JANUARY: Morning Hare by John Evans
John Craven: “The stark simplicity of this pin-sharp image- a mountain hare profiled in the snow – meant all three judges propelled it into the final 12 the moment they saw it. A classic example of less is best. John, from Winchester, was in the Cairngorms when he spotted a couple of hares on a snow-covered ridge and spent several hours watching and filming them, to great result.”
Camera: Canon 1DX
FEBRUARY: Twilight Hunter by Tony Howes
John Craven: “This was the unanimous favourite of the judges; dusk is falling on misty Rockland Marshes in Norfolk and Tony, in camouflage gear, is about 50 yards away when a barn owl spots its supper. The elegance of the stoop, the foreground reeds, the murky backdrop all combine to create a magnificent photograph with the quality of a fine watercolour.”
Camera: 7D MK1
MARCH: Buck Up by Jo Soanes
John Craven: “Another winning entry from Norfolk. Jo and her husband were out walking at Cley next the Sea when they saw this roe buck hopping through a field. She took cover in a hedge with her Sony Cybershot (a recent birthday present) and the deer stopped and even moved towards the camera. “He was very bold” says Jo, who got this finely detailed shot just 10 days before our deadline.”
APRIL: On Reflection by Duncan Innes
John Craven: “Duncan was cycling on the South Downs Way in late June and stopped as the cows wandered up to take a drink from the pond. His Olympus OM-DE-M5 was set on auto and he says he was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. We judges see lots of reflection shots – mirror images of mountains in lakes are particularly popular – but Duncan’s composition made this one outstanding.”
MAY: Spring In Their Step by Paul Shutler
John Craven: “I love silhouette shots so I wasn’t going to let this slip by. One of Paul’s closest friends is a member of this morris team and he photographed them with his Nikon 3100 at dawn on May Day, above Pebworth in Worcestershire, as they traditionally welcomed the rising sun. We judges agreed that rarely have morris dancers – such an integral part of our countryside culture – been portrayed in such a distinctive way.”
JUNE: Halo in the Hills by Victoria Boobyer
John Craven: “One of the most surreal images I have seen in the 20-odd years of our competition. National Park warden Victoria was on Pen-y-Fan peak in the Brecon Beacons very early one morning, surrounded by cloud, when there was a sudden break and, with the sun behind her, she got this amazing picture. Victoria appears as a haloed spectre in the lower section.”
Camera: Nikon D5200
JULY: Shetland Smiler by Elaine Tait
John Craven: “This was a favourite of Deborah Meaden – she insisted it was in the final because it made her happy and you don’t argue with a Dragon! The pony is quite a star – he’s called Socks and has appeared in commercials and even on Countryfile. Elaine knows how to handle him and took him to a high hill in the Shetlands for her photo. “He yawns a lot and I just started clicking.””
Camera: Canon 30D 70
AUGUST: Harvest Twice by Bob Morgan
John Craven: “Bob went with his camera club to Devon Wildlife Centre and snapped these captive harvest mice in a glass tank – which is allowed in our rules. They were darting about and hiding so Bob was elated when two appeared together, stayed still for a second or two and looked straight at his lens. I’m always on the look-out for appealing photos that will sell the calendar and this certainly fits the bill.”
Camera: Canon 7D with 100mm macro lens.
SEPTEMBER: Anglesey Dawn by Gareth Mon Jones
John Craven: “Perhaps the most outstanding landscape among the many entered this year – the colours and dramatic light create a photograph that draws you into it. Gareth walked for an hour to reach the now-disused lighthouse which is only accessible at low tide. He took the photo as a Mother’s Day present but now we can all enjoy it. ”
Camera: Nikon D610
OCTOBER: Berry Brunch by Dean Mason – WINNER!
This year’s winning photograph is ‘Berry Brunch’ the calendar image for October, showing a water vole cheekily snacking on blackberries.
