A LOSSIEMOUTH MAN has scooped one of the most prestigious wildlife photography prizes in the country – with an image he took in Shetland.
Barrie Williams scooped a prize of £5000 when his image of gannets on the northern island beat off thousands of entries to scoop first prize in the British Wildlife Photography Awards.
His stunning image was of seabirds nesting on the cliffs, taken while many were flying with the ink-black sea as a background – an image that was described as both beautiful and evocative by the contest judges.
Mr Williams, 29, has recently completed a period as a researcher for the BBC Scotland on their ‘Landward’ programme. He has gained a masters degree in wildlife documentary production – but now hopes that his success in the competition will allow him to direct his future career towards wildlife photography.
Describing the moment he took the shot that could well have changed his life, Mr Williams said: “Looking down it appeared to me that the gannets far below looked like stars against the dark backdrop of the sea. Add to this the nests scattered across the cliffs and I knew I had found my image.”
Mr Williams now aims to use his prize money to purchase camera equipment – and perhaps to fund a photography trip where he can again challenge his skills.
The competition has been used as a platform several times by winners to launch a new career in photography, something the talented photographer hopes will be the case this time around.
One of the judges in the competition, Paul Wilkinson who is head of living landscape at the Wildlife Trusts, commented: “Worlds collide in Barrie Williams’s beautiful and evocative image, affording a unique insight into the habitat and behaviour of gannets.
“Sea cliffs provide a haven from potential predators, a place for birds to breed, hunt and safely raise the next generation.
“This vertigo-inducing shot shows guano-stained rocks, the bustle of lower ledges with birds packed tightly and gannets hunting over the inky seas below.”
Mark Carwardine, a zoologist, writer, photographer and broadcaster, said: “The British Wildlife Photography Awards has become one of the most anticipated events in the wildlife photography calendar.
“The bar in wildlife photography has already been raised to unimaginably high levels of sophistication, innovation and artistic vision, yet the standard somehow continues to get better and better.
“This latest collection of images is testament to the sheer level of interest in wildlife in Britain and, above all, the remarkable abilities of our wildlife photographers.”
BBC Wildlife Magazine editor Matt Swaine added: “Sea cliffs provide a haven from potential predators, a place for birds to breed, hunt and safely raise the next generation. He said: “This vertigo-inducing shot shows guano-stained rocks, the bustle of lower ledges with birds packed tightly and gannets hunting over the inky seas below.
“The judges felt it was the unique perspective of this shot and its ability to reveal something new about seabird life that made it such a firm favourite.”