PICTURE GALLERY: Love the South Downs? You'll love these...
Apart from the Solent, the Portsmouth area is lucky enough to also have two world-famous land-based playgrounds in its back yard.
Many of you will regularly pop along the M27 to enjoy the New Forest, but it is the second national park on our doorstep – the South Downs – in which we probably spend most of our outdoors time.
Perhaps you drive through part of it on your daily commute not truly appreciating its beauty? If that’s you, here’s some eye candy to remind you – the winners in this year’s South Downs National Park photo competition which had the theme Growing Places.
And it was Ron De’Ath’s Harvest Home composition from Butser Hill, capturing the shifting seasons from summer to autumn, which was the winner.
He says: ‘I’ve been taking photos for more than 40 years and Butser is one of my favourite hunting grounds.
‘I try to convey my feelings at the time of clicking the shutter, which in this case were the privilege of being in a place of such beauty which feeds the soul as well as the body.’ He wins £250.
Judge Steve Watkins, the editor of Outdoor Photography magazine, says: ‘Ron has subverted what could easily have been a conventional harvest shot – making the unusual choice to frame the picture vertically and leave out the sky entirely.’
A moody crowd of cattle won second place and £150 for Dominic Vacher in Staredown, captured on Tegdown Hill near Brighton.
Judges were impressed by the bold, almost human, composition and high level of detail in the picture. Three of the cattle are Sussex Red, a traditional local rare breed, which have been grazed in this part of the country since the Bronze Age.
A subtle image, Rolling Down by Simon Verrall, came third.
It’s a beautiful not over-beautified shot taken on Barlavington Down, West Sussex, telling an important story about how farmers manage the pressures on the land – with the South Downs’ chalk showing clearly through the bare winter earth.
This trio joins three highly commended photos, all seen here, to go on for the people’s choice vote.
• You can vote for your favourite until midday on January 29 by clicking here.