Tag: dslr

Have you been wondering how to improve your video calling or online presentations? If you’re reading this, this chances are that you’re a photographer and you’re used to exceptional image quality. The low quality webcam built into your laptop just isn’t cutting it and the awkward, unflattering angles from your phone camera are only serving to highlight your lockdown weight gain. (Don’t worry… we’re in the same boat!)

Did you know that the chances are you can use your DSLR, Mirrorless or potentially even a premium compact to stream or as a webcam? Instantly improve your work team meetings or present yourself the best way you can to your clients remotely.

First off, let’s cover the different ways you might want to use your camera as an alternative to a webcam or phone camera and then we’ll show you how each of the different camera brands work to allow you to use your DSLR, mirrorless or compact camera as a webcam.

Streaming

What exactly is streaming? Essentially it’s just live video online.

We’ve seen a huge uplift in live events on Facebook and Instagram as companies and individuals seek a way to get to their audience when the high street is quieter, or maybe they are currently under restrictions meaning their customers can’t come to them.

For many photographers, especially those who previously ran workshops in person, being able to stream in good quality online has meant they have been able to adapt their business and keep it viable going forward. Wilkinson Cameras have hosted various live webinars and workshops alongside brands like Canon, Nikon, etc.  If you want your presentation to look slick, clean and as professional as you are, then using a proper camera as your streaming device is almost essential.

There’s also another huge market for streaming and that is gaming. Twitch is the biggest platform in the world for video game streamers and presenting gorgeous visuals is a sure fire way to make you stand out from the crowd.

Client Introductions

One that is definitely overlooked is client introductions.

A lot of photographers now are forced to do their initial meetings via Skype, Zoom etc. and there’s no better way to start this relationship than making your client say “Wow, what webcam are you using!?”

You’re selling yourself as a photographer, don’t let the initial impression disappoint.

Video Conferencing

Not everything has to be for the public though: a good quality camera for video conferencing can be just as important, especially if you’re trying to make a good impression on managers, directors, etc., who could be watching.

A lot of job interviews are now also taking place via video call. Imagine the first impression you’ll make looking sharp, with a flattering angle and beautiful bokeh behind you.

Brands

The bit you’ve been waiting for… What brands can I use for this? What models of camera can I use? I have more than one camera, which is better? What do I need to make it happen?

As always in our blog posts, this information is correct at the time of writing but might not completely reflect what’s available at the time of reading.

Canon

Canon have released their Canon EOS Webcam Utility Software, which allows you to turn a huge amount of Canon cameras into webcams.

The list of models that you can use this with is incredibly extensive, including (but not limited to) the EOS R5 and EOS R, EOS 6D Mark I and Mark II, EOS 5DS R and the EOS 1D X Mark III. More compatibility information is available on their website here.

If that wasn’t enough compatibility, check out the list of currently supported software:

  • Messenger
  • Discord
  • Teams
  • YouTube Live
  • Facebook Live
  • OBS
  • Zoom
  • Skype
  • Hangouts
  • Slack
  • Streamlabs

With OBS and Streamlabs being featured that means your streaming world is literally at your fingertips, as these software allow for streaming to most major providers.

What do you need to make this work?

For some of the cameras, just a Wi-Fi connection! But when that’s not supported or available, you can use a USB cable connected directly to the camera, providing you with a clean output.

Canon have even provided us with a brilliant how-to video, making all of this a doddle.

Olympus

Olympus is a little different: their software, Olympus OM-D, is still only in Beta.

But ‘only’ isn’t doing it enough justice as the software is currently in a very comfortable state, and even has compatibility to stream using the fantastic Olympus LS-P4 audio recorder.

The OM-D Webcam Beta allows you to use the follow cameras as a webcam:

The PC version appears to be more compatible with the range of software as mentioned above, but it is worth mentioning that the MacOS version only allows use with OBS and Google Chrome, meaning video conferencing isn’t available just yet, but keep an eye out on their page to find out if this changes.

Lewis Speight, who you may know from some of our in-store events, has even produced a video on how to get started with a few common apps such as OBS, Zoom and Teams.

What do you need to make this work?

The USB-C cable that is included in your box and a PC/Mac that is capable of running the above mentioned software.

Panasonic Lumix

Again, another Beta but one that appears to be a very stable release as well!

