Landscape Photographer of the Year 10 Years Special Edition

I’m delighted to be included in this beautiful collection to mark 10 years of the Landscape Photographer of the Year. The book is larger than the usual LPOTY year books, and I was glad to see the quality of the print vastly superior. It’s very nice to be in amongst some very esteemed company. It has over 250 photographs, including all overall winners and adult category winners plus a selection from each of the 10 years of the competition so far.

You can purchase your copy here, I’d highly recommend it.

Woking Peregrines on ITV London

We’re now into the second year of the Woking Peregrine Project, and so far things have gone extremely well. Two new cameras were installed, one looking along the ledge where the nest box is located and the other viewing the birds’ favoured spot on the North End. This has given us some great views that really add an extra dimension to the experience. Last year’s pair have remained on top of Export House and are now into the breeding season. They have produced 5 eggs, which is something of a rarity, and this has stimulated quite a bit of interest.

We were delighted when we were contacted by ITV London, looking to broadcast a short piece on our resident pair, and a couple of weeks ago Martin Stew from ITV popped down to Woking in order to film. The resulting piece was broadcast live on Tuesday 28th March on regional ITV London News at tea time. James Sellen, from the WWF, did an excellent interview, and I was lucky enough to have a couple of my images shown (see below), along with a number of clips recorded from the web cam.

ITV London

ITV London

When the eggs hatch there’s the chance of a follow on piece, so fingers crossed that all goes well.

You can view the broadcast here

For more information about the Woking Peregrine Project click here.

Commended, At the Water’s Edge, Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2016

Lone Tree

Very proud to announce I’ve received a Commended in this year’s Outdoor Photographer of the Year Competition, in the ‘At the Water’s Edge’ category.

I was lucky enough to have 9 shortlisted entries, although it’s fair to say that it wasn’t a particularly short list at all! One of the great things about the OPOTY competition is that they display all the shortlisted entries on the site. Each category must’ve had around 300 – 400 entries shortlisted and so there was still a long way to go. I had 3 images shortlisted in each of 3 categories – At The Waters Edge, Light on the Land, and Wildlife in Sight. From these only 1 made it through to the final round of judging, so I’m very pleased that it made it into the book. This year there were over 17,000 entries in total, and after having been shortlisted in the previous 2 years competition without success, I’m very chuffed to have made it through this time. The full list of winning and commended entries was published back in mid January, so it’s been an agonisingly long two month wait to finally see my photograph in the book.

The shot was taken back in March of last year on a wonderfully foggy morning. I had gone to Ripley before work to photograph Newark Priory, but the fog was so thick that the ruins were completely obscured. Undeterred I decided to take a walk down the River Wey, and that’s when I stumbled across this lone little tree and a perfectly still river. A real eureka moment, and testament to keeping an open mind when Plan A doesn’t work out. It’s often the ‘surprise shots’ you get when you head out that prove the most fruitful.

The book can be ordered through the website here.

The Woking Peregrine Project

Woking Peregrine Project

Peregrines have been regular visitors to Woking since as long ago as 2001. There were breeding attempts in 2005 and 2006, which unfortunately failed due to flooding of the eggs laid on an exposed roof recess. Over the past two years a new pair of peregrines have been visiting Export House, the tallest building in Woking, and so a number of key partners have sponsored the installation of a nest box in January 2016, with an internal web cam to record developments.

I’m fortunate enough to work in Export House, on the second floor. We partner with the IT company responsible for the live feed from the web cam, and so I was delighted for the opportunity to design and build the website and logo. It was great to get involved with the project.

Woking Peregrine with PigeonA couple of shots taken on different days of the adults coming in with lunch.

One of the parents with a pigeon

About a month after installation the pair were seen entering the nest for the first time, and on March 1st copulation was observed. Then on March 22nd the first of 4 eggs were laid. This generated a huge amount of interest in the local community and beyond, and we were receiving around 4,000 hits a day on the site. On May 1st the first egg hatched, shortly followed by the second. Sadly, the second chick to hatch didn’t survive, but the third chick to hatch fared much better. The fourth egg failed to hatch and remained in the nest for the duration. It was fascinating to watch the two surviving chicks very quickly grow and get stronger. Visitor numbers to the site grew to round the 5,000 mark, and came from all over the world. We even had an Australian television company showing an interest in using the footage.

