Our black & white round always attracts a huge number of entries, and this year was no different, with more than 1,300 images submitted for judging.
Our team of ten judges, which included AP editor Nigel Atherton, photographer Gavin Prest and Olivia Harris, Saturday picture editor at The Times, whittled entries down to the top ten you see here. To see more, including the 150-strong shortlist, and to enter, see here.
1: Ian Bramham, UK
Nikon D800, 16-35mm at 16mm, 1/15sec at f/8, ISO 140
Guest judge Gavin Prest says: ‘This atmospheric image has been handled extremely well, particularly as it was shot in conditions that can be tricky. Despite its bright highlights and dark shadows, giving a very wide range for the camera’s sensor to record, Ian has managed to capture detail in every part of the image.
‘The verticals have been kept vertical, which helps the viewer appreciate the scale of the architecture. The perspective and lead-in lines take you through the image, but everything is brought together by the figure walking through the scene on the right. Silhouetted against the bright fog and carrying a bag, they make me start to ask questions.
Where are they going? Where have they been? What is in their bag? Why are they the only person in the image and where is everyone else? This small but perfect detail completes the image. Creating a narrative that makes your viewer stop and ask questions always makes a picture all the more compelling and effective.’
2: Jim Cumming, Canada
Canon EOS 7D, 70-200mm at 123mm, 1/500sec at f/2.8, ISO 160
Wildlife in black & white is notoriously difficult to do well. All too often, images bear all the hallmarks of simply being converted for the sake of it, rather than for the right reasons. Here, we have an outstanding example of an image that quite clearly works better in b&w than it would in colour.
Our eyes are drawn to the whites of the elks’ eyes, and the almost perfect symmetry of the composition. The texture of the antlers and fur is almost three-dimensional, and the negative space created by those antlers is a crucial element of the shot. Set against a pure white background, the creatures almost jump out of the scene.
3: Ron Tear, UK
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 17-40mm at 40mm, 1/8000sec at f/6.3, ISO 1600
Ask most landscape photographers what they aim to achieve with their pictures, and they’d probably say they want the viewer to feel part of the scene. This shot is a huge success on that front.
It’s extremely easy to imagine standing alongside the photographer as this picture was taken, drinking in the sheer majesty, depth and drama of the snow-covered mountainscape.
Scale is provided, of course, by the line of climbers. Without them, there would be nowhere for the eye to settle. Finally, the range of tones is something Ansel Adams himself would be proud of.
4: Roger Evans, UK
Canon EOS-1D X, 300mm, 1/2000sec at f/2.8, ISO 64,000
In the same way as it can be tricky to make a successful wildlife image in black & white (see our 2nd-placed shot), converting a sports image to mono needs to be done for all the right reasons.
This outstanding capture of a diver in action is a case in point. In colour, this image would lose everything that makes it so powerful – the tightness of the diver’s pose, the expression of concentration on her face and – above all – the sharpness and detail in every backlit droplet that’s spraying from her hair as she spins.
Beautifully timed, beautifully executed, and beautifully converted.
5: Pete Baker, UK
Canon EOS 80D, 30mm, 1/125sec at f/7.1, ISO 250
This is the kind of action shot that appears very simple, but we expect it took a great many shots to achieve one where everything came together in the way it does here.
The dancer’s leap appears almost effortless, and her releasing of the flour is perfectly timed. The directon of the light creates an almost three-dimensional effect and is very nicely handled indeed. Converting to black & white allows the viewer to appreciate the overall shape and tone.
6: Wendy Davies, UK
Canon EOS 7D Mark II, 28mm, 1/1000sec at f/8, ISO 1000
Here, Wendy has created a beautifully blended composite of two separate images, which come together to make a very effective whole. With both bird and man silhouetted perfectly within the white rectangle on the wall behind, she has created a frame within a frame.
The image could be timeless were it not for the subject’s smartphone. The textures and tones of the background and the cobbled street create a perfect backdrop for the foreground interest.
7: April Thomas, USA
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 24-105mm at 55mm, 1/125sec at f/5.6, ISO 2000
A lovely low-key portrait that displays a mastery of styling, lighting, posing and processing, all of which come together to create a compelling and fascinating whole. April has managed to keep the majority of the tones dark, but without allowing them to block up or go flat, retaining the depth and smoothness of the model’s skin and hair.
Finally, there’s also an intriguing ambiguity to the image that draws you in and makes you question your initial assumptions. All in all, a very intelligently created photograph.
