For the past few weeks, photographic experts at the Irish Examiner have been pouring over thousands of images submitted last year by our snap-happy readers.
Entries to the annual Readers’ Photography Competition have skyrocketed in recent years, but the quality of submissions has also increased, according to visual media manager Jim Coughlan. Choosing an overall winner was a daunting prospect, he said.
“We’ve had about 5,000 entries this year and the quality of the pictures has just gone through the roof, it’s great,” he says.
“The great thing about the Readers’ Picture Competition as opposed to other photographic competitions is that we open it up to every individual. Every reader can enter and they don’t necessarily need to have expensive equipment or know about the technical aspects of photography.”
This year, the winning pictures featured a hungry kingfisher, an angry horse, and a happy-go-lucky springer spaniel.
While each of the selected finalist images contained elements of the animal kingdom, the over-riding link between the three was that the photographers were just in the right place at the right time.
“They all have the same idea behind them,” says Mr Coughlan. “It’s being in the right place at the right time to get the right snap. Sometimes it happens by chance, but take the overall winner for example, the kingfisher. It took the photographer hours to get that and get it right. It’s a fantastic shot.”
The photographer, Pádraig Molloy from Duncannon, Co Wexford, reveals that he is routinely to be found hiding in the undergrowth waiting for a fox or mouse or a bird to wander unwittingly into frame. Taking the perfect shot can take hours, even days.
“I take a lot of nature photos,” says Mr Molloy. “This photo specifically, of the kingfisher, I would have taken in England. There’s a set-up of a hide and you do it all that way. There’s a lot of waiting around for the right moment and so on and it can be hit and miss.
“I took up photography a few years ago when I retired. I was never into it up to then but I took it up. Basically, I was looking for something that would be a challenge. I started music and I got nowhere so the photography took over and I joined a Wexford camera club.
“That was a great help because you get a lot of support and that kind of thing. They hold various competitions as well and it’s a good way of improving your skills.”
His wife, Mary, said she was thrilled for Pádraig who bagged €1,000 for his winning snap, as well as a bottle of champagne. Popping the cork in the Irish Examiner
offices on Oliver Plunkett St, Mary said she was extremely proud of her husband and was in awe of the dedication he had shown to his hobby, his determination to get the right shot, no matter how long it takes.
Fellow finalist Geraldine Dennehy from Millstreet, Co Cork, received €250 and a bottle of champagne for her snap of a cheeky horse at the Millstreet Horse Show.
“I’ve always been interested in horses, I’ve worked with them for years,” he says. “I was wandering around, taking photographs, and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
“I was lucky the camera was on auto focus and I had a fast lens because I only had seconds to take that photo. I’m thrilled to have been a finalist.”
Tim Cremin from Kilbrin, Co Cork entered a feelgood photo of his nephew Sam and his dog Buster, and also received €250 and a bottle of champagne.
“I don’t have any big lenses or anything like that but I like taking photos,” he says. “I do a lot of hillwalking so I’d love to take more nature or landscape photos.”
It was his first time entering the competition.
Each finalist says they were overwhelmed with their respective wins and encouraged amateur photographers across the country to enter the 2016 competition, which has just been launched. The competition is sponsored by Barker Photographic based in Frankfield, Co Cork.
Every week, two winners will be selected from the photos submitted and will appear in Saturday’s edition of the Irish Examiner.
At the end of the year, 104 winning photos will be whittled down to three.
The overall winner will receive €1,000 while the two runners-up will receive €250.
Images can be submitted at www.photos.examiner.ie.
For more information about Barker Photographic, go to www.barkerphotographic.ie.
High quality of entries praised by judges as competition draws large entry
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