The LUMIX tether application allows you to run some of the best cameras LUMIX have to offer, including the S1H, allowing for the but beautiful streaming possible! If you haven’t seen our review of the S1H you definitely need to give it a watch and find out about this amazing piece of kit.

Cameras that are covered are:

The spec requirements for your computer are also really low, allowing for pretty much any level of PC/Mac user the ability to run the LUMIX tether application.

Lumix have also included a “How to live-stream with LUMIX” video, which again is very handy especially if you’re a first time user of live stream software.

What do you need to make this work?

The USB cable that is included in your box, and any manner of PC/Mac.

Nikon

The Nikon method requires pre-existing kit, or a separate purchase in the form of a Capture Card.

What is a capture card? Simply put, a capture card records what is being shown on one screen and uses that as input device to be displayed onto another.

This requires the camera plugged into the capture card to display what is known as a “clean out”.

A clean out is a video feed with nothing other than what is going into the lens being displayed, no shutter speed or ISO settings, no focus tracking markets. Just a clean video feed.

Thankfully, all Nikon cameras allow this and Nikon have provided us with not only a guide on how to set up their cameras with a capture card, but also a mini guide on lens choice and lighting.

While this does require a separate purchase, one would argue that this is truly the most versatile way to stream, record and video conference as capture cards work with ANY software of your choosing.

What do you need to make this work?

A HDMI cable that fits your camera, a USB cable for the camera and an external capture card, such as an Elgato.

Fujifilm

Fujifilm have actually just released their FUJIFILM X Webcam ver2.0!

Their newest software even lets you make on the fly adjustments to film simulations, white balance and exposure compensation without even touching the camera, something that truly stands out in terms of software power.

The first and largest problem we have is that officially, OBS is not on their list of supported software, only:

  • Zoom
  • Google Meet
  • Skype
  • Microsoft Teams

Which of course, is perfect if you’re conferencing, but not if you’re streaming.

What cameras are compatible?

A nice list of cameras there, then! They even support digital zoom, allowing for precise framing of your conferencing.

What do you need to make this work?

The USB cable that is included in your box and a PC/Mac that is capable of running the above mentioned software.

We haven’t been able to test it, but theoretically this could be used for streaming, so do check on OBS itself if it’s supported as a webcam.

Sony

Sony have just last month (at time of writing) released their software for webcam conversion and that is Imaging Edge Webcam.

This is currently restricted to PC only, at the time of writing.

The list of cameras covered is HUGE, ranging from the ZV-1 Vlogging Camera (which really is ideal for this kind of application) to the Alpha A7s III.

There’s nothing much to say about the Imaging Edge Webcam software, as their website details are vague, but Sony are known for creating smooth pieces of software, so we can’t imagine any problems happening here.

Though, the Imaging Edge Webcam software is perfectly suited to any video conferencing software, such as Zoom, Teams & Skype!

Lighting & Tripods

In terms of tripods, there’s two ways we can go with this.

If you have the room, great! A full length tripod allows for complete freedom with how you place, tilt and angle your camera.

However, if you’re more restricted, we have a range of tabletop tripods available including the Manfrotto PIXI EVO and the Joby GorillaPod Rig.

These will fit on your desk and provide the perfect compact solution to keeping the camera steady during video conferencing and streaming.

For lighting? We have a few options.

The Manfrotto Lumimuse 8 LED Light is the largest and brightest LED in the Lumimuse range but is still ultra-portable.

The Lumimuse is great for lighting in myriad situations with excellent maximum light output and 4 step dimming to regulate light intensity. The USB rechargeable Li-on batteries provide superb battery life allowing you to make the most of the photo/video shoot. The Lumimuse 8 comes with a ball-head, which includes both hot-shoe attachment and a standard thread to enable you to attach it directly to a tripod or alternative supports.

These are great, as they’re cheap enough to create a full 3 point lighting set up, whilst also adding some incredibly useful kit to your bag.

Also included in each kit a set of snap-fit filter mount and filters which modify the colour temperature and diffusion of the light; you can simultaneously use up to 3 to achieve various effects.

We also have the LituFoto F18 Bi-Colour LED Light which is as small as a mobile phone, yet is a durable, bright and convenient LED light perfect for a range of situations.

Featuring a built-in 4040mAh large capacity lithium battery, the full light output is approximately 1.9 hours, and at 5% output you will get around 8 hours use.

