Year of Creative Scotland photography competition

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Photo competition ››

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  • Glencoe Sunrise by John Irvine
    The winning entry, Glencoe Sunrise © John Irvine

Celebrate the winning entries of our recent Year of Creative Scotland photography competition, supported by The Herald. Find out about the stories behind the images which helped the photographers realise their creative potential. The competition received a fantastic response, with over 18,000 entries and the three judges had the difficult task of choosing the winners.

Winner - Glencoe Sunrise © John Irvine - "it captures the raw beauty of Scotland with warmth and character".

Police officer John Irvine, who only took up amateur photography four years ago, captured his award-winning photograph using a Canon 5D MK2, Canon 17-40mm L lens and LEE filters. 

The winning picture was captured after John left his West Lothian home on a midweek morning at 4am, to try to catch the fantastic sunrise before he started work at a few hours later. Leaving so early gave him ample opportunity to set up his image. "Luckily the weather was kind, boosting powerful light into an already powerful scene."

John now hopes to take advantage of some of his favourite spots in Scotland, including the Isle of Eigg with its view across to Rhum, as well as the Glen Etive region. "Scotland is an exceptionally beautiful country. It really has it all and places such as the Western Isles and the Trossachs constantly give me a buzz and drive to take pictures."

Find out more about the historic location of Glencoe and the rich heritage of the Highlands.


Hello from Loch Lomond © Alan Weir.

Hello from Loch Lomond © Alan Weir

Following a day of hiking just before Christmas, Alan Weir took this shot of a cheeky swan, using a Nikon D90 with 30mm lens, assisted by a packet of cheese and onion crisps.

Alan captured this shot from the Inveruglas pier while waiting for the sun to reappear over Ben Lomond.

"So I walked down the jetty eating crisps, then he spied my crisps. His long neck reached onto the jetty and he started eating the crumbs I dropped. I took this opportunity to take the picture with Ben Lomond and the loch. Lying belly down on the deck of a jetty on a cold winter's day, taking photos of a swan, must have been an image itself."

Alan is captivated by Scotland's great beauty, particularly its hills and glens. "For easy reach I like the Trossachs, only a few miles from Glasgow. But I do like to be on top of a mountain taking landscape shots."

Discover Loch Lomond, The Trossachs and The Forth Valley.

Glenfinnan © Emilio CarnevaleGlenfinnan © Emilio Carnevale

Italian Emilio took this beautiful wintery view across Loch Shiel at Glenfinnan using a Canon G10 camera.

Braving the cold winter of January 2010, Emilio and friends walked to the top of the icy hill to see the popular Glenfinnan viaduct, but he prefered the view of the opposite side!

During his two visits to Scotland, he has been struck by the country's light.

"I don't know exactly why, and it's hard to explain, but light in Scotland is something near magic".

Find more things to see and do in the Highlands.

I'm Alive! © Iain Coupar.I'm Alive! © Iain Coupar

Iain Coupar and son Harry reached the summit of Ben Cleuch, where he captured the moment using an iPhone4 and Instagram.

Iain had and six-year-old Harry were on their first ever walking and camping trip which involved climbing the 2,000 ft Ben Cleuch in the Ochil Hills behind Stirling.

After setting up camp and enjoying some well earned dinner, they made the final push to the top.

"By this time it was about 8pm and the sun was setting. When we reached the top Harry was delighted he had made it, his first big hill  – and I was a proud dad too! Harry stood on the top and into the wind starting shouting “I’m alive, I’m alive”. I just had to take a picture of him, it was a great moment."

Discover Scotland's abundant wildlife while walking in Loch Lomond, The Trossachs and The Forth Valley.

Skye - Forest Cathedral © Ronald MacFadyen

Skye - Forest Cathedral © Ronald McFadyen.

Ronald MacFadyen took this image using a Canon EOS 50D camera with a 18-70 mm lens and believes a good picture is about being in the right place at the right time.

Ronald and his friends had planned to walk up to the spectacular rock formation on Skye, the Old Man of Storr. Enroute the group passed through a forested area, when the sky brightened.

"Although still in the shadow of the trees there was a lovely soft light that illuminated the scene. It reminded me of the soft light that is sometimes experienced in cathedrals and churches when light streams through windows. That's why I called it 'Forest Cathedral'.

 Find out more about the mystical Isle of Skye.

Burning Galley © Martyn BrillBurning Galley © Martyn Brill.

Martin took this image of the burning of the Junior Jarl Squad's Galley at the 2012 Up Helly Aa in Lerwick, Shetland, using a Fuji Finepix S1500.

The 15-strong Junior Squad was made up of second year students at Anderson High School in Lerwick, including Martin's own son. During the winter, they made their own suits, shields and axes, and on the Up Helly Aa day itself they started at 8am to parade round Lerwick on the Junior Jarl Squad's galley, Silje.

The day culminates with the burning in the centre of Lerwick, when the boys parade with burning torches, before heading to the park where the torches are thrown into the gallery. The helmet and wings seen in silhouette are those of the junior Guizar Jarl.

"Having lived and worked in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland all my days and despite travelling to numerous other countries, I have yet to find somewhere that matches Scotland for its scenery and the fact that we can have four seasons in the space of one hour without batting an eyelid!"

Discover more about Shetland.

The judging panel


Greg Hoyna Kozakiewicz

VisitScotland lead designer, Greg Hoyna Kozakiewicz is an accomplished interactive director, designer and craftsman with 12 years pure digital industry experience. He specialises in interactive design, games and stop motion animations and his ability has garnered him numerous international awards. In 2010 he joined the FWA judges team.

Craig Alexander

Craig Alexander

Craig Boyd Alexander is the Group Multimedia Editor for the award-winning Herald Magazine, where he has worked for 11 years. Prior to this he was at The Sunday Times after training as a photographer at Building & Printing Glasgow.

Andrew Lindsay

Andrew Lindsay

Andrew Lindsay is Executive Creative Director of The Union. He has won numerous creative awards over the past 30 years including awards at Cannes, D&AD, Clio, British Television Awards and Campaign Poster & Press. He was responsible for, among others, the highly acclaimed TVC Wild Mountain Thyme for VisitScotland.