Is your travel photography going places?

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If you think your photos are a cut above the usual holiday snaps, here's your chance to win a commission to shoot an Insight Guide and see your work published in The Independent on Sunday

Can you take a great travel photograph? Then enter the 2010 The Independent on Sunday/Insight Guides travel photography competition. The winner will be given a professional commission, worth £3,000, from Insight Guides to take photographs for one of its prestigious guidebooks. It could pave the way to an exciting career in travel photography.

The two runners-up will receive a fabulous Canon camera. And, for the first time, we are opening the competition to under-18s, a category in which the winner will also receive a Canon camera and spend a day with a professional photographer from The Independent on Sunday, providing valuable work experience.

A selection of all the winners' photos will be published in The Independent on Sunday, too.

How to enter

We are looking to reward photographers who provides top-quality, outstanding images that capture the essence of a destination. This year, we are looking for a great photograph on the theme of "earth" – which can be interpreted as broadly as you wish. The competition is open to any UK-based photographer, whether professional or amateur.

Submit your photographs by Friday, 10 September 2010. The winner will be announced and their winning portfolio published in the travel pages of The Independent on Sunday shortly afterwards.

All entrants must provide three colour photographs, which must not have previously been entered for any other photography competition. Entries can be sent digitally to: photocontest@insightguides.co.uk as high-resolution jpegs to a minimum of 3MB at 300dpi and a maximum or 15MB at 300dpi, emailed individually or as a group of three. Alternatively, send prints, no bigger than 10in x 8in (25.4cm x 20.3cm), to: Photography Prize, APA Publications, 58 Borough High Street, London SE1 1XF.

Note that entries cannot be returned, so do not send original prints. All entries must be clearly labelled with the entrant's name, address, email address and date of birth. Those entering the under-18s category must mark each entry "under-18s".

The prizes will be presented to the adult winners in London at Stanfords – the UK's leading specialist retailer of maps, travel books and other travel accessories – on the evening of 26 October. The winners will be invited to attend the prize-giving with a friend and will also be treated to a special night at Le Méridien Piccadilly. Set in the heart of London, the hotel complements its vibrant cultural and architectural surroundings with guest amenities including the Piccadilly Health Club, one of London's largest indoor swimming pools, and traditional afternoon tea served in the ornate Oak Room. For more details, go to lemeridienpiccadilly.co.uk.

The winner of the under-18s category will be presented personally with the prize on a separate occasion.

The competition judges are: Steven Lawrence, Picture Editor, Insight Guides; Peter Noble, former trustee of the Royal Photographic Society; Sophie Batterbury, Picture Editor of The Independent on Sunday; high-profile photographer Kevin Cummins; and David Parry, head of Canon UK's product intelligence.

The Prizes

1st prize: Commission from the Publisher of the Insight Guides to photograph a travel destination selected by them, worth approximately £3,000. The resulting photographs may be selected for inclusion in an Insight Guide but the selection and inclusion shall be at the sole discretion of the Publisher.

2nd prize: A Canon PowerShot SX210 IS – worth £389. With a 20x wide-angle zoom, this camera offers intelligent, versatile shooting power, Switch to Smart Auto mode for effortlessly great results, and shoots stunning HD movies.

3rd prize: and under-18S prize: A Canon PowerShot SX120 IS – each worth £209. Ideal for family days out, with Smart Auto and Easy modes, the 10.0 MP PowerShot SX120 IS brings distant subjects into view with a 10x image-stablilised lens.

10 Top Tips

To mark the 40th anniversary of Insight Guides, an Insight Guide to Travel Photography (£14.99) will be published in October 2010 – an inspirational and practical guide covering everything from digital processing to selling images. Here are 10 tips taken from the Guide to help make your images more striking

1 Practice how to use your camera and be familiar with all the settings and techniques before leaving home. When you're in the middle of a crowded market in Timbuktu or Taipei, you won't have time to check.

2 Keep the kit as simple as possible and try to allow enough time to "blend in" and observe what's going on. Continual rushing around usually leads to poor-quality "grabbed" shots.

3 The best time for taking pictures is either in the morning or the late afternoon. Try to avoid the midday sun when the light is too harsh and landscapes in particular can look flat or overexposed.

