Burnaby man wins international wildlife photography award
Martin Cooper was in London, U.K. recently for an awards ceremony.
"I went around the corner and on the grounds of the museum, there was a huge banner with a Burnaby coyote on it," he recalled with some amusement. "I could've gone home then happy."
That coyote image was shot by Cooper himself in South Burnaby and was one of the winners in the 2011 BBC Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest, the most prestigious award in the field.
Out of about 41,000 entries from around the world, 108 received recognition including Cooper's photo, called "On the tracks of the coyote," which earned a "highly commended" placing (something akin to third place) in the urban wildlife category.
In addition to the award, Cooper's photo was used in promotional materials for the exhibition of the winning images.
"Their exhibition website has it on their banner. Actually being in London, it was all over the place, it was up on the streets, on sides of buses, in all the Tube (London Underground) stations."
Cooper, 49, is a computer technician at Simon Fraser University who moved to Burnaby from his native U.K. after he married a Canadian.
He said he decided to enter the international competition for the first time after winning a 2009 Canadian wildlife photography contest and having his winning image of a heron immortalized on a 57-cent stamp.
He actually had four photos make it to the finals with one making the final cut.
At one of the awards functions in London, "There's some names there that I've known for years as the best and I'm standing there having conversations about photography [with them]."
Cooper shot the winning photo a couple years ago during one of his early-morning jaunts down by the Fraser River, near the railway and Riverway golf course.
"I sat down waiting to see what was going to happen. Normally it's beavers in the stream next to me. But the coyote came out at the side, had a sniff around."
Cooper ended up having to dismantle the monopod on this camera and laid on the railway tracks. "He just looked up at the sun and I just took the photograph then. That's been my favourite since I took it."
The prize-winning photographs are on exhibition at London’s Natural History Museum until March 11. Closer to home, a touring version of the show is at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria from Dec. 16 to April 9.
"I'm pretty over the moon," Cooper said with a laugh of the recognition. "I should retire while I'm ahead."