I won a competition!

A few Christmases ago I asked my parents for a voucher to do a photography day at the Barn Owl Centre near Gloucester. My brother Chris and his girlfriend Alanna also thought it would be a good idea, so they asked for the same so that we could travel down together. For various reasons we couldn’t get the day booked for more than a year, and then Chris couldn’t make it when we eventually did get it booked back in January last year. On the day we were very lucky with clear blue skies and bright, low sunshine, making for a day of perfect, if chilly, conditions. We got to photograph a Common Buzzard, Little Owl, a baby African Spotted Eagle Owl, a Barn Owl, and a Eurasian Eagle Owl. One particular idea was to try to photograph the Eagle Owl as it left the fencepost it was perched on. After pre-focusing (I was using a 300mm f/2.8 prime lens) and setting the exposure manually, I took a few frames as the owl took to the air. The photography was pretty intense as we filled memory cards at high speed, and it wasn’t until we were back in the hut for lunch that I realised that I’d caught the owl in a very interesting vampire-like pose, and it just happened to be staring directly at me at the time. I posted it in the bird forum on my favourite photography site Dyxum – a site for the dedicated users of Sony and Minolta cameras – and I was surprised and very happy to learn it had been made their ‘Photo of the Week’.

Fast-forward to the end of the year, and I decided to enter the photo in their ‘The Best of 2012’ competition. There were 169 entries initially, with a shortlist of 20-30 making it to the final round of voting. I was hoping I might make it to the final round, and was very happy to see it there amongst the eventual final shortlist of 29 photos. The quality of photos on Dyxum is astounding, and I like the way that everybody is using similar systems and so it makes it a (relatively-speaking) level playing field. I tend to concentrate mostly on the bird photography threads on the forum and there are many fantastically-talented photographers there. I returned to the thread a few times to see how things were going and I was shocked to see that my owl was getting quite a few votes, and it’s made me incredibly happy – and humbled – to have actually ended up the winner. I will receive a special patch and a camera strap as a prize, but it’s the accolade of being voted for by so many incredible photographers that really does it for me. I still can’t believe that my photo has been voted the best photo on the site for the whole of last year.

I’d better take this rare opportunity for a shameless plug: the Eagle Owl photo is the one that I had chosen as the cover image of both my owl book and the flagship photo of my online prints store. You never know, I may even make a sale or two…


About hootbot

Professional design agency photographer and amateur birder.
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