8: June Fox UK
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 100-400mm at 153mm, 1/250sec at f/8, ISO 800
When shooting storm images, it can be easy to get carried away by the sheer drama, forgetting that composition is as important as ever.
Here, June has managed not to get overexcited by the epic wave, and compose with the lighthouse in just the right part of the frame to provide balance, stillness and scale. This makes the fury of the wave itself all the more dramatic and terrifying.
The way it streams into the frame from the right makes it appear to be attacking the lighthouse – which, in many ways, it is!
9: Vince Lavender, UK
Canon EOS 700D, 70-300mm at 70mm, 1/4000sec at f/5.6, ISO 6400
We see a lot of minimal images in this round – not surprisingly, as the black-&-white medium lends itself perfectly to such an approach.
This is a particularly good example, which makes confident use of both empty space and cropping. The composition is spot on, with the stick-like figures placed perfectly in the frame.
An important consideration is that they are walking from left to right – towards the lifeguard tower – rather than out of the frame, which would have weakened the scene substantially. Very well executed overall.
10: Sirsendu Gayen, India
Nikon D610, 15-30mm at 19mm, 1/60sec at f/14, ISO 125
So often, ultra-wideangle lenses can be used poorly or for the wrong reason, and compositions end up too ‘loose’. However, this criticism certainly can’t be levelled at Sirsendu’s eye-catching shot.
By placing himself so close to the woman on the right, he has captured the dynamism in the lines of the sarees as they are dried.
Our eye shoots straight to the smaller woman on the left, before travelling across to the figures who have been extremely well captured between the two pieces of fabric. A very atmospheric reportage shot.
Round one winner: Young Photographer of the Year
Muhammad Amdad Hossain Bangladesh
Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 50mm, 1/800sec at f/7.1, ISO 160
What a great picture! The tonal range is exquisite, with the silhouetted figures and tree in the foreground a deep black, the next line of trees a mid grey and, further back, a tree line of light grey.
The figures are perfectly positioned in the frame and the shot is perfectly timed. Badly timed silhouettes can look a confusing mess without the third dimension to help explain what you’re looking at, but here the limbs of the figures and even the legs of the cow are perfectly separated to aid immediate recognition.
It’s hard to see how this shot could be improved in any way.
Camera Club Competition: Charles Ashton, UK
Nikon Z 7, 15-30mm at 22mm, 1/60sec at f/2.8, ISO 250
Help your camera club accumulate points when you enter APOY by choosing it from the dropdown menu when you upload your images. Whatever points you are awarded are added to your club’s overall tally. That’s what Charles Ashton of Kempsey Camera Club did with this atmospheric documentary portrait, which he shot in a barber shop in Cuba.
He received a Commended for his image, earning him 10 points. Another member of his club, Malcolm Hay, also received 10 points for his Commended image, giving Kempsey Camera Club 20 points in total.
So the more members you can encourage to enter, the more points your club can accrue. At the end of APOY 2021, the camera club with the most points wins a £500 voucher to spend at www.mpb.com. The highest-placed entry from a camera club member in this round was Ron Tear’s snowscape, which was placed third overall and earned 80 points for Loughton Camera Club (see leaderboard, below).
The 2021 leaderboards
Ian Bramham shoots into first place with his atmospheric winning shot, but with nine further rounds, there’s everything still to play for.
Muhammad Hossain takes the lead in Young APOY, and as he and Josh Lomen have more than one image in the top 10, only their highest-scoring pictures count. The camera club competition is also set to become hotly contested.
Winning kit from MPB
The winner of Round One of APOY is Ian Bramham, who receives a £500 voucher to spend on anything at MPB.
From top-of-the-range digital medium-format camera bodies, to entry-level DSLRs, as well as the longest telephoto zooms and widest lenses, and useful accessories such as spare batteries and camera bags, MPB is a one-stop shop for used kit.
For his winning image, Ian Bramham used the 36.8MP, FX-sensor Nikon D800. Currently, MPB has a number of D800 models in stock, in conditions that range from well used to good, with prices starting from £424 and going up to £649.
The striking second-placed image, by Jim Cumming, was shot using a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM. This hugely versatile telephoto zoom, with f/2.8 aperture throughout its range, is in stock at MPB, starting from £949.
In third place is a stunning snowscape by Ron Tear, shot using the ever-popular Canon EOS 5D Mark III, which was launched in 2012. You can pick a body up on the MPB website for as little as £554.
To browse the extensive range of stock at MPB, visit the company’s website