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Kent Olsson, 2019 Exotic Travel Category Winner

Do you take a photograph specifically to enter a competition, or just enter something you have in your files? The answer is a little bit of both. Certainly when I'm shooting, I have an eye out for a 'competition winner', so I may choose to shoot with the judges in mind. 

Do judges see things differently? Again, yes and no. However, judges assess a lot of photographs all in a row, so to be a competition winner you probably need to do something a little different. On the other hand, winning isn't the only reason to enter a photo competition like ours. For instance, if your objective is to get a Silver Award, to meet that standard, then you don't need to shoot for the judges. In fact, I'd suggest just shooting for yourself because then, if you do earn a Silver Award, it was because you were being true to yourself!

So back to shooting specifically for a competition. I'm pretty sure Kent didn't think his photo would be a competition winner before he took it, but notice how a degree of planning really helps. This is the key point I took away from his story - that planning can certainly help when it comes to taking strong images.

"I woke up one morning in January to a full blizzard and got the idea for the picture when I went out onto the wheat field next to the railroad. There was snow all the way up to my waist and I knew the train would be coming soon - if it managed to keep to the timetable."

Swedish photographer Kent Olsson photographed this train using a Hasselblad X1D-50C with an XCD 120mm lens on a Gitzo Mountaineer tripod.

"I wanted to convey the speed the train had, despite the snowstorm and after the train passed, I was completely covered by all the snow from the train. I was pretty close to the railway track!"

Kent works as a management consultant and says photography is a way to refresh his brain. "My interests in photography are mainly landscape photography, but I always try to broaden and deepen myself.

"I am a member of SINWP (Society of International Nature and Wildlife Photographers) and I have succeeded in qualifying. These photo buddies are always challenging me with their fantastic pictures. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I do not!"

In post-production, Kent used Hasselblad's Phocus software as the raw file converter and exported it as a TIFF file into Photoshop. He said he desaturated the file, not that there was much colour anyway and, after a bit of sharpening it came out looking like this!

"The funny thing is", laughed Kent, "that this is a 15 minutes edit. I’m used to spending hours and days in Photoshop editing just one shot."