Tales from the forest

Inspiration, stories and an insider's glimpse into the world of Scotland's forests

The Spring Photo Jam - Meet The Judges!

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The official Forestry Commission Scotland Spring Photo Jam has come to an end! It's been an incredible week, looking through more than 100 entries to find the best of the best, with contributions from aspiring photographers of all ages, as well as experienced snappers and a few professionals. As you can see from the small selection above, our Facebook and Twitter feeds have provided a riot of colour, with beasts, bugs and birds of every kind alongside stunning scenery and intricate natural patterns in wood and water.

Thank you for sharing your photos with us! If you haven't seen them yet, all the photos entered can be viewed online at bit.ly/spring-gallery, or by searching on Twitter using the hashtag #SpringPhotoJam.

Best of the best

Now comes the hard part (for us at least!). We have to narrow down your entries to a final shortlist of 12, from which we will pick 2 overall winners via a public vote. More details on how to vote for your favourite photo will follow before the end of the week - but for now, we want to introduce you to our 3 in-house judges, who will be narrowing down the selection to the very best of the best.

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One of Ruari's shots - taken up Fraochaidh peak, looking south west down Loch Linnhe

Judge number 1 is Recreation Ranger Ruari Watt - those of you with sharp eyes will have seen some of Ruari's gorgeous photos, like the one above, gracing our feeds over the past year or more. Not just a ranger and photographer, Ruari is an all-round artist with a keen eye for composition. "I’m a ranger in Lochaber district, where we are lucky to have great views and exciting things to do in the outdoors!" he tells us. "I had never really taken photos in the past, but whilst recovering from a back injury last year I decided to buy a camera, slow down, and try and record the good things I see every day. Sometimes I play with my camera settings, sometimes I just point and shoot on auto! I also take photos to use as reference for paintings I do at home."

Judge number 2 is Fiona Murray, our Business and Visitor Development Manager. "I work in the head office visitor services team, and am lucky enough to occasionally travel to visit woodlands all over the country," says Fiona. "Looking at the photos on my phone, so many of them feature trees, greenery and those in-the-moment shots which remind me of why I love the outdoors!" Fiona has a keen eye, and a passion for snapping scenic photos.

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A crisp, late winter morning looking out from the Forest of Ae, taken by Malte Iden

Our third and final judge is Malte Iden, a Recreation Forester and keen photographer working in the Dumfries and Borders district. "I have worked for Forest Enterprise, first in England and then in Scotland, for over ten years in total," says Malte. "I am very lucky to have a job that regularly gets me out into some very beautiful countryside. Over the years I have had some close encounters with wildlife, and seen landscapes in particularly scenic weather conditions. I always carry a lightweight, simple camera and can never resist the temptation to try and capture these moments, but I have learned that it is not easy to catch the feel of a moment in a photo..." We certainly think she manages to capture something magical - see her photo above!

Between now and the end of the week, we'll be sorting through all your entries to pick 12 finalists. We'll share these 12 pictures on Facebook, and whichever two get the most likes will each win a £100 voucher for Go Ape! Stay tuned...