Walkhighlands’ Paul wins Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year

Walkhighlands founder Paul Webster has been announced as this year’s winner of the prestigious Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year Award.

Based in the Cairngorms National Park, Paul beat off strong competition from thousands of entries submitted by photographers from across the globe to win the prestigious title. His winning portfolio comprised of 3 magnificently evocative images shot in the mountain ranges of the Lochaber Geopark and Glen Affric with his Fujifilm digital camera. They included ‘Dreams and Nightmares’, a shot of light breaking through to light up Aonach Eagach whilst two ravens circled overhead; ‘The Mamores’, capturing the mists shifting past Sgor nam Fiannaidh, above Glen Coe; and ‘Wild Affric’, a tranquil shot of the landscape and the magnificent caledonian pines that surround Loch Affric, dusted by the first snows of the winter.

The Mamores © Paul Webster
A dance of light and shade and shifting mists illuminated the Mamores ridge, with a mist-shrouded Ben Nevis behind.

‘Wild Affric’, also received one of 10 Awards, sponsored by the John Muir Trust, which owns and manages many of Scotland’s wild places.

Paul said: “When I got the telephone call, I was honestly just astonished to be told I’d won. There are so many landscape photographers I really admire that enter this competition, and to have come out on top is just unbelievable – I’m thrilled.”

Wild Affric © Paul Webster
The native Caledonian pinewoods have helped Affric secure its reputation as Scotland’s most beautiful glen. Here the An Tudar ridge rises above the still waters of Loch Affric on a cold day at the start of winter.

Paul is no stranger to the Highlands having moved to Scotland 11 years ago with his wife Helen, where they set up the hugely popular ‘Walkhighlands’ website. It was Paul’s love of Scotland’s landscapes that came first, later leading to his interest in photography to enable him to share with others, and together with Helen he has since written 14 guidebooks on walking.

Dreams and Nightmares ©
Paul Webster
A bright and crisp sunny day had been forecast, but any initial disappointment about the dark clouds evaporated when this view along the ridge was suddenly revealed, with two ravens circling the summit and Glen Coe appearing as a black pit on the right.

In addition to the overall title, The Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year competition consists of eleven other categories, including a range of awards sponsored by supporting organisations that include AcademyClass, Formatt Hitech, Fotospeed, The Isle of Harris Distillery, Loxley Colour, Caledonian MacBrayne, Historic Scotland and the John Muir Trust. One of the new awards introduced for this year’s competition was the “Scottish Weather” award, judged by BBC weather presenter and news anchor Anne Lundon.

The runner-up was Alex Nail with the following portfolio of images:

Quinag in Winter © Alex Nail.
Side light strikes the slopes of Quinag as snow showers queue up overhead. Its extensive nature and dramatic ridges make it one of the finest peaks in north Scotland.

Frozen Symmetry © Alex Nail
The symmetrical peak of Sgurr Eilde Mor in a full winter coat catches the first sunshine of the day. The patterns on the lake are formed by windblown snow.

Grey and Gold © Alex Nail
Sunlight strikes a lochan of golden grasses with Suilven brooding in the distance. From this westerly aspect you have a clear view of its precipitous buttresses.

The competition, now in its fourth year, is the brainchild of Perthshire-based landscape photographer, Stuart Low who put it together to promote and inspire photographers of all levels to explore Scotland’s stunning landscapes, and to promote Scotland’s natural, cultural and historic heritage to an international audience. Winning entries will be published in a series of public exhibitions across Scotland and in a special edition book that will be launched on 27th March 2018.

Scottish Weather Award winner
© Nigel Morton
During a journey from Shieldaig to Inverness the light suddenly became very dramatic. I parked and ran to the loch. As soon as I had set up, this beautiful rainbow illuminated Liathach in the distance.

Landscape Category Winner – Ever Chaning Light © Jeanie Lazenby
Loch Bad A’Ghaill, Inverpolly. Sunshine, showers, rainbows and midges were all in abundance on this particular evening when capturing some delightful light across Loch Bad a’Ghaill in Inverpolly.

Landscape Category Runner up – Reeds in the mist © Ian Biggs
A misty September morning on Lochan an Daim close to Schiehallion, I live nearby so cycled along to make the most of the conditions.

Seascape Category Winner – The Sands of Scarista © Johnathan Conlon
This was taken during midday light, an unavoidable rebellion against typical landscape photography timings. The clouds were quite patchy and fast moving which made for some interesting patterns on the ground.

Monochrome Category winner: Homeward Bound © David Mould
Some shots are planned, some guessed and some are pure luck, it is planning and guessing to put yourself in that position that is key, this image is a combination of carefully planned luck.

Harris Distillery Winner: Neist Point – Skye © Luca Benini
Usual Scottish rain was falling over the most iconic and beautiful lighthouse in the world, I had just a few seconds of light before it started raining again.

Stuart Low, head judge of the competition said: “The competition is now firmly established, not only in the UK but right across the globe. It’s evolved and diversified too. This year, we’ve seen more photographers shooting on traditional film and some have even submitted entries using historical photographic processes, like “Cyanotypes” which date back to the 1790s, so it’s been very interesting to judge. The competition does a lot of good too. The images that the photographers capture of our iconic, and even unseen places, promote tourism and the book that showcases the winning images adds to that. Acting as a brochure for Scotland’s amazing places, it inspires visitors to follow in the footsteps of the photographers so they can experience the views for themselves. Even the exhibitions play their part, boosting numbers to galleries, small cafes and bookshops for example. The photographers benefit too, with some going on to win commissions, sell prints and produce their own books and we’re all the richer for more choice of talent to hang on our walls. I’m genuinely thrilled for all concerned and looking forward to this year once again.”

The hardbook book “Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year – Collection 4” – is available for pre-order on the competition website. Paul’s photos are available by buy through Walkhighlands’ Photography store.

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