Capture nature’s beauty on camera
Kate Titford from the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust encourages you to get snapping
WHEN you’ve given up on the Easter egg hunt and had enough chocolate then it’s about time for a bracing walk through the Chilterns countryside to take photographs that could win prizes!
If wildlife and wild places inspire you to get your camera out and capture the moment, then a new photography competition organised by the local Wildlife Trust is just the place for you to showcase your results.
The Oxford Festival of Nature photography competition has five categories, including a new one for this year, mobile phone images; so anytime an awe-inspiring view or amazing wildlife catches your eye, grab your smartphone and take a snap!
All the winning photographs will be exhibited at Oxford University Museum of Natural History on June 4 as part of the Wild Fair during the Oxford Festival of Nature.
The overall winner will receive a Panasonic Lumix camera and access to ProHides, the professional hides managed by top wildlife photographer Elliott Neep. Category winners will receive a Panasonic bridge camera and a printed copy of their winning image.
The competition categories include My Wild Life, a chance to capture people in their favourite wild places and tell their story in just one image. For instance you may know someone whose second home is a bird hide, and you could illustrate their love of birds in a single frame.
The Wild Places category is a chance to showcase our stunning local scenery. From rolling Chiltern Hills and glistening lakes and rivers to sun-dappled woodland and flower-filled chalk grassland, there’s a whole host of places to explore and photograph at their best.
The wildlife on offer in this area is some of the richest in England, especially orchids and butterflies in Buckinghamshire. Wildlife is the category to portray our magnificent wild animals and plants – tiny colourful insects, secretive mammals, camouflaged butterflies, and flamboyant breeding birds. The fifth category gives all budding young photographers under 18 years old the chance to show off their talents.
As the competition celebrates our wonderful local wildlife and wild places all photographs must be taken in one of the three counties covered by the Wildlife Trust – Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. The images should represent wild species, scenes and habitats, not pets or captive animals.
Roy McDonald was the overall winner of last year’s competition. His prize was a day with top wildlife photographer Elliott Neep, when he captured this amazing image. “Winning the competition allowed me to photograph a little owl so close and in perfect light. I will never get a photo session like it again!” said Roy.
Competition judge and professional photographer Elliott Neep has these tips for entrants: “Judges are always looking for those images that grab the eye and hold the attention. This can be because of fantastic light, engaging and emotive content, action and motion, strong/ challenging composition, or graphic details.
“We’re looking for quality, not rarity. I would much rather see an exceptional image of a mallard, than a dull portrait of a rare ‘little brown job’!”
If you’re inspired to enter the photography competition, then make the most of the spring sunshine this weekend.
Tall wild cherry trees in the Chiltern woods, such as Millfield Wood nature reserve near Hughenden, offer frothy creamy-white flowers among the dark branches of beech trees holding their verdant green leaves in tight buds.
On the ground the dark green spears of bluebell leaves have already pushed through the leaf litter to promise a fabulous vista of heavenly-scented nodding blue flowers later in April. You may even spot an early flowering bluebell, encouraged by the warmish weather!
Stroll across Grangelands and the Rifle Range nature reserve, near Princes Risborough. It’s renowned for butterflies, and this is where on warm spring days you may spot the bright yellow brimstone butterfly emerging from its winter hibernation among the bushes.
Is the word butterfly derived from the extraordinary brimstone with its large sulphuryellow wings? Possibly, but across Europe old names for butterfly also reflect the attraction of these insects to hand-churned buttermilk.
Wherever you are in the Chilterns, enjoy the spring weather and be inspired to enter the Wildlife Photography Competition.
Tawny owl by Roy McDonald
by Janet on bluebell Packham