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The Wildlife Artists Society International member photographer Phillip Petrou is overall winner of …
The Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine received over 10,000 entries for the competition and the judges this year are the presenters from Autumn Watch, here they explain why they picked their winners. The competition was split into five categories: Mammals; Birds; Insects; and Fish, Reptiles & Amphibians, with a final category for Under-18s. Our two technical judges – acclaimed wildlife photographer Simon Stafford, and Gray Levett, owner of top camera shop Grays of Westminster and Editor of Nikon Owner magazine – narrowed the entries down in each category to a short list of ten for our celebrity judges.
Michaela Strachan was assigned Mammals. Kate Humble took on Birds. Chris Packham was given Insects. Julia Bradbury tackled Fish, Reptiles & Amphibians while Steve Backshall, who’s been whipping up a storm on the Strictly dance floor, considered the Under-18s.
Once the judges had picked their winners, Simon and Gray had to name one overall victor, and they were unanimous in choosing accountant Philip Petrou’s breathtaking study of a water vole admiring his own reflection in a river. Both Simon and Gray were impressed with the standard throughout.
Phillip’s winning shot was taken on a private stretch of river near East Malling in Kent; Michaela enjoyed the quirky nature of the photograph. ‘I’ve been taking photographs since my early 20s,’ says Philip. ‘But then, about ten years ago, I went to a big cat sanctuary in Welwyn Garden City – it’s not there anymore – to photograph the lions and tigers. It’s been wildlife for me ever since.’
Michaela picked the winner of the Mammals category who turned out to be our overall winner. Philip’s winning shot was taken on a private stretch of river near East Malling in Kent. ‘I set myself up on a fold-up metal chair, with the seat just above the water level. I was wearing a pair of large gumboots and some army trousers which quickly got soaked. My Canon EOS 7D with a telephoto lens was on a tripod in the water. A lot of photographers will use semi-automatic settings, but that day I had so much time on my hands I started playing around with the manual settings and, once I’d worked them out, I never looked back.
“Water voles are very hard to photograph because they’re shy, but if you sit still they’ll tolerate you. I got to the river at 7am and was there all day until this little fellow decided to put in an appearance around teatime. I was lucky because, instead of plopping straight into the river, he stopped and seemed to look at his reflection in the water.’
A single man, Philip lives alone in his house in Forest Hill, south-east London, but his ambition is to move to the Canterbury area where he has friends and where there would be a greater opportunity to encounter animals other than urban foxes.
There will be plenty of chances to capture wildlife of a rather different order when Philip takes up his prize courtesy of Tatra Photography and accompanies photographic expert Simon Stafford on a three-day trip to Bavaria next March for a master class in photographing lynx, brown bears, elk and wolves.
‘I’ve researched it on the internet and it’s a fantastic location,’ says Philip.
But he doesn’t want to stop there. ‘I’ll be 50 soon and I’m looking for something big to do. I’d like to go and see the gorillas in Rwanda, but my biggest ambition is to photograph the pandas in China.’
Michaela says: ‘This is an astonishing photograph, cute and a little bit quirky. The perfection of the mirror image is remarkable. To capture a shy little creature like this in such a perfect pose is extremely clever, needing a huge amount of patience and quite a lot of luck.’
WHAT THE OTHER JUDGES SAID ABOUT THE OVERALL WINNER
Steve Backshall – ‘I love the symmetry and the fact that an unnatural feature – the pipe – has taken on such perfect wild growth and become a part of this challenged animal’s world.’
Julia Bradbury – ‘The reflection enhances the sharp brightness of this superb shot. Water voles are elusive creatures and to capture this moment so beautifully in broad daylight is a real treat.’
Chris Packham – ‘This charming species has become an icon for conservationists and this fabulous image supports that status. It’s the poster this endearing creature has been crying out for!’
Kate Humble – ‘This is one of those magic moments any photographer – wildlife or not – would love to capture. It’s a visual narrative, rich in character and colour and beautifully composed.’
Simon Stafford – ‘It leapt out for me with its symmetry, not only in the framing of the vole in the pipe but also in the reflection which gives the impression of the figure eight. There’s no denying it’s cute too. ’
Gray Levett – ‘My hands-down absolute favorite across all the entries is this looking-glass study of the water vole . Philip’s got everything right. It’s perfectly exposed, and the lighting is spot on.’
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Sir David Attenborough Picks a winner for Pollyanna
The winning ticket in the Pollyanna Pickering Foundation Winter Prize draw has been drawn by natural history broadcasting legend Sir David Attenborough. The lucky winner, Mr Grayling of Sheffield has won an original painting of a fox.
For most people Sir David Attenborough is both the face and voice of Wildlife. As Britain ‘s best-known natural history film-maker, he has brought the wonders of the living world into our homes for nearly five decades. There are very few places on the globe that he has not visited during his career as a naturalist and broadcaster.
TWASI patron Pollyanna shares his passion for the environment and is equally committed to using her work to raise awareness of the plight of endangered species worldwide. She was therefore delighted that Sir David was willing to spare time from his very busy schedule to help her select the winners in the prize draw organised by her charitable foundation.
“We were so honoured that Sir David agreed to draw the winning tickets” Pollyanna told us “He is one of the world’s greatest natural historians and is an inspiration to everyone working in conservation. We thank him so much for his support”.
Between the sales of prize draw tickets and donations the Foundation has raised £2,279.00 which will be divided between the ongoing care of ‘Polly’ a moonbear rescued from a bear bile farm in Vietnam , and British Wildlife rescue projects.
Sir David is pictured selecting the tickets with Pollyanna (left) and her daughter Anna-Louise (right) who is also a trustee of the Pollyanna Pickering Foundation. Find out more about the work of the Foundation at http://www.pollyannapickering.co.uk/
If you would like to interview Pollyanna about the prize draw or the work of her foundation please contact Anna-Louise 01629 55851 firstname.lastname@example.org
For background information about Pollyanna and her Foundation visit http://www.pollyannapickering.co.uk/
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