4 When shooting moving subjects, a rule of thumb for minimum shutter speeds is 1/60 second when there is only gentle movement, 1/125 for a person moving normally, but at least 1/500 for any action that you would generally consider fast, such as action sports.

5 When taking photographs of people or animals, it is important to allocate positive and negative space, especially when the subject is moving. Giving the moving subject enough positive space to move into will greatly enhance the image.

6 The best "people shots" are those that are taken discreetly without the subject's knowledge, or – after making eye contact – with smiling complicity.

7 A strong horizontal line, such as the horizon or seashore, is best placed either a third of the way up or a third of the way down the picture – according to the "Rule of Thirds".

8 When taking pictures of mountains, it is a good idea to include some foreground detail such as figures, buildings, trees or boulders to emphasise the scale and help give depth and added interest to the image.

9 Tired shots of famous locations can be given new life and repackaged by framing. Even the Taj Mahal at Agra takes on a new aspect when framed through the archway of one of its surrounding buildings. Tree branches are good for framing buildings or landscapes.

10 If you want to give a different dimension to a subject, consider the angle of shot. Try crouching down or even standing on a chair – the difference can be dramatic.

Competition Rules

Entry and eligibility

a) The competition is open to amateur and professional photographers alike apart from employees of APA Publications and INM, their agents or members of their families. Entrants must be normally resident in the UK, the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands.

b) By entering, competition entrants agree to these terms and conditions:

i) all photographs submitted must have been taken since 1 January 2010;

ii) all entries must be received by Friday 10 September 2010;

iii) all entries must be sent to Photography Prize, APA Publications, 58 Borough High Street, London SE1 1XF or emailed to photocontest@insightguides.co.uk; iv) postal entries must bear the correct postage. They are invalid if they arrive any later than the first post on the closing date, emails must arrive by midnight on the closing date;

v) proof of posting or emailing will not constitute proof of delivery and no responsibility will be accepted for lost, damaged, illegible, delayed or mislaid entries;

vi) each entrant should submit three different images on the nominated theme; the prints must be colour, size 10x8 inches maximum (25.4x20.3cm), emailed images must be colour, high-resolution jpegs of a minimum 3MB at 300dpi and a maximum of 15MB at 300dpi. Only unmanipulated prints and images will be accepted. Each print or digital entry must be clearly labelled with the entrant's name, address, phone number and email address, and each entry for the under-18 category must be clearly labelled "under-18s".

vii) images submitted should not be entered for any other photography competition before the final placings have been announced;

viii) prints submitted for the competition will not be returned, so no original prints or irreplaceable images should be sent in: the promoters of the competition accept no liability whatsoever for loss or damage;

ix) entrants must own the copyright in all entries and by entering this competition entrants warrant that their entries do not infringe the rights of any third party;

x) no purchase is necessary;

xi) INM's competition rules apply, see independent.co.uk/legal.

Use of materials

a) All entries, however submitted, shall become the property of INM and will not be returned. By entering this competition entrants agree that should they win or be a runner-up they are deemed to have agreed to grant to INM a non-exclusive licence to publish the winning entries online and in print and to syndicate the work; b) For the avoidance of doubt, entrants agree that the Publisher, and INM as the copyright owner, shall have the right, but not the obligation, to exhibit and reproduce, and authorise others to reproduce, the winning entries for all publicity and promotional purposes connected to the competition, including exhibitions and calendars; c) The Publisher and INM shall try to ensure that all material used is credited with the entrant's name.

Adjudication

a) The winner will be chosen by the panel of judges led by Peter Noble, Trustee of The Royal Photographic Society; b) The prizewinners will be notified by post, email or telephone after the closing date, not later than 30 September 2010. The Publisher and INM reserve the right to publish the names of the winners; c) The final placings will be announced in The Independent on Sunday's travel section. The adult prizes will be presented at an event held on 26 October 2010 at Stanfords bookshop in London, the under-18s prize will be presented at a date and location to be confirmed; d) No correspondence will be entered into. No purchase is necessary. No cash or other alternative to the prizes will be available. The decision of the judges shall be final. INM's competition rules apply, see independent.co.uk/legal.

The publisher of the Insight Guides is APA Publications GmbH & Co Verlag KG (Singapore Branch) of 38 Joo Koon Road, Singapore 628990.

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