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Young Landscape Photographer of the Year talks to ePHOTOzine.

Jon McGovern won the title of Young Landscape Photographer of the Year. Here he talks to ePHOTOzine about the awards and his life as a young landscape photographer.

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Tell us a little about yourself and why you like landscape photography.
"I'm sixteen years old and I've only been taking 'real' photos for a couple of years. I enjoy all genres, especially landscape photography, and enter any photography competitions I can find. In the past I've won a DSLR and a mobile phone, and recently I won Young Landscape Photographer of the Year, which I hadn't dreamed of winning; just to have been on the shortlist would have been great."
Twilight shot by Jon Mcgovern

How do you pick your locations? Is there a lot of research involved?
"My landscapes tend to be shot at nearby locations, as I can't drive yet, but recently we travelled to Tornaszentandras, a very rural area of Northern Hungary that doesn't attract a lot of tourists, so I managed to get some original photos. Also, I had a lot of time on my hands so I could go shooting at sunrise and sunset most days. One morning there was a fantastic thick fog, really surreal, like a dream world, allowing me to get some photos unlike anything I've taken before."

Photo by Jon Mcgovern showing a man walking down a path
Do you spend time looking for the best vantage points?
"Ideally it's always good to scout first, so you can find potential photos to shoot in better light. However, that's not always practical, so I usually just walk around and see what happens. When I've found a great spot, I usually experiment with using portrait/landscape orientation, and different perspectives, so I can get the photo just right."

Is the foreground as important to you as the background?
"I don't really 'do' foregrounds in the traditional sense, i.e. finding a rock/piece of driftwood and placing it in the front of the photo. I do use texture detail a lot, as well as using leading lines to make a photo more three-dimensional."

Do you shoot in aperture priority mode?

"I tend to use either aperture priority or manual mode (or auto when I want to snatch a shot) and f/8 seems to work well a lot of the time. It keeps everything more-or-less sharp without loss of detail."

What camera and lenses do you use and why?
"I use a Nikon D60, which I won, along with the 18-55mm kit lens and a 50mm f/1.8. Soon I'm going to get myself a Sigma 10-20mm and a Nikon 55-200mm, and maybe a Tamron 90mm. My camera does everything I want it to and it's light, which is especially nice when going for a whole day's shoot. When I'm going to upgrade, I'd probably get the D300 (or D400 by the time I've saved enough money)."

Is a tripod important?

"Very - the only problem is that my current tripod is a £30 job and not very reliable. Also, the fixed legs make it hard to get a lower perspective, so I'm going to buy the Manfrotto 190XPROB with some of my prize money. It's especially useful when doing HDRs, because Photomatix auto-alignment never EVER seems to work."
Photo by Jon Mcgovern  path between two hills

Do you use filters?
"Not at the moment. I'm going to order an ND and a polariser though, and maybe a couple of grads. No, forget the grads; I'll just use exposure blending and save some money."

What time of day do you take your landscape photographs and why?

"I love shooting at dawn partly for the thrill of being outside in the cold morning air and, of course, for the beautiful light. But more often than not I find myself shooting most in the middle of the day, just because it's not convenient to wake up at the crack of dawn every morning (at least, not while I'm still at college)."

Is framing important to you?
"Framing's not really a compositional technique I use a lot. One image does spring to mind, though, where I framed an image with ivy, making a nice natural sillouhette in the foreground."

Photo by Jon McGovern

Is colour important to you?
"Definitely, though this is probably what I find hardest about photography; getting the balance right. The reason it's hard is that the effectiveness of
Photo by Jon Mcgovern colourful field
colour is so relative, and everybody has different opinions on how to use it. Too many colours can make or break an image, and colours can have different emotional impact on different personalities. Sometimes a really desaturated image can be more powerful than one with the saturation cranked all the way up. There's a lot to think about.

Do you do any post production work?
"Yes, a lot. I will always make a few adjustments to my photos, and occasionally I create crazy manipulations like London in an apocalypse or a genie coming out of a teapot. I use HDR on a lot of my landscapes, to get a better dynamic range or just to make them look cool."

Best piece of advice someone's given you?
" 'Be good.' - Brian Clough."

Visit Jon McGovern's Flickr page for more information.

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