Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2014

I’d always been of the opinion that when you get shortlisted it’s better to keep it under wraps. After all, it’s not as if you’ve actually won anything at this stage, and you wouldn’t want to ‘jinx’ the result by telling everyone only to end up empty handed.

But the longer I go on, and the more competitions I enter, the more my attitude is changing. As the level in competition pushes ever higher, the harder it is to get through, so to make it to the shortlist is in itself an achievement.

I entered the Outdoor Photographer of the Year competition this year, and was lucky enough to have five images shortlisted in the ‘Wildlife Insight’ Category. Receiving a shortlisted email notification is very exciting, but the excitement is often short-lived when you discover that the one image you would have thought least likely to succeed is the one that’s got through! This happened to me last year in the BWPA awards, when one of my focus stacked mushroom shots that I almost didn’t submit at all was the one image I had shortlisted. The excitement was very soon followed by that sinking feeling, when I realised that focus stacking wasn’t allowed. I really should read the rules a little more closely, although in my defence the rules merely stated that composites weren’t allowed, which I wasn’t sure at the time applied to focus stacking. I was robbed of the chance to spend the next few weeks kidding myself it could get through!

However, on this occasion there was no such disappointment, as I felt five of my strongest images were chosen. Having said that, I did experience that sinking feeling once more when I saw the other entries in this category. Although I had the third highest tally of images, it soon became apparent that I’d done well to get this far. There were some truly outstanding images in there, from all over the globe, from some very renowned photographers. I’m often left bemused by some of the commended entries in the British Wildlife Awards, where aesthetics often seem to play second fiddle. Not so with OPOTY, in all categories there are jaw dropping images that are truly inspirational. Stefan Gerrits image of an Oryx is stunningly beautiful, not to mention Joshua Holko’s Arctic fox and Judith Conning’s Polar Bears. Incredible shots all of them.

Greg Whitton’s winning image in the Light on the Land category is breathtaking, but I’m also a big fan of Marco Barone’s Dark Lake, and Samuel Feron’s Icelandic beach. All top draw. Just love Craig Parry’s shot of the Humpback in the Under Exposed Category, incredible stuff.

Anyway, below are my five shortlisted entries, not quite on a par with the aforementioned, but maybe next year eh!

Upside down Common Tern

Grebe Family

Barn Owl, Papercourt Meadows

Stag Splits

Red Deer Stag