Posted 18th Aug 2015
At last the waiting is over, we reveal the 12 finalists and our overall winner of this year’s photographic competition whose images will appear in our 2016 calendar
We love to see your photos of the Great British countryside, its wildlife, fauna, flora and this year your pets and nature still life shots, and we were overwhelmed with the high standard and amount of entries for this year’s LandLove photographic competition. Our judges, Anna-Lisa De’Ath - Editor-in-Chief of LandLove, Laura Robertson - LandLove’s designer and Ian Savage - Head of Jessops Academy, had a really tough time choosing our 12 finalists this year as the categories were all so strong. But after some long deliberations we are delighted to reveal our final 12 photographs to appear in the LandLove calendar, and explain why our judges chose them as the very best in their category, while each photographer tells us the story behind their winning shot.
The Changing of the Seasons
Cindy tells us ‘This shot was taken early on a Sunday morning in January. I had dropped my daughter at her part-time job and was driving back home through the mist past Windsor Castle. These trees just caught my imagination, looking eerie in the mist but also serene. I also loved the symmetry and structure. There were hardly any other people around; the peace and quiet added to the atmosphere. This image certainly made me smile – just the quiet beauty of it. Photography is my passion and this project has pushed me technically as well as ensuring that I use my camera regularly.’ Our judges loved the commitment of this photographer as it’s clear they were up early on a cold morning and did well to capture the essence of a cold and lonely yet beautiful winter’s day.
Whatever the Weather
Tamsyn explains ‘It was a grey day and we were camping in Northumberland. It was typical British weather, but we were making the most of it. Due to the high winds the weather just kept changing – bright sunshine then heavy rain with an occasional lightning strike. I had decided to go to the Farne Islands and this photo was taken from the open backed boat. I just looked back at the Inner Farne lighthouse and noticed the sky mirroring the sea. The picture, although predominantly grey, is moody, full of energy and a reflection of the powerful elements of nature, which I love. We really were carrying on whatever the weather!’ Our judges loved the foreboding sky and the way it reflected the mood of the dark, threatening sea. Overall a good interpretation of the brief.
Down on the Farm
Oliver tells us ‘Lambing season provided the inspiration for this picture taken near Waltham in Canterbury. My original aim was simply to get three lambs in the shot, but seeing how “exuberant” they were, I waited patiently in a bid to get one mid-air. I used a Canon EOS 400D camera and 300mm telephoto lens, allowing me to stay sufficiently far away so as not to scare the lambs. I then used a high shutter speed to freeze the jumping movement. To my amazement, I captured the shot I wanted.’ Our judges thought this picture really stood out in the category and loved the way it captured the playfulness of the lambs and the great expressions on their faces.
Michael tells us ‘This image was taken at the end of April in Micheldever Wood, a beech plantation in Hampshire that has carpets of English bluebells. I arrived at dawn when a thick fog obscured the view into the woodland but made this image a few hours later as sunlight started to filter through. The low down branch attracted my attention because it acted like a veil to give a splattering of green amongst the blue and giving character amongst the uniformity. I found a high vantage point in order to look through the veil and into the distance. A wide open aperture and remains of the morning mist helped to soften the light and create the painterly feel that I was looking for.’ Our judges loved the depth of colour captured in this classic bluebell image and felt the contrast of the green against the blue worked very well.
Your Pets in the Countryside
Alison tell us ‘This picture was taken on one of the beautiful places I take my dogs for a walk. Both being spaniels they love water and running around. There are lots of rock pools for them to run around in and they love to jump in them and play there. I came across this rock whilst out at Portishead and it was covered in yellow lichen and I thought it was a nice place to get them to sit for a photo.’ Our judges loved how much character is conveyed in this photograph and were impressed that both dogs looked straight into the camera at exactly the right time, especially when there is so much to distract them in these beautiful surroundings. A good interpretation of the brief.
