A summer spent focusing on a single subject has secured the title of Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year 2018 for Edinburgh photographer Phil Johnston.
Phil’s winning image Roe Kid Flower was captured during the summer of 2018 while he worked solely on photographing a family of Roe Deer close to his home.
Phil said: “I love nothing more than being out in the sticks with my camera, seeing all the beauty that surrounds me and trying my best to capture those moments in time.
“On this particular evening in early July, I had already spent several hours with the Roe family but I had also seen a Fox around. I decided to try my luck along a narrow track that runs between some hedgerows and farmland where I had seen the Fox several times before. After an hour or so, I heard a rustling in the long grass and out popped not a Fox, but one of the Roe Deer twins! It pulled off some cow parsley flowers and started munching away. I made three or four frames before it vanished back into the dense grassland. It was a magical moment to see.”
The ninth annual Awards for nature photography shot in Scotland drew entries from professional and amateur photographers from around the world. Judges Raymond Besant, Jamie Grant and Niall Irvine selected winners from categories covering environmental, botanical, abstract, wildlife and landscape subjects.
Commenting on their choice for overall winner, judge Raymond Besant said: “This picture has that little something extra that you’re always looking for in a wildlife image. There is so much to like about it. It ticks all the basic boxes that I look for initially – it’s sharp, well exposed and a great composition.
“However, to speak about it in purely technical terms does it an injustice. Getting close to any wild creature without disturbing it is no mean feat. To have an encounter like this is such a privilege, but to see the moment and atmosphere conveyed so perfectly in an image is the next best thing. You could argue that some ‘golden light’ could enhance it but the softness of the light suits the mood of the image. The flowers in the mouth of the deer really give the picture that little bit of magic.”
The winner of the Junior Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year 2018 (under-18s) is eight-year-old Kaitlyn Clark from Inverness, the youngest winner of the Award to date, with her image of a Red Squirrel in woods at Lossiemouth.
Kaitlyn said: “I was really happy to get the Squirrel picture, they are so cute! I named it Peek-a-boo because the cheeky squirrel was actually playing peek-a-boo with me in the branches.
“I love wildlife and I enjoy going out with my parents on wildlife trips! My motto is, ‘Enjoy the experience first and photographs second.’”
Judge Niall Irvine said: “Kaitlyn’s picture is well composed with the tree branches framing the Red Squirrel. There’s a nice side light to the image and a feeling of spontaneity and movement.”
Student Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year 2018 is Martin Gibb, a BA (Hons) Photography student at City of Glasgow College.
Martin said: “This is my final year at College and winning this competition, in what has been a challenging year for me, really has given me a spring in my step and caps off a fantastic journey.
“The sea has always been a draw for me and the theme of ‘Coastline’ was appealing from the outset.”
His A View to Unconformity Portfolio of three images features the geology and landscape at Siccar Point, near Edinburgh. This location is famous for Hutton’s Unconformity, discovered in 1788 by James Hutton, and key to modern understanding of geology.
Judge Jamie Grant said: “The judges were especially impressed by the use of dynamic, contrasting geological forms in these seascapes. They also made a very strong series of linked images without being repetitive. A well deserved winner!”
Winner of the Scottish Nature Video Award 2018 for short nature films is Life of the Black Grouse by David Perpiñán from Barcelona. David, who has been working on short wildlife documentaries for three years, shot his footage in the Cairngorms. The film considers an uncertain future for the habitat of the Black Grouse as a result of human activity.
Winning images and videos will go on an exhibition tour from July 2019 and will be published along with the shortlisted images in a Portfolio Yearbook in the summer. Details at www.scottishnaturephotographyawards.com