To celebrate the UK broadcast of our latest series Highlands – Scotland’s Wild Heart this summer, along with the launch of its accompanying book, we’re opening a photography competition to find the best shots of Scotland’s wildlife and landscapes. We want to see your favourite photographs of the country’s mountains, lochs, glens, islands and coasts, as well as their wild inhabitants, from dolphins to dragonflies, otters to osprey.
We’ve teamed up with the national tourism board VisitScotland to provide the first prize for our overall winner – two night's stay in the Cairngorms National Park and a fantastic workshop exploring the local wildlife with photographer, guide and red squirrel mastermind, Neil McIntyre. The overall winner will also receive a copy of the series book and DVD, as will our five runners up.
To enter, simply upload your photo to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #HighlandsPhotoComp and tag @mara_media or post using #HighlandsPhotoComp on the Maramedia Facebook Page before Tuesday 30th August 2016. We'll also be re-sharing our favourites across our social media accounts.
Don't forget to tune in to the series, which starts at 9pm, Friday 5th August on BBC Two, and join in the conversation using #Highlands.
For some inspiration, check out Laurie Campbell's award-winning photographs that illustrate the stunning series book written by Stephen Moss. You can also find out more information about discovering Scotland's wildlife here.
For some top tips to help you capture that perfect shot we spoke to two of the Highlands’ leading wildlife photographers that feature in the series:
Master of field craft, wildlife photographer and guide NEIL MCINTYRE, who has an almost magical way with red squirrels.
WHY ARE THE HIGHLANDS SO SPECIAL TO YOU?
NEIL: The Highlands are special to me for many reasons, they are my home first and foremost but the sheer diversity of the landscape is something I particularly love about them. You can go from the Arctic-like Cairngorm Mountain Plateau down through ancient pine forests, across to the ruggedness and wildness of the west coast and then out on to the Hebrides, which have their very own special character. Then in all these places you have such a diverse range of really special wildlife, which gives you an endless sense of anticipation in any of these places. I love that feeling that at any time an eagle could come into view over a mountain, you could see an otter diving and feeding offshore or a red squirrel scampering through the tree tops above you.
CHARLIE: There's beauty around every corner, wonderful vistas from every mountain top, a sense of great age and history plus, in this busy world, beautiful places where you can be completely and totally alone with the wildlife.
WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE WILDLIFE SUBJECT TO PHOTOGRAPH AND WHY?
CHARLIE: Funnily enough the resident bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth! They have individual looks and highly individual characters and quirks; it's like following a soap opera every day.
NEIL: Red squirrels - they are just so engaging, fun and always busy and getting up to mischief! I like the challenge of trying to photograph them in as many different ways as I can in the hope that I can capture a bit of their spirit in the finished shot. The more I watch them the more pictures I see in my head that I think I can achieve, it’s a never-ending quest and one I happy to have that way.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY BEGINNERS?
CHARLIE: Patience, lots of it. Start small and work up, try birds in your garden then other local wildlife to you. Practise, practise and more practise. Think WHY you want to take the photo. Be safe at all times.
NEIL: Get to know and understand your camera and equipment so that you don't spent half your time fiddling with settings. On many occasions the chance can be fleeting and quick so if you’re not ready to shoot then the moment can be gone. It’s nothing new but get to know your chosen subject. Learn and watch it is much as you can, it will all pay off in the end and your pictures will be the better for it. And get out as much as you can. If you can combine the two then you won’t go far wrong. Enjoy the wildlife for what it is and don't always just think of getting the shot, the more you appreciate and enjoy what you see that will also show in what you do.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS (Read our full terms and conditions here)
- Entries must be received via the Maramedia Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts by tagging the accounts and using the hashtag #HighlandsPhotoComp
- Closing date for entries is 11:59pm on Tuesday 30th August 2016
- One first prize photograph will be selected after the competition closing date and will receive two nights' accommodation for two people in the Cairngorms National Park, a workshop with wildlife guide Neil McIntyre and a copy of the series book and DVD
- Five runners up will be selected after the competition closing date and will receive a copy of the book and DVD each.
- The first prize is for one winner and a companion, who must travel together on the same trip
- The trip is subject to availability and must be taken by 1 June 2017
- Accommodation is on a B&B basis sharing one room; all other costs to be met by winner
- Entrants must be over 18 years
- Open to UK residents only
- No cash alternative
- The competition will be judged by the Highlands – Scotland’s Wild Heart production team at Maramedia Ltd. The judges decision is final