Tree with character wins South Downs photo competition

‘A gnarled old gentleman with twisted limbs’ and an ‘unruly veteran being judged by the neighbours’ are two ways that judges of the South Downs National Park photo competition describe the 2016-17 winning picture.

The stunning detail in the black and white shot by Bill Brooks was taken in the Capability Brown-designed grounds of Petworth Park in West Sussex. The judges unanimously agreed that it was a perfect fit with this year’s competition theme of ‘Building the Landscape’ and awarded Bill the £250 prize.

Nick Heasman, competition judge and Countryside and Policy Manager for the South Downs National Park Authority, said:  “Capability Brown and his wealthy clients knew that they’d never be able to fully appreciate the results of his work. They were creating a legacy for the future. Though it may appear unruly this tree has been shaped by people over time into something incredible.”

Bill Brooks said:  “I took this shot in February 2016 at a time of year when the intricate branch structure of this majestic tree was still clear against the cloudy skyline.”

Click on the first picture to open and scroll through the gallery.

Second place

In stark contrast second place went to a bold and very modern image by Isaac Kennedy contrasting the derelict industry of Shoreham Cement Works against the green rolling hills of the Adur Valley. Isaac wins second prize of £100.

Steve Watkins, competition judge and Editor of Outdoor Photography Magazine, said:  “There is so much to say about this photograph, it has immediate and graphic appeal. You could almost be in a church. There is so much skill in how this picture was taken and the story it tells of enduring landscapes and the temporary nature of a building – which only existed to mine and exploit the chalk these hills are made from.”

Isaac Kennedy, said:  “Since a young child I’ve past the Shoreham Cement Works and always wondered what it would be like to venture inside. A little older now, I decided to follow my curiosity and, with the owner’s permission went in to the building. I was not disappointed. The way the evening light hit the top floor was magical.”

Third place

Third place has been given to what appears at first glance to be a very classic downland panorama. But the frozen park is again the work of Capability Brown at Petworth Park. This time taken by Robert Maynard who wins £50.

Finn Hopson, competition judge and professional photographer, said:  “This is an exquisite shot with so much going on. It’s a journey of a photograph with your eyes wandering the scene in the same way your body would stroll through it.”

Robert Maynard, said:  “It was a frozen morning in early January 2016 and l was heading to Petworth Park on a beautiful scenic morning. I had never seen so many humps on the grass and with a backdrop showing the trees on the hill I captured a beautiful park. I am pleased to win third place for the composition.”

Vote for people’s choice

Now the judges have had their say it’s time for everyone else to vote for their favourites from the top six shortlisted pictures. Choose your favourite and the winner will receive £100.