A Fife driving instructor’s eye for a great picture has helped him scoop one of the photographic world’s most prestigious accolades.
Phil Cooke’s astonishing capture of Kenmore in Perthshire following a heavy snowfall has won the Scottish Landscape Photographer Of The Year award in the winter scene category.
The image entitled, Kenmore in the Grip of Winter, was chosen ahead of hundreds submitted by some of the most accomplished photographers from across the globe, in what is one of the most keenly contested competitions in the photographic world.
Phil’s photo made it through a several rounds of stringent adjudication before being shortlisted by the judges.
He received a tip off that his picture had also been commended by the panel of judges but Phil admits the news that he had come out top in the category came as a complete shock.
It’s the latest in a string of internationally recognised awards for the man from Kennoway, who admits until a decade ago having hardly ever used a camera in his life.
A keen golfer, Phil took up the hobby after an illness, buying himself an entry level camera and has not looked back since.
He said: “I knew I had a good photograph and stood a chance but anyone can enter from anywhere around the world as long as the image is taken in Scotland.
“I’d been commended before and to be so again was as good as I thought it would be but then the announcement confirmed I’d got the award which I’m delighted by.”
How to get the perfect shot
Phil’s meticulous attention to detail is another factor that gives him the edge over his competitors, and planning for that perfect image can often take a year or more, in order to give him the exact conditions he needs.
“I keep a book of locations which I want to photograph and then will research lighting times and position of the sun at various times of the year, in order to get the best possible photograph I can achieve,” Phil said.
“I had the village of Kenmore, where Loch Tay runs into the River Tay, on my list so when there had been a heavy snowfall I travelled up there but was met with a complete whiteout.
“The conditions were pretty bleak and early morning the temperature was a truly bitter -15c.
“I took the picture at around 9.30am with the day still lighting up and was pleased with the result and it seems the judges were impressed too.”
Under normal circumstances, Phil would normally be travelling far afield in the hunt for the best landscapes and admits lockdown has presented some challenges, but also a few surprises.
“Of course the pandemic had restricted where I could go but it also made me appreciate even more just how lucky we are in Fife to have some of the best landscapes anywhere in Scotland,” he said.
“I’ve rediscovered some great places on my doorstep but come the end of lockdown I have a holiday booked on the Isle of Harris for later in the year.
“I just need to do my research now.”