APOY 2010 Round 9 – Black or White

We?re now entering our penultimate round of Amateur Photographer of the Year 2010, in association with Canon, and it still remains a wide-open contest. The level of competition this year has been intense, and it looks as though it will go down to the wire.

Before we complete another year of APOY, though, we still have two more challenges left for you. And we?ve saved some of the best until last. In round 9 we ask you to forgo all colour and explore the wonderful world of black & white photography. Below we have offered some tips and techniques to help you get started.

At this point we would 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 the APOY 2010 web 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.

Be sure to look for the results from round eight, Walk On The Wild Side in AP dated 30 October 2010.

Round nine – Black or White

In this penultimate round of APOY we ask you to stop seeing the world in colour. It?s a tricky thing to do, of course, because (for most of us) the world is presented to us in colour. Too often we think of black & white as a last resort, a last-ditch means to try to save an interesting scene from dull weather or bland colours. In this round of APOY, though, we want you to imagine how your picture will look in monochrome from the very beginning. We want you to say, ?Black & white is my goal.? Jackson Browne lamented in his hit Running on Empty that he kept ?running into the sun?, but as the days are now getting shorter and the seasons shifting, you won?t be running into as much sun as you did earlier into this contest. Therefore, it seems the perfect time to strip away the colour from your compositions and start making more graphic images.

Removing colour gives you the opportunity to isolate the viewer?s attention on your subjects, emphasise shapes and textures or simply create a more nostalgic and timeless image. On the right we?ve offered some tips and information to help get you started.


One of the first rules we learn as photographers is to shoot in the golden hours of early morning and evening.

Yet shooting at midday when the sun is high overhead will create nice shadows on vertical surfaces, allowing you to capture nice textures in your images.

You can either go in close on these or use them as an interesting backdrop, such as the wall in this portrait

High contrast

When making an image without colour, you are essentially using the range of grey tones between the two extremes of black & white to tell your viewer what?s important.

Choosing high-constrast scenes take this a step further by removing all nuance and pushing the greys towards the black and white ends of the spectrum. The result is a simple, yet striking, composition that lacks detail but packs a punch.


Another general rule of photography is to keep the sun over your shoulder when taking pictures. Yet shooting into the light, particularly with interior scenes, can create a striking atmosphere if done correctly, especially in black & white.

There are a number of ways to get a balanced exposure. Using fill-in flash on your foreground interest is perhaps the easiest method. You could also take two exposures ? one metered for the foreground and the other for the backlight ? and blend them.

1st prize

Our first-place winner will receive Canon?s 18MP EOS 550D with EF-S 18-135mm f/3-5.6 IS lens kit, worth £1,099.99. The EOS 550D offers an ISO range of up to 6400 ? expandable to 12,800 ? along with Full HD movie capability, an external microphone socket and a 63-zone dual-layer metering sensor that analyses focus, colour and luminance information.

The all-purpose EF-S 18-135mm f/3-5.6 IS boasts a 4-stop Image Stabilizer and automatic panning and tripod detection. The winner will also receive Canon?s PIXMA MG8150 all-in-one printer, worth £329, featuring 9600dpi, 1pl droplet size and a 4800dpi CCD scanner, along with three packets of PP201 Photo Paper, worth £29.97. In total, the winner will receive £1,498.56 in prizes.

2nd prize

Our second-placed winner will receive Canon?s 12.1MP PowerShot SX130 IS compact camera, worth £199, with full manual control and HD movie capability. This winner will also receive Canon?s SELPHY CP800 ultra-compact printer, worth £99, which boasts prints in less than a minute, and a KP108 ink/paper set, worth £34. In total, the winner will receive £332 in prizes.

3rd prize

Our third-placed winner will receive Canon?s 12.1MP PowerShot A3100 IS, worth £159. This slim compact camera packs a big punch, boasting a 4x optical zoom with optical image stabiliser, motion-detection technology, smart auto and easy modes, super vivid and poster effect and capability for VGA movies.

Round closes 29 October 2010

In association with Canon