Shetland photographer’s diving gannets wins major prize

The winning image Northern Gannet by  Richard Shucksmith from Shetland. PIC: Richard Shucksmith.
The winning image Northern Gannet by Richard Shucksmith from Shetland. PIC: Richard Shucksmith.
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A Shetland-based photographer has won a major prize for his image of diving gannets.

Richard Shucksmith captured the seabirds plunging into the water to catch mackerel off the coast at Ness, Shetland.

The image won the bird behaviour category at the 2018 Bird Photographer of the Year awards with the photograph also taking the ‘people’s choice’ accolade.

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Mr Shucksmith said he had been photographing gannets off of Shetland for more than six years and was fascinated by the seabirds who hit the water at high speed to claim their feed.

He said: “Anyone can do it really but I have spent a lot of time working on my photographs of gannets.”

Mr Shucksmith achieved the shot by making a ‘dome port’ casing for his camera, which he partially submerges underwater to catch the seabirds in action.

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Mackerel were also dropped into the water to attract the gannets, which often trail fishing vessels to find their feed.

Mr Shucksmith added: “I did know it was a nice image. There are quite a few different elements to it and to be brutally honest I knew that 99.9 per cent of the images in the competition would be taken on land so I knew it would stand out with the judges.”

The photographer, who runs tours around Shetland for aspiring wildlife photographers, said the award would help keep his profile up and promote his photography tours.

But he added: “The reason you do this is because you love nature. If I could be out 24 hours a day, I would.”