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‘Use the difficulty’ goes the wise old saying, and our readers certainly put the lockdown to good use, to judge by the results of this very popular photo contest. The rules were simple: pictures must have been taken at home between 23 March and 31 May, and uploaded to Instagram, Flickr, Twitter or Facebook. They could be of anything, but we’d award a £100 CameraWorld voucher for our favourite image, (chosen by a panel from AP and CameraWorld) and five Benro mini tripods for the best runner-up pictures of a person, a pet, an object, something edible, and a view through a door or window. We had some great entries, and here are our top 20.

Overall Winner (receives £100 CameraWorld voucher)
Facetime with Charlotte
Drew Buckler/Apple iPhone 7
Many people have discovered how to stay in touch with friends and family through apps like Zoom and Facetime, but a portrait session with the photographer and model in different locations? That’s what Drew and his model Charlotte Godfrey did for this shot, which was done over Facetime using an iPhone 7. ‘We communicated online and worked together to create a frame using white netting, sat by as much window light as possible and took the shot remotely,’ explains Drew. ‘I delicately edited the iPhone file inside Photoshop and was delighted with the response I received!’ We loved the image and chose it as the overall winner even before we learned of the ingenuity behind how it was created. @drewbuckler (Instagram).

Best Food Photo
Brownies
Jasmin White/Canon EOS 5D Mark lV, 50mm f/1.4, 1/250sec f/7.1
‘I made brownies with the last of what was in the cupboard and had an impromptu shoot with the ingredients,’ says Jasmin. The composition, lighting, and single colour palette comprising various shades of brown, make this a deserving winner of our prize for best food photo. @thesecountryroads (Instagram)

Best Pet Photo
Rainy days
Zoe Scott/Huawei P Smart
Many of us have spent hours gazing out of the window during the lockdown, and Zoe’s cat caught the mood perfectly, in this well-composed image. Zoe, 26, lives in Weston-super-Mare and this is her first published photo. ‘I have always enjoyed taking photos but the past year it has become a true passion of mine,’ she says. ‘This is my cat, fondly known as Mr Biscuit. It was a rainy day and I found him peering out of the window at the birds in the nearby tree. His eyes just looked so wild as he was watching them intently. I quickly grabbed my phone and snapped him before he had a chance to move! I’m currently saving up to buy a camera but my phone has served me well so far.’ @z0e_sc0tt (Instagram)

Best Photo of an Object
Blue shadows
Garry Solomon/Nikon D750, 90mm f/2.8
Garry is a nature photographer from Northamptonshire, specialising in flower macro shots like this spectacular example, of an anemone. They are always one of the first flowers to bloom in our garden and this year, they really helped me get through the first period of lockdown. They are a beautiful flower to shoot macro.’@garrysolomon_photography (Instagram)

Best Portrait
Isolation photography day 6
Phoebe Manley/Nikon D3200, Yongnuo 50mm, 1/60sec f/25
We see a lot of selfies but this one has painterly quality that we really liked – a combination of the lovely lighting and the pensive expression. Phoebe is 22, and a vocal soprano with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. ‘I usually enjoy photographing wildlife and the places I get to visit on choir tours,’ she tells us, ‘but being unable to get out and about much I decided to experiment at home with studio style photography, and my only willing model: me! This is one of my first self-portrait attempts, and is one of a series of nine from an “isolation photography” portfolio.’ @photographybyphoebs (Instagram)

Best Photo Featuring a Window
Lockdown day 3
Sam Millis-Howe/Sony A7 II, 50mm, 1/60sec f/1.8
Sam is a mum and keen photographer from Lancing, West Sussex. ‘When lockdown began I decided to set myself a challenge,’ she recalls. ‘I decided to take a picture of my daughter each day to document her life in lockdown. On this particular day she was fed up and sat watching people on their daily exercise. I thought it summed up how most of us had been feeling.’ We love the girl’s pose and expression, and the way she is framed by the rainbow, while the window reflects the outside world. @sammillishowe (Instagram)

Vinny
Jasmin White/Canon EOS 5D Mark lV, 1/250sec f/2.8
Jasmin is clearly a versatile photographer, having taken two of our favourite pictures in completely different genres: pets and food. ‘The last few months have been difficult for us all,’ she admits. ‘When lockdown was announced all my work dried up. But in many ways this period has been amazing. I challenged myself to document this uncertain time by highlighting the good in the everyday. I’ve started looking more carefully at my surroundings and noticed the beauty in things I’ve never seen before. It’s good to have this daily thing to keep my mind focused on photography rather than the news.’ Jasmin captured her dog Vinnyin his favourite spot – her bed. @thesecountryroads (Instagram).

