We are pleased to announce that Zay Yar Lin from Myanmar is the winner of Round Four of Amateur Photographer of the Year (APOY) 2020. He can pick products of up to £1,000 in value (based on Sigma’s RRP), and if his choice is above this price, he can decide to pay the difference. Both the 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary (RRP £999.99) or the 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports (RRP £1,899.99) would be great choices.
First prize Zay Yar Lin, Myanmar (20pts)
The above image appears at first glance to be a composite, but then, as the eye adjusts, we realise it is the edge of a ship’s deck with the swirling sea below. The theme of movement is apparent both in the shapes created by the swabbing of the deck and the foaming waves, and the way the two echo each other is mesmerising. And it was taken with an iPhone, which goes to show that using whatever camera you have on you at the time is better than using no camera at all!
Apple iPhone 7 Plus, 6.6mm, 1/529sec at f/2.8, ISO 20
Second prize: Nawfal Jirjees, Dubai (19pts)
Nawfal has captured the sheer majesty of this horse in one frame. The extended front leg, the arched neck and the flick of the tail all come together to show the animal’s controlled power. The way in which the sand is kicked up looks almost like waves in water. Shooting with a 400mm lens has made the background dunes appear closer than they would have been, and the curves and ripples provide context to the scene. Finally, the low light provides highlights and a three-dimensionality that would be lost if it were more overhead. Atmospheric and enchanting.
Sony A7R III, 400mm, f/2.8, ISO 100
Third prize: Andrew Robertson, UK (18 pts)
Traffic trails are a perennially popular subject for photographers, and this is a particularly well-executed example. Our attention goes first to the illuminated towers of Battersea Power Station, then down to the headlights of the waiting trains. The many straight lines and sharp angles that dominate the upper part of the frame contrast beautifully with the multi-coloured curves of the traffic trails in the foreground. While there is a lot going on, the scene is never confusing, which is an excellent achievement.
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, 70-200mm at 80mm, 192sec at f/29, ISO 100
Fourth prize: Sabrina Garofoli, Italy (17 pts)
We love a minimal shot, and this one manages to be both minimal and absorbing at the same time, which is no mean feat. Its success is down to several important elements: the sinuous curve of the moving train, which appears almost snake-like, and does an extremely good job of leading the eye through the scene; the colour palette, which is limited to only white, red and black; and the precision of composition, which has kept each of the pylons completely separate from one another. Excellent stuff.
Canon EOS 6D, 24-105mm at 24mm, 3.2sec at f/13, ISO 100
Fifth prize: Kirst King-Jones, Canada (16 pts)
A great deal of trial and error went into this beautiful shot of a hummingbird, which was taken on the island of Tobago. We normally see images of hummingbirds as they hover
to feed, so this gives us a lesser-seen view of the magical creature. The image would not have worked if the bird’s eye was anything other than tack-sharp, so this is an achievement in itself. Then, the blur of its wings tells us something about the speed at which they flap. A lovely shot that succeeds on both a creative and a technical level.
Nikon D4S, 600mm, 1/320sec at f/8, ISO 5000, flash
6. Chris Ellison, UK (15 pts)
A great capture that oozes a feel-good factor. The sheer joy in the boys’ faces is infectious as they run towards the camera. Great framing, spot-on focus and excellent timing (the boy on the left is completely off the ground) all come together to create a great travel shot.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 70-300mm at 135mm, 1/250sec at f/6.3, ISO 1600
7. Paul Cooper, UK (14 pts)
You can almost hear the racket these scrapping starlings would have been making here. The right-hand bird is in perfect profile and appears to be gaining ground over the left-hand bird. An added bonus is the jewel colours of the birds’ plumage.
Canon EOS-1D X, 600mm, 1/2500sec at f/8, ISO 8000
8. Steve Oldfield, UK (13 pts)
A split second sooner or later and this shot would have failed, as it’s the eye peeking through the gaps in the wing feathers that makes it so effective. The close-up wideangle emphasises the size of the bird, too.
Nikon D600, 24-70mm at 31m, 1/1250sec at f/8, ISO 320
9. Sara Jazbar, Italy (12 pts)
Who knew that the simple act of feeding could be so acrobatic? The fact that the fledgling appears to have lost its grip on the branch leaves the viewer wondering what happened next.
Nikon D500, 150-600mm at 480mm, 1/2500sec at f/6, ISO 1400
10. Sophia Spurgin, UK (11 pts)
Sophia has cleverly combined action and atmosphere here, which is no mean feat. Even though it’s a still, the image has a slow-motion quality, and we can feel the heat from the setting sun as it silhouettes the divers.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 24-105mm at 65mm, 1/8000sec at f/5.6, ISO 800
11. Angi Wallace, UK (10 pts)
Sony A7II, 90mm Macro, 1/160sec at f/18, ISO 64 An ‘oops!’ moment, very well captured indeed. Angi is always extremely careful not to cause her subjects any distress, which is as it should be. In return, they reward her with natural behaviour, as this shot demonstrates.
