SLIDESHOW: Carys claims top prize as shutters close on photo contest

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An array of super snaps made up the final of this year’s Ripley & Heanor News Specsavers Life Thru the Lens readers’ photos competition.

Claiming top prize in the adult section of our annual photographic contest was 20-year-old Golden Valley woman Carys Williams, whose arty black-and-white picture taken in between two abandoned railway carriages near her home was a hit with the judges, which included Belper Specsavers and Ripley & Heanor News Senior Reporter Paul Lynch.

Carys, who turns 21 next week, had a camera on her birthday present wish list – but will now have to think of something else after landing the latest Nikon digital SLR camera with her photo!

Our brief was to take an image that best summed up the experience of living in the Ripley and Heanor area - that managed to capture the essence of Amber Valley’s natural beauty or helped tell the story of its industrial heritage.

But we also wanted people to take an image that was unique - that really captured a moment, or made us appreciate a well known sight from a different angle.

It was agreed that Carys’ snap did all of the above.

She said: “I took it in black and white because I thought it gave it a lot more feeling, with the fact that the coaches are abandoned.

“I thought it was an eery picture, but somehow quite peaceful.”

Carys, who works at Tesco in Codnor and enjoys photography as a hobby was thrilled to receive a top of the range SLR digital camera courtesy of our sponsors Specsavers.

There were eight finalists in the adult section, with seven making it to an awards ceremony at the opticians’ King Street store, on Friday.

Claiming second place, Langley Mill retiree Paul Brentnall, 71, took home a new compact digital camera.

He impressed judges with his sumptuous shot of the war memorial at Heanor Memorial Park during summer.

The former bus driver said the picture was all about timing.

“Well I walk through the gates of the park every morning and sometimes you can just catch the rays of the sun right,” he said.

“I think the only way I could better this picture is to have taken it with the autumn colours.”

The grandfather-of-two has been a keen photographer for 20 years as a hobby and still manages to get out and snap twice a week.

Andrew Whetton’s snowy picture of Crich Stand taken in February claimed him third place and a £25 Specsavers’ voucher.

The patient transport care assistant with the NSL says he has been an avid photographer since he was ten years old and said the shot was taken on his first walk up to the monument since his childhood.

“I just saw the red path leading into the frame and I just thought, that will make a good photograph – so I got my tripod out,” Andrew, 50, said. “I liked it so much I’ve actually got this on my wall!”

This year we extended the competition to include a separate category for those aged up to 16.

And after receiving a fantastic quality of entries from our younger audience, judges chose nine-year-old Joshua Vardy’s wonderfully atmospheric shot of railway carriages near Butterley Reservoir as the winner.

The talented Somerlea Park Junior School youngster had to lay down flat on the floor to get just the right angle for this picture, he said, which he demonstrated for our reporter at the awards ceremony!

He took it on a camera he bought with saved up pocket money, but a fortnight later it got dropped on the floor and broke. Now , after winning Life Thru the Lens , he has a brand new Fuji Film digital camera to play with and can’t wait to try it out.

He said: “It feels really good to win!”

Mum Cathy, 33, of Queen Street, Somercotes, said: “He’s just very talented in everything he does.

“If he’s got an interest in something that’s it, he will be good at it.”

There were five junior finalists in all. The runner-up in the children’s section was ten-year-old Roxanne Farrow, of Field Terrace, Ripley. Her picture, looking up at Crich Stand on a perfectly clear September day, was taken while out walking with her mum Karen - also a keen snapper.

Ripley Junior School pupil Roxanne, who just pipped her twin Kayleigh to the prize, said: “I thought it would make a good picture, because I took it from a different angle.”

Director of Specsavers Andy McBride said: “As with every year it’s great to get involved in the community and give a little something back.

“It’s always amazing how many entries we get – it seems to grow each year, which makes judging it even harder!”

Editor Julie Crouch thanked all of those that took the time to take pictures and send them in to Life thru the Lens this year, adding: “The standard of entries was absolutely fantastic and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing your pictures.

“The finalists can feel very proud to have been chosen from so many excellent snaps.

“I can only say that I’m looking forward to next year already.”