We asked Katy Gambles, the winner of the 2015 Farmers Weekly Photography Competition, to capture spring in the countryside on camera.

Here’s what she came up with – plus a few of her tips for budding rural photographers.

Angle

To make your photos more eye-catching, think about the angle. For animals, wildlife and machines, get down to their level by crouching or lying on your front. This will make the photo more interesting and intimate. Remember, though, don’t take any risk with your safety.

Sheepdog in grass © Katy Gambles

© Katy Gambles

Rule of thirds

Placing the main subject of the photo in the middle of the frame produces a static and often uninteresting image.

The rule-of-thirds is a basic principle in which you divide the frame into a grid, which is made up of two horizons and two verticals lines, all evenly spaced to split the frame into ‘thirds’.

Place your subject on the point where two of these lines intersect. Most digital cameras show a grid in the viewfinder.

Hare in a field © Katy Gambles

© Katy Gambles

Manual settings

Take the step from auto to manual and you won’t regret it. You have much more control in getting the perfect photo you’re aiming for.

Shutter priority (Tv or S) – when you set your camera to shoot in this mode, you control the shutter speed manually, but ask the camera to take care of the rest of the settings (ISO and Aperture).

For a perfectly still image, increase the shutter speed to a higher number, say 160. Alternatively if you want to create a sense of movement – for example a crop swaying in the wind – use a slower shutter speed.

Ewe and lambs © Katy Gambles

© Katy Gambles

Be mindful: too slow and you’ll need a tripod to avoid your shot being ruined by the natural tremor of you hands.

Aperture priority (Av or A) – This mode Is perfect for portraits and landscapes.

When shooting in A mode, the camera controls your shutter speed – you can still control the ISO or choose to put this on automatic as well.

If you want your subject to be in focus and the background blurred, select a larger aperture (ie: f/1.2 – f/2.8). If you want the whole photo to be in focus, for example a landscape select a smaller apertures (ie: f/8 and above).

It’s a bit confusing, but remember a bigger number means a smaller aperture.

Robin in tree © Katy Gambles

© Katy Gambles

Polarizing lens for landscapes

If you have a DSLR, one of the most useful filters to purchase when photographing landscapes is a polarizing filter. It cuts out glare and reflections, allowing deep natural colours to show through with great saturation. This filter make white clouds stand out beautifully against a richer blue sky.

Bluebell wood © Katy Gambles

© Katy Gambles

Histogram

As part of the image display, most digital cameras allow you to display the histogram of the image. This display is perfect for quickly assessing the exposure of your photo.

Underexposed (too dark) – all of the histogram is grouped to the left of the graph and falls off the scale at the end. To correct this, increase the exposure to a positive (+) value.

Overexposed (too bright) – the histogram is grouped to the right and falls off the scale at the end. To correct this, set the exposure to a negative (-) value.

Perfectly exposed – all of the histogram is grouped within the limits of the graph.

See also: Bull shot nets FW “winner of winners” accolade