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BBC Countryfile 2007: Winner, Spring Lamb

Wires, a big boot, a canon and even a catapult…they are some of the light hearted suggestions of what people think could have been removed from my Spring Lamb photo. Another popular question is ‘Did you not get bored sitting round for hours waiting for the photo…?’ Well, read on to see some outtakes and find out the full story behind how I came to capture this playful little fellow which went on to win the BBC Countryfile 2007 photo competition…

Prints of this image are available to purchase, find out more here.

Nikon D2x, 200-400 VR, 1/740, f4, ISO 400

Spring Lamb

Shot details
Camera: Nikon D2x in High Speed Crop mode
Lens: Nikon 200-400 VR (read my review)
Settings: 1/740 second, f4, ISO 400

As an aside, this image also influenced an article of mine on image theft when I discovered someone else had entered it in to a Dutch photographic competition, passing it off as their own!

This was taken back in May 2007 during a week long stay on The Isle of Mull just off the west coast of the Scottish Highlands. The island is full of sheep and highland cows as you would expect and after the first day you get so used to seeing them you get bored of pointing the camera in thier direction.

That was all about to change

On one of the last evenings we pulled up to the house after a day out shooting to be treated to some young lambs playing around in the field next to the house. We jumped out the car and I just thought I’d fire off a few shots for the fun of it as I’d not seen this behaviour before except on tv. They were jumping up and down like they were on trampolines and head butting each other and just generally acting a very hyper. They would vanish for a minute over the top of the small hill in the field and you’d hear them baa’ing as they come running over the top of the hill chasing each other at full speed. It was all we could do to keep them in our viewfinders as we were laughing so much at the antics in front of us. I set my D2x to high speed crop mode to make full use of its 8fps shooting speed and just kept on firing away until they stopped playing which was only 10 minutes or so.

Lambs charging over the hill

Lambs charging over the hill

Out of focus, limbs out of frame, awkward pose…

Once the fun was over I started going through my images…lots of sequences of the lambs jumping around but pretty much every shot was either out of focus, had limbs out of frame, the lambs were in an awkward pose or the background was cluttered…basically nothing special at all…

So close but just not right.

So close but just not right.

Could this be what I was waiting for…

Eventually as I got near the end of the photos I came across an image that was framed well and the lamb was sharp…I’d caught him with his front legs up and his hind ones still on the ground and I knew this was going to be my best chance of getting the shot. Despite the speed of the camera I knew they jump around so fast that the next frame could well be yet another ‘almost’ shot with him already on the way down. Thankfully to both my delight and humour, the next shot had caught him perfectly at the top of his leap with legs tucked in nicely – whats even funnier is he looks like he’s smiling in the photo, like he knew I’d got him! As you can see from the sequence below the very next shot had him already back on the ground so it really was a very close call!



Right place at the right time

I knew I wanted to capture a lamb jumping but I never in a million years could have hoped to catch one in the perfect pose and framed so well with a clutter free background. It really was a spur of the moment right place at the right time situation – it’s often those ones which reward you with the best shots…

nick lewis

finally read this one properly! Its great when it all comes together and luck is generally a great asset


Hi Richard, your pics are great, i loved the little lambs jumping in the grass.
Congratulations, your pics are beautiful.
Marcelo Pizarro.


I love this picture. Is there any way to get a larger size to use as my desktop background?

Richard Peters

Thanks for the comments all. Brian, unfortunately I don’t give out high res copies of my images as they are, or will eventually be, in my stock photo library.

» Photographers find unwitting success with social media

[...] Peters’ Spring Lamb photo also hit Digg this week and racked up a whopping 120,000 hits to the Flickr page in the first [...]


Richard, I saw this image on flickr and melted. It is by far one of my favorite photos of all time, no joke. (And I collect photographs!)

Anyway, thank you very much for sharing this experience with us. Makes it even better!

If you don’t know of this photographer, I suggest you check him out, I think you’ll like him:
Thanks again!
- Cora


Is there any way a body could purchase a print?

Richard Peters

Your very welcome Cora, thanks for the kind words and link.

Marsha, your not the only person to ask this so I have now provided a link so you can do just that :)


Hi Richard,

I wonder if revealing the method behind the capture robs it of some magic,. actually in this case I don’t think so,.

