Winning a major photography competition is nothing more than an optimistic dream for most photographers, with only a few ever achieving it. I know from personal experience how good it feels to win a major title after being awarded UK Photographer of the Year, but that was way back in 2003 when I think it was somewhat easier to win such awards as everything was still being shot on film. This meant there were fewer photographers and therefore fewer entries into competitions. These days, thanks to the convenience of digital cameras and the various online portfolio platforms, there are far more people taking photos, and far more photos being entered into competitions. In fact so much so that major competitions are now businesses in themselves - making hundreds of thousands of pounds from entry fees and subsequent merchandise sales.
Last year, team member Nick Hanson (seen 2nd from left above) came as close as you can get to winning a major title when he was awarded a runner-up prize. This is a great achievement in itself, but Nick still had his eyes on the top of the podium and was driven to push the limits of his own work even further. As well as leading workshops for me here on Skye last year, he was also committed to strengthening his own portfolio of work and was out in the landscape at every potential opportunity to grab award winning shots.
This turned out to be a fruitful exercise because this week Nick was rewarded for his hard work by winning a major Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. I’m sure you’ll join me in congratulating him on this impressive achievement, and I’m sure for the next twelve months he’ll revel in the praise!
One piece of advice I always hand out to photographers is to find reasons to keep enthused about taking more photos more often, and be inspired to improve their results. A great example of this is to enter competitions. Of course, the chances are that you are not going to be as successful as Nick each time, but if the taking part alone drives you to get out more often with your camera then you can’t possibly lose. With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to hear Nick’s stories behind the images which he entered as part of his winning portfolio…..
Autumn Colours on Loch Pityoulish
This photograph was taken at the end of October 2016, during a visit to the Cairngorms to capture the amazing autumn colour of the Highlands.
Arriving at Loch Garten for sunrise, I was greeted by low temperatures and a lot of mist hanging over the water. After spending my first hour there, I headed toward Aviemore. As I approached Loch Pityoulish, which is a stone’s throw from the road, the conditions were perfect. The mist was dancing above the water and the sun was managing to break through gaps in the cloud to light up the grasses coming out of the water.
I decided to crop it down to a square format to emphasise the grasses and their reflections.
Why I Entered This Image - Ten out of the fifteen images I entered into the competition were of the wider landscape, which so obviously screamed Scotland to the viewer. With this image however, I wanted to enter something a little more generic in terms of location in order to focus more on the intimate beauty within the landscape. Here you are treated to some of the beautiful colours which can be seen in autumn in the Cairngorms, one of my favourite areas of Scotland. I also hope that the viewer feels a little something of how I felt whilst at this stunning location, which offers amazing wider views, as well as smaller intimate ones.
This photo was taken in April 2016 whilst with one of our customers. Our Location Guidance service sees us taking clients to the best locations at the optimum time of day and in the conditions where they will work best. As there is no tuition included in this service, once on location I sometimes take my own photos if the light is good enough, and on this occasion it was perfect.
The weather forecast for this particular morning was suggesting that there was going to be next to no wind. With fresh snow atop Glamaig and the Red Cuillin, I knew it would be a great opportunity to get reflections in this secret loch.
Initially as the sun started to head up to the horizon, all of the colour in the sky was to our left, which left the scene in front of us rather uninteresting. Patience was the key however, and all of a sudden the lovely soft colours moved into our frame.
Why I Entered This Image - For me, this was an easy image to enter, as it is one of my favourites photographs I captured on Skye in 2016. The scene that materialised before me on this morning was amazing and this particular composition of Glamaig is one that you do not see too often, as the loch is not seen from the roadside. You either have to stumble across it, see it on a map, or join us on one of our workshops (hint!).
Autumn in Glen Affric
This photograph was taken at the end of October 2015 during a few days I spent in Glen Affric. It was a damp day which allowed a small amount of mist to form in places, as well as helping to naturally saturate the autumnal colours.
As I drove through the glen towards Loch Affric, I keep stopping to photograph various scenes in front of me. Here I was rather drawn to the various colours of the bracken and woodland floor, as well as that of the remaining leaves on the birch trees.
Why I Entered This Image - Woodland scenes are something I don't do enough of and don't have many in my portfolio. Initially I dismissed this image when I first saw it on the computer, however a year later I stumbled across it again and decided to process it in Lightroom. I was impressed by the way the colours established themselves with my usual subtle processing style, so I thought it was worth entering. That turned out to be a good decision.
Together with myself and Harry, Nick will once again be a key part of the team here on Skye this year. We welcome the opportunity to help you develop your camera skills in what we believe is the best location in the UK to learn photography. We also offer location guidance and photo tours to the island’s most breathtaking scenery. For details on everything we offer, visit my Services page. We look forward to meeting you in Scotland in 2017.