The ANNUAL photographic competition run by the South Downs National Park has been thrown open for a public vote for the first time after a stunning set of pictures were submitted.
Members of the public are being asked to choose their favourites from the final selection of eight pictures.
Competition judges have chosen the ethereal photograph of a dewpond at dusk by Andy Flowerday from Brighton as their winner and he takes home a first prize of £250.
The judges praised Andy’s skill in capturing a moment of still drama that perfectly fitted this year’s theme of ‘Hidden Gems’.
They said: “Although there are no people in the shot, a lonely thorn tree has a character of its own, standing firm in the bleak landscape.”
Andy said: “I have been past this dewpond on several occasions and thought there could be potential for a nice image of it.
“The sunset wasn’t going to give the glorious colours I had hoped for, however the cloud cover that was increasing led to some lovely soft shades of colour. I used a special filter to blur water and cloud movement. It was a very still evening – I used a four-minute exposure and the tree didn’t move at all during that time.”
A partly hidden cyclist resting in the shade of a leafy wood came close second place, taken by Neil Hulme in Eartham woods.
The judges were impressed with the originality of the composition, which ‘draws you in to a private moment in a lush woody world’.
A surfer wading into the sea at Tidemills by Seaford Head at sunrise won third place for Ivan Talboys.
As well as the balance of the image, the judges loved how it captured such a personal moment. “Few people would come to the South Downs to ride surf and it’s clearly not the best in the world. But the surfer has followed the weather and he’s going out to get his fix.”
Ivan said: “The previous night’s weather forecast had suggested a brief respite from the storms that had battered the coast all winter.
“I initially went down to capture the sun rising by Seaford Head, but was greeted by some glorious pink clouds and it seems I wasn’t the only one interested as about half a dozen surfers turned up to catch some morning waves.”
The people’s choice vote opened on January 13 at www.southdowns.gov.uk/photovote
The winner will receive a cash prize of £100.
See the pictures in this week’s Observer (January 15).