousands of entries received the judges have selected a highly impressive collection.
One of my favourite shots won the Animal Portrait section (see image to the left). The picture shows three gannets, two doing a courtship dance and a forlorn lonely one looking on, wondering where it all went wrong, ‘was it the size of my beak?’ Sorry, I’m anthropomorphizing there.
I also really liked a picture of a stoat, taken by Paul Bunyard, peeping out of a drain in the very strong Urban section. The eye contact was fantastic; they followed you around the room, even if they are on the beady side. I’ll stop there, as to list all my favourites would be rather long.
The presenter of the awards was Nick Baker, a naturalist and TV presenter, think David Bellamy but much better looking. As Nick and I discussed some of our favourites one of the exhibitors came up and eagerly asked what we thought of his picture of a beetle.
" said Nick, "but it’s not a Violet Ground Beetle, it’s an Oil Beetle.
" Oops…how to deflate someone in two seconds. I still enjoyed the shot though as the Oil Beetle
was peeping around a corner and the title was peek-a-boo (who’s anthropomorphizing now?)
I also chatted to the overall winner Ross about his damselfly. He took this shot a couple of miles from his home at a reservoir early in the morning. He made it all sound very easy and was very modest. I asked him what he was going to spend the money on and quick as a flash he replied ‘a Nikon D3X’, then after a moments hesitation qualified this by saying the wife might have some input…
The exhibition will be in London until the 16 October and from there travelling all around the country until next September. For details check out their website at www.bwpawards.co.uk
I think it's well worth a visit, and if you are inspired to enter, next year's competition will open in March 2010. Remember there's no need for exotic locations or expensive travel. This is about wildlife on your doorstep, in your countryside, in your town, even feral pigeons get a look in, they just have to be brilliantly shot.