High praise for nature pictures

Skein of Canada Geese over the Aln Estuary
Skein of Canada Geese over the Aln Estuary

Morpeth Camera Club

Visiting on December 12 was guest judge Mike Allport, a member of Wooler and District Camera Club, who announced the results of The Browell Trophy Natural History PDI Competition, giving comments on each image, which he had previously perused at home.

Mike said that he had worked in outdoor education for 30 years so he was familiar with wildlife, adding that the pictures he had been given to judge were excellent and the photographers had to be congratulated on their ability.

Included in the 57 images were butterflies, squirrels, an Arctic tern and shanks with chicks, with Mike giving advice on alternative cropping along the way.

He added that it was important in natural history photography to catch eye highlights in birds and creatures, and to achieve a satisfactory depth of field, throwing the background into softness to give prominence to the subject.

Pictures of a Cambodian dragonfly, Canada geese, a heron and mating terns followed, with Mike confirming that sharpness in the plumage of black and white birds is very difficult and can result in blown out whites and silhouetted blacks.

A baby elephant with its family contrasted with a sharp image of dark pink fuchsias and a buff tailed bumblebee, laden with pollen.

A fluffy gosling, a peacock butterfly on thistles, a fulmar chick on a cliff edge and red and black stink bugs in sharp detail came next.

Mike admired the use of the square format in many images, saying that one should not always be tied to the landscape and portrait format. He said that borders work in some instances, but not all.

Nia Antelope, a South American grey fox, spiders, seals, puffins, water lilies, a tufty young ostrich, a mute swan with cygnets and red fungus were all included.

In deciding his final nine placed photographs, Mike had to whittle them down from 18 favourites. His four highly commended choices were Greater Spotted Woodpecker With Grubs by George Suddalow, Red 2, an image of a squirrel by Ken Godfrey, Jackdaw by Mark Harrison, and Fly Agaric in Habitat by Davy Bolam.

Fifth place went to Alan Barker for First Flight, a trio of young blue tits with comical expressions, and fourth went to Alan Barker with Dipper, a well caught image of a dipper perched on rocks with a milky waterfall in the background.

Grub Up by George Sudlow came third, a highly detailed robin with grubs in its beak. Second place went to Brian Morris with Wild Garlic, a study of a woodland garlic flower, which Mike admired for its good use of light.

Mike declared the winner Skein of Canada Geese Over Aln Estuary by Paul Appleby, a picture of geese flying over rooftops, which Mike admired for its composition, set on the rule of thirds, and said he would happily display it on a wall.

Chairman Mark Harrison thanked Mike for judging the competition and for his constructive comments about each picture, after which coffee was served.

For more information about the club, or to view the members’ gallery and programme, visit www.morpethcameraclub.co.uk