Darren Cole

Darren Cole, Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year 2021

Ice and Fire © Darren Cole
© Darren Cole - Ice and Fire

Darren said: "It was a real thrill to learn that I had won this year's competition and I'm so grateful to the judges for choosing my image Ice and Fire, especially as it is the first time an image from the Environmental category has been chosen.

"As a seasoned landscape photographer, I'm used to spending hours walking on the beaches and mountainsides near my home on the Isle of Harris, looking for that elusive, perfect shot. So it was with some irony that the scene from which Ice and Fire was created, appeared by chance on my doorstep. Following reports of possible wildfires on the island and after several fire engines had raced past my house in north Harris, I opened the front door to be greeted by an Icelandic style scene of snowy mountains and raging fire. The juxtaposition of the dramatic white peaks and the red, rivers of fire below was truly spectacular and just begging to be photographed. With the snow-covered mountains reflecting what little daylight remained, the dark foreground allowed the fire to really pop, creating a stark and dramatic level of contrast in the scene. With the sky cloudless as well, there was little to detract from the almost Tolkienesque vista.

"A few days later, I discovered that the fire was started deliberately in order to burn the top layer of heather away allowing fresh vegetation to grow through, a process known as a muirburn.

"The image has always had pride of place on the wall of Hebscape, my gallery on the Isle of Harris and this award now makes the experience of creating this image even more special."

Judge Kit Martin said: "Ice and Fire is stunning. The competition was fierce in the Environmental category, but this stood out as a striking image telling a story without the need for words. It was unanimously decided on as the overall winner for its originality and visual impact. Muirburn is a controversial subject and one that is current and active, with passionate voices on both sides. Congratulations Darren!"

Kaitlyn Clark

Kaitlyn Clark (age 11), Junior Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year 2021

© Kaitlyn Clark - Peregrine Playtime
© Kaitlyn Clark - Peregrine Playtime

Kaitlyn said: "I couldn’t believe I won I was so happy! It filled me with confidence and makes me feel that I can accomplish more in the future. Due to a family health situation, we haven’t been able to get out as much as normal which made this experience all the more rewarding.

"This was taken near Inverness on a day out with my dad. We were super lucky to have a family of peregrines feeling comfortable enough near us that they started playing and practising for life - this picture I believe to be two youngsters playing with each other. It took me a bajillion attempts to catch anything like this never mind keeping it in frame with such a big lens."

Judge Rebecca Nason said: "11-year-old Kaitlyn’s image of two immature peregrine falcons, jostling in mid-air was a wonderful entry, and a clear 1st place for the judges in the Junior category. Seeing such interesting, wild Scottish natural history behaviour is exciting in itself, but to be able to capture this fast, aerial playtime so expertly is quite another and Kaitlyn has clearly shown excellent technical photographic skill here to produce a high quality, well exposed, pin-sharp image.

"Wielding large telephoto lenses about is no easy task, requiring physical effort as well as concentration and precision, particularly when aiming skyward for difficult flight shots. Choosing a high ISO enabled a high shutter speed that froze the subjects well, the extra depth of field at f7.1 enabling sharpness where needed. Light was strong, contrasts high, but the exposure is just right for the situation, with good detail to the intricately patterned undersides of both birds. The clear, clean blue sky, with space around the birds, resisting the temptation many have to crop harshly, adds weight to the overall composition. The angles of the birds in the frame, one upside-down, fully engaging with the other, both with yellow talons out, all adds drama and impact appeal.

"A special image of a very special Scottish species, and one I would have been delighted to have taken. An inspiring shot from a young budding wildlife photographer."

Murronrose Dunn

Murronrose Dunn, Student Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year 2021
HND Photography, New College Lanarkshire

© Murronrose Dunn - Passing Time Portfolio
© Murronrose Dunn  – Passing Time Portfolio

© Murronrose Dunn - Passing Time Portfolio
© Murronrose Dunn  – Passing Time Portfolio

© Murronrose Dunn - Passing Time Portfolio
© Murronrose Dunn  – Passing Time Portfolio

Murronrose said: "My portfolio of images is titled Passing Time. The three images were shot during the restrictions last year, where the furthest I could travel was Glencoe. Landscapes were initially required for my course, however I enjoyed taking each image. They were also a moment to just connect with nature and step back from the world. Each image focuses heavily on water and freezing the motion to create a smoothed out milky effect. I used filters for each image. I felt that this milky effect helps to show the calming and dramatic atmosphere at each location. The series also goes from daylight to sunset, I wanted each image to look unique but as a set show the change from noon to dusk. The effect that the time of day had on each image is incredible, from the clouds preparing to burst in Glencoe to the cold blue sky in New Lanark.

"I am currently in my last year at New College Lanarkshire studying HND Photography. It all started with a simple night class in 2019 while I was in my last year of high school. After that I had caught the bug then continued to my NQ, and well the rest is history. Photography has always been an interest of mine, but my passion stems from my dad. He was always playing with an old point and shoot at events or occasions. When he bought a Nikon D3500, I was fascinated by it. Something about seeing the image immediately, the colours or the (accidental) Bokeh had me hooked. After three years, I have started to refine my speciality which is advertising photography. He has been with me to every landscape through rain or sun and I owe where I am today to my family and my college."

Judge Niall Irvine said "Murronrose's portfolio shows three very well considered images in different light conditions. They are fine examples of landscape photography. The successful use of long exposures in all three has given us a cohesive portfolio and a sense of motion in the water. Murronrose met the brief in every aspect - one to watch in the future."

Pat Douglass

Pat Douglass, Winner Scottish Nature Video Award 2021

Springtime in the Pond: The Toads © Pat Douglass  

Pat said: "I am absolutely delighted to hear that my video has won the Scottish Nature Video Award 2021. I started filming the toads arriving at a local pond during the first lockdown in 2020. The toads provided a welcome distraction from the restrictions which meant I couldn’t pursue my usual spring photography. I decided to record their journey overland and then their time in the pond. I particularly enjoyed watching their antics and trying to capture their character and behaviour. Through spending many hours watching them over several weeks I discovered a lot about their life but I also learnt that there can be amazing opportunities to both study and photograph nature on our doorsteps.

"I have been a keen photographer since a friend taught me how to develop film when I was 17. I started working as a technical photographer in a university at 18 and photography has been an important part of my life ever since. It is only in the last few years that I have started taking video and exploring the opportunities to tell a visual story through photography. 

"The film was made using a combination of footage from my Canon 7dmk2 with 100-400 & 500mm lenses, an iPhone and GoPro Hero for the underwater pieces."

Judge Niall Irvine said: "Springtime in the Pond: The Toads is an excellent piece of filming and story-telling. A fully thought through documentary with a clear narrative".