Katy Gambles, the winner of the Farmers Weekly Photography Competition 2015, provides some tips for taking great farm pictures and shares some of her “winter” shots. Katy, from Waddington in Lincolnshire, beat off stiff competition to take the top spot in the competition with an image of a young British Blonde bull (above). She took it using a Nikon D7000, with an f/5.3 setting, an exposure time of 1/1000 and an ISO of 400.
1. Wear the right kit
Farms are muddy and dusty, so go prepared by wearing overalls and wellies or old clothing. Getting the perfect shot often involves climbing on an object or crouching down low. You wouldn’t want to ruin your Sunday best!
2. Protect your camera
Wear it around your neck to avoid dropping it in a muddy puddle and keep it in a protective bag when it is not in use. Clean it regularly with a cloth, too, as this will prevent dust getting into it. Buy a UV lens protector as this protects the lens from dust, scratches and cracks. I recently squashed my camera under the tractor hand-brake – the lens was unharmed, but the protector was shattered. It hurt spending £30 on a new one, but it was a lot cheaper than paying for a new lens.
3. Shooting a moving object
If your camera has a continuous shooting mode, this can be perfect for taking photos of a moving subject. When your camera is on this mode, all you need to do is hold down the shutter button and your camera will take several shots per second until you release your finger. This will increase your chances of getting the perfect photo.
4. Always have your camera handy
You never know when something exciting might happen and there is nothing worse than coming across a brilliant photo opportunity and realising you have left your camera at home.
5. Liven up your landscapes with something in the foreground
Photos of landscapes run the risk of appearing a little “flat” – but an object in the foreground adds interest and a sense of depth.
6. Capture the action
There’s never a dull moment on a farm and “action shots” that show movement or activity are more interesting than those of a passive subject. It’s a hive of activity, for example, in the cows’ shed at feeding time.
7. Dusk and dawn add warmth and vibrance
I’m always most pleased with the colours of photos taken at dusk or dawn, when the light is warm and not too harsh. As a rule of thumb, sky colours are at their best 20 minutes before sunrise and 20 minutes after sunset.
8. Trial and error
This can be tedious at times – but it is a great way of learning. I have never studied photography, I’m a self-taught amateur – but having lived on a farm all my life, I never tire of the variety of activities and landscapes that the changes of season bring. As a young teenager I developed an urge to capture some of these memories and so took up photography. Remember, you never stop learning.
9. Bring out the best in your photos using computer software
We have all experienced the frustration of a photo that just didn’t come out as you intended when you view it on a computer. Photo-editing software allows you to make subtle tweaks to colour and exposure, which can make all the difference. Many of these packages are free, but the more advanced ones do come at a price. If you wish to make prints, I highly recommend a monitor-calibration tool. After years of being disappointed by prints that didn’t resemble the images on the computer, I discovered that screens are not very reliable at reproducing a photo’s true colours unless they are calibrated. This software changes the settings on your computer to make the image you view match the final printed version.
To see more of Katy’s pictures – and to share your own winter shots – visit the Winter Farming gallery