For me, the best way to improve my photography skills is to regularly practice and by doing that I think I’ve trained my eye to recognise a good shot as I see it.
Annoyingly to some people, I rarely go anywhere without my camera, you never know what you’ll see on the road or where you’re walking.
I’ll be the one calling to pull the car over or apologizing that I’ll catch up when we’re walking because something has caught my eye.
Most times now when we’re travelling, I tend to have my camera set to sport mode and I’m getting good at shooting on the run, panning to capture what I want as we keep driving. This is especially useful for capturing landscapes that we pass through, and split second moments on our journeys, if there’s no chance to stop. I can sometimes be heard though muttering and cursing at grubby windscreens and the fact that we’re not travelling in the right direction for the best light. But that aside, you can get some pretty terrific, natural and spontaneous images by shooting on the go.
Good photographs amongst other things, capture a moment in time, tell a story, inspire us, and challenge our way of thinking. The mood and light can instantly grab our attention and that’s what makes photos taken at sunrise and sunset so compelling. Images taken at these times evoke emotional responses and resonate with all of us.
Last year, (as I have for the past few) I decided to put my skills to the test and once again enter the Australian Photographer of the Year competition 2022. The competition is run by Australian Photography magazine and is judged by leading professional photographers and industry experts, so any recognition of photographs entered is an achievement.
For the 2022 competition I entered a portfolio of four sunrise and sunset shots, all of which were taken during our caravan travels last year. The photos were taken in a few different places including in the Riverland area and near the Flinders Ranges in South Australia, and at Lake Pamamaroo in NSW.
These images all stood out to me not only for the stunning colours in the sky, but also for the cloud formations and striking silhouettes created by trees that I deliberately framed in the shots.
I also entered a single shot that was a personal favourite that I took during a trip to Broken Hill and outback NSW last year. The afternoon light and sun rays shining through trees in the flooded Darling River was such a serene moment, and I hoped that the mood came through in the image.
The larger the image is, the more detail you can see, from the texture and patterns of the tree bark, to the sun glistening on the water and dozens of silky spider webs woven through the tree branches. The colours of the bush, the gum leaves and a flooding event all sum up a typical Australian scene for me and it’s a shot that makes me very happy and content.
So how did they do in the competition? Well as you can imagine the competition is very stiff and the winners selected are incredible, but I’m happy to say that both of my entries, the portfolio of sunrise and sunset shots and the single photo, were both awarded Commendations.
The most incredible part of these photos, is that they were all taken not more than a dozen steps from where our caravan was parked at stops on the road last year! And now ~ it’s time to start gathering entries for this year’s competition.