Ice & fire: winner of Scottish Nature Photography Awards revealed

Scottish Nature Photography Awards announces its 2021 winners
Ice and Fire (Image credit: © Darren Cole / SNPA)

The Scottish Nature Photography Awards have just revealed its winners for this year's competition, celebrating the best elements of nature, wildlife and landscape photography that Scotland has to offer.

Darren Cole has been announced as the overall winner with his fiery image of a controlled muirburn fire trail, shot beneath a beautiful juxtaposed background of snow-covered peaks near the Isle of Harris, Scotland. 

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The SNPA was first launched in 2010 to provide a platform for celebrating Scotland as a key destination for nature photographers while acknowledging the excellence of the photographic work undertaken there. Cole's image titled 'Ice and Fire' won overall winner of the competition as well as the Environmental category, against stiff competition from a range of abstract, botanical, wildlife and landscape categories. 

Entries were welcomed of images taken in Scotland by professional or amateur photographers, from anywhere around the world. 11-year-old Kaitlyn Clark from Inverness was awarded the title of Junior Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year 2021, having previously won the title when she was just 8 years of age. Her image titled Peregrine Playtime, shows a couple of young falcons seemingly taunting each other playfully in the air.

Peregrine Playtime (Image credit: © Kaitlyn Clark / SNPA)

Student Scottish Nature Photographer of the Year 2021 was awarded to Murronrose Dunn, with her portfolio of three images focused on the theme of motion, titled 'Passing Time', intent on freezing the motion of water in three different landscape locations, across a noon to dusk timeframe.  

Winner of the Scottish Nature Video Award 2021 was Pat Douglass with her short nature film, Springtime in the Pond: The Toads, recording the annual return of the toads to a local pond with intent to breed, captured on the Black Isle in the Scottish Highlands.

Passing Time (Image credit: © Murronrose Dunn / SNPA)

The judging panel comprised of expert in the field of nature photographers Kit Martin, Rebecca Nason and SNPA organiser and landscape photographer, Niall Irvine. Kit shared her views on the winning image stating that: 

“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!“.

Muir-burning is the practice of intentionally burning moorland and rough hill grasses to remove the top layer of vegetation. This method is usually carried out by hill farmers and land managers to encourage new growth and improve grazing for sheep and grouse. Sharing some insight into the creation of Ice and Fire, Cole stated:

“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."

Scottish Nature Video Award 2021 (Image credit: Pat Douglass / SNPA)

He continues, “As a seasoned landscape photographer, I'm used to spending hours walking on the beaches and mountainsides near my home, 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....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".

The winning images and videos from the 2021 awards will form an exhibition later in the year and will be published along with the shortlisted entries in a Portfolio Yearbook in the summer, for more details visit the awards website.

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.