Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012

“Ice Matters”, my image which won the “World in our Hands” award of Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012.

The winners of the internationally acclaimed Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition were announced at a gala awards ceremony at the Natural History Museum in London on 17th October 2012.

If anyone would like to have a giggle………….this is my BBC Worldwide TV debut. The little polar bear is now famous. You can see which side of the camera I belong!!

The challenge in the “World in our Hands” category is to show in a thought-provoking and memorable way, whether graphic or symbolic, our interaction with the natural world and
to create awareness of how our actions can affect it.
I was on a boat in Svalbard when I saw this polar bear. It was 4am on an October morning, and the bear was walking on ice floes, seemingly unsure where to put its weight.
I used a fisheye lens to make the bear look diminutive and create an impression of a “top predator” on “top of the planet” with its ice world breaking up.
The symbolism is of course that polar bears rely almost entirely on sea-ice, and increasing temperatures mean that this is disappearing. Scientists maintain that the melting of the ice will soon become a major problem for humans too, not just because of rising sea levels but also because the warm waters are affecting the weather, sea currents and fish stocks.

All the winning images from Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012 can be viewed here:


Dinner with the dinosaur at the Natural History Museum in London

This image of an Arctic fox won a “Commended” award in Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2007. It was the “Visitors’ Favourite” that year too.

This Arctic fox curled up and slept outside our hut door, waking up and yawning when we had to step over him.

Who can resist a baby polar bear? This picture was worth freezing to death for……

This was a beautiful female bear whose coat was sparkling in the frosty air in Alaska

This cub was constantly pestering his mother who wanted to snooze.

The more common kind of wildlife I find to photograph in the snow..

Tour of Britain 2012

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I realised I had nailed a shot of cycling legends Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins………and MY DAD!!! A perfect way to repay my family’s own cycling legend. And an imminent Birthday present sorted!

The Tour of Britain’s third stage began in the Scottish Borders, in Jedburgh.

The cyclists did a circuit of Jedburgh so all the fans could get a good look. And right at the back of the pack was Wiggo.

The camera caught Cav’s rainbow jersey on the way back through the town.

We got a good side view of Bradley Wiggins and the sideburns as he went past.

And a final shot of three members of Team Sky: Hunt, Eisel and Wiggo.
Pity that the poor photographer never actually gets to see the photo in real time – the mirror gets in the way of enjoying the event. Nothing beats the excitement of reviewing the shots afterwards however!

NVA’s Speed of Light 2012

NVA’s Speed of Light runners have been a joy to work with. Hundreds of hill runners have been trotting around Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh almost every night for the last three weeks in the London 2012 Festival Calendar. More details of NVA can be found at http://www.nva.org.uk

Many of you have asked whether it is possible to purchase images. It is possible, of course. I can offer prints, canvasses or acrylics. Please ask if you have other sizes in mind as the options are infinite. Prices include VAT.

7″x5″ £20
2 of above £35
Plus P&P £2.50
10″x8″ (10″x7″) £35
2 of above £60
Plus P&P £2.50
Canvas frames or acrylics
18″x12″ £120
24″x18″ £175
30″x20″ £235
Plus £15 P&P

I took part as a runner on the opening night, but soon realised that I enjoyed putting my cameras to use, rather than my under-used trail shoes…….


This happy hill runner is trailing a stream of light behind her, emitted from the many LEDS on the lightsuit.



Experimentation with depth of focus and length of exposure has produced an astonishing collection of waves and dots in beautiful colours.


Each runner records a trail of wiggles in front of Edinburgh’s extinct volcano.

The glow is created by hundreds of hillwalkers carrying a staff which is illuminated at its base to light their way.

This is the part of NVA’s choreography known as “constellation”. Each runner is “switched off” and shakes a “joggler”. Hundreds of runners transform into twinkling stars on the black hillside.

Walkers admire the show and communicate with the runners by waggling their light sabres, creating indelible traces on a photograph.

I captured this image with a fisheye lens, by asking the runners to carry on as normal – only with me as piggy in the middle.

I love this picture of Edinburgh Castle. I took a lot of exposures to ensure that the castle was not obscured by light trails.

Each image was a surprise as the intensity and number of runners for each exposure was very experimental as I could not anticipate NVA’s choreography.

This was the manoeuvre known as “light house”. The runners had to revolve on the spot, reversing direction if they got dizzy.

The runners ran along the footpaths on Salisbury Crags. I felt dizzy when I approached the edge to get a shot to include the cliffs. I am constantly amazed by how much detail is picked up by a digital camera when the only illumination is from starlight or from the city light bouncing off the clouds.

This is the spectacular view from Arthur’s Seat. The runners are spreading out from a central hub creating a star. Beautiful!!

The runners are doing a “Mexican wave”.

Edinburgh Castle and the Military Tattoo was also competing for my attention. “Auld Lang Syne” floated up on a calm night and was accompanied by a spectacular projection of the Saltire on the castle’s walls. Plus a few fireworks!

The evening usually ended in an impromptu cancan or Highland fling!

This is “bed time” for lightsuits. The runners return at 1:30am to basecamp.

The walking audience provided a snake of light whilst scaling Arthur’s Seat to be enjoyed by the runners!