It’s not luck,. if you take the time to do the work you will get amazing images and this is a case in point,. great stuff :)


Richard Peters

Thank you Dave.

I see you what you mean about the potential to ‘ruin the magic’. So often though people ask the story behind a photo, especially on forums where it’s said a back story can add to the final image. So many people did with this one I thought I’d reveal all. Glad you like it and thank you for the comment, much appreciated :)


Excellent article. Being real and passionate are very important. Readers can tell when the writer cares about the subject at hand. Thank you.

Sarah Booth

I absolutly love this photo as soon as i saw it on countryfile it made me want to take my own pictures, but so far to no success.
Im 16 and i live on a farm so i get to see the lambs jumping about and playing so maybe one day i could get a good shot like yours.
I see them sleeping on their mothers backs it really is cute but i’ve never had a camera with me its a shame really but i hope to get it yet.
Thanks for the inspiration :)

Richard Peters

Thanks Sarah, glad I’ve inspired you to get the camera out. Just make sure you always have it to hand and you’ll get your shots eventually…practice practice practice. Good luck :)


WOW spring lamb when i go to buy spging lamb next time to eat it will not feel the same looking at that little lamb and than eating it ..but it still taste good .. but great photos


Excellent shots.. Can I use some of them for my presentation?

Richard Peters

Hi Serkan, if you send me an email with some details of what kind of presentation etc I’ll get back to you. Many thanks.


What a perfect picture, it makes me smile =) Thanks for sharing the story behind it, it makes the picture so much more meaningful and do-able (although I’m sure it’s not as easy as you make it sound!) Look forward to seeing and reading more from you.


I absolutely love this picture! May I use it as an avatar?

Richard Peters

Hi, yep you may use as a small Avatar, no problem :)


Thank you! I’m leaping for joy!


first one is really awesome ! very good job !


this photograph makes my heart melt! <3


I am so glad to have found this blog post! I have loved this photo since the first time I saw it in 2008 and always wondered about what it took to get such a perfect shot. It is such a pleasure to read about your experiences that day and to see the outtakes. What fun! Thank you so much for sharing. I’m off to buy this image on some greeting cards!!

Brenda Nelson

I remember seeing your image a few years ago and just felt like looking for it today. I have sheep too, pet ones, but we lambed in the winter so didnt get any beautiful green lamb jumping pictures such as this.
The behavior is actually called Pronging, and I have one adult sheep who still does it from time to time.


Just goes to show that good things come to those who wait.

Congratulations on the capture and the subsequent success of the photograph.

Patti Folwer

Yesterday, someone sent me the e-mail titled “National Geographic Best Shots of 2009″ with this picture in it. Much belated congratulations. Strange that I stumbled on your site the next day. Your shot was memorable enough that I knew it right away.

Diane Bayles

Hi Richard

I well remember you telling us all on the Talkphotography forum that you had an image that had reached the final of the Countryfile calendar comp. I remember also the excitement when you told us it was the winner. It was well deserved and at the time I had an idea it would become a timeless great.

It is the nature of the internet I suppose that it will be ‘used’ and lo and behold it is ‘doing the rounds’ at this very moment on Facebook. Every time it’s posted it is accompanied by lots of ooo’s and aww’s. There is never a suggestion as to who the photographer is so I have told my friends and added a link to your website. Hope this is OK.

Richard Peters

Hi Diane, thanks for the message. Yes such is the internet I’m afraid. It’s popped up in countless places over the years and almost always with no attribute! Very frustrating!

Spring has Sprung! « Meadow, Grove and Stream

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Beautiful photo!


Beautiful shot! :)

Happy Monday! « the yellow cottage

[...] by richard peters Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Filed under Happy Monday and tagged jumping lamb | [...]


I’m not surprised that this is such a popular image, it just screams fun!!! There is something totally magic about baby animals playing and having fun together!

Craig Lowe

Yours was by far one of my favourite pics and deserved to win that year of Countryfile. I was honoured to have my very amateur pic of a garden frog on the same calendar page (I appreciate this post is a few years late but there you go)

Sue Hayes

beautiful picture and well worth waiting for

Dafydd Morris

Hallo: you’ll see on Facebook that I’ve taken the liberty of posting this – with acknowledgement, of course – in a piece to mark Easter Sunday. It so brilliantly goes with the modern-classic Welsh poem, as you’ll see. Congratulations again – and thank you.