A few screengrabs from the webcam at various stages:

4 eggs

Woking Peregrines

Woking Peregrines

On June 10th the male juvenile fledged. It’s first flight didn’t go especially to plan – he flew into a window on the 14th floor. Fortunately he was ok, and it did give those on the inside a fantastic view up close. I was given a tip off, and thankfully had my camera in the building and so I was able to get some close up shots. After spending an hour or so on the ledge, he took flight once more, this time ending up on the 10th floor. The female took rather longer to pluck up the courage, but four days later she too took to the skies.

Peregrine at the Window

Peregrine at the WindowThe male juvenile on a window ledge on the 14th floor, gathering himself after having flown into the window after its maiden flight. Thankfully he was ok.

Male Juvenile on the 10th FloorThe view from outside of the male juvenile resting after its first day of flying. It stayed here for quite some time before making it back onto the top ledge.

There’s a great little video of the Male Juveniles second flight here:

In a very short space of time they became adept at aerial acrobatics. Seven days after the male first took flight I was able to capture a mid air food pass. It’s the one behaviour I was desperate to catch, and after popping out to the car park on the Friday after work, more in hope than expectation, one of the parents flew in with a freshly caught Pigeon. As she flew by the building both juveniles swooped down from the top ledge in hot pursuit, and attempted to wrestle the Pigeon from their parents grasp. Incredible to watch, and I counted my lucky stars.

Peregrine Food Drop

Peregrine Food Drop

The two juveniles compete for the PigeonThe one behaviour I really wanted to capture, and I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

The project has been a huge success, with a happy ending, and we’ve had masses of support from visitors to the website. We’ll be continuing the project next year, and there’s even mention, if we can get the funding, of installing a second webcam outside the nest box so we can see what happens when the juveniles leave the nest.

Juvenile Peregrine over the Satellite DishOne of the juveniles takes to the skies from the satellite dish at the top of the building

Adult Peregrine on the 9th FloorOne of the adult Peregrines flies from a ledge on the 9th Floor

To see the full size images click here.

For more information please see the Woking Peregrine Project website here.

Surrey Life Calendar Competition 2016

I’m proud to say that for the third year in a row I’ve made it into the Surrey Life Calendar. My image of a rather aggressive looking Red Deer Stag taken during the annual stag rut last year has been selected to represent November. The theme this year is ‘Icons of Surrey’ and features such locations as Newlands Corner, Mayfield Lavender, Box Hill, Denbies Vineyard, Winkworth Aboretum and Frensham Little Pond, helping to highlight some of the great locations we have here. Richmond Park, where my shot was taken, is of course not actually in Surrey, but it is part of the ‘old Surrey’, and Surrey Life retain it firmly in their remit, with a large number of their readers from this area.

Surrey Life Calendar Competition 2016

The twelve winning plus a number of selected shortlisted entries will be exhibited at Denbies Vineyard in Dorking from early January. Congratulations to all the chosen entries, and in particular Kelvin Trundle for his winning shot taken at Mayfield Lavendar.

Outdoor Photography ‘Lie of the Land’ feature

Outdoor Photography Magazine

I was very chuffed when Outdoor Photography contacted me and asked if I’d like to write an article for them for their ‘Lie of the Land’ feature. I didn’t need to think about it much! Below is the unedited version in full…

I’d photographed at Newlands Corner many times, it’s one of my favourite locations, but I’d never been lucky enough to witness a cloud inversion there. So it had been a long held dream to see and photograph one. On this particular morning I had intended to photograph at Box Hill, but I never quite made it. As I crested the hill at Newlands an amazing scene opened out in front of me. Box Hill would have to wait for another day.

A ribbon of cloud obscured the early rising sun, but as the colour filtered through there were some lovely pastel tones. This was it, finally I could capture the kind of images I’d long hoped for. I carefully composed the scene, and began shooting. “This is incredible” I thought to myself. Mornings like this don’t come along very often. I even took a snap on my mobile phone to send to my wife. I do these things when I’m excited, and I’m sure she loves to be woken up to see a nice landscape.

Then disaster struck. It began with a faint humming sound, becoming stronger and higher pitched as it got closer. Then there it was, a drone, RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF MY SHOT! I was powerless to stop it, and knew that from this point on cloning was going to be the only option. Are you allowed to shoot at these things?!

