Photographer wins national award for Heron shot

Wimbledon Guardian: Heron Bokeh by Danielle Connor Heron Bokeh by Danielle Connor

This stunning picture of a grey heron in Wimbledon has won a teenage photographer the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards 2013.

Danielle Connor, a student at Ursuline High School, took this picture, titled "Bokeh Heron", while at Queensmere pond, Wimbledon Common in May.

Yesterday judges awarded the teenager first prize in the 16-18 category, as well as the overall gong.

The 18-year-old budding photographer is studying for her A-Levels and has already won awards from the Zoological Society of London, YMCA photography awards and the Marwell photography awards.

TV personality, wildlife expert and RSPCA vice president Chris Packham led a judging panel of industry professionals and hosted the award ceremony at the Tower of London on Thursday December 19.

He said: "Danielle was a worthy winner - her image is both captivating and technically strong. She used some really sophisticated techniques and shows a real understanding of how to make photography work.

"What stands out for me is the use of the simple element of water to enhance the portrait of the heron. The droplets transform the image of the bird into something else entirely – it is verging on magical.

“It wasn’t just Danielle’s image which took my breath away though. There were so many photographs which showed real skill and imagination. It is such a pleasure to be a part of this very special event and look through the eyes of young people to see their view and joy in the animal world around us.”

Miss Conner said: "This grey heron sat on a perch while a tufted duck bathed, spraying water.

"The sun was setting, lighting the water into thousands of bokeh balls.

"I spent many of my exam breaks at this pond - nature helps get my mind off things.

"The pond is situated within a valley of trees and the strong setting sunlight only appears in the summer.

"I happened to be in the right place and the right time, if I was on the other side of the pond I would have missed the light.

"It is also unusual for herons to come to this pond during the summer."

She won a weekend photography break courtesy of Natures Images and Olympus cameras worth up to £500.

The winner of each age category also received an exclusive photo shoot at an RSPCA animal centre.

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