Story behind nature pictures makes Scottish 2012 shortlist

A willow warbler sits on Ron McCombe's lens. The image is the front cover for his award nominated book
A willow warbler sits on Ron McCombe's lens. The image is the front cover for his award nominated book

HE’s received much praise for his work in front of the lens and now Leitholm photographer Ron McCombe has been recognised for his talents as an author after putting together a book of his favourite pictures and the stories behind them.

Ron is celebrating after the book he released last year ‘Wildlife through my Viewfinder’ made the shortlist for the Scottish Nature Photography Book of 2012.

The talented snapper found out the good news a few weeks ago but will have to wait until April next year to find out if he’s beaten off the seven other titles, as a lengthy public vote will decide the victor.

Ron said although from the same people who have heaped acclaim on him for his photos, his nomination did come as a shock.

“I came up with the idea for the book about a year ago; having done a number of slide shows and talks on the pictures I’ve taken and the experiences and been asked lots of questions I thought it would be a good thing to do.

“There are also certain things that had stuck in my mind from when I’d photographed certain species and I had an itch to get them into print.

“But I never imagined the book would be nominated for any kind of award; it’s come as a big surprise- the book’s certainly no ‘War and Peace!’

Literary masterpiece or not, both Ron and his friends and family are justifiably proud of his latest bit of recognition, although he said that one of the pictures in ‘Wildlife through my Viewfinder’ left him with a few bruises!

“Some of the pictures have a particularly funny tale attached to them,” he continued.

“One which springs to mind is when I was trying to photograph swans in Berwick and I got attacked by one.

“A slightly nicer story took place when I was photographing red poles in the Lammermuirs and a willow warbler came and sat on the end of my lens. It went away and came back time and time again.

“Even when I moved somewhere else it followed me and there was a similar scenario involving wrens.

“It’s surprising sometimes just how friendly the animals came be.”

With one award nomination already in the bag for ‘Wildlife through my Viewfinder’, Ron could soon have another as he has just completed a book featuring pictures and stories on his favourite animal to photograph- brown hares.

Pictures of the species have earned him considerable acclaim so far so he felt it fitting to dedicate a book to them.

“They are a creature that really fascinate me,” Ron explained.

“And putting the book together has made me look at them even closer. When I’ve been photographing them I’ve seen them do certain things so I’ve gone away and done some research to find out exactly why.

“I’m currently focussing on otters but all it takes is for two people to turn up with dogs and the otters scarper completely. I’m going to the Isle of Mull next month to photograph some otters before I go down to Rutland in Leicestershire for a British Birdwatching Event.

“I applied to give a lecture there and I’m thrilled they want to have me. I’m going to talk about Scottish wildlife, primarily in the Borders.

“We might not have lions, tigers and bears here but from St Abbs Head to the Lammermuirs we have a massive array of species- certainly enough to keep a photographer busy!”