We offer our congratulations to Charlie Everitt on winning the ‘Habitat’ category of the British Wildlife Photography Awards 2016. Charlie is well known for leading so much of our work in tackling wildlife crime. Here, Charlie gives us an insight to his photographic endeavours – and his books.
Nature photography has been an important part of my life since ‘retiring hurt’ from the rugby pitch in the late nineties. Starting out on landscape photography, I began by taking wildlife images. At the outset, all the advice I received suggested that I should “photograph the local patch”… which I promptly ignored and began to fly around the country desperate to photograph anything red – red deer, red squirrels, red grouse, red kites – in an attempt to capture Scotland’s iconic species, but my photography soon became aimless and unimaginative. Around 2007 I went down to the Water of Leith to experiment with photographing water. Little did I realise the impact this would have as I discovered the river to be a hidden gem. I embarked upon the idea of photographing the wildlife, landscape and flora along the water course. Four years later, this culminated in my first book Water of Leith: Nature’s Course, showing the seasonal changes along the river, from its source in the Pentland Hills to its outflow into the Firth of Forth at Leith. My photography has remained ‘project-driven’ ever since.
This year I concluded my second project with the book Forthshore: East Lothian’s Coastline, taking the reader on a journey through the bays and along the beaches between Longniddry and Tantallon Castle. Taking in the views, landmarks and birdlife – including the Isle of May and Bass Rock – it provided me with endless memories of fantastic sunsets, wonderful wildlife encounters and glorious wild flowers. There were times when you had to remind yourself that you were on Scotland’s east coast rather than on the west’s, given the remote, empty beaches and golden skies around sunset.
The winning photo of gannets packed around the ruined chapel on the Bass Rock was from the East Lothian project and shows remote, unpopulated areas relatively free of predators to be their favoured habitat. Every square inch appears to be packed with birds, thereby accommodating some 150,000 pairs across the island. The image was taken from the mainland above Canty Bay on a breezy summer’s night and was not without its challenges. A 500mm lens with two-times convertor provided enormous magnification but also exaggerated every vibration caused by the breeze. Due to technicalities, I had to manually focus the image and then press the shutter during momentary lulls in the breeze. Thankfully the image came out clear and sharp.
My current project is photographing the nature around the green of one of Edinburgh’s golf courses just two minutes walk from my house. This has already given me some wonderful encounters with badgers and foxes which have been very rewarding, and the proximity to home allows me to make regular visits. I have now moved onto the flora around the green and hope to continue capturing the essence and spirit of this small special area of land.
It amuses me to think back to the wisdom of those photographers who at the outset suggested I should “photograph the local patch”; that’s exactly where I’ve ended up!
The exhibition of images from this year’s competition goes on tour from 6 September 2016, starting at The Mall Galleries, London.
To see the winners’ work from other categories, the tour dates or to find out about entering next year’s competition got to the British Wildlife Photography Awards website.