Eighteen photographs taken by budding young photographers from up and down the UK have been shortlisted for a prize in the RSPCA Young Photographer Awards 2004, sponsored by Olympus Cameras and Truprint.
There were more than 10,000 entries this year, making the competition the most hotly contested yet. Judging was a difficult task as the standard was so high. From leopards, water buffalo and giraffes to stick insects and a pet dog running on a beach, young photographers have captured a huge variety of subjects on camera this year.
The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony held in the prestigious Spencer Gallery at the Natural History Museum in London on Thursday 9 December 2004.
Entries were divided into two different age groups - under 12s and 12 to 18s. The prizes for winners and runners up are:
Overall winner - Olympus digital camera and a £250 cash prize from Truprint.
Age group winners - Olympus digital camera and £100 cash prize from Truprint.
Eight runners up - Olympus digital camera and a £50 cash prize from Truprint.TV presenter, wildlife photographer and competition judge Chris Packham, said: It remains a peculiarity of this competition that the final set of photographs is always very strong. I think this is because the competition gives children a lot of scope. The subject can be any animal and they respond very well to this with a wide range of farm animals, wild animals and pets.
New judge, CBBC presenter Jake Humphrey, added: "What amazed me about the entries was not only the quantity, but also the quality. There were thousands of brilliant pictures and until I saw them, I thought I was a good photographer!
The photos that really stood out for me were the ones that were a great picture, but also told a story - from wildlife photos taken miles away from the UK to someone's pet in their garden."
Two new awards will be presented this year - the Olympus portfolio prize and the Truprint school prize.
The judges have already chosen the winners of these special categories. They will receive their prizes at the ceremony in December.
Melissa Carson (10) from Bowness on Solway, Wigton, Cumbria, has won the Olympus Portfolio award for her spectacular pictures of dragonflies and butterflies. She has won an Olympus digital camera and the chance to spend a day on an RSPCA photoshoot.
The award rewards an individual whose body of work shows consistent quality. Children were asked to submit five photographs.
Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen, has won the Truprint school prize. Schools were asked to put forward a number of entries by different pupils on any animal subject. The school has won £500, a trophy and a set of framed photographs.
Judges were impressed by the standard of winning photographs taken by Liam Flaherty (13), Ian Munro (16), Keith Elliott (16), Richard Wood (15) and Christie Noble (13). Subjects included cattle, dogs, a squirrel and racoons.
For more information you can log on to the website at www.rspca.org.uk/ypa. You can view the shortlisted entries and read tips from Chris Packham on how to take a good photograph.