It is ideal for indoor and outdoor environments and since it is only about the size of a mobile phone, the LituFoto F18 Bi-Colour LED Light is the perfect lightweight, portable LED light for a range of situations. There is an OLED screen which displays power, brightness and colour temperature clearly.

Audio

Often ignored, but equally as important as great quality video, is great quality sound. Your camera’s internal microphone is ok as a general mic, but consider a dedicated microphone suited to your needs.

Audio can make or break just about any content that someone is watching, whether it is a video conference, a webinar, digital lesson or live stream.

There are usually 3 main types of audio capture for these set ups:

  • Shotgun Mic
  • Desktop Mic
  • Lavalier (aka “lav”) /Lapel Mic

 

A shotgun mic is great as it mounts directly to your tripod or camera, making it incredibly easy to use.

They also have a nicely defined area of sound pick up, which means you’re easily separated from any background noise.

The limiting factor there is if you plan to move around, as you need to be in the pick up area for your voice to be captured.

A desktop mic provides an all round experience, with the area of pick up usually being wherever you are in or around the desk.

And a lavalier mic, also known as a lapel mic, allows for the closest possible audio recording, with the ability to move around.

For our shotgun mics, we have a range of amazing options. One that particularly stands out is the Rotolight RL48 Sound & Light Kit.

Not only does this combine a broadcast quality condenser shotgun microphone, but it also features a Rotolight ring light!

The LED video light fits neatly around the microphone, meaning no need to have an extra pair of hands or having to find a way to use both a light and a microphone without affecting the balance of your camera.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more dedicated microphone, one that we use a lot in our videos is the Rode Videomic Go. It’s a compact and lightweight shotgun mic that perches nicely on your hotshoe, and delivers clear, crisp, directional audio with no prior skills.

For a desk mic, we recommend the Rode MIC NT-USB Mini Microphone. The NT-USB Mini is a fantastic solution in that it delivers Rode’s world class studio microphone technology into a compact package which fits perfectly anywhere on your desktop. Featuring a built in pop filter and a high quality capsule, you’ll find this delivers some of the warmest audio possible.

We have a few lav mics available, but our personal favourite, and one you’ll notice from our videos, is the Rode Link Wireless Microphone Filmmaker Kit.

Combining Rode’s best wireless transmitters, incredible battery life with USB power as well, and stunning omnidirectional lavalier quality, you truly can’t go wrong with this.

If you’re looking to move around during your webinars, lessons etc, then this is the ultimate solution.

Simply clip on to your belt, pants or even pop in your pocket, and you can move around with complete freedom.

The lav mic supplied is of broadcast quality, meaning you can’t get much better than that.

 

Anything else?

If you’d like to know more about any of the products we’ve listed today, or just need a hand setting everything up, make sure you visit any of our social media platforms, visit us on our Website and head to live chat, or even pop in to a local store, and we are more than happy to help!

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A team of two halves!

Following on from our interview with Graham Hudson, we thought we should catch up with his Online Sales & Support team-mate, Lily Wan.

 

Graham and Lily work tirelessly to run the hectic online side of the business, keeping customer enquiries, stock, orders and shipping running smoothly. And that’s no mean feat.

Lily joined Wilkinson Cameras just over a year ago, initially visiting stores (both at Preston and Liverpool stores) to gain first hand experience of the business. Previously working in a range of retail and hospitality businesses, Lily had also taken some time out to care for a family member.

Lily told us: ‘I really wanted to get back into retail and in particular an online retail role.’

‘After working for brands including Next and Asda, photography was a new sector for me, but I’ve always had a keen interest in taking pictures on my travels, so it was an exciting opportunity.

‘In terms of my own photography, I’d say I’m still a beginner, but in this job I get to learn about a vast range of equipment and accessories – including all the latest product launches and new cameras. So in a short space of time, I’ve gained lots of product knowledge, helping me to help our customers.

‘As Graham mentioned, times have certainly been interesting! I’ve experienced the retail madness that is ‘Black Friday’, the festive challenges of Christmas and the Boxing Day/New Year sales, and then of course the one that no one could have predicted…the Covid Pandemic.

‘Our single biggest challenge was when the stores had to close – and at the same time we saw a huge increase in photography related enquiries and sales. But as a team, Graham and I work really well together. Graham’s store background and extensive product knowledge, together with my experience of the IT & sales systems here, mean that we’ve managed to keep the wheels turning really well!

‘It took a lot of juggling of stock from stores to HQ – and currently back again now stores have reopened!

