Here are the top ten images uploaded to Photocrowd from Round Four, Landscapes, with comments by the AP team and our guest judge. As you’d expect with such a popular genre, we got some great entries, despite the movement limitations caused by the lockdowns.

From minimal, semi-abstract scenes, to classic mountainscapes and ethereal misty views, the capacity for creativity in landscape photography knows no bounds.

This category is always one of our most popular, but this year was marked by slightly fewer entries than we’ve come to expect – perhaps it was the lockdown effect coming into play, with people not having had the chance to get out into the landscape as often during the past year.

Despite this, the entries were as diverse and creative as we’ve come to expect from this round.

The current round, on Movement, closes on July 9th so we’d love to see your entries

1 Daniel Newton, Dubai, 100pts
Nikon Z 7, 24-70mm at 29mm, 1/200sec at f/11, ISO 64
This was a unanimously recognised and well-received image, achieving placings and commendations from nine of the ten judges. A classic, bucolic landscape scene it most certainly is not, but that’s what makes it stand out. There’s an odd balance of bleakness and anticipation here.

Bleak, of course, thanks to the desolate sand dunes that flank the empty road, while the anticipation comes from the sense that the viewer is heading somewhere. We can’t help but be curious as to what might exist beyond the horizon.

The interesting processing adds to the overall effect. By desaturating and toning the image in the way he has, Daniel has enhanced the sense of other-worldliness. We could see this one as a book cover, and also hope he has
a very big print of this hanging on his wall at home.

2 Tony Stringer, UK, 90pts
Nikon D7100, 18-300mm, 1/400sec at f/8, ISO 100
The S-curve of this sand dune is what the viewer’s eye goes straight towards, and Tony has done well to place it in the centre of the frame – especially as he was shooting from a moving vehicle. The windblown lines either side of the ‘S’ lead the eye up towards the dune’s peak, and the trees at its base give a sense of scale.

Often, we see Namibia’s desert portrayed in colour, so the b&w conversion makes an interesting change. As the highest-scoring entrant from a photo society, Tony earns 90 points for A1 Camera Club Weston Super Mare.

3 Dave Smith, UK, 80pts
Canon EOS 550D, 75-300mm at 75mm, 1/800sec at f/10, ISO 800
What a shot, which transports the viewer right into the scene, making us feel as if we are on top of a mountain looking down upon the intrepid paragliders as they float over a mist-covered Lake Annecy.

Dave did well to compose so that the paragliders stand out against the softness of the lower part of the frame. Any higher, and they would have been lost against the shadows.

He’s also adhered to the rule of thirds nicely, which works well here. Overall, an atmospheric and evocative capture.

4 Angela Lambourn, UK, 70pts
Samsung NX10, 18-55mm at 18mm, 1/160sec at f/13, ISO 200
So much of landscape photography is about achieving balance, and this is what Angela has excelled at with her almost ghostly image.

The reflections play an important part, of course, but the repetition of the shapes of the mountains on the left are equally crucial, leading the eye across to the larger peaks on the right.

The soft ripples in the foreground water add texture and depth, while the clouds at the top ensure the eye doesn’t simply head out of the frame.

5 Nick Bodle, UK, 60pts
Fujifilm X-E2, 55-200mm at 57.8mm, 1/90sec at f/11, ISO 640
Who doesn’t dream of a scene such as this when they head to the Lake District? Mist rising from the water cries out to be photographed, and Nick has carefully controlled the composition, which the mist has rendered minimal.

Placing the stand of trees in the bottom right of the frame gives everything an ‘anchor’, leading the eye there first, and allowing us to take in the softer lines of the trees on the left afterwards. The duck, which was introduced in post- production, has been handled well, too.

6 Roger Newark, UK, 50pts
DJI Mavic 2 Pro, 28mm, 1/100sec at f/4, ISO 100
An excellent drone shot, which has allowed Roger to produce an image that’s all about lines in the landscape. The ‘X’ is, of course, the first thing we see, along with the steam from the passing train, but beyond these elements, the lines created by the late-afternoon shadows, the ‘ditto’ marks within the viaduct’s arches and the painted lines on the road that runs beneath them all play an important role.

Finally, converting the image to black & white serves to emphasise its graphic qualities.

7 Josip Miskovic, Italy, 45pts
Canon EOS 80D, 15-85mm at 15mm, 1/50sec at f/14, ISO 100
There’s a bleakness to this scene that is very compelling, and it caught the attention of several of our judges, as it has a documentary feel about it, as opposed to being a classic landscape. When you learn it was shot in central Bosnia during winter, the image cannot help but take on a symbolism that links it to the Balkan War of the 1990s.

The muted tones emphasise the sense of desolation, as does the blank, almost featureless sky. Composing with the horizon line halfway down the frame goes against the classic rules of landscape, but works well.

