Allen Koppe, Classic Landscape Category Winner
2019 Better Photography Magazine Photo of the Year Awards

Allen Koppe used a Fujifilm GFX 50S with a 23mm lens and a 10-stop Breakthrough Photography ND filter to capture his remarkable landscape. In the competition, he also entered a number of photographs taken with a similar style: simple compositions, blurred water and clouds, black and white, dramatic light and strong contrast. If you visit his website, you'll see a remarkable portfolio of images.

Two observations. First, Allen entered a lot of photos. In fact, I have found that many of the winning photographers have entered more entries than most. Sure, part of the approach to winning an award is producing amazing images, but how do you know what the judges will think is 'amazing'? I know after 40 years of entering photography awards, I still can't get it right. At the AIPP NSW Epson Professional Photography Awards this year, I was awarded the highest scoring print for one of my entries, while another entry received the lowest score of the awards! And I'm still mad! :>)

So, rather than trying to second guess a panel of judges with one or two images, some photographers enter a lot of photographs and hope that one of them floats to the surface.

The second observation is that all of Allen's photos are 'simple'. Another adjective could be elegant. His choice of subject matter, lens and camera angle allow him to isolate his subject. Many entries into our competition have wonderful subjects surrounded by busy backgrounds. A different camera angle is often all that's required to strengthen a photograph, so next time you have your camera in hand, spend a little time walking around your subject and take lots of different angles. Then in post-production, you can work out which is the best.

Wrote Allen of his winning landscape, "The selected image capture was not a planned process. I live in Newport on Sydney’s northern beaches and had been stuck at home for a few days. Suffering cabin fever, I decided to shoot off to Palm Beach one afternoon. The clouds were starting to break after some solid bad weather and I thought I’d take advantage of a great sky and see what I could find.

"I was watching the beach and noticed one of the council's tractors was grading the sand. The driver would make a big sweeping manoeuvre to turn around and head back the other way, leaving these beautiful markings in the sand. "There were only a few people about, which helped, so I was able to find a section of graded sand with a nice curve and no footprints running through it. I grabbed several exposures before the inevitable jogger, walker and holiday maker left their marks in the sand."

Allen says he is an amateur photographic enthusiast who, since his teenage years has had a passion for photography, particularly black and white. "From an early age, I used a 35mm Pentax K 1000 camera and would print my own pictures in a homemade darkroom in a shed at the back of my parent's house. I think today I am even more keen on black and white photography than I was back then and seldom shoot in colour. Still photography offers me a creative outlet from my professional career as a cinematographer, where I work as part of a team. The process is quite different and I enjoy the creative freedom and independence that still photography allows me."

Allen processed the image in Lightroom and finished it off in Photoshop, giving the image a little more contrast.