20 November 1998

POLISH UP YOUR

TECHNIQUE AND WIN OUR PHOTO COMP!

Its competition time again for

keen farming photographers. And

to boost your chances of picking

up a prize cheque this year, our

picture library manager Barry Dixon

reveals some trade secrets

YOU can take pictures that win prizes. Because whether your camera is a £2500 Nikon F5 that does everything but make the tea, or a throwaway job from Boots which costs not much more than a fiver, the principles of good photography remain the same.

And although its your eye, rather than the camera, which makes the picture, there are basic rules that can help ensure that what you see is what you get on film. So here are my top 10 tips.

1. Fill the frame. Move in on your subject and fill the viewfinder with your composition.

2. Compose the photograph with care. Place the subject about one-third the way across the picture rather than smack-bang in the middle. And look for strong diagonal lines – they give a sense of movement.

3. Avoid camera-shake. Use a tripod, if possible, or wedge the camera against something solid – a wall or the top of a car, for instance – to keep it still. At the very least, hold your breath as you gently squeeze the shutter.

4. The eyes are the windows of the soul, says the proverb. Focus on them, if you can, when taking portraits of people or animals.

5. Follow a moving subject with your camera to avoid a blur (subject movement) on the film. Pan the camera smoothly as you watch the action through the viewfinder.

6. Find unusual angles. Lie on the ground and look up. Climb up and shoot looking down. But be careful. Even professional photographers sometimes injure themselves as they search for the perfect picture.

7. Use plenty of film. Professionals think nothing of using an entire roll just to get the one picture they want.

8. Use colour print film. Its a lot more forgiving than slide film if you make a mistake with exposure (Kodak Gold is good). However, your pictures dont have to be in colour. Black-and-white shots can be dramatic and with todays technology black-and-white films can be processed by your local chemist in the same machine used for colour prints. Ask for Ilford XP2 or Kodak T400 CN film.

9. Get your best shots enlarged. Even a 7in by 5in print has more impact than the standard holiday snapshot size of 6in by 4in.

10. If youre unhappy with the quality of your prints, have them reprinted. Practical Photography magazine recently tested 13 major processing laboratories and found wide variations in quality. Most of the High Street processors did a reasonable job, with W &#42 Smith top of the list. Results from mail-order labs were worse although Truprint and Lab 35 came in for praise.

Left, above left and above: Good photos like these could win one of six prizes of £100.

Reckon youre a dab hand with a camera? Do you have some pictures of farming scenes that youre particularly fond of? If you have, wed like to hear from you. Its the time of year for the farmers weekly photo competition.

As last year, were after particular types of photograph.

1. Livestock scenes. This could be anything from a herd of pedigree Charolais to a new-born calf. It could be a pig in a bath or a flock of sheep high on a Welsh hillside. Were not just after the stock, though, were equally interested in the men and women who look after them. So your entry could be a shot of the stockman struggling in the milking parlour or the farmers wife feeding the sheep.

2. Arable scenes. Many arable scenes are naturally photogenic – combines at sunset, tractors ploughing with a flock of seagulls behind them. But perhaps you have one thats particularly striking. It could be out in the field, involving men, machines, crops or bales. But equally it could be in the barn or workshop. What were after is scenes that typify UK agriculture.

3. General farm activities. Some photos wont fall into either of the above categories. But were still just as interested in them. It could be a shot of the farmyard or snow on the trees or even your trip to the local farm show.

4. Humour. Every farm has its humorous moments and theyre often caught by a quick amateur photographer. If theres a photo that always makes you smile, it could be the winner of this category.

5. Children. Children on farms grow up in surroundings quite different from those of their urban contemporaries. Reflect those agricultural surroundings and you could win this category.

6. Nature. Natural history shots have taken prizes in many previous farmers weekly photo competitions. So if you have a photograph of a pheasant or a mouse, or a spider in its web or a particularly magnificent tree on the farm, it could be an ideal subject for this category.

Apart from this the rules are simple. Please send up to three photographs. They can be any size and either colour or black and white, but they must be prints rather than slides. Each one must have your name and address and the category entered written on the back. Please also send us an SAE for return of material. Closing date is Friday Dec 4 1998. So you havent got long.

The winner of each category will receive £100 and we pay £10 for every other photograph published. The winning photos will be printed in FW over the Christmas/New Year period. The competition is open to amateur photographers only.

farmers weekly PHOTO COMPETITION

Full name

Address

………………………………………………Postcode

Daytime tel no

Occupation

Categories entered:

Livestock scenes r

Arable scenes r

General farm scenes r

Humour r

Children r

Nature r

Please write your name, address and category entered on the back of each photograph. Entries to FARMERS WEEKLY Photo Competition, Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5AS.

Closing date is Fri, Dec 4, 1998.