‘We also manage pretty much all communication with customers – by phone, via email, messenger or web chat – so days can certainly be hectic. One of the really nice things though, is that especially during the lockdown period, we’ve seen so many new photographers getting in touch – even taking up photography as a brand new hobby, which is great to see.

‘Now (at time of writing!) that schools are back and more people are back to work, things are ‘slightly’ getting back to normal – but we’re still seeing high levels of enquiries and sales.

‘We’ve also see a few unique and interesting trends – for example a resurgence in film sales!

‘One of the nicest things is all of the positive reviews from customers – it’s really good to know people appreciate your advice and are happy with our products and service.

‘Also, I’m a family type person and with Wilkinson being an independent business, we do treat each other as family – which I really like.’

 

Lily’s Own Photography

‘Personally, I shoot a lot on my iPhone, plus, I also have an Olympus PEN and an older Canon 550D DLSLR.

‘I really love that photography freezes a moment in time that we can keep forever. After a hectic week I love to go out walking and most of my pictures are of the surrounding landscape.

‘One of my other favourite subjects, who is a bit of a star on my Instagram feed is Gizmo, our rabbit! We’ve had him just over 6 years, he lives inside with us, but has full roam of the house and garden and he’ll be waiting for dinner when I get home today!’

What’s Next?

‘For me, photography is a hobby, alongside other things such as travel, walking, etc. I don’t want to miss the experience by always looking through a lens. Equally I love to look back on those pictures of moments in time – so it’s a balance.

‘I’d really love to visit Iceland, to explore the amazing landscape there and of course experience the northern lights.

‘Kit wise I can’t deny (being surrounded by all this amazing photography gear!!) that I’m not tempted on an upgrade. My wish-list would include a Sony A7C as it’s full frame but still compact – or a Fuji X-T4. A great camera but also super stylish looking too!

‘I’m definitely a digital girl – I won’t be following the trend back to film just yet. But never say never – we’ve had some of the most beautiful vintage cameras in our office!’

To see more of her photographs, check out Lily’s Instagram account @Tiger_Lilstar

 

Meet other members of the Wilki Team and keep checking back as we plan to introduce many more team members in the future too!

 

Head of Online Sales & B2B, Graham Hudson

Company Director, Alex Wilkinson

 

Wilkinson Cameras ambassador, astrophotographer Alyn Wallace, has kindly written a blog post sharing his top 10 backyard astrophotography ideas for lockdown with us. Check out Alyn Wallace’s website and find him on social: 

With many of us stuck in lockdown, quarantine and self-isolation, I thought I’d share 10 ideas for astrophotography that you can do from home, even if you live in a light polluted town or city. If there’s  one thing that this pandemic has taught us it’s that we’re all in this together and astrophotography and astronomy only help to solidify that sense of unification. We all live under the same Sun, the same Moon, the same planets and the same stars. People stuck at home all over the world have a chance to photograph the same subjects and share their images with each other. This borderless aspect of astronomy is one of the reasons I love it.

1. Light Painting with Sirius

Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky and can be seen from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. At the moment it’s in the south-west after sunset and sets in the west later in the evening (though don’t confuse it with the brighter Venus). Once you’ve located it you’ll notice that it twinkles quite profoundly, especially when it’s low on the horizon and its light becomes more disturbed by the turbulent layers in Earth’s atmosphere in a process known as stellar scintillation.

You can use this twinkle for creative artistic effect. Put Sirius in the frame, make sure it’s slightly out of focus to accentuate its twinkle and flickering colours, and then intentionally move your camera during a long exposure to light-paint with it. Or check out the example above where astronomer Steve Brown arranged multiple photos of an out of focus Sirius in an almost pop-art fashion.

2. Moon Photography

No matter how much light pollution there is in your area it will never wash out the Moon! It also opens up a whole host of different photographic opportunities. You could should a wide-angle shot and include some foreground interest. Or it’s a great excuse to whip out the telephoto lens and get a better view of the surface details. Crescent moons and full moons are particularly good for a telephoto shot as they are low on the horizon during the twilight hours. Or, you could try a HDR shot and combine 2 exposures for the illuminated side and dark side.

3. Planets

Planets, unlike the stars, reflect the light of our Sun and are much more visible in light polluted areas. At the moment you’ll spot Venus shining insanely bright in the western skies and it will be around until about May. If you have a south-eastern view then you can also spot Jupiter, Saturn and Mars together in the dawn skies.

