The competition invites entries into the following eight categories. Please take your time to read the brief for each category which describes the type of image we are looking for in each section. Part of the skill of a competition is entering the right image into the right category. The judges often see great images entered into an inappropriate category, images that may well have won a prize if the photographer had paid more attention to the category guidelines. Take a look at some of the previous winners for some inspiration.
In this Bird Photographer of the Year category we’re after an image that best captures the character of the subject bird and its distinctive features – this is what bird watchers often refer to as the 'jizz' of a bird. We are looking for images that include lots of detail, captured in a classic pose or showing diagnostic features or behaviour, with particular attention paid to the setting and background. Please note that the category title does not relate to the orientation of the image.
In this Bird Photographer of the Year category we are looking for a picture that best demonstrates the relationship between a bird and the environment in which it is found. Examples of this type of image could range from a Mute Swan on a tranquil lake at dawn, a Dipper perched on a rock by a waterfall, or a Tawny Owl roosting in deciduous woodland.
This Bird Photographer of the Year category focuses on the smaller details of a bird, and could range from a close-up head shot to a macro image showing feather detail, a bird's eye or the talons of a raptor. The only limit is your ability to get close! The judges will be looking for a well-composed image that makes the most of those intimate details that we do not necessarily get to witness every day.
In this Bird Photographer of the Year category, the judges will be looking for an image that best depicts the unique aspects of bird behaviour and that evokes an emotional response. The manic display of lekking Black Grouse, the courtship ritual of Great Crested Grebes, the humble singing Robin or the sight of a large Starling murmuration are all good examples of possible subjects for this category
Advances in digital technology have revolutionised flight photography. This Bird Photographer of the Year category celebrates avian mastery of the sky. Knowledge and control of the camera settings to freeze the action or introduce motion blur are the types of technique that the judges will be looking for to convey drama and emotion.
As the title suggests, in this Bird Photographer of the Year category we're looking for images that seek to capture the joy that millions of us derive from the birds that visit our gardens and inhabit our towns and cities. The judges are looking for images that celebrate the relationship between birds and people, and which show a degree of creativity and uniqueness. Images that are likely to fare well in this category are those that clearly show the subject in a garden or urban environment and need not necessarily be species that are perceived as classic garden or urban specialists.
In this Bird Photographer of the Year category we encourage creativity in all its forms. Winning images might include those that are taken using creative camera techniques, for example slow shutter speeds and panning for fast-moving birds. In addition, we discard all the rules regarding digital manipulation and instead actively encourage you to use your skills and imagination to create images utilising the full potential of today's modern digital darkroom techniques. Montages from multiple frames, the removal of unsightly items, the wholesale replacement of backgrounds, and HDR stitches are all examples of the types of imagery that this category seeks to promote. Let your imagination run wild, use the digital technology to your advantage and create something different that takes our breath away.
This category is sponsored by leading natural history travel company, Wildlife Worldwide, together with sister company, The Travelling Naturalist. It celebrates all that is positive about the impact of the avian world on people and the potential that it has to inspire all of us. This innovative category combines imagery and prose: entrants are invited to submit an image that represents an inspirational encounter with birds accompanied by approximately 150 words of text. The imagery and text combined should tell a story and convey to the viewer and reader the significance of this moment to the photographer. Read this category's detailed brief for an example.
As well as the main title of Bird Photographer of the Year awarded to the best overall individual image, a prize will be awarded to the best overall portfolio of 6 or more images. This will comprise a collection of the best individual photographs from a single photographer, as judged by our panel, showing consistency of skill and talent.
The team at Nature Photographers Ltd is proud to sponsor the Crowd Choice Award. Once entries are closed, all the images can be voted on by you and the Photocrowd community. This is your chance to have your say in who wins, and the Crowd Choice winner in each category will receive a £50 cash prize.
Young BPOTY is a judged-only contest. It is free-to-enter for photographers aged 16 years or under on 30 November 2018. It is sponsored by the Cameron Bespolka Trust and aims to encourage the next generation of photographers. There are no individual subject categories to worry about; the judges will choose the images that impress them most. You can of course enter the main Bird Photographer of the Year competition as well, although fees will apply for these entries.