Sony A7II, 90mm Macro, 1/160sec at f/18, ISO 64
12. Christina Draper, UK (9 pts)
It’s surprisingly tricky to get good action shots of dogs, but Christina has managed to capture hers at peak happiness. The long focal length keeps the background nicely blurred, and ensures all attention remains on the pup’s cheeky face.
Nikon D500, 70-200mm at 200mm, 1/2500sec at f/2.8, ISO 200
13 Carole Zimmerman UK (8 pts)
The timing of this shot means Carole has captured this surfer looking almost as if he
is sheltering in a cave. Cleverly done.
Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 100-400mm at 400mm, 1/2500sec at f/7.1, ISO 320
14 Andrew Robertson UK (7 pts)
The way in which the lines appear to explode to the edges of the frame make the viewer feel as if they are being sucked into the central point. It works very well in mono, too.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 24-70mm at 24mm, 1sec at f/5, ISO 320
15 Ales Krivec Slovenia (6 pts)
A more subtle interpretation of the brief, but an effective one that wouldn’t have worked as well without the foreground ducks.
Nikon D810A, 14-24mm at 21mm, 1/250sec at f/11, ISO 200
16 Simon Hadleigh-Sparks UK (5 pts)
A well-constructed composite that combines curves and straight lines to good effect. The limited colour palette ensures the final result isn’t confusing to the eye.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 17-40mm, multiple exposure of 10-30secs at
17 Sabrina Garofoli Italy (4 pts)
Sabrina has captured the hummingbird just as it is poised to feed on the flower’s nectar. The judges loved the excellent timing, as well as the echo between the colour of the petals and that of the bird’s plumage.
Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 24-105mm at 87mm, 1/250sec at f/8, ISO 200
18 Graeme Youngson UK (3 pts)
Great timing, great framing and great light all play an important part here. The shop signs saying ‘To go’ add another fortuitous element to the scene.
19 Zay Yar Lin, Myanmar ( 2 pts)
A beautifully balanced image, offset by the setting sun in the right of the frame. It’s almost as if the fishermen are performing a dance.
Nikon D850, 16-35mm at 16mm, 1/320sec at f/10, ISO 200
20 Dominic Beaven, UK (1 pt)
The sheer force and power of this punch leaps right out of the frame. Look closely, and you can even see the sweat flying from the body of the fighter on the left. Great timing, which is what this category is all about.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 16-35mm at 16mm, 1/640sec at f/4, ISO 6400
Top tips for shooting movement: Four shortlisted entrants give their action hints
Andrew Robertson,3rd and 14th
For me, the key to shooting motion is to decide what sort of image you would like to make and work out the appropriate exposure length. With my Electric Avenue image, I wanted a number of unbroken trails, which meant I had to use a very long exposure. I also wanted to retain some colour in the sky, so to achieve both this and the light trails, I took the shot just after sunset.
Graeme Youngson, 18th
Luck is vital – and you can increase your chances of getting lucky by always having your camera in your hand wherever you are, pre-set to the prevailing conditions, and by staying aware of what is going on around you. Don’t worry about perfect framing (there’s not time!). A sense of movement can be enhanced by a certain amount of disorder, blurring and not including all the subject in the frame.
Sara Jazbar, 9th
With very fast animals, or a very fast action, the most difficult thing is to capture the moment. For me, gear is not that important with most photographic genres, but in some cases it does really help. A fast burst of 10fps will help to freeze
the kind of moment that even the human eye might miss. My advice is to try try try, experiment and never give up!
Christina Draper, 12th
As my usual subjects are animals, I’m quite used to shooting things at speed – especially my dog, Jaz. With fast-moving subjects, I usually try to lock my exposure first, then lock on to the subject, stay with them and almost forget everything else that’s going on around. In this case, I caught Jaz doing her favourite thing – jumping – with some lovely light filtering through the trees.
I am always drawn towards unusual images that at first glance might have ended up on the reject pile. When you spend a lot of time judging photography competitions, the same kind of pictures will inevitably make an appearance every time. Shots like this one below give you reason to pause and really stop to look at what’s going on and assess why the picture works.
Due to the timing of this particular shot – a millisecond either way – it seems very unlikely to have been something that the photographer set out to do deliberately. Perhaps Steve planned this shot, but to my eye it looks like a very happy accident; one that he probably came back to during the editing stage and realised it was just a little bit magic – I love the chance of it all.
Amy Davies, Features Editor