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Photo Comp Tip: Will Aerials Win Photo Competitions?

Arnhemland Aerial
Canon EOS 5DSR, 35mm lens, 1/6400 second @ f4, ISO 800

Aerial photographs are incredibly popular - and why wouldn't they be? From the air, Australia in particular offers a complete visual transformation from flat and somewhat boring to weird and absolutely wonderful. Admittedly the colours in the Arnhemland aerial above have been enhanced, but the shapes and patterns are real enough. I don't think my artistry extends far enough to create the image itself, merely to interpret what is already there.


The photograph was taken on my recent Arnhemland photography workshop, a combination of billabongs, cave systems and unique, distinctive aerials. I was pleasantly surprised at the wealth of photography opportunities. The Davidsons camp is remote (we flew in from Darwin), comfortable (individual cabins with full insect protection and all amenities), the food was sensational (were we really in the middle of the pristine Arnhemland wilderness?), and the staff friendly and experienced. We spent a productive four days photographing everything from birds, crocs and rock art to these remarkable landscapes from a helicopter.


On the one hand, these aerials are spectacular. Strong colours, interesting patterns, unusual subject matter - what's not to like? On the other hand, there have been a lot of aerials winning photography competitions in recent years and the advent of drones makes the aerial perspective increasingly easy if you can't afford a plane or a chopper. Have we reached a point where aerials are almost a cliche?


Not quite! I think the days when judges scored an aerial highly simply because it was new and different have passed. The judges have now seen so many high quality aerials that they need to be presented with something extra if they are to score it highly. And that 'something extra' is good camera technique, framing, composition, production and presentation. Find the judges something that sits together strongly as an image, and whether taken from the land or the air, you will be rewarded!


The 2016 Better Photography Magazine Photo of the Year Award is now on! Entries close on 7 September (late entries possible until 15 September) and first prize is a cool $5000 cash. Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards will be handed out and every entry will receive a short comment or suggestion from the judging panel. For more information, visit www.betterphotographyphotocomp.com.


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