Fay’s Hands
Nicki-Joe Baxter/Fujifilm X100T, 1/125sec f/9
‘Home-Bound’ is a documentary project that I started as we went into lockdown, says Nicki-Joe, who lives in Huddersfield and teaches GCSE & A Level Photography at a school in Leeds. ‘It has been a challenge training my eye to look at these four walls with fresh eyes each day. I hope to look back on these images and be reminded of what a surreal time this was.’ Nicki-Joe has taken some great photos but we chose this one because it depicts, with great style, a previously mundane activity that has taken on a new significance recently. @nickijoephoto (Instagram)

Portrait
Chukwuma Chisom Victor/Tecno Camon 12
The unusual composition of this portrait caught our eye. 19-year-old Chukwuma, from Nigeria, used his sister as the model, and took the photo on his phone. ‘The inspiration behind the picture is that I wanted to recreate a romantic scene of a girl who is in love,’ he explains. He is currently saving up to buy a camera. @b_moneyoffixial (Twitter)

Still life with vase
Christine Hunt/Fujifilm X-T20, 18-55mm, 1/120sec f/10
Christine, an AP subscriber from the Isle of Man, took up photography five years ago and, she says, quickly became obsessed. She created this simple but effective still life in her home. ‘The front, leaded light windows are south facing and cast strong shadows,’ says Christine. ‘I set up a blue Denby vase with three pasqueflower seed heads, as I think they’re much prettier than dandelion ones.’ @aprilhaddock (Twitter)

Lily
Frankie McAllister/Nikon D750 Sigma 105mm Macro, Lume Cube & daylight
Frankie hails from Northern Ireland but now lives in London. She specialises in documenting the landscape, and the competing needs of population, industry and ecology. ‘This is part of a series taken at the start of lockdown, which was for me an anxious period’ she says. ‘I created a makeshift studio in my loft to experiment with still life and lighting in an attempt to spend my time in a creative and productive way. I found that the mood of the work naturally evolved into a dark, slightly claustrophobic style, echoing the feelings I was experiencing at the time.’ @frankie.mcallister (Instagram)

Day 27, moments of reflection
Estevan Baza/Canon EOS 200D, 50mm, 1/60sec f/2.5
Estavan lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and bought his first camera just before the lockdown. He embarked on a picture-a-day project as something to do in lockdown. This was Day 27. ‘I was walking through the hallway in my home when I saw my wife washing a delicate garment in the bathroom sink and decided to capture it, explains Estevan. ‘To me, it was a beautiful moment of isolation and reflection in pure form.’ We couldn’t have put it better. @estevan.photography (Instagram)

Disney
Tim Armstrong/Canon EOS 5D Mk IV, 24-105mm, 1/200 sec f/11
‘Early in lockdown I was looking for things to photograph and my favourite model (my dog Disney), seemed to be the obvious victim, says Tim, a keen amateur from Leicestershire. The location was actually my bed. I set up a collapsible black backdrop and a Yongnuo Speedlite fitted with a Neewer 80cm softbox to the left of Disney, and a white reflector to the right just to take out some of the shadow.’ The strong eye contact, wayward ear, and superb technical quality make this a winner in our eyes. @turnipvindaloo (Instagram)

Heroic performance
Ian Knight/Sony A7 III, 50mm, 1/250sec f/8
‘The bear was created by someone living in our village and sold to raise money for NHS related charities,’ explains Ian. ‘The setup was simple: a red tablecloth as a backdrop, and a light with a cardboard snoot. The red “curtains” and spotlight were to suggest the dual meaning of a theatre, where the NHS heroes perform on a daily basis.’ We liked how the image is symbolic of both NHS workers and the support they have received from the public, and also a resurgence of interest in arts and crafts, and other creative pursuits during the lockdown. Ian’s Flickr site is here.

