Countryfile calendar competition: the theme, how to enter and photography tips

The 2018 Countryfile Calendar Photography Competition has launched with the theme ‘Call of the Wild’. The 12 best photos will be published in the Countryfile 2018 calendar, sold in aid of BBC Children in Need. Here is our guide on this year's theme, how to enter your photograph, plus tips from the experts

13th June 2017
Calendar judges

On Sunday 18th June the annual Calendar Competition was launched, with the theme ‘Call of the Wild’. For the first time, the competition will be accepting digital entries and the 12 best photos will then feature in the Countryfile Calendar for 2018, sold in aid of BBC Children in Need. 

The Countryfile Calendar for 2017 raised more than £2.2 million for the charity; a staggering amount, beating any previous year. View the 12 finalists and winner of last years' competition here.

The winning shot taken by Dean Mason on the cover of the 2017 Countryfile Calender
The winning shot taken by Dean Mason on the cover of the 2017 Countryfile Calender

The competition will have one overall winner voted for by Countryfile viewers. Not only will their picture take pride of place on the cover of the calendar, they’ll also get to choose photography equipment to the value of £1000.  The person who takes the judges’ favourite photo gets to choose equipment to the value of £500.

The competition isn’t open to professionals and because we want something original entries must not have won other national competitions. People can send in up to three photos, which must be taken in the UK. They can be hard copies or for the first time, uploads via the BBC website. Unfortunately entries cannot be returned.

Countryfile calendar theme for 2018

The theme for the 2018 Countryfile Calendar is 'Call of the Wild’. Be it photographs of wild landscapes, adventurous animals or wildlife in the wilderness; the Countryfile judges want viewers to respond – whatever their wild calling!

Deborah Meaden from Dragons' Den and award winning wildlife cameraman Simon King will join John Craven to select the winning photographs. 

As an award winning wildlife cameraman Simon has worked on some of the BBC’s most respected natural history programmes, including Big Cat Diary, Springwatch Planet Earth and Blue Planet:

Simon King, said: “I'm looking forward to witnessing people's interpretation of that theme, since the wild world can be represented by the charismatic and enigmatic creatures and landscapes we know and love but it can just as easily be found in your own back garden, local park or green space. As ever, I'll be looking out for a fresh vision captured in an aesthetically stimulating way.”

Calendar judges
John Craven (on the far right) is joined by judges Deborah Meadon and Simon King to judge this years' winner

Chairman of the judging panel John Craven added: “I can’t wait to see the response now that, for the first time, we are opening the competition up to jpeg entries by email.  It will make it easier for many of our viewers to take part and add a totally new a totally new aspect to the judging.   Printed photos will, of course, continue to play a major role in a contest which every year provides the UK’s amateur photographers with an exciting challenge as they focus their lenses on our magnificent countryside."

How to enter the Countryfile photographic competition

The theme “Call of the Wild” is open to the interpretation of the photographer. Entries could feature landscapes, wildlife or farms and farm animals, and all preferably in rural settings.  Pictures of pets are not eligible for the competition - nor are zoo animals. Any images of British wildlife in captivity must be declared as such.

Once all the pictures have been entered, the best 12 photographs – selected by the judges – will take pride of place in the Countryfile Calendar for 2018, one for each month. The calendar is sold in aid of BBC Children in Need.

The competition will have one overall winner voted for by Countryfile viewers. Not only will their picture take pride of place on the cover of the calendar, they’ll also get to choose photography equipment to the value of £1000.  The person who takes the judges’ favourite photo gets to choose equipment to the value of £500.

The competition isn’t open to professionals and because we want something original entries must not have won other national competitions. People can send in up to three photos, which must be taken in the UK. They can be hard copies or uploads via the BBC website. Unfortunately entries cannot be returned.

The competition closes at midnight on Friday the 21st July.

The full terms and conditions are on the Countryfile website - where there are also details of the BBC’s code of conduct for competitions. See: www.bbc.co.uk/countryfile 

How to enter the competition

Write your name, address and a daytime and evening phone number on the back of each photo with a note of where it was taken. You can enter up to three photographs per person.

Send your entries to:

Countryfile Photographic Competition

BBC Bristol

Whiteladies Road

Bristol

BS8 2LR

Or – you can enter online via the BBC website. The competition closes at midnight on the 21st of July. 

To enter your image digitally, visit: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes

Advice from a professional wildlife photographer

Award-winning wildlife photographer Peter Cairns shares his top tips on shooting wildlife and explains how you can win the Countryfile Photography Competition without the need for expensive equipment.

"If only I had a camera like yours…” I’ve heard those words a thousand times and do they raise my hackles or what? The implication being that if everyone owned professional gear, great images would come easily – it’s a bit like suggesting a few expensive pots and pans make you a top chef.

It’s not the camera that takes a compelling picture; it’s the photographer behind the camera. Vision, creativity, commitment and passion – these are the ingredients that will make a good image great; the camera is no more than a recording device (in the same way that pots and pans are simple receptacles).

So if you want to win the Countryfile Photographic Competition, you’ll need to embrace this year’s theme and get out into the countryside with whatever camera you own, breathe in the air, take in the landscape, relax and start taking pictures.

Here are a few tips to get you started with taking great nature photos…

1. The early bird and the worm

Plan to get out early and stay out late when the sun is low in the sky as the light will be at its ‘sweetest’. Rivers, lakes and canals are often calm at either end of the day, providing a great opportunity to capture reflections. If your quarry is wildlife, most species are more active at first and last light, and besides, there are fewer people around.

Identify a potential subject and then return when the lighting conditions are at their best.

2. Work locally

It’s great to go off on holiday, but don’t overlook subjects close at hand. Ducks and geese in town parks, garden birds, canal walks and even landfill sites can all be productive photographic locations. It’s not the rarity of the subject or the exoticism of the location that matters; it’s how you bring it to life.

Return again and again to local places that yield great images – no two visits will ever be the same.

3. There’s no such thing as bad weather

Bad weather is good weather as far as I’m concerned. When it starts raining, or better still, snowing, don’t head for home. A carrier bag and an elastic band will keep your camera dry – the important thing is that you keep shooting in the most exciting conditions. Bad weather is not as common as you may think so make the most of it.

Contrary to popular opinion, a bright sunny day isn’t always the best for photography – bad weather can yield good results.

4. Less is more

We often look at a spectacular landscape and want to consume it all, but the camera doesn’t ‘see’ the way we do. Think about what drew you to the scene initially and focus on that; it might be a single tree on a ridge or the colours of reflected fishing boats.

A strong image is as much about what you leave out as what you include.

5. L.V.B.

Light, Viewpoint, Background. Say it to yourself over and over – I do. Before you press the shutter, ask yourself if you’re making the best use of the light – would your image look better shooting into the sun, for example? Viewpoint is critical; for wildlife subjects, getting down low gives a more intimate perspective, so don’t be afraid to lie on the ground. And don’t get preoccupied with your subject and forget about the background. Generally, clean, uncluttered backgrounds work best.

Avoid distractions in your shot by adjusting your position in relation to your subject.

To see more of Peter's work, visit: www.petercairnsphotography.com

Photography tips: how to take the winning shot

Part 1: Get to know your camera

Part 2: Top tips

Part 3: Outdoor photos

 

For more great competitions, visit: www.countryfile.com/competitions

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