Hidden Nature Photography Competition

World Photography Day is an annual worldwide celebration of the art, craft, science and history of photography and this year’s event was held on Wednesday 19 August 2020.

To celebrate Sunderland Culture ran a Hidden Nature Photography Competition for children and young people inspired by the natural history collections at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens and photographs from the online Sunderland Photographic Association exhibition at Arts Centre Washington. Hidden Nature is also the theme of this year’s Heritage Open Days, www.heritageopendays.org.uk.

Below are the winning entries and comments from judges Joe Finlay (Sunderland Photographic Association) and Jo Howell (Photographer).

Age Category 7-10 years:

1st place Megan Goodings: The Buzzing Bee

Bees are really interesting and because they are so small it’s hard to see what they’re up to with just your eyes. There are often lots of bees hidden in the garden, barely noticed.

We know now how bees produce honey but for many many years, this was there hidden secret.

I caught a bee with my camera, collecting nectar to make honey.

Joe Finlay “Image is well composed. A combination of a black face and dense black hairs makes bumble bees difficult to photograph and Megan has done well to get detail in the face.”

Jo Howell “The focus is incredible and the composition is very beautiful.”

2nd place Molly Thomson: The Hidden Beach Snail

I was taking photographs at the beach with my new microscope and was shocked to find this little snail. It looked like a tiny green stone and was smaller than a pea. When I caught it on the microscope I was shocked to see it was actually a snail. I think it is beautiful and fits in with the theme because we don’t usually see them as they’re so small. And it makes me think what other beautiful things are right under our noses without us realising.

Joe Finlay “Being able to see some of the snail as opposed to just it’s shell adds considerably to this image. The image is well lit and Molly has done well to keep the snail in focus. I don’t think the loss of the top of the shell detracts from the image. The image is nice and sharp.”

Jo Howell “I love the fact that you have a microscope to see all the tiny life. Keep up the good work!”

Age Category 11 – 14 years:

1st place Emma Kennedy: Secretive squirrel

A squirrel hidden away in the trees I was inspired by the hidden beauty of nature and what can be found if you look closer to your surroundings.

Joe Finlay  “It’s not easy to get sufficiently close to small mammals to get an image of this quality and Emma has done very well. If she has editing software I suggests she lightens it a little. The monochrome works well.”

Jo Howell  “Great patience and capture. Well spotted. Nice use of focus.

2nd place Neive Hart: Ready…set…go…

The beauty in this photo is of the butterfly which is about to take flight.

The Sunlight I thought captured the colours of the butterfly beautifully through it’s wings, I thought makes the colours stand out even more.

So many times we walk past things like this happening without noticing in our busy lifestyles, I thought this captured the theme hidden nature well.

Joe Finlay “The image is well composed and I like the way the curve of the branch leads to the butterfly. There is some loss of detail on the butterfly which I suspect is due to condensation on the lens. In butterfly farms this can take a long time to clear. None the less a fine effort.”

Jo Howell  Lovely image. Great colour and nice light.”


Age Category 15- 19 years:

1st place Dylan Hunter: Cuckoo Wasp

The beautiful Ruby Tailed Wasp (Chrysis ignita). Britain’s most stunning hymenopteran. Fitting in with the theme of hidden nature as although they are extremely vibrant: they are only 10-13mm big and often hide within burrows and holes, so they aren’t often seen by the naked eye. This stingless wasp species has a beautiful array of blues, greens and reds when viewed. Found these along walls next to Souter Lighthouse. (ALIVE SPECIMEN).

Joe Finlay “Excellent image of a far from easy insect to find. Perfectly focused and well lit.”

Jo Howell  “Excellent find. Brilliant focus and composition. Lovely background information.”

2nd place Mia: Alignment of Nature

I really loved the focus and detail on the grass seeds, as well as the warmth of the sunset behind. This fits in with the theme because it shows the cycle of the seasons, transitioning from summer to autumn. No one really pays attention to the seeds. Everyone takes them for granted. But the sun highlights the seeds, making them shine like a hidden treasure. Without the seeds there would be no nature and no beauty in the world.

Joe Finlay “A good attempt at doing something different. Getting correct exposure while shooting directly into the light is difficult and while there is some burning out of the sky the overall effect is quite pleasing.”

Jo Howell  Fantastic light, story, and focus is great. Very evocative work.”

View the full size images here:

The 6 winning photos will be printed and exhibited in the Theatre foyer at Arts Centre Washington – date TBC

Tips for Taking your Photos:

Look at our online exhibition by Sunderland Photographic Association.

Read the interviews from 4 local photographers here.

Watch the videos below made by local photography artist Jo Howelll. The videos give you tips, ideas and inspiration to help you  start taking your photographs. Happy snapping!