Zuzana
Martin Kalteis/Sony A7III, 85mm f/1.8, 1/320sec f/1.8
Self-taught photographer Martin lives in Crete, and took one of our favourite photos featuring a door or window. ‘As I prefer outdoor photo shooting this was a challenge,’ he says. ‘I had to try different locations within the walls of my house. My beautiful model Zuzana (@zzz_756) is looking outside the window, not knowing what the future will bring. Fear and worry are on her mind.’ @mk.pixelstorm (Instagram)

Fred and curtain
David Richards/Motorola G6 Play
Although not technically perfect this is a funny moment that any cat owner will recognise. ‘Our cat, called Fred Astaire (his twin sister is called Ginger Rogers) is ruled by his creature comforts,’ says David. ‘This picture is the result of me trying to open, as quietly as I could, a new packet of treats.’ David is 59 and has been a keen photographer since the 1960s, when he was given a Kodak 126. ‘Currently I use either my Fujifilm X30 or a Motorola G6 Play, and edit my pictures using Snapseed or an old version of Photoshop Elements from 2009.’ @lawleylad (Instagram)

Cherry tomatoes
Ksenija Rizova/Nikon Z6, Micro 60mm lens, 1/20sec f/6.3
Ksenija is a Latvian studying photography in Russia. ‘Like many people I had plans for this spring, but the lockdown caught me in Moscow and interrupted work on my diploma project,’ she laments. ‘I decided to take photos daily at home and focus on food. This photo was taken in natural light on my balcony. My daily photo exercises helped me get through lockdown in a good mood and let me experiment. I learnt tethered shooting, focus shift, photo stacking, and equipped my mobile studio with professional lights. I’m happy with the skills I acquired during my 73 days in solo isolation and grateful to all my friends for their support.’ This is a great food photo with lots of visual impact. @xenia.rizova_photo (Instagram)

Lightbulb
Ellie Fagan/Canon EOS 200D, 18-55mm, 1/2000sec f/5.6
We like the way Ellie found an interesting picture in the most mundane of objects. ‘During the lockdown I found it hard to find inspiration for my photos,’ admits Ellie, a photography student from Hampshire, ‘so I decided to explore objects in my own home. I ended up taking photos of a light bulb in my living room, and exploring the use of depth of field and aperture.’ @elliesphotographyportfolio (Instagram)

Persian jewels
Chris Jepson/Nikon D850, Nikkor 105mm f2.8, ProFoto A1X flash, 1/200 sec, f10,
Prior to lockdown most of my work was people-based but in March it all dried up, so I have applied my portrait techniques to flowers, fruit and veg,’ says Chris, who lives in east London. ‘The pomegranate is a fairly basic set-up – I took my colour palette from a Frida Kahlo portrait, the background is sugar paper from the pound shop, as is the floor tile. I had my D850 on a tripod and handheld my flash gun off camera to the left.’ We love the colour contrast – it was a great idea to borrow the palette from a classic work of art. @ChrisJepson (Instagram)

Well… $h!T
Ethan Bates/Sony A7, Samyang 14mm f2.8
Ethan is from Kansas and, for the past three years, has specialised in showcasing vintage lenses on Sony Alpha cameras. ‘This photo was a challenge between me and another photographer to come up with a fun creative idea while in quarantine,’ says Ethan. ‘I set up the lighting and camera settings for the shot, but it was my girlfriend Hillary Thomas who took it. I love that we were able to work and grow together in our creativity during quarantine.’ This is a humorous and brilliantly executed picture of what will, for reasons unknown, forever be remembered as a symbol of the pandemic – and the focus of hysterical panic buying all over the world.’  @mr.chuck_cali (Instagram)

The prizes
The winner, Drew Buckler, wins a £100 voucher to spend on anything at CameraWorld. With three branches in London, Chelmsford and Stevenage, CameraWorld prides itself on being a good old-fashioned camera shop staffed by experts and keen photographers with over 40 years of experience. Specialising in both new and used equipment it offers competitive prices and, if you shop on its website, free delivery on orders over £150. It has won numerous awards including the prestigious Amateur Photographer Good Service Award.

Our five runners up each win a Benro PP1 Pocketpod Tabletop Tripod worth £14.99, courtesy of CameraWorld. Usable as a mini camera tripod or a handgrip for smartphones the PP1 stands 17.6cm high and weighs just 160g. It features an all-metal ball head, non-slip runner feet, and can support cameras weighing up to 1.5kg.