4. Star Trails

Even if you can’t see that many stars in the sky you’ll be surprised at how many your camera will pick up. You can do star trails even if you live in London! Take multiple exposures of 20-30 seconds, set the ISO to 800 and adjust your aperture until you have a good overall exposure, but don’t over-expose! Leave a 1-2 second interval in between the shots you take. If you have a new camera and a good spec SD card then you can get away with 1 second, but if you have an older camera or a low-end SD card then go for 2-3 seconds. There’s nothing worse than missing an exposure and having a big gap between your trails. Talking of gaps, you can stack all the exposures in the free software StarStax which has a gap-filling mode, nice!
If your camera doesn’t have a built-in intervalometer I recommend the Pixel TW-283 for reasons I explain in the video above. Also, it may be worth putting a lens warmer on to prevent any condensation forming on the front glass element. There’s nothing worse than coming back to find hundreds of photographs of a foggy lens!

5. Shoot A Timelapse

In a similar fashion to star trails, you can shoot multiple exposures using an intervalometer and turn the images into a timelapse video. In order to get smooth motion you need the video to playback at least 24 frames per second, so every 24 images you take will equate to 1-second of footage. In the tutorial video I posted on YouTube you’ll see that I used the same frames from the star trail image to create a timelapse video.
There are many ways you can stitch your images into a timelapse and you can find tonnes online but I’ll be sharing my own tutorial on YouTube very soon so make sure to subscribe to my channel if you don’t want to miss out on that.

6. International Space Station and Starlink Satellites

It’s worth keeping an eye out for any International Space Station flyovers for your location. My favourite app is ISS Detector as it gives you a nice star map showing you how the path will look for your exact location. You could also capture an image of the SpaceX StarLink satellites although that’s a very touchy and controversial subject for astronomers and astrophotographers at the moment. To keep an eye out for those I recommend Heavens Above.
If you’re lucky there may even be an ISS transit of the Moon or the Sun for your location too.

7. Bokeh Stars

If there’s not that many stars in sight then one way to accentuate them is to focus on the foreground, so that the stars turn into large bokeh balls. It helps to have a bit of a longer focal length here, something between 50-135mm. Although you can do this technique with 20-24mm lenses too, just be sure to be nice and close to your foreground subject. The technique is easy, just focus on your foreground subject.

8. Constellations

Constellation photography in dark sky locations can actually be quite difficult. Your camera picks up so many smaller stars that the constellation gets lost in the chaos. A little bit of light pollution or moonlight, however, washes away the smaller stars and helps the conspicuous constellations to stand out. Use an app like Stellarium to locate them. Some of the most obvious right now are Orion, Ursa Major, Cassiopeia, and Leo.

9. Pinhole Solar Photography (Solar Can)

You could try your hand at making your own pinhole camera, or you could buy a ready-made one from SolarCan. Just set it up outside facing the Sun, peel off the black tab to unveil the pinhole and then leave it for at least a week. The resulting image on the film inside the can shows the path of the sun over an extreme long exposure image. I’m going to leave mine outside for the duration of the lockdown here in the UK. Then the image will serve as a quarantine souvenir!

10. Deep Space Astrophotography

You may be quite surprised at how good a result you can get out of deep space astrophotography in light polluted areas. With the right light pollution filter you can really hone in on your distant target and if you have an astro modified camera you could even do some narrowband astrophotography. Whilst I dabble in deep space astrophotography, I’m no expert, which is why you should check out some of the YouTube channels listed below:
Astro Backyard
Peter Zelinka
Dylan O’Donnell

BONUS: Edit Your Past Images

You may have plenty of images sitting in your archive that are still waiting to be edited. Or how about going over past images to see how your editing has improved. As a bonus, my Astro Workflow Lightroom Presets are currently on sale during lockdown. See how they can improve your workflow and take your images to the next level.

Welcome to the final part (for now!) of our lockdown special.

Today we are going to think about the professional photographers out there – the guys and girls you look to for inspiration and adventure. Those who inspire, share, educate and capture our most precious moments.

Right now we’re all in the same boat – and it’s not sailing. Anywhere. Flights are cancelled, travel is prohibited, sporting events, weddings and family celebrations are all on hold.

For many of the full time photographers out there, the halt in income was instant. Commissions and workshops cancelled, bookings made months and even years in advance, gone.

