A Rotorua man was thrilled to take out the top photography prize at the 2017 Sony Alpha Awards.

John Ford was the overall grand prize winner and nature category winner for his photo of fog creeping through farmland hills early in the morning.

The awards showcased the best of New Zealand and Australian photography shot using the Sony Alpha camera range.

The awards night was held in Sydney.


Each winner across the eight categories was awarded $2000 worth of Sony Alpha camera products, and John received another $3000 worth of Sony Alpha gear for the overall grand prize.

He also won a 10-day trip to Tonga in August next year, which included a seven-day boat trip with Sony Global Digital Imaging ambassador Craig Parry.

He says on the boat trip they will be taking photos of sea life.

He is looking forward to having some time with other photographers in a different environment, and taking images underwater will be a fresh challenge.

John says when he found out he was the nature category winner he was both surprised and thrilled, and called Sony to check it was not a hoax. He says it was a "real surprise" to win the overall grand prize.

Many of the photos entered were taken by professional photographers whose cameras were worth a lot more than his. He is a sheep and cattle farmer, and his winning photo was taken on his farm, Highland Station.

John says it was a beautiful day and he went out early to catch the light, and happened to be in the right place at the right time with his camera.

His image is three photos joined together in a panorama, he says.

He says he has done photography off and on since he was a child, and started doing it seriously six years ago when he joined the Rotorua Camera Club.

John says he enjoys photography as the chance to capture something which both he and others might think is beautiful. With modern digital cameras he could play with the photo and use Photoshop to give it a personal edge.

John also won a gold medal in the North Shore salon last month with a different image. Into its second year, the Sony Alpha Awards received more than 1500 entries from professional and amateur photographers.

Sony Global Digital Imaging ambassador Craig Parry and professional photographer Mark Galer selected the winning images.