I tried to look on the bright side. Minutes earlier I’d answered the call of nature (that morning cup of tea is a killer). Imagine if it had flown overhead whilst I was mid flow. Could I get arrested? Or would I simply end up on YouTube? I couldn’t quite decide which was worse. One thing I did know however, was that wetting myself would be worse than either of those things. So any worries of an Orwellian future, with the skies filled with prying eyes watching our every move, were soon cast aside. After all, when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go!

The Surrey Hills Website

At the beginning of 2014 I made a resolution to get out into the Surrey Hills more with my camera. The Surrey Hills is a designated Area of Outstanding Beauty, and forms part of the North Downs Way. Newlands Corner, Box Hill, Leith Hill and far more besides offer fantastic views that stretch for miles, and there are many photogenic hotspots in between. I’ve spent a fair amount of time photographing at Newlands Corner, and a little at Denbies Vineyard and the Hogs Back, but beyond that I hadn’t really done it justice.

By day I work as the Creative Director at Akiko Design, and late last year we were approached to pitch for the redesign of the Surrey Hills website. To me, this felt like fate. If ever there was a project that was made for me then this was the one. Here was the chance to combine my love of design with that of photography and the great outdoors.

Their current site wasn’t too bad, albeit a little dated, but I wanted to create a visually stunning site that centred on imagery of the beautiful countryside and views. I wanted to create a clean, uncluttered site, with bold colour schemes to denote different sections and distressed type to give a sense of adventure.

We were fortunate enough to win the pitch, and the following months were a real labour of love as we refined the look and then built the site.

Surrey Hills website

We built the site using WordPress, and used a responsive framework to create a site that looks great on desktop, tablet and mobile. One of the things we were keen to achieve was to give users the ability to plan days out, whether that be walking, cycling or driving, whilst actually on the move, using their mobile devices. Users can now plan their route, view interesting places to visit, where to eat and drink, and even where to shop. Cyclists and walkers can view interactive maps that plot suggested routes. Local businesses benefit too. A business directory gives members the opportunity to promote their goods or services to a far wider audience, and when users view a particular area on the map then local businesses will also be displayed.

We worked closely with Carol and Caroline at Surrey Hills throughout the whole process, and whilst there was a large volume of work, I can honestly say it was one of the most pleasureable projects I’ve ever been involved with. A big thank you to Van for all his work on the build, a WordPress master!

The pre-launch preview was held at Albury Vineyard on Wednesday 21st January, and was extremely well received by those that attended. We discovered that most Surrey businesses are involved in alcohol production, or so it seemed from the number of speakers involved in Distillery! This was no bad thing however, as there was plenty to sample on the night!

The Team

Carol Hornsby-Smith and Caroline Price from Surrey Hills, alongside some of the Akiko team, Vanden Horner, David Evans and a hobbit that appears to have photo bombed. Oh hang on, that’s me.

The site was then officially launched on the 26th January, and it was very satisfying to see all our hard work come to fruition. A number of my photos feature alongside the fantastic work of John Miller, and I’m very pleased with how it all looks. Hopefully my passion for the project shines through in the design.

To visit the site please visit www.surreyhills.org

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

Surrey Life Calendar Competition 2015

I’m proud to say that for the second year running I’ve made it into the Surrey Life Calendar. My image of  a backlit tree taken in the Valley Gardens at Virginia Waters earlier this year has been selected to represent March. Rather fitting as that’s my birthday month! (Tenuous I know). A total of 35 winning and selected entries will once again be exhibited at Denbies Vineyard in Dorking from Monday January 19th until Sunday January 25th, so plenty of time to pay a visit.

Surrey Life Calendar Competition 2015

Congratulations to all the other winning entries, in particular Stephen Darlington, whose fantastic image of a deer taken at Richmond Park was selected for the cover.

For more information on the competition please see the Surrey Life article here.

I also had another image published this month – one of my Puffin shots, taken at Skomer Island last year, was selected in the Outdoor Photography magazine ‘Wildlife Behaviour’ competition.

Puffins Greeting, Skomer Island

…and finally, I got another mention in Outdoor Photography this month. Daniel Hannabuss had a number of his images from our recent trip to Richmond Park published, and was good enough to give me a mention, which was nice.

