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British Wildlife Photography Awards

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By Jason Peters for the British Wildlife Photography Awards
25 September 2013

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The British Wildlife Photography Awards 2013

A Celebration of British Wildlife

The British Wildlife Photography Awards proudly announced the 2013 winners on the 2nd of September.

The Awards were created to celebrate the talents of both amateur and professional photographers, while simultaneously highlighting the great wealth of British natural history. With twelve separate categories including a special category for Wildlife in HD Video, the Awards beautifully reveal the splendour of Britain’s wildlife.

See the Wildlife in HD Video winner, Henry and the Waxwings, by Liz Musser (Fair Isle, Shetland), below:

Henry and the Waxwings from BWPAwards.

Highlights of all the commended winners:

BWPA Highlights of Commended Wildlife in HD Videos 2013 from BWPAwards.

The quality of submissions this year was particularly high, and so the judges found it necessary to reward the following fifteen entries with an 'Highly Commended' accolade. Six of these entries (embedded here) were submitted by Wildlife-film.com members. We are very proud of them and asked these members to tell us a bit about their films and what they thought of the overall winner. Read the responses below each of the films.

Highly commended entries:

Deep Colour by Andy Jackson

Deep Colour, our 90-second video, celebrates the diversity of British underwater life. By shining light below the waves, we hope more people will see, and want to protect, our underwater world.

People tell us they love the shot of the top knot (small flat fish) on a purple sunstar. This was shot in Loch Fyne, near Tarbert, in Scotland. I swam right past them at first, thinking, "Just another sunstar". A few seconds later, it struck me that something was odd about it, so I went back for a second look. I chose a zoom-out shot, breaking all the rules, but it felt right in the moment. It just shows that breaking the rules really can work sometimes.

We're delighted our film was highly commended by the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2013. It was a privilege to attend the awards ceremony - so many talented people together in one room, sharing our passion for the natural world. Across all categories, inspiring images showed captivating moments in nature, and told UK wildlife's stories. The winning video, Henry and the Waxwings, was a storytelling delight.

The Otter
by Jim Manthorpe

For seven years I lived in a cottage by the side of a loch on the west coast of Scotland and would regularly film the otters on my patch of coastline. This particular sequence was all shot on one morning when I got particularly close to a dog otter. I spent about four hours with him as he hunted in the shallows, repeatedly coming ashore to feed. On his last visit ashore he happened to appear right in front of where I was lying in the bladderwrack. He began feeding, then grooming and then fell asleep in front of me. I didn't want to disturb him so I just lay there with him for about an hour watching his chest rise and fall. It was a very special moment.

I was delighted that my film was commended and could not argue with the choice of winner. Henry and the Waxwings was enchanting.

Waxwings feeding by Mihali Moore

As with a lot of filming wildlife, it was about being at the right place, at the right time.

I had a hired a Sony FS700 camera for an unrelated job and had some free time over a weekend before having to return it. I wanted to explore the slow-mo capabilities of the camera and sat down to think about what I could film. Whilst checking my Twitter feed, I discovered that there was a flock of waxwings feeding in a Tesco’s car park close to my house. So I chucked the kit in the car and went down to check it out. Upon my arrival I saw a group of photographers standing near a row of rowan trees and knew I was in the right spot.

Periodically the birds would announce their arrival noisily, swoop towards us and land in one of the many trees. (Usually one that I wasn’t waiting by) After thirty seconds of gorging on the berries they would fly off to a tree top elsewhere and the wait would begin again. I managed to get some okay footage but the weather was very overcast and the images didn’t stand out, so I went back the next day. This time the low winter sun was shining from the right direction and despite decimating the majority of berries the day before, they put on a great display and I managed to secure the footage used in the sequence.

I never intended to use it for anything in particular, but looking back I wish I got some shots of the shoppers and the location to build a story. It would have been a good piece about urban wildlife. It was amusing to stand there with the photographers, all of whom are trying to get shots whilst shoppers would just walk in front of their lenses with their backs to the birds, completely oblivious to what was happening behind them muttering, “Who are they waiting for?” or “Is there a celebrity shopping in here today?”

The “other waxwing film” had something that my sequence lacked. A narrative. This is the core of any good film. As well as having some lovely shots and showing interesting behaviour Henry and the Waxwings had a unique story that made it stand out above the other films. A well deserved winner.

Spin by James Dunbar

This footage was shot as part of a sequence which was in turn part of a short film that I made while studying wildlife documentary production at the University of Salford (a great course which I recommend anyone wanting to get into this business takes). The whole film can be viewed here. Basically I wanted to tell the whole story of the breeding cycle of these reclusive and rare animals.