Forth Replacement Crossing – arrival of the steel foundation caissons

History in the making: old meets new as the first of the new bridge’s crucial steel foundation caissons arrives on the Forth

A few weeks back I had a lovely sunny Saturday evening “messing” about on the river in the name of ”work”.  The photoshoot was to record one of the most important milestones of the Forth Replacement Crossing: the arrival on-site of the cylindrical caissons which will help form the main foundations for two of the bridge’s three towers.


The caissons for the 21st century road bridge pass beneath the 20th century bridge.


I couldn’t help breathing in as the caissons “slid” underneath the Forth Road Bridge without any hitches. The largest caisson is 30m high by 30m diameter – approximately the same size as an 8-storey building. It weighs 1200 tonnes making it one of the largest steel caissons ever sunk down to the seabed anywhere in the world. The barge transporting them is the length of a Premier League football pitch.

The caissons act as a “mould” for the concrete foundations to be formed. Once the caisson is in place on the seabed underwater concrete will be poured in to a depth of 14m below sea level. The concrete “plug” will form the base of the foundations.

If you would like to read further news of the Forth Replacement Crossing the Project Update is online at http://www.transportscotland.gov.uk/files/documents/projects/forth-replacement/FCBC_Update_May12.pdf


The Knights of Royal England at Linlithgow Palace

The sensational Knights of Royal England returned to the magnificent setting of Linlithgow Palace.

One lance shattered with the impact

After a spot of jousting the knights started showing off……….

And then they gave their horses a rest and fought on their feet in the rain

With a lot of silliness surely designed to impress the warring 6-year old boys in the crowd and not the wannabe princesses.

Do boys ever grow up??

And then the one female member of the troupe was put in a sack and dragged round the field by a knight gone wild

The knights were having a lot of fun. I’m glad I didn’t own any 5-year old boys with swords, as they were having their heads filled with sneaky moves.

A final triumphant ride to the applause of the crowds who weren’t put off by the annoying rain

Loanhead Gala







Olympic Torch Relay

The southbound carriageway was closed to allow the Olympic torch relay to cross in style.

I was lucky enough to be busy photographing for FCBC and the Forth Replacement Crossing – about half an hour before the Olympic torch relay was due to cross the Forth Road Bridge. How convenient! People twittering told me the convoy was running late and that Mark Beaumont would be cycling the flame over the bridge. I hoped the breeze down the Forth wouldn’t extinguish the flame. I’ve run over the bridge many times in a gale, feeling like I am flying above the ocean…..my head sometimes in the clouds…

Does closer inspection with a zoom lens reveal Mark Beaumont in a car – with his bike on the back?? Or did he cycle so fast I missed him? All the folk watching were a bit puzzled too.


And then the Olympic torch relay headed out of Edinburgh via Loanhead’s main street. Again, how convenient!!



Loanhead locals turn out to support.



The first in the procession of weird Olympic vehicles.


And now for one of our weird Olympic mascots: Wenlock. Another mystery……….



Erika Pryde bearing the Olympic flame through Loanhead. Well done!!! I hope she enjoyed her moment of flame. Sorry, couldn’t resist ….



Baby photography


My FIRST baby has finally turned up to have her portraits taken in the new studio. It proved a wonderful luxurious white space to work in and I felt truly spoilt. The baby seemed bamboozled by all the flashing lights and the airy room with picture windows looking out onto a field. She was the sweetest little thing and eventually fell asleep so I could grab a coffee with her mother.





Forth Replacement Crossing – blasting Beamer Rock

Blast-off at Beamer Rock

Phew!! This was a photo assignment that could have gone wrong very easily…….Beamer Rock had to be blasted to prepare for the Forth Replacement Crossing foundations. The blast was scheduled for the previous day and a handful of boats floated about for FIVE hours waiting for a couple of grey seals to move off the rock. They are curious animals and not surprisingly found all the activity very interesting……Acoustic monitoring is employed by FCBC  to ensure that if mammals are detected within 1km then any scheduled blasting is postponed.

A grey seal (Halichoerus grypus). Its Latin name means "hooked-nosed sea pig")

So we had no option but to return the following morning. And fortunately the seals had cleared off. We were told that there would be a 15 minute warning before the blast, followed by three toots on the horn immediately before blast-off. Manoeuvring the boat I was on wasn’t the easiest. The currents were making the boat drift off the position I needed to get the spray and flying rocks perfectly framed by the bridges.
I heard the 15-minute warning, but somehow managed to miss the three toots “wake-up”. I had my back to the action, was chattering to the boat captain and watching a puffin through the binoculars ………when I felt the shockwave and heard the rumble.  Fortunately it must take a second or so after blast-off  for rock and seawater to become airborne. The camera was ready (even if I wasn’t) so there was time to spin around and grab shots as the water reached its zenith.

Bits of Beamer Rock begin to land in the sea

It's all over in seconds - and that puffin nearly got me into a lot of trouble!!

Once it was all over I began to shake – I could have waited for six hours and missed it!!

Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica)

Forth Replacement Crossing & Echline Primary School

FCBC Environmental Manager, Neil Abraham, tells pupils from Echline Primary School in South Queensferry about the geology of the seabed beneath the waters of the Forth Estuary.

The kids are fascinated by Neil’s talk and have lots of probing questions about the rocks and minerals they can examine for themselves.