The Frozen Moment
By Fergus Gill, UK
Winner, Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The day after Christmas 2009, it was 31 degrees below freezing in Soctland — so cold that the birds were desperate for food.
A rowan tree at the bottom of Fergus Gill’s backyard in Perthshire, Scotland, became a magnet for song thrushes, mistle thrushes, blackbirds, redwings and a flock of about 15 fieldfares, all frantically picking the berries.
Gill wanted to capture the icy feel of the day while showing the character of fieldfares in action, some of whom were hovering to pluck berries.
“The village where I live is surrounded by farmland and conifers, and is a short distance from the Sidlaw hills,” says Gill. “The entire area is teeming with wildlife. Living here is ideal for nature photography.”
Gill took up photography at the age of nine. He won twice in the 11-14 year-old category in the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition, and in 2008 was the Young Garden Photographer of the Year with a photo of a partridge staring at a window.
In taking the photo that won in this year’s competition, he says his biggest challenge, other than the cold itself, was to isolate a fieldfare against a clear background, and the only way to get the angle was to stand on his frozen pond. Risking the ice, he caught both the moment and the delicacy of color he was after.
Nikon D300 + 500mm f4 lens; 1/500 sec at f4; ISO 800; Manfrotto 680B monopod + 293 tripod head.
© Fergus Gill / Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010
Fieldfares are members of the thrush family, living mainly northern Europe and Asia, but migrating south during the winter. Their numbers have been declining however not severely enough for them to be listed as endangered or vulnerable.
About the Awards
Selected from tens of thousands of entries from across the globe, More than 100 of the images this year’s contest are on show at the Natural History Museum in London, England. They were judged to be the best of all those entered in the 2010 competition by a judging panel that included some of the world’s most respected nature photographers and wildlife experts.
These images come from 18 categories in an exhibition that debuted at the museum on October 22nd. The exhibition will also tour internationally.
There’s also a commemorative book, Wildlife Photographer of the Year Portfolio 20, edited by Rosamund Kidman Cox and published by the Natural History Museum. The book contains all winning and commended images from this year’s competition.
Now in its 46th year, the competition is owned by the Natural History Museum and BBC Wildlife Magazine and is sponsored by Veolia Environnement.. It is an international leader in the artistic representation of the natural world and a competition that photographers worldwide aspire to win.
Photographers can enter next year’s competition online between January 12 and March 18, 2011. For further details about the competition and its various categories, or to enter online, visit www.nhm.ac.uk/wildphoto.