fbpx

From depression to World Nature Photography Awards: Capturing Gannets in the Shetland islands

As we sailed, the air filled with bird calls and splashing water. The intensity grew as we neared a spectacle of thousands of gannets in a frenzied ballet. The birds dove from great heights at breakneck speeds, their sharp descents slicing through the air.

  • 6 days ago
  • June 10, 2024
4 min read
Tracey Lund from the UK won first prize for her stunning photograph of two gannets hunting a fish beneath the waves off the coast of the Shetland Islands. | Photo courtesy of Tracey Lund Tracey Lund from the UK won first prize for her stunning photograph of two gannets hunting a fish beneath the waves off the coast of the Shetland Islands. | Photo courtesy of Tracey Lund
journalist’s notes
interview subject
Tracey has participated in various prestigious photography competitions. In 2019, she won the Open Natural World and Wildlife category and the UK national award at the Sony World Photography Awards. She also received the FEP European Wildlife Photographer of the Year award. Most recently, she won first prize at the World Nature Photography Awards 2024.
background subject
Launched in 2020, the World Nature Photography Awards (WNPA) aim to promote photography and contribute to environmental conservation by planting a tree for each entry submitted to the competition. In the most recent awards, Tracey Lund from the UK won first prize for her stunning photograph of two gannets hunting a fish beneath the waves off the coast of the Shetland Islands.
For more information, visit World Nature Photography Awards.

SCOTLAND, United Kingdom — I discovered my passion for photography 24 years ago as I navigated through a deep depression that made me question my will to live. Years before, my grandmother gifted me my first camera. One day, a friend trying to help asked where I dreamt of going. I said Africa, and soon after, there I stood, camera in hand, capturing the vibrancy of life and nature.

Photography rekindled my spirit and infused my life with a new purpose. Immersing myself in the landscapes I longed to see, and viewing them through my lens, I forged a path I still walk today. Recently, I won the World Nature Photography Awards.

Read more environment stories at Orato World Media.

Capturing the Gannet acrobatic flights: “My focus was laser-sharp on the camera’s trigger”

My photographic journey began with an expedition to the Shetland Islands. I aimed to capture photos of seabirds called gannets in their natural habitat. Teaming up with Richard Chuck Smith, a local guide and seasoned photographer, I made my first attempt at underwater photography.

I aimed to unravel the enigma of gannet behavior beneath the surface. Due to the high costs of specialized equipment and my aspirations to enter the prestigious World Nature Photography Awards, I rented the necessary gear from Richard. We set out in a small boat, braving the cold, windy conditions. The sea became a canvas of magnificent colors, with patches of blue peeking through the clouds above us.

As we sailed, the air filled with bird calls and splashing water. The intensity grew as we neared a spectacle of thousands of gannets in a frenzied ballet. The birds dove from great heights at breakneck speeds, their sharp descents slicing through the air.

They plunged into the sea with brutal force to hunt fish. Each dive sent water sprays skyward, creating a misty veil around us. The scene felt like a dynamic dance of nature, with gannets piercing the water’s surface, leaving behind fleeting, watery rings.

Witnessing the gannets’ acrobatic dives left me in awe. Eager to capture this breathtaking spectacle, I equipped my camera with a waterproof housing attached to a pole system. From a corner of the boat, I wasn’t submerged but remotely controlling the camera, shooting every time I sensed the birds swooping in front of the lens.

The scene outside felt chaotic but beautiful, with millions of birds swirling in hyperactive flight, diving and swooping in an adrenaline-fueled frenzy. Amid this chaos, my focus became laser-sharp on the camera’s trigger.

Winning the World Nature Photography Awards

Returning to the hotel, my camera held 1,800 images. Reviewing each one felt like exploring a secret underwater world. Among the shots, two images stood out, perfectly capturing those chaotic, euphoric moments. They embodied the essence of the birds’ frenetic hunt. Laughing and crying joyfully as I reviewed the images, I felt a profound satisfaction; my efforts paid off. I decided to submit two remarkable photographs that conveyed the odyssey of the gannets to the contest.

When I learned I won first prize in the World Nature Photography Awards 2024, I felt astonished. I sat at home, idly working on my computer on an ordinary afternoon when an email notification caught my eye. As I read, disbelief gave way to elation; my photograph of two gannets clashing mid-air over a fish had clinched the top spot. Overwhelmed with excitement, I bolted downstairs, nearly tripping as I clung to the handrail, shouting my triumph.

Tracey’s winning photograph in the 2024 World Nature Photography Awards. | Photo courtesy of Tracey Lund/ World Nature Photography Awards

Bursting into the living room, I found my parents, and amidst uncontrollable laughter, I shared the news. Their faces, alight with shock and pride, mirrored my joy. We embraced in a moment of pure joy which remains etched forever in my memory. Currently, I’m in India, traveling with fellow photographers to a national reserve famed for its tigers.

This place feels mesmerizing, a stunning confluence of nature and ancient architecture, where majestic tigers roam freely among temple ruins. Each photograph captures a moment of awe, affirming my passion. Capturing the fierce ballet of gannets and the serene majesty of tigers in their natural habitat, reaffirms my life’s calling. Photography is not just my profession; it’s my way to connect with the world and reveal its hidden wonders through my lens. I’m committed to this path, eager to share these glimpses of the wild with the world.

Translation Disclaimer

Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.

#GlobalCooperationNow

Pledge to be a #ConsciousCitizen today and demand #GlobalCooperationNow! by signing this petition. Sign Our Petition.

HERE'S WHAT'S NEW:

INTERNATIONAL FEATURE STORY: PAYOUT: $200 OR MORE

NATIONAL FEATURE STORY: PAYOUT: $100-150 OR MORE
REGIONAL FEATURE STORY: PAYOUT: $50-100 OR MORE
SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT STORY: PAYOUT: $25-50
Photo Gallery (10 Photos) PAYOUT: $25
Photo Gallery (20 Photos) PAYOUT: $50

TERMS & CONDITIONS APPLY
JOIN US

Related