APOY 2011 Round Eight ? Shooting Skies

Please visit the APOY11 home page to find all the rules for entry, terms and conditions, the APOY entry email address, and the disclaimers that must be copied and pasted into an email entry.

Entries must be received by 5pm on 30 September 2011

There are three rounds left in this year?s Amateur Photographer of the Year competition, so if you haven?t entered yet what are you waiting for? There are thousands of pounds? worth of fantastic Canon prizes to be won in round eight, and the overall prize of £5,000-worth of Canon camera equipment is up for grabs.

This month?s theme is Shooting skies, and we are looking for brilliant images where the sky takes centre stage. We want you to focus on the sky itself, and this could be at dawn, dusk, night or even in the middle of the day. The time of day you choose is up to you, but think carefully about how you compose your shot. Think about the ratio of sky to land: a landscape image that doesn?t focus on the sky won?t score highly no matter how beautiful it is. That said, we will consider images that effectively show the relationship between the sky and the surroundings. Original images that are well conceived, interpret the brief in an innovative way and are technically excellent will catch the judges? attention.

photo by Mat Gallagher

The winner of round eight will receive a Canon EOS 600D with an EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens worth a total of £1,578.99. The Canon EOS 600D and EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM is an ideal camera and lens combination for photographing landscapes. The closing date for round eight is 30 September 2011. The top three winners will each receive a fantastic Canon camera and the top 30 highest scoring images will be published in AP 29 October. The scores from the top 50 images will also be posted on our website.

Information explaining how to enter can be found on our website. Remember to use your full name as the file name and don?t forget to paste the disclaimer into the body of your email if you are sending your entry to us electronically. Please also include a sentence explaining where and how you took your image, plus the camera and lens you used. Most importantly, don?t forget to include a telephone number and your postal address so we can contact you if you win.

The theme for round eight, Shooting skies, should send ripples of excitement through landscape photography enthusiasts everywhere. This is your chance to show us what you can do with a camera and lens when travelling around the great outdoors. Whether you are walking through your local park and glimpse an enigmatic sunset through the trees, are out in the countryside on a serene summer?s morning or by the coast on a wild stormy night, we?re looking for images of skies that will blow us away.

Skies have always been a popular subject, so this round comes with a word of warning ? try as hard as you can to think of a unique way of photographing the sky. Don?t settle for the most obvious sunset image, and if you do go for a sunset shot make sure you pay close attention to the framing and exposure to ensure your image is technically excellent and visually exciting (for more on this, see below). You could frame your shot to show the sky within its surroundings or you could fill the frame with just the sky. Whichever approach you choose, the sky should be the main subject.

Why not try?

Here are some tips and suggestions to help you get started

photo by Damien Demolder

Colour and Pattern

Depending on where you are and what time of day you are shooting, you may like to think about how you can use colour to create impact. From brilliant blues to bright reds and hazy oranges, colour is likely to form a central part of your image. That said, a moody sky may work better in black & white, so don?t automatically opt for colour. Look for interesting cloud formations and decide how much emphasis to give to the sky. Think, too, about graphic shapes ? silhouetted buildings or trees, for example. An interesting silhouetted skyline against a blood-red sky could look very dramatic. Remember that you may need to go back at different times of the day to assess the lighting conditions.

photo by Damien Demolder


A fantastic sky means very little if you don?t take the time to work out how best to photograph it. Do you want to use a wideangle lens to show the grandeur of the scene or would a telephoto lens work better to isolate an area of the sky? Think also about how other elements work within the frame. Another consideration will be where the light is coming from and how it falls on the scene in front of you. Then you can decide where you need to set up your camera in relation to the direction of light. Preparation is key: don?t wait until the perfect sky appears before thinking about your composition.

photo by Mat Gallagher


In any landscape image where there is sky and land, your exposure will be especially critical. The aim, as always, is to avoid burning out the highlights in the brightest parts of the image and to retain detail in the shadows. Balancing your exposure may be tricky, so you may need to use an ND grad filter or bracket your exposures. Pay close attention, too, to how the light changes. At certain times of the day, such as first thing in the morning and last thing at night, it will change rapidly, so be prepared to adjust your exposure and camera settings accordingly.

1st prize

The winner of round eight will receive Canon?s 18-million-pixel EOS 600D with an EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens worth a total of £1,578.99. The EOS 600D offers full HD 1080p video recording, up to 3.7fps continuous shooting and a 3in, 1.04-million-dot vari-angle LCD screen.

An ISO range of 100-6400, expandable to 12,800, enables high-quality handheld shooting in low-light conditions without the need for flash. Meanwhile, the EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM lens, which is equivalent to a 24-136mm focal length lens (5.6x standard zoom), offers a 4-stop Image Stabilizer as well as a close focusing distance of just 0.35m throughout the zoom range.

2nd prize

The second-placed winner will receive Canon?s PowerShot SX220 HS (in grey) worth £269. Canon?s HS System cameras are ideal for shooting in low-light conditions.

With a 28mm 14x optical zoom (392mm equivalent) and full HD 1080p movie mode, the 12.1-million-pixel PowerShot SX220 HS has a 7.5cm (3in) LCD screen, while smart auto mode detects 32 shooting scenes so you can take great pictures in complete confidence.

3rd prize

Our third-placed winner will receive Canon?s PowerShot A3300 IS (in red) worth £149. The 16-million-pixel PowerShot A3300 IS has a 28mm wideangle 5x zoom lens, a 7.5cm (3in) LCD, Optical Image Stabilizer, and smart auto and easy modes that detect 32 scene types. Face detection technology detects up to 35 faces in a single frame, while high-quality movies can be recorded in 720p HD format.

Please visit the APOY11 home page to find all the rules for entry, terms and conditions, the APOY entry email address, and the disclaimers that must be copied and pasted into an email entry.

Entries must be received by 5pm on 30 September 2011

In association with Canon