Julia explains ‘I really enjoyed trying to get this image as it was the first bit of pond life I had seen in the small pond since creating it. There were two frogs and eventually this one, after about half an hour of watching it, settled quite beautifully under the lily pad. It just looked too lovely to not try and capture it. There are a few trees close by and these cast shadows and, because everything was so green, it was about getting the right angle and focus. Eventually I laid down at water level and captured this photo. Even though the pond is small the wildlife has thrived and this little guy was definitely at home.’ Our judges loved the commitment of this photographer for getting down on the ground and waiting for just the right moment. A stand out photograph in the category
Leigh tells us ‘I spent two glorious days in the South Downs National Park in Sussex and despite the bad weather I was determined to capture a lovely sunset. I researched high points in the park and Devil’s Dyke seemed perfect with its west facing landscape. On arriving at the summit I stood in awe at the sheer beauty and scale. Even though dark clouds were rolling overhead I chose my vantage point and set up my camera. I had to wait for over an hour in windy conditions for the sun to finally break between the clouds and, like magic, the landscape was lit up for only 10 minutes before the sun retreated.’ Our judges loved the fantastic lighting in this photograph and felt it was shot at a good time of day.
It’s a Bug’s Life
Samantha explains ‘I like to get up close and personal with insects and get a bug’s eye view of the world. Whilst waiting for the perfect image I spend a lot of time watching them go about their lives. I observe their behaviour and start to see character, so an opportunity to capture this longhorn beetle’s face as it climbed on some wheat in a field near Finchdean in Hampshire was too good to miss.’ Our judges loved the cheeky character of the beetle captured in this image and its relationship with the countryside – a perfect fit for the brief. They thought the photographer also showed great ambition and skill in getting this highly detailed shot.
Animals at Work
Wayne tell us ‘Every year in September, Oxfordshire hosts a country show and ploughing competition with tractors and heavy horses. Each year it’s in a different area and the 2014 show was held in Standlake. I went along as I wanted to get some photos of the tractors and shire horses at work. As the horses came towards me I knelt down so I was slightly lower and looking up at them.’ Our judges thought this was a good interpretation of the brief and loved the angle at which it was taken. The photograph tells a story and captures the essence of the British countryside at work.
Nature Still Life
Val tells us ‘I had a photo project to do and it was to depict the colours of autumn. The autumnal colours were not really showing at their best at the time so I decided to do a still life, and went gathering bits and pieces from the countryside, and added some autumn fare to it with the pumpkins, cranberries and chestnuts etc. I played around with it until I got what I thought was a pleasing shot.’ Our judges thought this scene was very nicely styled and loved the colour contrast created with the pumpkins. A very good example of an autumn still
Water, Water Everywhere
John tells us ‘This photograph was taken at Godrevy, Portreath Heritage Coastline in Cornwall. I was experimenting with long exposures and ND Filters to obtain the “milky” effect of the water flow. I noticed this large rock and the way the water was flowing over and off it. The waves were a constant barrage against the rock and wider coastline. My idea was to capture these elements simultaneously to tell the story of this defiant rock against the elements. A slight drizzle added to the scene, partly obscuring the opposite coastline.’ Our judges thought this photograph showed a tremendous amount of skill and amazing composition. It stood out as the clear winner in this category.
December - OVERALL WINNER
Birds of a Feather
Bill explains ‘This Ptarmigan photograph was taken in Scotland, on the Cairngorms. I had been climbing into Lurchers Gully in deep snow and driving wind. The Ptarmigan was off the track and I was lucky to spot it because of its camouflage. I took a lot of photographs crawling in the snow hoping to capture the right moment.’ Our judges thought this shot was phenomenal, especially the sharpness of the wings as the bird takes flight.
Bill wins a state of the art Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II Compact System Camera courtesy of Jessops, worth £1,099. Each of our category winners will receive a copy of the beautiful Wild Coast book by Marianne Taylor, published by Bloomsbury, worth £20; a bee and bug biome, worth £23.99, courtesy of the RSPB; a copy of the 2016 calendar (on sale from mid-October) and a year’s subscription to LandLove.