If you get the chance, pop along to Stockwood Discovery Centre http://www.lutonculture.com/stockwood-discovery-centre in Luton to see The British Wildlife Photograher of the Year 2013 exhibition. It's on until 18th March and well worth a visit. If you have never been to Stockwood Discovery Centre before it's a great place to go with little ones and it's completely free with an excellent outdoor play area, beautiful gardens, a museum for those rainy days and an excellent cafe.
Back to the photography. There are some truly stunning images among the many different categories. My favourite categories were the Animal Behaviour and Animal Portraits. In the Animal Behaviour category, one stood out for me and that was by acclaimed Wildlife Photographer Ben Hall http://www.benhallphoto.com/blog/ who got highly commended for his image of a Gull alighting on water. It's such a beautiful, simple and serene composition. The reflection of the gull in the water and the shape it forms just takes your breath away. You can imagine being in that place and marvelling at the sight before you, so atmospheric! All this and captured the with such precision.
Being a Portrait photographer, I was very interested in the Animal Portraits category and my favourite has to be that of 'A Little Owl Walking' by Austin Thomas http://portfolio.austin-thomas.co.uk. It has such character and almost takes on a human persona. It reminds of a military leader marching his troops especially the way the wings are tucked in. He could be a Sergeant Major with his arms tucked behind his back and the bright eyes look like somebody with a steely determination and a job to do.
Also on display are the Wildpix/BWPA Young Peoples Awards which will astound you. One such image is that of the 'Shocked Hare' by Liam Constantine aged 8 in the under 12's category. It's backlit composition reveals perfectly the texture of the hare's fur and the shallow depth of field means your eyes are drawn to the hare with it's wide eyes turned towards camera. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/winners-of-the-british-wildlife-photography-awards-2013-unveiled-8794609.html?action=gallery&ino=9. It's brilliant for somebody so young. In the older category of age 12-18, there's another characterful image by Mairi Eyres (age 15) entitled 'Sweet Scents' of a fox sniffing the air. The fox looks as though its taken on a slightly aloof air as if to say "yes, but I'm so much better than you!". http://www.mairieyresphotography.co.uk/about.html.
There are many many more I could write about, but I don't want to spoil it for you as you really should go and see for yourself.
Whilst walking around the exhibition and reading all the notes under each entry I was struck by how many of them have painstakingly waited for hours for these magical moments to happen. It takes dedication, passion and so much expertise to produce this images and they are an inspiration.