Competition success – The British Wildlife Photography Awards 2015

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I am delighted to announce two of my images have been awarded Highly Commendeds in the prestigious British Wildlife Photography Awards this year.

The above image, entitled ‘Rest in Peace’ of a Roe deer in a hard winter’s frost and awarded a Highly Commended in the Urban category, is from a project I have been quietly working away on in a churchyard close to home pretty much exclusively over the last year. The rest of the images from the project will be showcased exclusively in the UK’s leading photography magazine at the end of this year. It has been a magical experience and I can’t wait for everyone to see what I’ve been up to.

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The second image, ‘Fields of Gold’ of an adult female Roe deer standing in barley and awarded a Highly Commended in the Habitat category comes from my continuing long term project documenting the lives of this most beautiful and beguiling of our species of native deer. You can see more images from the project in my previous blog ‘Days of Summer’. This image featured amongst the winners in The Sunday Times Magazine.

Congratulations to all of the other successful entrants this year and I look forward to seeing a few old friends at this year’s awards ceremony at the Mall galleries on 16th September 2015.

The British Wildlife Photography Awards exhibition runs at the Mall galleries from Monday 14th to Saturday 19th September 2015.

‘The British Wildlife Photography Awards Collection 6′ from AA Publishing showcasing images from this year’s competition is out now.

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Nature’s spectaculars – Days of summer – the Roe deer rut

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For the last couple of years I have spent my summers in England’s southern counties following the annual Roe rut, criss-crossing Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset.

This ground is a stronghold for Britain’s original population of Roe deer as immortalised by Richard Prior in his book ‘The Roe Deer of Cranborne Chase’.

I’ve been very lucky to be given access to a number of private farms where crops including wheat, barley, oilseed rape and beans are harvested, providing some stunning backdrops against which to photograph the deer.

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The Roe rut is very different from any of our other species of deer, coming between mid July and mid August each year. Contrary to conventional thinking, the precise timing of the rut is not set in stone though. A lot depends on weather patterns and changes in temperature, which I have learnt from experience, is critical and has a significant influence on rutting activity, either stimulating or depressing it. This also varies widely depending on locality.

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 The rutting period is characterised by a general restlessness amongst the roe population with intense periods followed by lulls. After several months of pre rutting activity from May onwards, and a number of false starts, the rut begins in earnest as the does come into oestrous. It is pretty much the doe that dictates everything. When she is ready to mate she will take her stand.

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The rut provides a wonderful opportunity for observing rutting behaviour and you will often see the bucks chasing or trotting after the does.

12Roe_deer_chasingIf you are really lucky you may even get to watch two bucks facing off against one another as they compete for territory and the right to mate.

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Often you will find young experienced bucks moving about and encroaching on the territory of established bucks which can mean all out war.

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Roe deer have incredibly sharp antlers and pumped up for the rut these encounters are often fights to the death.

I have to say working on Roe has been a huge challenge. The images you see here are the result of a lot of blood and sweat. The hardest I have worked on a project by some considerable margin, but perhaps all the more rewarding because of it. There is still a lot more to be done to tell the full story. I’m already looking forward to next year’s rut. I’ll shortly be announcing next year’s Roe Deer workshops. We are going to be changing it next year working on the basis of three day packages including bed and breakfast accommodation.

In the meantime, here are a few more of my favourite images from the last couple of summers. You’ll need to click on each image to see them at their intended resolution.

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After the crop is cut it takes the deer a couple of days to work out the cover has gone…

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I would like to thank my good friend Terry, for sharing his passion for Roe deer with me, teaching me the field raft needed to get close to them, sorting out access to the sites, not to mention his friendship. This blog is dedicated to you mate.

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International competition success

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I am delighted to announce my signature image of an Arctic fox sheltering from the elements made the final selection in the Terrestrial Wildlife category of this year’s Big Picture Natural World international Photography Competition.

Winner: Shelter http://bigpicturecompetition.org/winners-2015-wildlife/

I am all the more chuffed as my image appears alongside such luminaries as National Geographic’s Steve Winter and Jasper Doest. The judging panel for this year’s competition is equally impressive including Kathy Moran, editor of Natural History at National Geographic, Sandra Bartocha and Sophie Stafford.

The image was also the inspiration for my logo.

All the winning images will exhibited at the California Academy of Sciences until Nov 1st 2015

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Going home – a tribute

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I was deeply saddened to learn today of the passing of Jill Barrow.

Jill’s image ‘Going Home’ received a Highly Commended in the Habitat section of last year’s British Wildlife Photography Awards.

Jill was a truly wonderful lady, who made a very deep and lasting impression on me. I first met her on a trip to photograph white tailed sea eagles trip in Flatanger, Norway several years ago.It remains one of my favourite trips, the eagles were stunning and the conditions were perfect. It was greatly enriched though by Jill’s warmth, friendship and humour, not to mention tremendous bravery in the face of  her degenerative medical condition. She was also a fine photographer with a wonderful eye. Jill knew that it was likely to be one of her last trips as her condition took hold. She made sure to make the most of every moment. My time with Jill on the trip had a tremendous impact on me  and I  kept in touch with Jill after the trip, getting to know her two wonderful children, Helen and Simon. at the same time.

Speaking to Helen today, I was tremendously touched to be told how highly she thought of me and how much I meant to her. The feeling was entirely mutual.

Jill’s shot was my personal favourite shot in last year’s competition, which I had the privilege of judging. It’s an exquisite wildlife image. The fox, deliberately shot small in the frame, making its way home over snow covered fields with the low winter sun setting just behind and the frosted tree adding balance to the image. It’s the perfect, story telling wildlife shot. Behind the image though there is an even greater story. It wasn’t taken with the latest gear, just with tremendous heart, soul and creative vision. For me it’s one of the best images in the competition’s history.

Judging for BWPA takes place in a blind so I had no idea as to the identity of the photographer at the time. I can’t tell you how surprised and pleased I was when I found out it was Jill’s image months later. Jill’s family were also thrilled with her placing. Helen tells me when Jill was diagnosed that her ambition was to get in the BWPA Portfolio book and leave that behind. I was delighted to see Jill at last year’s ceremony with Helen and Simon and to share with them their pride and joy in their mother’s achievement.

I  always think of Jill still when I go out to photograph. She made me appreciate just how precious it is to spend time in the wild and what a rare privilege it is to capture its untamed beauty  – and in doing so she made me a better photographer.

Jill made many wonderful friends though wildlife photography and touched many lives. I know those photographers she met are all deeply saddened by her passing having spoken to some today.  I know I speak for everyone when I say our thoughts are with Helen, Simon and the rest of the Barrow family at this difficult time.

 

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