Tommaso Carrara was AP’s 2022 Amateur Photographer of the Year, winning four rounds and shortlisted in a further four. This Piccadilly Circus at night image won the Low Light round and was also Urban Life Runner Up at the 2021 Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards. Tommaso works as an information security professional. I’ve come to recognise writing for this magazine, that many who work in Information Technology often make good street photographers and it’s not just the affordability. ‘IT means spending hours and hours in front of a computer. At the end of the day I want to just go outside and do something else. I do like attention to detail. I do try to expose well and keep things tidy,’ is Tommaso’s theory.

Looking for details

In 2018, after a relationship break-up, Tommaso had a lot of unexpected time on his hands. Realising the only exhibitions he enjoyed were photographic, he bought his first proper camera, a Fujifilm X-T3 with XF35mm F1.4R lens (equivalent to 53mm). Just eight months later he shot this 1/250sec raw file frame at f/1.4, ISO 160. ‘I was actually going out to take photos. I was super-excited and almost every day I would go out. There’s always something that can happen at Piccadilly Circus. I was actually looking for some details. I had no project to do. I had no idea what to do. So I tried to focus on details.’

He noticed a man smoking a cigarette so he crouched down, flipped out the LCD screen and started taking image bursts. ‘He couldn’t see me, he was just thinking about his business. I continue shooting and at some point I do see a bus coming. I’m looking for something out of the ordinary. It would’ve been nice if instead of Victoria the destination was Piccadilly Circus. If I were to shoot this again I would make different decisions. Not many,’ reveals Tommaso.

Taking opportunities

‘Whilst I was there shooting I used to “chimp” a little bit [the habit of checking every photo on the camera display immediately after capture]; not now, but
I used to. I was seeing what was going on. I see it was super-nice but continued shooting, kind of a spray and pray approach. I’m not afraid of admitting that’s what I used to do a lot before. It was an opportunity. I shot until the guy left, maybe a friend came. It was probably 25-30 seconds the whole thing.’

Tommaso focused on the man and exposed for the background to capture a silhouette. In post he straightened the image a little and cropped about 10-15% on the top and left side, adjusted the exposure and made the colours more vibrant. He converted it to black & white but preferred the Saul Leiter and cinematic feel that the colour delivered.

Success can often be a burden and winning images become irritant. Photographers change, develop, move on and so has Tommaso, now living in France via Italy and London. ‘To be honest, this is not the sort of image I’m proud of. The intention to tell a story is what I’m sort of looking at and will hopefully get at some point. It’s very colourful and aesthetically pleasing but there’s not much in terms of story if you ask me.’

Fancy your chance of winning APOY like Tommaso Carrara?

The final round for APOY – Amateur Photographer of the Year 2023 is now open. Submit your best Low Light and night images for a chance to win a £500 voucher to spend on anything at MPB, with vouchers for £100 and £50 going to second and third places respectively.

The closing date for this round is 13 November 2023.

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Azim Khan Ronnie came 6th in last year’s Low Light round with this stunning and sobering drone shot of a refugee camp in Bangladesh

Image: Azim Khan Ronnie came 6th in last year’s Low Light round with this stunning and sobering drone shot of a refugee camp in Bangladesh

Need some guidance for your Low Light APOY 2023 entries? Check these guides out:

Guide to Night Landscape Photography

How to photograph fireworks

Capturing nocturnal animals in low-light photography

How to photograph low-light urban landscapes

Young Amateur Photographer of the Year 2023

For the third time, we are running an APOY Young Photographer of the Year competition, to encourage our up-and-coming snappers. Entrants should be 21 years old or younger by the competition’s final closing date of 13 November 2023. All the categories are the same as for the main competition – simply select the Young APOY option on Photocrowd when you upload your images. This category is free to enter; each category winner receives a £250 voucher, and the overall winner receives a voucher for £500 to spend at MPB.

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single tree long exposure stars

Lucy Monckton was shortlisted in the Young APOY 2022 low light round

APOY 2023, Camera Club award

Do you belong to a camera club? You can accumulate points for your society when you enter APOY, and after all ten rounds are complete, the one with the most points wins a £500 voucher to spend at MPB, and a Rotolight NEO 3 Pro Imagemaker Kit worth £650. The kit includes one NEO 3 Pro, a custom NPF-770 battery, a pouch, diffuser dome, ballhead and cold shoe. It’s the brightest LED on-camera light ever made, and comes in a compact form factor you can take anywhere.

More information about Amateur Photographer of the Year can be found here.

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