Winner Dean Mason said: “I began my quest into digital photography about twelve years ago and have enjoyed many highs and a few lows along the way. Owing to my life long appreciation of nature and the great outdoors my focus was always going to be wildlife. I find wildlife photography challenging, yet rewarding, it’s given me an unspeakable amount of pleasure since the beginning of my photography journey.”
NOVEMBER: Sunrise Standoff by Helena Spinks
John Craven: “Another winner with lots of patience. Helen, from Cirencester, spent endless hours in a hide in the Cairngorms (starting at 3 am!) before she got the picture she wanted of rare black grouse. It stands out for me because it shows all aspects of their remarkable markings – from the distinctive red wattles over the eyes to the white, fanned-out tail feathers as they display.”
DECEMBER: Monarch of the Morning by David Hawkins
John Craven: “If you want to take pictures of deer go to Richmond Park – it has more than 600 roaming wild. But if you want to get a really memorable photo be like David and track them down when conditions are ideal for the image you’re seeking – he chose a cold morning, with the early sunlight shining through the breath of this red stag. I’ve seen thousands of deer photos, but this one stands out.”
Camera: Canon 7D MK1
Interview with Countryfile Calendar competition 2017 winner: Dean Mason
This year’s Countryfile Calendar winning photograph was ‘Berry Brunch’, the image for October, which showed a water vole cheekily snacking on blackberries. Countryfile Magazine spoke to Dean about his win…
Taken by wildlife enthusiast Dean Mason at a site in Kent, the winning image will grace the cover of the Countryfile Calendar for 2017, which is being sold for BBC Children in Need.
Dean told Countryfile Magazine that wildlife photography has always been his passion.
Dean said: “I began my quest into digital photography about 12 years ago and have enjoyed many highs and a few lows along the way. Owing to my life long appreciation of nature and the great outdoors my focus was always going to be wildlife. I find wildlife photography challenging, yet rewarding, it’s given me an unspeakable amount of pleasure since the beginning of my photography journey.”
Incredibly, to take the photo, which was shot three years ago, Dean sat in the water for 24 hours and waited patiently for a water vole to appear.
“After 24 hours actually sitting in the water wearing a full set of chest waders I achieved the image, Berry Brunch. The one thing I never anticipated was the priceless expression on the water vole’s face. To say I was delighted would be an understatement.”
Despite feeling “sick” when he discovered out he’d won and would be appearing on the TV programme, camera shy Dean said that he was also elated to have won.
“I don’t think my winning image was special at all. But I do believe it quite possibly appealed to the public due to the cuteness overload and priceless expression of the water vole”, said Dean.
He added: “The Countryfile calendar competition is the only photographic competition I’ve ever entered. I am a very quiet, shy individual and very critical of my own work. Therefore entering a competition was never on my to-do list. The only reason I entered was because my wife, Steph suggested, or should I be honest and say insisted, I send in my Berry Brunch image because it was for Children in Need, a charity that is very close to her heart.
“My wife works for Diverse Abilities, a charity which provides care and support for adults and children with learning and physical disabilities and their families. Over the past few years the charity has received funding from CIN. How could I refuse? My photograph was entered.”
Countryfile Calendar judge, John Craven, said: “Countryfile viewers chose this as the overall winner and what a charming, cheeky image it is. Dean sat on a river bed in Kent, in full length waders, for two days waiting for the water vole to appear – that’s dedication! But its face was hidden by the berries so he clicked his shutter button, the sound made it peek out, and he got his front-cover picture – and if it doesn’t persuade thousands of our loyal followers to buy the calendar, nothing will!”
Dean says that his next photography project will be Kingfishers, so watch this space…
All 12 images will form the BBC Countryfile Calendar 2017, which is now on sale. The calendar costs £9.50, of which at least £4 is donated to BBC Children in Need. Last year the calendar sold more than 450,000 copies, raising over £2 million for BBC Children in Need.