We are super proud to see that many have risen to new challenges – taking photography tutorials on line, offering advice on coping with isolation in these difficult times and sharing their knowledge for free. Some have taken their workshops online too, with longer term courses now available to stream.

So we thought, as our final piece in this series, we should all look at ways in which we can support our favourite photographers during this period of uncertainty – and help everyone stay positive and healthy during this unprecedented time.

Buy a print, poster or card

Most professional photographers sell their images in some format. For some it’s a range of beautiful prints including investment pieces, limited edition prints, open prints and poster editions. Others may sell a wider range of cards or gifts featuring their work.

If you can spare the money right now, buy an image that will bring you joy, while supporting the photographers whose work you most admire. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune!

Buy their book or calendar

Many professional photographers also have their own books – many of which are self-published, meaning a massive personal investment in time and money to fulfill these projects.

Books are a lovely way to access a collection of images, often finding out more regarding how the images were captured, or the stories they tell. Buying direct from the photographers not only means they get to keep more of the profit, but also means you can often get a signed copy. Sometimes these can even include a personal handwritten message – so perfect to cherish, or as a gift. Many photographers are also running discounts at the moment, so you could save some money on a planned purchase.

Calendars (yes, some 2021 calendars are already out there!!) also make great gifts and you can enjoy a collection of images, with seasonal inspiration each month.

Book a workshop

Oh man, how we are dreaming of all those beautiful places we went to, or were planning to go to! One thing we do know is that we won’t always be in lockdown and hopefully we will soon be able to start planning photo adventures once more.

Got your eye on a particular workshop for next year? Why not book it now. Pay the deposit and have something amazing to look forward to! During this ‘downtime’ many photographers are taking advantage of the extra time to plan and add even more new exciting workshops for 2021 and beyond – many offering brand new locations.

Book that shoot!

Ever fancied that family portrait shoot, a bit of beautiful boudoir, an engagement shoot or whimsical woodland styled shoot? Whatever takes your fancy, we will all be ready for some fun when this lockdown is over!

Now is the perfect opportunity to research the ideal photographer for you and book that shoot. Photographers will currently have more time to discuss ideas, locations and help ensure you get the perfect pictures when the time comes.

Buy a voucher

If you can’t afford a whole shoot or trip, consider buying a voucher towards one. Then you still have plenty of time to save up and you’ll already have a little ‘in the bank’ to help when it comes to time to book. Vouchers are perfect gifts too – so think about any special events coming up, eg. Birthdays, Fathers Day or anniversaries.

Like, share and comment on social media feeds

One thing you can do to really help your favourite photographers, which won’t cost you a penny is to like, share and comment on their social media posts to aid with engagement.

Social media platforms are always changing the rules of engagement (literally!) and by liking, commenting or sharing someone’s work, you can really help them to reach more people and grow their business. Most business pages also have the option to ‘Invite Your Friends’ – check it out and see if you can help spread the word and visual joy at the same time!

Plan ahead

Now, with all that’s going on with the current pandemic, we’re almost a bit reluctant to mention the other C-word…Christmas! (Duck for cover!) But, joking aside, if you decide to buy a book, print or any kind of gift now, once lockdown is over, you can be running around care free with your birthday and Christmas gifts already sorted. You’re welcome!

Share!

We’d love to know who your favourite photographers are and why? How did you discover them; what is it about their work that you love? Do you already have a beautiful framed print on the wall at home that makes you smile each day, or a book you revisit time and time again?

Why not hop on over to our Facebook page now and let us know who your favourite photographers are & why.

Keep in touch:

Stay Safe

The Wilki Team

These days, there are more ‘POTYs’ around than you can shake a tripod at – from Wildlife to Weddings, Landscape to Weather, Birds, Gardens, Dogs and just about everything in between.

Within each, is normally a wide range of categories – giving flexibility and opportunity for pretty much every photographer. With many having junior categories too, it could be a perfect project with which to get the young photographers in the house involved.

So why not revisit your archives – even re edit past images and see which award categories might be best to enter? Many awards have some tasty cash prizes, as well as great kit up for grabs, the chance for your work to be included in exhibitions and even books, celebrating the winners’ work.

The process itself is also very useful – looking at each category, identifying pictures that fit the brief, following the rules (careful how you edit, or when the image was shot etc!) and really focusing on your best work. This in itself is a great skill to hone!

