It's 'awards season' and a few hopeful submissions to WILDlife photography competitions earlier in the year, reappear (sometimes) on shortlists and prizewinning lists, (yet to happen in my case in the latter case!).
At this stage in my photographic development, I'm beyond happy with any kind of recognition, so when my picture of a Little Owl appeared on the shortlist for the British Photographic Awards, I was truly delighted.
The shortlist in each category (my entry is in 'Birdlife'), is then opened to the public to vote for their favourite. The 20 shortlisted pictures in each category will then be reduced to the top 4 and these will be judged again by the experts to decide the winner, to be announced at a glitzy awards ceremony at The Savoy in late January 2019.
It has to be said that the shortlist in my category includes some really impressive, technically sophisticated photographs. My shot is decently executed and (I think) full of the character of the Little Owl, but is just that really.
It's very interesting to see what kind of shot captures the judges eye and what I see there tells me that there is still so much to learn, not just to compete with the best but more importantly, to be able to bring the wonder of the WILD world to life with my photography ... bring it on!
The link to the shortlist is below, if you would like to support my entry and that would be much appreciated, (don't forget to come back to this page to hear the backstory to the shot below)
I wonder if a little more of the story of 'Telegram Sam' might be interesting?
It was another great day at Nature Photography Hides in Worcestershire. The May sunshine was warm and I was setting up in the Little Owl Hide, located a few metres from a fantastic Oak tree, where the Owls had made a nest in the hole left by a fallen bough, as is their preference.
The male Little Owl is a popular and familiar character at this location, fearless (it seems) despite it's really small size (about the same as Blackbird).
What was unusual about this day, was that I had noticed one of the Ewes in the Oak tree field, looking slightly more animated than you would expect. I'm not an expert in farming matters, but it looked to me like she was ready to give birth, albeit that mid May seemed very late for this to be the case; so I ignored her and carried on setting up my kit in the hope of an appearance from the Owl.
What I wasn't prepared for was for the Ewe to wander determinedly over to the Oak tree, 'pawing' the ground with her hooves and eventually settling to give birth to her perfect little lamb, no more than 5m from this delighted onlooker.
The appearance of new life in such a bucolic natural setting, was quite a thing to witness and I was so transfixed, that I nearly forgot to try and capture the moment despite holding expensive kit to be able to do so in my hands as I watched.
The wonderful convenience and flexibility of the modern iPhone came to rescue and I managed some video of the newborns first steps to be able to remember the moment.
There was something wonderful about how everything going on in the field seemed just to pause for a moment. Even the big old farm horse grazing behind the tree, came over to investigate in what seemed like an (anthropomorphised), 'supportive' way.
It was at this point that I looked up to see Oak tree resident male Little Owl also gazing intently, first at the newborn lamb and its Mother and then directly into my lens as if to say ...
"what do you make of that then mate?"
This was the moment that I composed myself sufficiently, to check and adjust settings and start capturing him perched on the old telegraph pole perch with his lunch.
keeping an eye out on the skies above and all around!
What a great day and whether there are awards and accolades for photos taken (or more likely ... not ... ha ha!), the real prize is the opportunity to experience the WILD world, close up and in this case, very personal.