Travel: Winning moments

Composition, light, mood - what makes a great picture? Simon Calder finds out
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Travel photography can cause nearly as many heated arguments as Middle East peace negotiations - or at least when the judges of the The Independent/Wanderlust magazine/Nikon Travel Photograph of the Year Competition are picking the winners. We attracted more entries from amateur photographers than ever before, many of them of outstanding.

The competition embraced four categories: the Natural World, Action, Face-to-Face and Black & White. Whittling down the thousands of images to 10 finalists in each category was a week's work for Geoffrey Roy, Wanderlust's professional photographer. We then convened in Windsor for the day to judge the eventual winners.

In the Natural World category, we felt that Tony Ord's feeling for snow, light and composition caught this family of emperor penguins perfectly - and shows the photographic rewards you can expect if you travel to the Larsen Ice Shelf of Antarctica in November.

Shirley Bell's Action shot of buffalo-racing on the island of Sumbawa in Indonesia (shown on the cover of this week's Time Off) tells more in an instant than moving pictures ever could. The winner of the Black & White category, Giles Angel, made the most of a moment in the souk in Marrakesh: "For a brief moment a gap appeared, and a boy came cycling towards me."

The visages beaming from Michael Ford's image of the Trans-Aral train in Uzbekistan won him both the Face-to-Face category and the overall prize. "My fellow travellers had just done a bit of DIY air-conditioning by removing the window. As they leaned out, I clicked."

At the awards ceremony at Destinations '98 in Olympia, London, yesterday, the three category winners each received a Nikon F50 with 35-80mm lens, plus a Billingham Photo Hadley bag.

Mr Ford was presented by Nikon with an F70 SLR with 24-120mm AF-D lens, worth at least pounds 1,000, while Bellingham gave him a 335 camera bag and Ventile photo vest (total value pounds 300 plus). Plus one prize money can't buy: a photographic commission from The Independent.