8 Doug Richardson, UK, 40pts
Nikon D800E, 24-70mm at 24mm, 8sec at f/10, ISO 100
Bow Fiddle Rock, off the coast of Moray in Scotland, is a popular spot with landscape photographers. This image stands out for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it’s a strong composition, with the foreground rocks leading the eye towards the main subject; then there’s just the right amount of movement in the water, so the detail isn’t completely lost. Finally, the processing is clever without being overdone, giving the overall image a dark, foreboding atmosphere.

9 Luke Moseley, UK, 35pts
Sony A7R, 35mm, 2sec at f/8, ISO 100

Guest judge Jeremy Walker (above) says: ‘An elegantly simple shot which has been executed well. It’s full of mood and atmosphere, and screams autumn. The quality of light is superb, while the golden colours and tones are perfect without being over the top.

Although long exposures of flowing water are two-a-penny, the blur and motion of the water is just right, without the waterfalls dominating the image. The image works for me without any obvious adherence to the oft-stated “rules of composition”. In fact, the image breaks many of the so-called rules, which is refreshing to see.

Post-production work looks as if it has been kept to a minimum, although I’m sure a few tweaks have been made here and there – and why not? We have the tools to work with, but their use should be subtle.

On a personal note, I might have been tempted to take out the railings in the top right of the image, but this is just personal taste, not criticism. This is a beautiful, well-observed and simple photograph of autumn colour.’

10 Christine Johnson, UK, 30pts
Nikon D750, 24-120mm at 52mm, 1/100sec at f/10, ISO 100
There’s a fabulous sense of place about this photograph. We feel as if we are standing next to the photographer, looking at the scene as she releases the shutter. It’s very much an image of two halves, with the top being all about the dramatic, steel-blue clouds and tantalising distant mountain skyline.

The bottom couldn’t be more of a contrast, with the verdant, rolling hills all lush and green. The subtle heart shape, created by a break in the cloud, anchors the centre of the composition. All in all, a very pleasing image.

Round winner, Young APOY

Jack Giam, Australia, 100pts
Canon EOS 750D, 16-35mm at 16mm, 30sec at f/5.6, ISO 200
The contrast between the bright orange of the traffic trails and the navy of the sky and water is what immediately catches the eye here. Jack has composed his shot very nicely, with the line of the road starting in the bottom right corner, then curving round and out of sight, leaving the viewer wondering where it leads.

In the right kind of daylight, this would have been a pleasing enough image, but taking the initiative to shoot it at night is what elevates it, and makes it a worthy winner.

Camera Club Competition

Chris Robbins, UK, 10pts
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 100-400mm at 200mm, 1/250sec at f/11, ISO 320
As regular entrants to APOY will know, this year you can accumulate points for your camera club by selecting it from the dropdown menu when you upload your images. Whatever points your image is awarded, your camera club is awarded too.

Chris Robbins is one of several members of Launceston Camera Club to have received 10 points for his Commended image, above, in this round, while another member, Nick Bodle, was awarded 60 points for his fifth-placed shot.

This approach, of getting as many members as possible to enter, has paid dividends, with Launceston Camera Club rocketing from joint sixth last round to the top of the leaderboard this round. Other camera clubs, take note!

Winning kit from MPB

The striking third-placed shot of paragliders over Lake Annecy, against a mountainous backdrop, by Dave Smith, was taken using a Canon EOS 550D.

This DSLR was launched in 2010, and demonstrates that eye-catching images don’t have to be shot using expensive kit. In fact, this entry-level 18MP APS-C camera body can be picked up at MPB, in excellent condition, for a mere £164.

Taking fifth place, Nick Bodle used a Fujifilm X-E2 for his glorious image of Grasmere in the mist. A hugely popular 16MP interchangeable-lens mirrorless model, it gives superb image quality and has the lovely, classic layout that we’ve come to associate with the Fujifilm brand. This camera is available at MPB in excellent condition for £229.

In ninth place, Luke Moseley shot his guest-judge-favourite image using a Sony A7R. A full-frame 36.4MP mirrorless camera, it is small and  light, but solidly built, and produces superb raw files – ideal for landscape photography. Find one in excellent condition at MPB for £629.

The 2021 leaderboards

Barring Daniel Newton jumping into joint fifth place, thanks to his winning image, there is little change at the top of the main leaderboard following the latest round. Lucy Monckton and Muhammad Hossain are continuing to battle it out at the top of Young APOY, but with five rounds still to go, a lot could yet change.

With five photographers shortlisted (including Nick Bodle, in fifth place), Launceston Camera Club has gone straight to the top of the camera club leaderboard.

Further reading
APOY now open, plus details of previous round winners