Here are the top 10 images uploaded to Photocrowd from APOY 2023 Round One, Black and White, with comments by the AP team and our guest judge

Always by far the most popular round of APOY, it takes a lot for an image to stand out in this category. The judges were looking for an imaginative approach combined with top-notch execution and processing, and – above all – a valid reason for the image being in black & white as opposed to colour. It takes a clear vision on the part of the photographer to create a powerful black & white image – standing in front of a scene and seeing how it would work when stripped of colour takes practice, but when it works the results can be powerful and memorable. The best part of this round is the sheer variety. Anything goes, so classic street shots, portraiture, still life and more are guaranteed to make an appearance. It makes the judging more of a challenge, but it’s always a satisfying and exciting one.

APOY 2023 Black and White Top 10

APOY 2023 Black and White Winner

1. Boris Bekelman, Israel 100pts


APOY 2023 Black and White winner Boris Bekelman set of seven small branches still life

Guest judge Rachael Talibart says: ‘A well-thought-out still life with good use of light and shadow to ground the subject. This must have taken a lot of patience to set up. I appreciate the sense of humour in the title – After Party – and arrangement. These twigs are definitely dancing to the groove at the party. I enjoy the way the outside twigs are bent over with their “hair” trailing to the ground. Black & white is a good choice when making photos that play with our perception of reality as colour is one of the ways we make literal sense of our world. Boris invites us to enter his imaginary world. I may never look at twigs the same way again.’

2. Peyman Naderi UK 90pts

Nikon D750, 50mm, 1/125sec at f/10, ISO 400

black and white portrait woman with her arms up and dress blown up across face

There is a sublime grace to this image that makes it memorable. The way the pleats of the dress take up so much of the frame makes them appear like ripples on a lake, and the timing where the falling section of the skirt almost covers the model’s face is perfect. It’s been beautifully set up and executed, with a softness and gentleness that is all too rare. Gorgeous tones, too.

3. Laura Allegri Italy 80pts

Canon EOS M50 Mark II, 18-150mm, 1/500sec at f/5, ISO 200

person walking into light from dark sheet

If there’s one thing that a B&W image can always create, it’s a sense of mystery. Here, Laura has captured a moment that’s like a still from a film noir. We are left wanting to know who the man is, where he has been and where he is going – but we have to apply our own interpretation, which is what makes the shot is so memorable.

4. Boris Bekelman Israel 0pts


safety pin bent into angle back lighting and facing its shadow black and white apoy winners

One of the golden rules of photography (and indeed many other areas of life) is to keep things simple, and Boris has adhered closely to this with his eye-catching still life. One prop, one light source and a blank background, and he’s created a scene that takes a humble everyday object and elevates it into something original and memorable. He calls it ‘The Thinker’, which cleverly manages to anthropomorphise the safety pin. It’s well executed and it would be great to see this idea pushed further to become part of a larger body of work.

5. Helen Trust UK 60pts

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, 28-135mm at 33mm, 1/80sec at f/13, ISO 400

snowy landscape scene with single house on a hill

Another image that adheres to the rule of keeping things simple, albeit in the landscape rather than the studio this time. By composing with the house so small in the frame, Helen has increased the sense of bleakness and isolation that pervades the frame. The gradation of the sky creates a sense of gloom and foreboding, and the subtle hint of mountains in the background give just enough context to the scene. The conversion to B&W is skilled and sensitive, with the lightest of touches bringing in detail and a gorgeous range of tones.

6. Angela Lambourn UK 50pts

Fujifilm X-T2, 55-200mm at 78mm, 1/250sec at f/1, ISO 400

white building street scene close up with single person walking in the centre

Few things lend themselves better to the B&W treatment than a scene that’s made up of lines – both curved and straight. Angela saw some excellent potential in this scene Without the lone figure, it would have been pleasing enough, but waiting for the person to appear in frame, and releasing the shutter just when they are at the right spot, it what elevates it out of the ordinary.

7. Vincent Frost UK 45pts

Fujifilm X-T2, 18-135mm at 66mm, 1/34sec at f/7.1, ISO 200

coastal scene people walking along fence apoy 2023 black and white winners

Sometimes a scene just presents itself, and Vincent says this was the case with this causeway in Weston-Super-Mare. However, despite needing quick reflexes, he has also taken the time to wait until the three figures are between the uprights, and with their legs apart so there is no confusion or blending of the sparse detail. We love the bold, high-contrast treatment, too.

Vincent’s image is also this round’s highest camera club scorer!

8. Graeme Youngson UK 40pts

Canon EOS 200D, 24mm, 1/400sec at f/5.6, ISO 800

snowy landscape scene with bracnhes coming out of snow and black and white dog running above them

The trees alone would have made this an atmospheric, minimalist shot, with their spindly branches standing out in sharp relief against the snowy background. Add in the cantering collie, however, and the image is really brought to life. She brings scale and context, and an enjoyable element of fun to the scene, and the overall high-key effect, which eliminates any potentially distracting detail in the snow, finished everything off beautifully.