As well as the big national and international awards, also check out your local camera club to see if any regular competitions are now running online. The physical meet ups are obviously on hold, but there’s a ‘boom in Zoom’ and other online broadcast apps, which allow you to participate in all sorts include online classes and tutorials.

Organisations such as the Royal Photographic Society also run competitions as well as qualifications you can work towards!

Competition Inspiration

Here are just a few ideas to get you started – some of the deadline dates are soon, so if there’s something that takes your photographic fancy, get cracking and don’t miss your chance to shine!

A few of the awards are ‘on hold’ due to the current pandemic, but you can still browse the winners’ galleries from previous years, perfect for some inspiration (and truly amazing photography). Most will allow you to register your details – so you’re first to know when entries re-open.

Landscape Photographer of the Year – deadline just extended until 10 May 2020, go go, go!

Minimalist Photography Awards – deadline 25th May 2020.

Garden Photographer of the Year – entry deadline 31st October 2020, with several mini competitions in the meantime.

Bird Photographer of the Year – entries now closed for this one, but amazing back catalogue to enjoy. Finalists announced on 1st April 2020, overall results 22nd Aug 2020.

Sony World Photography Awards – entries re-open 1st July 2020.

Wildlife Photographer of the Year – The touring exhibition may be on hold, but a truly spectacular collection of images to view and inspire.

Dog Photographer of the Year – Amazing galleries of one of our favourite pet subjects. Join the mailing list to find out when the next competition opens.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year

International Wedding Photographer of The Year – register now for new dates. Browse previous winners and find out more about the images.

British Photography Awards (IPA) – Check out the winners’ galleries here and register for when entries re-open.

IPA – International Photography Awards

So plenty to ponder, lots to inspire!

Why not challenge yourself to do your first award entry this month? As they say, you’ve got to be in it to win it – and many a professional photography career has been launched off the back of an award win.

Good luck!

Keep in touch:

Stay Safe

The Wilki Team

Clive Nichols is one of the UKs foremost garden photographers and with over 95,000 images in his collection was named ‘Britain’s Best Garden Photographer’ by PhotoPlus Magazine.

With more than 30 years experience photographing gardens worldwide, we’re proud to have Clive as one of our Wilkinson Cameras ambassadors.

And as spring finally emerges from one of the most challenging winters on record, we caught up with Clive to see what this year holds and to find out more about his career to date and his enchanting garden and flower photography.

How did you get into garden photography?

I studied Geography at Reading University and worked in a restaurant whilst doing it so I thought I would be a chef – within 3 years I became head chef at an Italian restaurant but the hours nearly killed me!

So, overnight, I decided to become a travel photographer, as I loved taking pictures on my holidays. I just phoned up tourist boards and they gave me press trips – in the first year I went to Malta, The Falkland Islands and Japan but after a couple of years I realised that to make a living I would have to do something closer to home.

So again, I switched overnight to photographing flowers and gardens and never looked back. In 1994 I was asked to write and photograph a book for the Royal Horticultural Society on how to photograph plants and gardens and that really put me at the forefront of the genre.

After more than 30 years shooting flowers and gardens (and still going strong!) you must really love what you do – how do you keep your work fresh and evolving?

Actually quite easily – I love getting up early and getting to gardens for dawn or sunrise when no one is about – it is literally like being in heaven. Increasingly, I am travelling to gardens abroad as well – last year Greece, Morocco, Spain, France – and many of the gardens there have not really been photographed so they are new and exciting.

You have a very strong following on Instagram, with more than 65,000 followers. How have you grown (no pun intended!) such a lovely, engaged community?

Simple really – consistency – we’ve posted an image almost every day for the last two years. With each image I like to give a little information regards the location, the planting, opening times (where appropriate) for the gardens featured etc Many of the images featured are published in the key home and gardens magazines – so I include those details too in case people wish to read the full features.

We have the advantage of being able to draw on my vast collection of images to keep things fresh and seasonal. We’ve grown Instagram entirely organically – and that’s something we’re really proud of.

Do you always shoot in natural light, or do you use any lighting?

When shooting gardens I only use natural light – which is a challenge of course. A lot of photographers don’t realise how hard it is, landscape photography is easier believe me, because it doesn’t really move, whereas flowers blow around in the slightest breeze so you have to pick and choose your days.

If I am shooting plants indoors then I may use lighting – I have a very good lighting technician called Neil who is great because he has all the kit – tungsten and flash – so I can concentrate on the composition. Stephen Johnson of Copyright Image sometimes comes on shoots with me and I can tether my camera to his laptop so that the client can see the shots as I take them. I’m lucky to have a great team.

