[Photo credit: © David Craik]

David Craik, a wildlife photographer from Surrey – who won second place in the Photographer of the Year category – said: ‘I’ve read comments from people around the world about high levels of post-processing being used on the images, and “that image looks fake” – but actually the [competition organisers] vet all the original files individually to make sure the photo hasn’t been manipulated, and only extremely minor edits were used on this image using a very basic iPad app, to make it competition-worthy.’

The awards creator Kenan Aktulun today told Amateur Photographer (AP) that judges request original image files from entrants if they haven’t already submitted them.

‘We ask people to send their original, unedited, versions. Unless we can confirm the camera data, we just don’t accept it,’ said Aktulun.

He explained that entrants are barred from using desktop editing programs such as Photoshop, but are allowed to edit their shots using iPhone and iPad apps.

In Craik’s case, the photographer sent organisers all the original image files from a three-shot burst that included the winning photo.

The Guildford photographer explained to AP that he captured the image at Haven Café in Mudeford, Dorset, using an iPhone 5s.

Craik, who normally uses a pair of Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLRs and a Fujifilm FinePix X100 CSC, said: ‘I noticed that the starlings were starting to hone in on our table.

‘And, once one cheeky bird had flown down to the table I saw the composition happening in front of me.

‘From there, I grabbed the iPhone, set the angle for the best composition, focused and used “burst” shooting to get the birds as they took off from the table.’

He added: ‘The great thing about the iPhone is that it is a fantastic camera that is with me nearly 100% of the time – easy to use and can deliver incredible results.

‘I used burst shooting mode to take several photos as, with wildlife, you often can’t predict exactly the way the subject will move. Therefore, burst shooting slightly reduces the risk of missing that key shot.’

Commenting on Craik’s photo, organisers said: ‘The only restriction on a photographer is the photographer’s own imagination according to David Craik.

‘This philosophy shines through in his photo of starlings that had come to snatch the crumbs off his table at a coastal café in the United Kingdom.

‘While a photo of birds may seem ordinary, the compelling image Craik created is astonishingly unique.’

Michal Koralewski from Poland won first place in Photographer of the Year, while Yvonne Lu from the USA was placed third.

To view all the winning images visit www.ippawards.com

01-Michal-Koralewski-1stPlace-Photographer-of-the-Year.web [Photo credit: © Michal Koralewski]

03-Yvonne-Lu-3rdPlace-Photographer-of-the-Year.web [Photo crédit: © Yvonne Lu]