A stark image of an old seaman staring deep into the camera lens has won the public vote for the best picture at the Swindon Photographic Society’s annual exhibition.

The image, titled Old Salt of the Sea, taken by amateur photographer Nick Pitt, won over twice the votes of the second-placed picture, entrancing the public who visited the week-long display at the Brunel Shopping Centre.

Nick, 59, an electrical engineer in his day job, said: “I’ve always enjoyed photography but I got into it seriously about three years ago. I bought the camera and the lenses, and I joined a couple of clubs: the Swindon Photographic Society and the Stratton Camera Club.”

Telling the story behind the picture, he said: “It was a re-enactment week at Mapledurham near Reading. I got him to poke his head through the stable door; it was a nice day and the light was clear so I managed to capture that.

“I knew I’d caught a good image. I’ve obviously done a little bit with it on photoshop, to bring out the definition of the beard and make it pop a little bit, because I thought he had an interesting face.

Nick also revealed that he was more than little creative with his title: “I just thought he looked like a fisherman, so that’s why I called him ‘Salt of the Sea’.”

Nick also revealed that, despite his image hanging on public display for a week, his subject had not yet seen the picture – as he never managed to take his name.

But with the ‘Mapledurham at War’ re-enactment due to take place again over the coming weekend, he hopes he may be able to find his muse, and show him the winning work.

The Swindon Photographic Society’s exhibition officer, Malcolm Cole, praised the image, complimenting the subject’s “crystal-clear sharp, with a highly detailed big white beard and piercing blue eyes”.

Of the winner, he said: “Nick is one of our primary [less experienced] photographers and he was far and away the winner, with double the votes of the next person.”

The exhibition was a display of all the images which were commended by experienced judges earlier in the year, when Old Salt of the Sea did not place.

Malcolm complimented the variety of the images on show: “There are three in our beginners group which are underwater photographs, and I think that they are of a professional standard.

“Alongside such a good range of black and white images, it goes to show how diverse a group the camera club is.”