Credit: Jorge Pimenta

The first round of APOY 2017 is Magical Monochrome, where we want to see your best black and white images. Black and white has always proved popular, not just in APOY but in the pages of Amateur Photographer in general. When we remove colour from the equation, the rules of composition, framing and lighting shift their parameters and require the photographer (and viewer) to see the world in a vastly different way.

Many photographers who work exclusively in black and white maintain that colour is a distraction in a photograph. Remove it and the viewer is free to focus on the graphic elements of an image: angles, shapes, lines and textures. Light is the other key factor here. When black and white and atmospheric lighting combine, the power of an image can seem all-enveloping. You’d do well to look at some of the greatest images of the masters of black and white photography, such as André Kertész, Bill Brandt, Michael Kenna and Sebastião Salgado.

Black and white is a medium that is capable of giving your images a real visual punch. But also bear in mind that not every subject will necessarily work, so it’s worth giving some real thought to what you choose to shoot.

Entries close – 29 April 2017
Rating – 29 April 2017 to 12 May 2017
Winners announced – 12 May 2017


The prize

Win a Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens and an EF-610 DG Super flashgun – worth £1,010!

Sigma prizes on offer, the Sigma EF-610 DG Super flashgun and the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens

The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art lens offers the ultimate in image quality. Resolution is extremely crisp at the area in focus, while both front and rear bokeh are silky smooth. Offering the ultra-high performance that characterises Sigma’s Art line, it inherits the design principles of the line’s first model, the flagship Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM. To achieve exceptionally crisp resolution, Sigma has minimised sagittal coma flare and every type of optical aberration that affects image quality. The result is minute detail without bleeding or streaking, even at wide-open aperture. Axial chromatic aberration is difficult to correct using image processing software after an image has been taken. For this reason, this lens features Special Low Dispersion (SLD) glass to minimise axial chromatic aberration and deliver sharp, high-contrast quality throughout the frame.

The Sigma EF-610 DG Super flashgun is a shoe- mount-type flash featuring a powerful Guide Number of 61m at ISO 100 and is designed to work with the most popular DSLRs. It provides fully automatic flash for DSLRs with automatic TTL exposure control.

Magical Monochrome – top tips:

Visualisation – The key to great images is to think about how colour translates into tone. Notice the tones in the scene and the proportion of shadows and highlights. The fact is, not every subject will work well in black & white so think about what you’re shooting.

Credit: Jorge Pimenta

Patterns and textures – When colour is removed, a scene can look flat if there’s nothing of interest to see. Since you can’t rely on bold colours for impact, you could always try incorporating textures and patterns into your image.

Credit: Pessoa Neto

Atmosphere – Black & white can be used to create real atmosphere at the right event and location. When you’re within your chosen environment, consider how black & white can emphasise the aesthetic drama of your location. Weather could be a factor here. A dark and stormy day would lend itself well to monochrome. On the other end of the scale, perhaps a day of sunshine can give your images striking tonal contrasts.

Credit: Adele Spencer

Silhouettes – Exposing for the highlights can create a striking image. This is particularly effective if you’re looking to achieve black & white silhouettes. Just make sure your subject has a defined shape, otherwise the impact is likely to be lost.

Credit: Nitin Jain

To keep up with the latest APOY news, head over to our APOY home page:

To find out more about how this year’s contest works and for details of future rounds plus the terms and conditions, please head over to our page on Photocrowd