The winner of the AOP‘s best in show award for 2013 was Neil Buchan-Grant, Neil also wins a year’s complimentary subscription to the Adobe Creative Cloud for this winning image.
Neil has been taking photographs for over 30 years, but only really got serious about it in the past few. In 2004 he won a travel photography competition in the Independent on Sunday, which led to regular commissions throughout Europe with Insight Guides and Berlitz. Neil had always been a Canon user, but when the Leica M9 came out, he sold up and switched to a new way of making photographs. Neil says “The Leica forces the photographer to manually focus everything, and ultimately slows the process of taking pictures down and forces you to work at a more considered pace. The Leica also forces you to engage with your subject”. Before his next commission, after spending a month in Sicily, Neil contacted Olympus who loaned him their latest equipment, which he used in conjunction with the Leica lenses. Neil has developed a close working relationship with Olympus ever since and now regularly produces advertising images for them.
The shot which won the AOP Open award was made on a peat bog near Galway in Ireland. The girl was the daughter of a friend’s neighbour and she was playing there with her siblings. As Neil was chatting to her parents, she came scampering up to his lens, momentarily transfixed by her own reflection. Neil shot 4 frames using autofocus, aperture priority, lens wide open and the camera lower than waist level using the flip out LCD screen of his OMD. They were all sharp but unfortunately in the other 3 pictures she looked almost angelic, needless to say, her mother preferred those!
Neil knew the picture was different but it was shot on a gloomy day with a good sky but flat light. Its was only when he used Photoshop CS5, Lightroom and Nik’s Siver Effex Pro II that the it came to life. The software just helped to bring out the drama that was already there.
More of Niels work can be found at www.buchangrant.com.