Landscape photography is one of those genres that never goes out of fashion, particularly as we are blessed with so much great scenery within reasonable striking distance here in the UK.
One of the biggest competitions in the genre is Landscape Photographer of the Year, set up 13 years ago by veteran landscape shooter and course leader, Charlie Waite. The winners of this year’s competition are now in.
The overall winner was Chris Frost, with a stunning shot of Woolland Woods in Dorset on a spring day. Chris wins the overall title of Landscape Photographer of the Year and the £10,000 top prize. celebrating the richly diverse landscape of the UK.
“Taken in spring of 2018 in a wooded area close to Milborne St. Andrew in Dorset, this was the third visit to the area in a matter of days,” Chris explains. “On the previous days, both devoid of morning mists, the light had been harsh and unappealing but the third day delivered stunning conditions with mist swirling through the trees. The low shooting position allowed more emphasis to be placed on the wild garlic and pathway.”
Another stand-out shot was taken by Joshua Elphick, who won the Young Landscape Photographer of the Year title with his image ‘Counting Sheep’.
“I captured this photo on the South Downs in East Sussex whilst out on a walk with my sister,” he explains. “We spotted this sheep standing well away from its herd. As I slowly approached the fence - trying my best not to scare it - I knelt down beside it and took the photo. Although some may think this image may have looked better and cooler if it were something like a Deer stood in its place, I personally like that it is a sheep because I think many believe that there is not much point taking a photo of a sheep because we see them all the time. I personally think that the image shows to appreciate the landscape around us and not take everything we have for granted.”
Meanwhile Leigh Dorey won the Classic View category with Roman Road.
George Robertson was the Urban Life category winner with ‘Got You.’
The Your View winner was Aleks Gjika with ‘Drama at the Lighthouse.’
Neil Burnell won the Black and White category with Fantasy.
For the full list of winners, see here
So what lessons can we take away from this year’s winners? First, we’re reminded again that great landscape photographer is about light, and also about perseverance. Chris Frost returned several times to the woodland until he was satisfied with the available light – so never settle for second-best if you want to do well in big competitions. Perfect timing is also shown in Got You by George Robertson – sometimes you just need to wait and wait until all the elements come together.
The winning images also show that you don’t need to go miles and miles to get a great shot; if there beautiful landscape in your home county, as is the case with Chris, you’d be better practicing shooting it lots of times and in lots of different types of light, rather than rushing around the country looking for the ‘perfect’ spot. The other advantage of choosing a relatively local spot is that getting there very early in the morning is not such of an issue.
Note too how the winning images are well composed, with minimal clutter and distraction allowed to creep into the frame, and how the processing and editing is fairly restrained – although the drama is worked up in black and white shots.
On the subject of black and white, Neil Burnell’s winning infrared shot of a lone tree shows how a different approach can be really successful, even with a fairly predictable subject. Infrared is not for everyone, but for black and white images, it can work really well.
Last but not least, several of the winning images were taken on older DSLRs with APS-C sensors, so don’t just assume that investing in the very latest full-frame mirrorless cameras will somehow increase your chances of winning big competitions – it’s more about developing your awareness of light and how it interacts with the landscape, and making sure you get there at the right time of day.
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