You run your own garden photography workshops and work closely with International Garden Photographer of the Year. What can guests expect from a garden photography workshops, are they suitable for all experience levels?

I am a judge as well for IGPOTY and yes, my workshops are good for anyone who owns a digital camera – I am not a particularly technical person so I use simple techniques really. I try and do as little post processing as possible and try and stay true to my subjects. Flowers are like humans really, they have character and personality, so the skill is to bring those out in the photograph. On the workshops we have early access to some amazing locations, so we can focus on capturing the best images in the best light possible. I’m always on hand to offer advice and help guests achieve the best images they can and my partner Annette usually helps out too.

You’ve photographed some absolutely incredible gardens, home and abroad, do you have a favourite and why?

My favourite is usually the one I am in at the time! But seriously, there are some amazing gardens as you say – in the UK I would have to say gardens like Malverleys, Wynyards Hall, Morton Hall and Pettifers, which is in my village. In Europe, I would say some of the French gardens are just mind blowing – Marqueysaac in the Dordogne for instance.

The garden I would most like to photograph – that I haven’t yet – is The Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. From the photos I have seen of it, it just seems to sum up what Moorish Paradise gardens should look like.

A little bird told us that you’re working on a new book project at the moment – what can you tell us about that project or is it under wraps?!

Well it’s a book featuring the brilliant English Gardens that I have photographed in the last few years – there are over 30 in the book and it will be a big, coffee table book with loads of big pictures, which I think is what people want to see. The book is due to launch later this year.

I’ve also been working on a project with Woodmansterne – they are one of the best card producers in the country – we have just launched a new range of my images on greetings cards which are now available in store at John Lewis, W H Smith and Sainsburys.

You’ve been involved with International Garden Photographer of the Year Awards from the very start and the competition has really highlighted our beautiful landscapes and gardens worldwide. What advice would you give to anyone considering an entry?

I have, my wife Jane was one of the original founders of IGPOTY. I would encourage anyone to enter as long as they have an image or images that are top class – remember the competition is intense these days. There is now a really wide range of categories – so entrants should select their images carefully and as well as the creative elements should ensure they meet the brief for each award.

Another great thing about IGPOTY is there is the option to pay for an ‘Entry Review’ – where one of the judges looks at your images and gives specific feedback. This is very valuable for aspiring garden photographers and can provide valuable insight as to how to improve and develop.

The weather has been horrendous this winter – what would you say to aspiring garden photographers who want to get out shooting now and don’t want to wait until spring?

Winter is very difficult – I usually wait for frosty or snowy days and target gardens that look good at this time of year – generally one that have strong structure – hedges, statuary, walls, gates, topiary etc.

But there are also a lot of flowers at this time of year and increasingly the bigger gardens are planting areas that have good flower, stem or bark colour in the winter months.

What are your top tips for those just getting started?

Look at the very best photography of gardens and plants in magazines and books etc and try to understand why the images are being used. In most cases it is the light and composition, which works. (Clive’s Instagram is a great place to start!)

Quickfire questions:

Sunrise or sunset? Sunrise
Trees or flowers? Flowers
Formal gardens or natural? Formal
Favourite flower to photograph? Tulip
Bluebells or Poppies? Poppies

What’s in Clive’s camera bag:

Canon EOS 5Ds R

Canon lenses:

TS-E 17mm F4L
TS-E 24mm F3.5L II
TS-E 45mm F2.8
EF 24-70mm F2.8 L II IS USM
EF 70-200mm F2.8 L III IS USM
EF 180mm F3.5L Macro

He also uses a Manfrotto tripod with a Gitzo Fluid head.

Do you have a ‘go to’ set up, or a favourite ‘must have’ piece of kit or accessory?

My go to lens is the Canon EF 70-200mm F2.8, or if I am shooting flower portraits then my EF 180mm F3.5L Macro – all Canon lenses. Another absolute essential is a sturdy tripod in order to keep the camera still and maintain perfect sharpness in photos.

FREE Screen Wallpaper

Clive has generously added several images to his shop as ‘free wallpaper’– so for a daily burst of garden photography inspiration, pop on over here and download yourself a beautiful view!

To find out more about Clive’s beautiful photography, workshops and books, visit his website or check out his Instagram!

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