Mike gave us some terrific advice and feedback on each of our entries in the Nature Competition, a summary of which appears below.
- Learn to use Photoshop or Lightroom or similar photo-editing software and master the basics of cropping, adjusting levels, contrast, white balance and colour correction
- As a judge it’s hard to forget what you’ve seen in an image so if there is a colour shift or distracting element in the frame it will detract from the first impression
- shoot in RAW – this allows for more leeway when it comes to post-processing your images particularly if you have white balance and colour correction issues
- crop judiciously to ensure the final composition of your image best suits the subject and that it fits in with the surrounding environment
- ensure the sharpest point of the image is in the appropriate place, in the case of an animal this should be in its eyes unless you are using focus more creatively
- try to avoid non-natural features in your image unless they form part of the image’s narrative
- use contrast carefully, a high contrast image can become wearisome on the eye over time but can also have the wow factor that catches the judges attention
- using a reflector, where feasible, can help fill dark shadows with some light
- make use of filters or post processing to balance areas of high and low contrast in an image
- black & white images are acceptable and can often be used to highlight detail in texture and form
- pay attention to the small details, check the image for distracting elements and recompose if necessary. Shift position from left to right or up and down if possible
For those interested in Mike’s work you can find details and examples in his website.
Mike is also involved with Platform3 a group of Cork photographers who run workshops and classes.