APOY Round Five – The Beauty of Plants

**Entries must be received by 5pm on 29 June 2012**

Please visit the APOY12 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.

Round 5 of this year’s Amateur Photographer of the Year competition, sponsored by Samsung and Jessops, is The Beauty of Plants (flower and garden photography). As gardens everywhere burst into life, now is the perfect time to grab your camera and explore the incredible variety of flora that nature has to offer. Whether you decide to photograph what’s on your doorstep or venture further afield, try to employ a fresh eye in terms of your subject choice and approach. You could explore local parks or public gardens, wild meadows or even a windowbox on your balcony. The image could be a single flower, a group of flowers or a garden scene, photographed either indoors or outdoors. Images likely to catch the judges’ eye are those that are creative, skilfully composed and technically excellent. As always, we have thousands of pounds worth of fantastic camera equipment up for grabs, as well as the chance to be crowned Amateur Photographer of the Year 2012. The closing date for round 5 is 29 June 2012. The top two winners will each receive a fantastic Samsung camera, while the third-prize winner will receive a £250 Jessops voucher. The top 30 highest scoring photographs will be published in our 28 July 2012 issue, while the scores from the top 50 images will be posted on our website.

Information explaining how to enter can be found on the APOY 2012 home page. Please use your full name as the file name and paste the disclaimer into the body of your email if you are sending your entry electronically. We also need to know where and how you took your image, plus the camera and lens used with aperture and focal length details. Also, include a telephone number and your postal address so we can contact you if you win.

We’ve gone blooming bonkers for the latest round of APOY 2012. For round 5, we’re looking for spectacular flower and plant images. The round offers huge scope to create all manner of aesthetically pleasing, dynamic shots. From dew-laden early morning garden views and lively plant portraits bursting with colour to elegant, sleek black & white images, the possibilities are endless. While you may choose to explore gardens such as RHS Rosemoor in Devon, RHS Wisley in Surrey, RHS Harlow Carr in North Yorkshire or the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Surrey, you don’t have to visit a well-known location. A back garden or balcony could be just as fruitful. Once you have decided on a subject and location, think about how you want to photograph your subject. Do you want to come in close and tightly crop the image for impact? Or would pulling back lead to a stronger picture? How do you intend to light your image? Think too about how much depth of field you want and be careful to minimise background distractions. Ensuring your subject is free from extraneous leaves and twigs will pay dividends later. While we’re not advocating tampering with the actual plants, non-destructive and non-invasive ‘tidying’ may be necessary.

1st Prize
The first-prize winner will receive a Samsung NX200 with 20-50mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, a Samsung 60mm f/2.8 macro lens, a Samsung ED-SEF42A flash and a 16MB SDHC Plus memory card, worth a total of £1,498.96. The NX200 is a compact system camera with a 20.3-million-pixel, APS-C, CMOS sensor.

It has high-speed capture (7fps) and ultra-fast autofocus (100ms), while the ISO range of 100-12,800 lets you take high-speed photos even in low light. Samsung’s 60mm is actually a macro lens, but with the 1.5x conversion factor of the APS-C sensor, it takes on that magic 90mm focal length, which is perfect for close-up photography.


2nd Prize
The second-prize winner will receive a Samsung WB850F compact camera and a 16MB SDHC Plus memory card worth a total of £288.98. The WB850F travel compact has a 16-million-pixel, BSI (Back Side Illuminated) CMOS sensor to help reduce image noise and distortion, even in low-light conditions and 21x optical zoom lens (23-483mm equivalent). The Samsung WB850F also has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, so users can email photos or share them on social network sites quickly and easily.

3rd Prize
The third-prize winner will receive a £250 Jessops Gift Card. Jessops Gift Cards are only redeemable in store and not online. Overseas winners will be contacted by phone about how to claim their prize.

Whether you are shooting inside using a dedicated lighting set-up or outside using natural light, you will need to ensure that your lighting is diffuse and evenly balanced. Strong, contrasty light will destroy any subtlety of colour, so choose the time of day for your shot carefully and spend time fine-tuning the lighting. You may want to use a reflector to balance the light and shadows. A standard reflector will soften the light, while a gold reflector will provide a warm glow. Avoid using on-camera flash and watch out especially for overexposed highlights. If you are shooting digitally, keep an eye on your histogram to ensure your exposure is spot-on or use a light meter for accuracy.

To ensure your image is precisely composed, you may want to consider using a tripod. Consider the shooting angle, and try to think of ways to photograph your subject that are a little more adventurous than usual. If you are photographing a single plant or bloom, for example, you could try angling your camera (attached to a tripod) straight down over your subject to create an abstract-looking image or photograph from below looking up at your subject. If you are shooting a wideangle garden view, think about how you can guide the viewer around the image for maximum impact. It’s worth spending time on your composition to ensure different elements are well placed in the frame.

photo by Gemma Padley

Although this round offers myriad opportunities to exploit the vibrant colours of nature, don’t rule out black & white as an option. When handled carefully, black & white can be an ideal choice. The absence of colour will allow the shape, form and texture of your subject to take centre stage. So if you plan to convert your image to black & white, choose a subject with interesting shapes and textures, and try to imagine

Please visit the APOY12 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.

If you wish to enter by post please remember to include your entry form.

**Entries must be received by 5pm on 29 June 2012**

 In association with Samsung and Jessops