This is the first time that a raft spider has been filmed laying eggs. This is because they only lay their eggs late at night in amongst the sedge in the fens. I was only able to film it with the help of Dr Helen Smith who runs the UK raft spider conservation program and so has access to captive spiders, which she breeds in her kitchen. This having been said, getting this footage was still very challenging. I had to spend 5 nights in a freezing cold, mosquito filled shed staring at an unmoving spider. I found that after 5 or 6 hours of sitting alone in the darkness watching a spider sitting like a statue in a way that only an ambush predator can, I would begin to hallucinate and imagine it was moving. But alas it never was.

I was absolutely over the moon when I was told that I had received an honourable mention. Particularly after seeing the amazing quality of this year’s other entrants. I really do consider myself very lucky to be considered amongst such talented photographers and film-makers. Not just the over-all winners but everyone who made it to the finals.

Ant Action by Tim Balmer

I have always had great admiration and respect for the much underrated ant and decided to see if I could enter their mysterious world and get 'in-on-the-action'. So, armed with my macro set-up (Nikon 180mm lens and close-up rings) I got down to thier level and I have to say it was a truely fascinating experience, watching the antics of these high-speed creatures and I was delighted to capture such detail on film.

My next challenge was to add suitable sound to match the different frames of the furious ant action so I set off to the woods one day and simply recorded lots of scrunchy leaves... 'simples'! Then came the challenge of editing the sound to match the footage... but I like a challenge, and it seems to have paid off.

I think this years winner was very much deserved as 'Henry and the Waxwings' had it all... great footage in glourious light, a brilliant backdrop, a simple yet compelling story and a young, enthusiastic and passionate young lad with a very pleasing accent... now how to top that next year?

A Passion for Bees by Tim Balmer

I had noticed the abundance of Bees and flies feeding on our Passion Flower just a couple of feet from our back door and, as I was enjoying a lazy saturday, and the sun was shining, I decided to set up my camera, added an old Nikon 180mm prime lens with a few close-up rings, and began to film the insects at work.

After several hours I had sufficient footage of them feeding and was about to break-down my gear when I noticed an individual bee resting and cleaning on one of the leaves... so I began filming it. Using various shooting angles allowed me to frame some intereting shots and I was particularly pleased with the 'rotating head shot'.

Bees are fascinating to watch and to be able to have film to them so close to home (literally) was a real treat and an opportunity not to be missed. I was blown away by the Highly Commended award for this film and was doubly humbled by recieving another for my ' Ant Action' film, and to meet so many like-minded souls at the Mall Galleries was a fantastic experience and I can't wait for next years invitation to drop through my door... wouldn't that be nice!

Autumn in Gosforth Park by Cain Scrimgeour
Pigeons in the city
by Rebecca Payne
Puffins Come Home
by Matt Brierley
Park Life
by Sam Meyrick
RSPB Troup Head
by Cain Scrimgeour
Winter Snow
by Danielle Godwin
Henry and the Waxwings by Liz Musser (winner)
The Night Shift
by Sue Daly
Surviving the Seasons by Madeleine Close

View all the winning Images, video and selection of highly commended entries here: www.bwpawards.co.uk

The Wildlife in HD Video category winner received a Sky World HD package and a 3D TV. Plus a Canon XA -10 Professional Camcorder.

A year-long tour of an exhibition of 100 images and video, including winning and commended entries, is now underway. These are the current venues. Further venues and dates will be added. Please check back on this website to see updates. www.bwpawards.org/c/galleries/exhibitions

Nature in Art, Gloucestershire, 17th September to 10th November 2013
Aberystwyth Art Centre,Wales,15th November 2013 to early January 2014 (exact date TBC)
Moor Valley Country Park, Dorset, 25th January to 8th March 2014
Whitstable Museum and Art Gallery, Kent, 5th October 2013 to 6th January 2014
Stockwood Discovery Centre, Luton, Bedfordshire, 18th January to 18th March 2014
Royal Albert Memorial Museum and Art Gallery, Exeter, 26th March to 20th July 2014

The British Wildlife Photography Awards: Collection 4 showcases the very best entries from the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2013. This stunning coffee table book is a celebration of British wildlife as captured on camera by today’s best amateur and professional photographers. The book is available here: www.amazon.co.uk


Sponsors: Canon, SKY+HD, RSPB Wildlife Explorers, WWF, The Wildlife Trusts, Forestry Commission England, City of London, Countryside Jobs Service, Sparsholt College Hampshire, Buglife, Paramo and Outdoor Photography Magazine.

Maggie Gowan
British Wildlife Photography Awards
Email: mail@maggiegowan.co.uk
Website: www.bwpawards.co.uk

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