St Albans photographer’s picture of kites in Delhi wins award

St Albans photographer Luke Massey has been announced as a winner in the prestigious Wildlife Photog

St Albans photographer Luke Massey has been announced as a winner in the prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards - Credit: Luke Massey

Capturing a bird’s-eye view of Delhi’s whirl of black kites has helped a St Albans man collect yet another photographic award.

Fifty-thousand entries from 95 countries were whittled down to just 100 winners in the recent Wildlife Photographer of the Year Awards.

And St Albans photographer Luke Massey’s unique shot, ‘Kite Flying’, was announced as one of six winners in the urban wildlife category.

After the 52nd award ceremony, held at the Natural History Museum, Luke said: “To be part of this prestigious competition is humbling. I’ve attended the exhibition for the past 15 years, if not longer, so it is a real dream come true.”

To take his shot of the black kites, the 25 year old followed a local guide up tiny staircases and bamboo ladders to reach the rooftop.

He had to lean precariously over the roof edge, with someone holding his waist, to stop him from tumbling over the side.

Luke explained: “In Old Delhi’s Muslim quarter, people toss meat to the kites to atone for their sins. The sky was black with kites, and with about 20 vying for every offering, it took hundreds of attempts to get a clear shot.”

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He said that Delhi’s black kites were probably the world’s highest concentration of birds of prey.

While the birds have an important role to play, clearing up carrion, human-made paper kites pose a threat, as their strings criss-cross the skies at dusk and can sever their wings.

Luke hopes that by showing how people can live alongside wildlife, including ‘what is on their doorstep’ and educating them on conservation issues and raising awareness through his work “maybe they’ll begin to care more”.

It is the second award the photographer has received this year, as he also collected a gong for an aerial shot of a peregrine on a condominium balcony in Chicago in June.