Sunrises, sunsets and sunny days

As we reach the halfway point in our 2010 Amateur Photographer of the Year competition, in association with Canon, we can safely say this has been one of the best years yet. The volume of entries has been immense, and the quality staggering. No doubt this is down to some fantastic prizes Canon has been giving away to our winners, such as the new EOS 550D up for grabs this month.

As all the grim, wintry weather appears to be finally behind us, we thought this was the perfect time to get out and capture sunrises, sunsets and strong light in our fifth round, Here comes the sun. On the following pages we have offered some tips and techniques to help you get started. Judging by the previous four rounds, we?re confident we can look forward to a diverse group of dynamic images.

We would also like to remind everyone that it is vitally important to include a daytime telephone number and address so we can contact you in the event that you are shortlisted or win the round. Please also remember to include details of your image in your email entries so we can judge your image accurately. Without a sentence explaining what your picture depicts, our judges have to guess ? and they may guess wrong! If you visit APOY Competition page you will find all the rules for entry, terms and conditions and the disclaimers that must be copied and pasted into an email entry.

Remember that the top 50 pictures each month all receive points on our league table, and the top 30 are printed in the magazine. Persistence pays off in APOY.

It?s getting to be that time of year where the sun comes out of its long hibernation and gives us plenty of stunning summer sunrises, sunsets and blindingly bright days. While the grey, overcast days of spring were great for getting up close to shoot tulips and beetles, we now want you to use the strong seasonal light as a dominant element in your images.

Everyone has stood on the beach and captured a classic sunset, and those images are always stunning.But remember how many images like that we receive. Try to set yourself apart from the pack this round and think about the other ways in which you can use strong sunlight. Maybe it?s glinting off rain-slicked streets or streaming through cathedral windows. Perhaps the sunrise bathes your garden in soft pink tones or you see a striking silhouette of a boat at sea.

As always, there are plenty of options and ways in which to interpret the theme. You can travel as far or as close to home as you wish to find a great picture to enter into this round. Below we?ve offered some tips and information to help get you started.

Framing the sun

While sunrises and sunsets make for amazing spectacles, the sheer radiance of light can pose major obstacles with things like exposure and flare.

A simple way to get around this is to frame the sun behind an object in your composition.

Notice how the trees in this image obscure the brightest points of the setting sun, allowing the warm glow to filter out around them.

Strong light

Shooting in strong sunlight will make strong colours bolder but drain any colour from weaker tones. By changing your camera angle or waiting for the sun to fall, you can achieve side-lighting in your scene, which will cast bigger shadows and enhance the textures and detail. This is especially useful when shooting in black & white, but it can also be striking when used with colour, as it adds contrast and saturation to your subject, as it has here with these flowers.

Silhouettes

Any time the sun is out is the perfect opportunity to create a more graphic image by placing your subject in front of the sun, exposing for the highlights and throwing your subject into a silhouette. These stand out for their contrast and drama, and usually work best when your subject has a very familiar shape, such as these Roman columns, making it easy for subjects to be identified without any detail.

1st Prize

Our first-placed winner will receive Canon?s EOS 550D plus EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM kit, worth £1,699.98. Ideal in low light, the 18MP EOS 550D offers an ISO range of up to 6400 ? expandable to 12,800 ? for those environments where using flash is undesirable. Other features include Full HD movie capability, a 3in LCD and a Quick Control screen. The all-purpose EF-S 15-85mm lens boasts a 4-stop Image Stabilizer, automatic panning and tripod detection.

2nd Prize

Our second-placed winner will receive Canon?s IXUS 105 compact camera, worth £189. The 12.1MP IXUS 105 brings a great combination of ease of use, high image quality and design that stands out from the crowd. Along with a 28mm wideangle lens, the IXUS 105 boasts face detection, auto redeye correction and motion-detection technology.

3rd Prize

Our third-placed winner receives Canon?s 10MP PowerShot A495, worth £119. This easy-to-use digital compact boasts a 10MP sensor with 3.3x optical zoom and a Smart Auto Mode, which uses scene-detection technology to determine the shooting scene from subject brightness, contrast, distance and overall hue.

In association with Canon

For more information on Canon products please visit www.canon.co.uk