Amateur photographer's image shortlisted for international glory

An amateur photographer from Shropshire has had a moody and magnificent image selected in the final of an international award.

Calvin Downes
Calvin Downes

Calvin Downes, aged 67, from Pontesbury, near Shrewsbury, took this stunning photo - called Sun Shower - at the Quiraing on the Isle of Skye as his camera caught a rainbow of colours shining directly on a sheep.

Retired IT manager Calvin's shot, taken in October 2019, has been shortlisted from the 8,900 that were submitted by more than 3,300 photographers in Weather Photographer of the Year 2021 contest.

The winners of several categories will be decided by members of the public in a vote that opened on Thursday (August 26).

©Andrew McCaren 31/10/2020 York UK A flock of Canada Goose swim the wrong way down a flooded road in York city centre after the River Ouse broke its banks following torrential rainfall in the UK.

"It's great, fantastic, to be shortlisted," said Calvin who is a member of the Wrekin Arts Photographic Club in Wellington.

"It's not something I expected to happen. I enter lots of competitions for photographers but not usually national ones like this."

Photo © Craig Boehm

He started using a camera at a young age but took it up in earnest when he retired to look after his wife, Susan. Sadly, she died three years ago.

"Taking photographs and then editing them on the computer at home was the ideal hobby as I could be with her," said Calvin.

Dani A.P

He puts the secret of good photography down to having a gut instinct for it.

"You just get a feeling that it is going to be good," said Calvin, who admitted to using a less than ideal lens for his shortlisted shot of what he calls “God’s chosen lamb”.

Photo © Evgeny Borisov

"I didn't have time to change the lens but I knew I had to take the shot."

He said the scene was taken in beautiful light although he had to continually wipe the lens as it was raining so hard.

Photo © Gesang Jimei

"I saw the sheep and the rainbow and the colours were exacerbated by the rain on the lens," he said.

But Calvin admits that he hasn't got used to taking pictures with mobile phones.

Photo © Giulio Montini

"I get my finger in the way or something goes wrong," said Calvin, who faced shortlisting competition from photographers across 114 countries.

Liz Bentley, chief executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, said after six years the annual competition "never fails to amaze me".

Photo © Ian Wade

"Weather and climate is something that we all share, but the drama, as well as the beauty of this force of nature, is something that can be truly unique to specific parts of the world.

"It’s a privilege to be able to share in those moments as we look through the entries. Many of the photographers capture it so beautifully that you almost feel as if you were there.”

© Itay Kaplan

And Jesse Ferrell, senior weather editor at AccuWeather said: “As always, I was very impressed with the quality and calibre of submissions to this year’s competition. These photographs, whether taken on a DSLR or someone's mobile, represented the shared global appreciation for the beauty of weather and the sheer creativity of this growing community."

© Jiming Zhang

Winners will be announced at RMetS WeatherLive: From One Extreme to Another. This online event aimed at weather enthusiasts will explore and discuss a range of weather extremes that have occurred over the past year, from extreme heat, wildfires and drought, to flooding and storms. It takes place on Saturday October 16.

Photo © Kevin Förster

A calendar featuring all the winners and finalists of Weather Photographer of the Year 2021 will go on sale via the RMetS online shop later this year.

The winners will receive a year’s free membership of the Royal Meteorological Society, £500 cash and a $350 voucher.

© Michelle Cowbourne

The Royal Meteorological Society's Weather Photographer of the Year 2021 voting results will be announced on October 16. Across all categories there are 21 finalists. Categories now include one for mobile phones.

To see the shortlisted images and vote for your favourite, visit Voting closes on September 23 at midnight (BST).

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