A READING teenager has won first prize in a national contest for his photograph of squabbling pigeons.
Thomas Scott, 17, was picked as the winner from a record 11,000 entries to the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards this year.
He won the 16-to-18 category with a close-up shot in Caversham.
Thomas said: “I am so pleased the judges liked my photo, which shows two feral pigeons battling for dominance by the riverside.
“To make this photograph, I used a low perspective and wireless trigger so as not to disturb the pigeons.”
He said he used a wide-angle lens to give the perception that the viewer is another pigeon watching the action.
The awards were blind-judged online by a panel of experts in wildlife photography, including photographer and TV presenter and RSPCA vice-president Chris Packham.
Thomas has won an exclusive photoshoot at an RSPCA animal centre, a trophy, £500 worth of Amazon vouchers and equipment from Camtraptions.
Judge and awards host Chris Packham said: “The quality of entries this year as the competition celebrates its 30th anniversary has been astounding.
“We felt the lockdown worked in the young photographers’ favour; they entered fantastic pictures.
“I’ve been judging the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards since they started. It’s exciting to have seen it move with the times, with new options regularly being introduced.
“We didn’t want our young photographers to feel limited by lockdown, so we devised this to inspire them to record what was close to home. We needn’t have worried though, as lockdown saw our entrants’ creativity and imagination soar.”
The winning images across nine categories, including three different age groups and an Instagram category, were announced just before Christmas.
“I’m really pleased to see everyday, overlooked animals given some leverage here,” Mr Packham added. “It’s a new take on something very familiar that normally gets a bad press.
“From a wonderfully commanding image of a woodlouse that looks like an alien to the dynamic composition of two pigeons, one with a scabby foot, it’s nice to see so many creative photos of a range of wildlife and people’s pets in such a strong competition.
“It needs real imagination to make commonplace species interesting, and demonstrates that the photographer has been really innovative.”
To see the winning images, visit: young.rspca.org.uk/ypa/home