Leitholm man snaps up top award

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A BERWICKSHIRE photographer has been named Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year after wowing judges with an exquisite image of a waxwing mid-flight.

Ron McCombe, of Leitholm, was awarded the top spot in the inaugural photographic competition, which attracted over a thousand entries from all over the world.

He won the wildlife category with his stunning image before taking the overall winning title of Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year for 2010.

Delighted with the accolade, Ron said: “I’m over the moon with it really. The guy phoned me on Friday and said I’d won the category for wildlife and I was over the moon with that.

“And then he said I’d been named nature photographer of the year - that’s something else!”

Ron captured the winning image in Musselburgh, after hearing on the grapevine that waxwings were in the area.

He explained: “I tend to get a picture in my head and then I go out to try and find it.

“I can remember the day I went clearly - my wife had gone into hospital for an operation. I was a bit nervous about it so I thought best to get out and do something.

“I was waiting for a bright frosty day and the forecast was right so I set off very early in the morning. I picked up a speeding ticket on the way over, it was quite an eventful day!”

After driving around Musselburgh looking and listening for the waxwing, Ron eventually found them in a sorbus tree. “I stayed until I got the images I wanted, which was most of the day until the sun started to set and the temperature dropped,” he added.

The competition was launched last year to showcase the photographic talent that is drawn to Scotland’s landscape and natural heritage. Judging the images, all of which had to be taken in Scotland, was wildlife and landscape photographer Neil McIntyre; Lorne Gill, photographer with Scottish Natural Heritage; and Niall Irvine, a photography and digital imaging practitioner, and one of the competition organisers.

Niall said that, against a very strong field, Ron’s image had “encapsulated the exceptional quality, creativity and dedication” that the judges were looking for.

He explained: “With its amazing diversity of landscape and wildlife, Scotland is a key destination for nature photographers. This competition has really highlighted the excellence of the photography that is undertaken here.”

Ron’s award-winning waxwing will now star in a touring exhibition of the top three entries in each category, which will travel around Scotland from May.

The other categories were Scottish Landscape (won by Brian D Clark from Fife with “Autumn Gold”); Natural Abstract (won by Phil McMenemy from Dumfries and Galloway with “Swirl”); and Environmental (won by Ray Liversidge from Aberdeenshire with “Aberdeen Breakwater Storm”).

The winning and shortlisted images will also feature in a Portfolio Yearbook. For details go to www.scottishnaturephotographyawards.com.

The Scottish Nature Photography Awards 2011 Photographic Competition, which will see the addition of a Botanical category, as well as Student and Junior categories, will be launched at the end of April.