Wildlife Photographer of the Year

On Friday 22nd of February I visited the Exeter Museum and Art Gallery (RAMM) in order to revisit the Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition which I had already seen in Bristol.

“Inspiring wonder at the natural world and highlighting the need for wildlife conservation, the exhibition showcases the winning images from all 11 categories of the competition…including underwater worlds, urban wildlife, plants and more. Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year is the world’s most prestigious annual wildlife photography competition. It is currently in its 47th year and is open to amateur and professional photographers alike.” – quote from RAMM website.

What struck me more this time was the composition and balance of the photos – not surprising as that is what I have been studying recently.

However, although the exhibition is definitely worth a visit I was much more taken by the exhibition of portraits in the adjacent gallery.

“The BP Portrait Award showcases the very best in contemporary portrait painting from around the world. For thirty-three years, of which the last twenty-three have been sponsored by BP, the exhibition has presented outstanding and innovative new work in a variety of styles and approaches, and it continues to be a highlight of the annual art calendar.
From informal and personal studies of friends and family, to revealing paintings of famous faces, this year’s exhibition features fifty-five works selected from 2,187 international entries. These include the four shortlisted artists – Aleah Chapin for Auntie, Alan Coulson for Richie Culver, Ignacio Estudillo for El abuelo (Augustin Estudillo) and Jamie Routley for Tony Lewis – as well as the work of the BP Travel Award 2011 winner Jo Fraser.
Exhibition organised by the National Portrait Gallery, London.” – quote from RAMM website..

The different styles and poses were very inspirational.

I had been interested in some portraits of 16th Century characters in an hotel room where we had stayed at Porlock Weir – in particular the gazes of the people which were all very different. I preferred those that were not looking directly at the artist. In this exhibition in Exeter my preferences for this sort of pose were again confirmed; however, there were some stunning portraits where the models were looking directly at the artist.

I would love to try to develop taking portraits with the different types of poses I have seen.

I also visited Exeter Cathedral which is stunning. Whilst photographing the cathedral and the vicinity I tried to apply the elements of composition and balance I have been learning about in the course. Also when photographing I am now not too worried about people appearing in shots I am taking of the buildings. I find the photos are often more interesting with people in them and don’t always distract from what I was taking.


Note to self: try to add some examples
Possibilities – statue outside cathedral, sign outside cathedral, different focus on statues in cathedral, old building opposite cathedral, photo of doorway with comment about balance, door with hole for cat.

I tried applying lessons learnt on “balance” when taking these doorways. Previously I would always have cropped as in second picture. However, this time I have put the door slightly off centre as the “weight” of the drain pipe now balances the picture.


This is the type of framing I would have tried to make previously:



I think the children playing on statue make the photo interesting and still captures the statue.

Tried focussing near and then far with photos of effigies.



Previously I would have avoide people in photos of monuments I was trying to photograph but I now think they contribute to the image.



I wanted to photograph this door, in particular the hole cut for a cat (from which the nursery rhyme “hickory dickory dock … ” supposedly comes from) and the exercises on balance certainly helped.



“Amazing astronomical clock complete with a door below which had a funny looking hole cut out of it at the bottom. On closer inspection we realised that this was possibly the first cat flap ever carved at some point between 1598 -1621 – and invented to give the cat access into the cathedral directly below the clock where mice were running a merry dance up and down the clock ropes.” Trip Advisor comment.



I tried thinking about my assignment on contrasts whilst taking photos and realised that this was not as easy I thought. I could see some of the components that I needed but not very often the opposite. I suppose I might find the “contrasts” in another venue/ time.

Nonetheless it is good to be thinking all the time about what I am taking.



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