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Award-winning photography at Sawley Cut, by staff member Steve Cole

Image: 'Cool Power' by Steve Cole

University administrator receives national commendation for his landscape photography

A staff member at Loughborough University was recently commended for a stunning photo he submitted as part of a national competition that receives thousands of entries from across the country.

Steve Cole – who has worked at Loughborough for over 10 years and currently works as a receptionist and administrator at the Science and Enterprise Park – was awarded the accolade as part of the Landscape Photographer of the Year competition, in the category ‘Changing Landscapes’.

His remarkable photo was taken at Sawley Cut, a diversionary waterway of the River Trent. The towers from the Ratcliffe-on-Soar power station ‘loom over the peaceful water’ as if they are right next to it, when in fact they are located over two miles away.

When asked about the shot, Steve said: “The compressed perspective really does fool the eye; that evening was a very cold one and there was barely a breath of wind, and the steam from the cooling towers looked very striking – enough for me to want to make an effort.

“The exposure for the shot was about 30 seconds, which let enough light in to render everything visible without shadow. The competition rules do not allow for a great deal of processing, so this image only has minor alterations such as straightening and lifting the exposure."  

Steve has entered the competition over the last six years and this is the first year he has received an award. He commented: “To be commended in a category is a validation that I must be doing something right with my photography. I really am over the moon and I feel that it has spurred me on to keep improving and hopefully achieve more success.

“I have always loved photography from an early age, and I have used just about every camera that has come out over the last 40 years.”

As part of the accolade, the photo will be included in a book as well as being displayed as part of an exhibition in the London Tower Bridge train station from November-February.

When asked what his top tips were for other enthusiastic photographers at the University, Steve said the following:

  • Enjoy the journey. You cannot buy award-winning techniques, spending a fortune on equipment will not guarantee success, instead, it just will show up your faults and produce frustration. By all means, buy a decent camera - one you can grow with – and when it starts to limit your capabilities you will know it’s time to upgrade.
  • Get out and practice, practice, practice. Watch inspiring photographers on YouTube and don’t be afraid to fail - I have on numerous occasions, but I don’t make the same mistake twice.
  • Use the golden hours of the day. The best time for landscape photography is an hour either side of sunrise and sunset, as the light is soft and the colours can be amazing. Your technique will need to be better to make the most of this special time, so make sure you practice lots in the daytime learning how to compose, expose and focus. Camera clubs can often be a source of wisdom and experience, so consider joining a local one.

Finally, when we asked Steve what his favourite photo was that he had ever taken, he showed the below.

Photo of a boat in the harbour at sunset, by Steve Cole 

“My favourite is the Mevagissey sunrise – the light was outstanding and misty, and I was stood in knee-high harbour mud to capture this! It still remains my most favourite ever.”

Steve’s Flickr photography page can be viewed online here. All of the winning submissions for the Landscape Photography of the Year competition can be seen on the dedicated website.