9. Dave Balcombe UK 35pts

Olympus E-M1 Mark III, 7-14mm at 10mm, 1/20sec at f/5, ISO 2000

turbine halls in tate modern person walking up the spiral steps black and white apoy 2023 best winners

A sweeping concrete curve such as this cries out to be photographed, and Dave has definitely done it justice. He’s kept exactly the right weight at the top and bottom of the frame, which anchors that staircase beautifully, and despite the mass of grey, he’s processed it with a lightness of touch that is commendable, retaining just the right level of detail and texture in the floor, ceiling and wall. All it needed to complete the scene was a figure, and here he is, starting his ascent to… who knows where?

10. Cathy Holgate UK 30pts

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, 24-70mm at35mm, 1/100sec at f/7.1, ISO 100

nude woman curled in a pose head and hands pointing up sat n ground

Photographing nudes has to be one of the trickiest genres to master, and Cathy has done a superb job here. The soft lighting from above wraps around the model beautifully, and the gradation of tones gives the result real depth and dimension. And while the pose is unusual, it is soft and assured, and doesn’t look awkward or forced in any way.

See all the winners and shortlisted photographs here.

Young APOY 2023 Black and White winner

Andrei Megan, Romania 100pts

Sony A9, 35mm, 1/200sec at f/1.4, ISO 160

woman wearing head scarf sat on edge of a bed contemplating young apoy 2023 black and white winner

Andrei’s image was the runaway winner, proving popular with all our judges. The light in this shot, coming from two directions, gives a beautiful depth to the scene, and shooting so that the young woman is in silhouette, with only the back of her scarf and clothing lit, demonstrates both confidence and excellent story-telling skills. The hints to her surroundings leaves us wanting to know more, which should be the aim of nearly all photographs.

See the Young APOY 2023 Black and White top ten and shortlisted photos here.

APOY 2023 Camera club competition

Wendy Mountford UK 10pts

Fujifilm X-T2, 16mm, 1/4sec at f/11, ISO 200

white egg of black and white simple graphic background

This is the third year of our camera club category, and Launceston Camera Club have swept the board for the past two occasions. However, it looks as if they have serious competition this year, including from Plymouth Camera Club, where Wendy is a member. Her clever and simple still life really caught the eye of the judges, and if this is a sign of things to come, it’s going to be another exciting year.

The APOY 2023 leaderboards so far after Round One, Black and White

The leaderboard is very straightforward after Round One – simply reflecting the top ten images seen on the preceding pages. The keen-eyed will note there are only nine photographers on the main competition’s leaderboard – that is because Boris Bekelman was had two images in the top ten, so only his highest-scoring image (the winner of this round) counts towards the overall tally. There is a mixture of both familiar and new names appearing across all three categories of APOY, and we are sure we’ll see a lot of changes and shuffling around over the coming rounds, but we’re certainly off to an exciting start.

See the full leaderboards here.

apoy 2023 leaderboard after round one black and white

Winning kit from MPB

The gear our winners used can be found at MPB

For his second-placed image, Peyman Nadari used a Nikon D750. When reviewed in AP in 2014, this camera was described as ‘an enthusiast DSLR smattered with some eyebrow-raising professional standard specifications’. It has a full-frame 24.3MP FX CMOS image sensor, 6.5fps shooting capability. Plus an ISO range from 100-12,800 and 51 AF points, of which 15 are cross type. It received five stars when reviewed in AP, and can be found at MPB for between £404 and £694.

In third place, Laura Allegri shot her classic B&W street shot using a Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens. Which is considered to be an ideal travel lens for use with the manufacturer’s EOS M mirrorless cameras. It features an 8.3x optical zoom, four stops of optical Image Stabilisation, weighs 300g and is 86.5mm in length. It is constructed of 17 elements in 13 groups and has a closest focusing distance of 25cm at 18-50mm. A versatile lens, it is available from MPB from £294 to £349.

The Fujifilm X-T2 combines a 24.3-million-pixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS III sensor, an ISO range of 200-12,800 and 325-point or 91-point hybrid AF. Plus, up to 14fps continuous shooting, as well as dual SD slots. Angela Lambourn used this to shoot her sixth-placed image – was described as ‘a dream camera’ in its five-star AP review. Find it at MPB for between £394 and £474.

To browse the extensive range of stock at MPB, visit

APOY 2023 Round Three is now open for entries! Submit your best macro photographs here.

Best photography competitions to enter in 2023

Further reading:

Master black and white building photography

Best cameras for black and white photography

Complete guide to fine art black and white photography

Black and white editing with Snapseed on your smartphone

Complete guide to black and white street photography

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