Richmond Park, Stag Rut 2014

Red Deer Stag

It’s that time of year again, the annual Red Deer Stag Rut, and as I missed it last year I didn’t want to miss it this year. I met up with Daniel Hannabuss, a photographer whose website I’d built a couple of years ago, but had never actually met in person. So it was good to finally meet up and go out taking shots together. We met up outside Richmond Gate at 6.30 and walked in to be greeted by some nice mist and a group of hinds with a large Stag to the left. The sun hadn’t yet come up, and after staying a little while we headed toward Pen Ponds.

The Shard

The London skyline looked pretty special, so I had to stop and take a few. My obsession with the Shard shows no sign of abating. To the right a spectacular scene presented itself – the Pen Ponds were masked by a thick layer of mist that hung heavy in the valley. The bellowing was by now in full swing, and there were Stags everywhere. A Stag crossed our path and headed into a small group of trees. The light was by now filtering through the trees, and it looked fantastic.

Stag in the Grass

walking_stag_8095LR

After getting a number of shots of this particular Stag I then changed lenses, switching from the 400mm to the 24-105mm to get some wider shots of the vista before us. A very obliging hind walked across to complete the scene.

Red Deer Hind

Not long after another Stag walked into the picture and began bellowing on cue.

Red Deer Stag

We headed down into the mist where visibility was down to around 15 – 20 feet. The sun was once again filtering through the trees, and once again we were counting our blessings.

Light Shafts

As if that wasn’t enough a Stag then walked into the scene to present another opportunity.

Red Deer Stag, Two Trees

With Stags bellowing all around us but invisible from view we headed further down toward the Ponds.

Walking Away

Stag Breath

Stag Splits

The ponds looked great too, but it wasn’t long before the sun rose higher in the sky and the mist lifted. I took a few at the pond before I completely filled my card, and then we headed back to the car.

four_ducks_8405LR

Runners, Richmond Park

We really couldn’t have asked for more, and I was happy to round out my Stag portfolio with the type of shots I felt were missing from my collection. What a day!

 

Wild Surrey Kickstarter Project

Wild Surrey
I’m delighted to announce that I’ve just launched my Wild Surrey Kickstarter project. ‘Wild Surrey’ is a postcard box set, 10 high quality postcards beautifully presented in a maltese cross folding cover. The postcards feature wildlife photographed in and around Surrey, at nature reserves, national parks, lakes, canals and rivers. Species covered include Red Deer, Barn Owls, Great Crested Grebes and Waxwing.

My main aim is to highlight all the wonderful wildlife on our doorstep, in the hope that others can enjoy it too and share my passion. The more people that are passionate about wildlife, the more hope there is for its long term future.

I’m looking to raise £4,000 to cover printing and postage costs, so I’m looking for a set pledge of £12 from each backer in order to reach my target (£15 outside the UK). Everyone that makes a pledge will receive a copy of the postcard set. Transactions are handled through amazon payments, if the target is not reached then no money is taken from your account.

Wild Surrey Postcard PackIf you’d like to find out more, and purchase your copy of Wild Surrey, please visit Kickstarter and make a pledge here.

Update

Unfortunately I didn’t reach the funding target, but I would like to thank all those of you that made a pledge. Your support was greatly appreciated. I’m sorry that we couldn’t achieve our goal and see it in print.

Surrey Life 2014 Calendar Competition

Surrey Life Calendar Competition 2014.

Surrey Life Calendar Competition 2014. My image is featured in July.

I’m proud to announce that my photo of the Mayfield Lavendar Field in Banstead has been chosen for the 2014 Surrey Life Calendar. The calendar is available free with the January edition of Surrey Life. The competition was judged by Photography Monthly and Turning Pro Editor Adam Scorey.

All the winning entries, along with a few extras, were displayed at the Denbies Vineyard Gallery, from January 20 to January 26. I went along on the Sunday to have a look and was pleasantly surprised to find that 4 of my images in total were selected for the Exhibition.

Surrey Life Photo Competition Exhibition, Denbie's Vineyard

My winning entry, top middle, fighting for wall space! The overall winner is bottom left.

Surrey Life Photo Competition Exhibition, Denbie's Vineyard

Me and the kids posing with another of my images, the Poppy Field at Send.

For more information please see the Surrey Life website here.

To see all the exhibited entries click here.

Congratulations to all the winning entries!