The winners of final APOY 2023 round, Round Ten, Low light, are in! Here are the top ten images uploaded to Photocrowd from the low light round with comments by the AP team and our guest judge. Images featured include some fantastic night images, as well as studio portraits.

Low light is like catnip to the photographer. As light drops and reduces, it gives dimension, depth, colour and atmosphere to a photographic image, allowing previously ordinary scenes to gradually come alive. Low light has the power to either reduce a potential composition to its basic elements, or it can introduce a riot of conflicting tones and colour temperatures. It’s no wonder that generations of photographers have exploited it to their advantage. This is always a particularly strong round, and seems to unleash entrants’ creativity. It’s also the final round of this year’s competition – we hope you have enjoyed it as much as the AP team has.

APOY 2023 Low Light Top 10

APOY 2023 Low Light Winner

1. Daniel Sands, UK, 100pts

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 24-105mm at 24mm, 10sec at f/9, ISO 50

figure sitting in the light of the overhead bulb at bus stop daniel sands low light apoy 2023 winner

A deceptive image that appears simple at first, but is filled with mystery. Who is the figure sitting in the light of the overhead bulb, and what’s their story? Look more closely and you’ll see their shadow to one side, too. The limited colour palette means there’s no visual confusion, while the contrast between the blue of the sky and the warmth of the artificial light is balanced and pleasing. The finishing touch is the line across the back that transitions from red to white. A neat touch.

2. Angela Lambourn, UK, 90pts

Nikon D75, 50mm, 1sec at f/11, ISO 2500

dashed orange light flickering through the middle of the frame of dark low light creative scene

Guest judge Niall McDiarmid says: ‘The wonderful late evening colours blend this scene into complete abstraction. The dashed orange light flickering through the middle of the frame provides a strong central focal point while still giving the image a dreamlike floating quality. There is a desire to know more about how and where the image was taken, but at the same time feeling that knowing less about it adds more to its mystery.’

3. Charles Ashton, UK, 80pts

Nikon Z 9, 50mm f/1.2 S, 1/100sec at f/1.2 ,ISO 1100

canid man on a bus capturing moment of distance and contemplation

A bus at night is guaranteed to be filled with stories untold, and this one is no different. Charles has captured a moment of distance and contemplation, with a sense that the man is separated from all that is happening around him. And we’re left very much wanting to know more. Where has he been, and why is he so smartly dressed? The overwhelming greyness of the tones means our attention is instantly drawn to his face, lit up artificially and pulling us into the picture. An excellent classic candid shot.

This photo by Charles is also the highest camera club scorer of the round!

4. Dominic Beaven, UK, 70pts

Sony A7M3, 24-70mm, 1/80sec at f/2.8, ISO 10,000

couple stood in spot light of low lit industrial building

Another excellent example of storytelling in a single frame. The cool light is hugely atmospheric, as is the empty space. And just what are the couple talking about…?

5. Baris Buke, The Netherlands, 60pts

Sony A6000, 1/100sec at ISO 1000

model posed in tiled room with bright red light

Witty, intriguing and original – there’s a lot going on in this single frame. The pose is awkward in a good way, and the overall wash of red adds to the sense of oddness.

6. Wendy Davies, UK, 50pts

Apple iPhone 14 Pro, 14mm, 1/100sec at f/2.2, ISO 320

concert crowd scene from middle of people

Instantly, the viewer is transported to the sensory overload that is a live gig. It makes us feel as if we are in the thick of the sights, the smells and above all, of course, the sounds. Converting to B&W makes it even more atmospheric.

7. Trevor Cole, Ireland, 45pts

Nikon D810, 70-200mm at 165mm, 1/640sec at f/2.8 , ISO 1000

low sidelighting that picks out the smoking man’s profile

Taken in ordinary, flat light, this image would be nothing. It’s all about the low sidelighting that picks out the smoking man’s profile and just enough information in his features. We can see, for example, that his eyes are closed – presumably in a moment of contemplation. The delicacy of his relaxed fingers holding the smoking cigarette are a lovely detail, too. And, of course, we have that backlit smoke, that’s being exhaled from his lungs and filling a significant part of the frame. Aperture choice is spot on, making sure there are no distractions at all in the background.

8. Chris Robbins, UK, 40pts

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 24-105mm at 32mm, 1/160sec at f/8, ISO 100

Chris conveys the isolation of his friend smoking in low light

There’s a melancholy about this scene that makes it particularly memorable. Chris says he wanted to convey the isolation of his friend, whose stroke has left him with few pleasures in life. The setup, lit by flash, does exactly that, and is both affecting and powerful. A great example of visualising a shot and then realising it.

9. Maurizio Masini, Italy, 35pts

Sony A7M4, 24-105mm at 105mm, 1/13sec at f/4, ISO 1000

female figure out of focus running through street at night

The low viewpoint here is what helps makes this shot stand out. Throwing the female figure out of focus is a great device for injecting a sense of mystery, too. There’s enough detail to give context, but we’re still left wanting to know more.

10. Peyman Naderi UK, 30pts

Nikon D810, 105mm, 1/125sec at f/6.3, ISO 64

studio portrait of woman in super high neck pink ruffle dress

A stunningly executed and mesmerising studio portrait that stands out as being different from any other image in this round’s top ten. The woman’s direct gaze is enigmatic and penetrative, while the styling is absolutely top notch. The lighting is soft, subtle and superbly managed, while her pose is simple and classic. Altogether a wonderful portrait.

Young APOY 2023 Action winner

Finn Hanley, UK 100pts

Sony A7M3, 85mm, 1/400sec at f/1.4, ISO 640

semi abstract photograph looking through a restaurant window that focusses on condensation

A wonderfully semi-abstract image from Finn, here. Cleverly focusing on the raindrops that are making their way down the window gives the composition an almost three-dimensional feel. Even though the main figure is out of focus, we know exactly what they are doing, and can feel their concentration and obliviousness to the person who is taking their photograph. The result is hugely atmospheric, transporting the viewer to the rainy streets and the sights of Chinatown. A creative and well-seen shot that makes a worthy winner of this round.

See the Young APOY 2023 Low Light top ten

Camera Club competition

Mark Letheren UK, 10pts

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 17-40mm at 30mm, 0.8sec at f/6.3, ISO 100

deceptively simple but imaginative image of bungalow in low night light lit up inside

There’s only one camera club we can feature in this slot this round, and that, of course, is Launceston Camera Club. For the third year running, they have walked away with the camera club competition top prize, and it’s images such as this one, by member Mark Letheren, that have helped get them there. Here we have a deceptively simple but imaginative shot that deserved its place in the shortlist, the contrast between the warmth of the orange and end-of-day blue creating a pleasing whole.

The Final APOY 2023 leaderboard after 10 rounds

final apoy 2023 leaderboard after 10th round low light

APOY has been extremely tightly fought this year, with no single photographer maintaining their place at the top of the leaderboard throughout. In fact, at the end of Round 9, Daniel Sands was in tenth place overall. However, his superb win in this round – and the 100 points that came with it – meant he leapfrogged everyone else to take top spot overall. Congratulations, Daniel! Congratulations, too, to the hugely talenter Yousef Naser Mohamed, who takes Young APOY for a second year. And what can we say about Launceston Camera Club? A superb effort from all their members.

See more about our winners here.

See the full leaderboards here.

Winning kit from MPB

The gear our winners used can be found at MPB

The Canon EOS 5D Mark III arrived in the spring of 2012, with headline features including 22MP resolution, 61-point AF system and 6fps continuous shooting; Daniel Sands used one to shoot his atmospheric first-placed image. Our review says: ‘Overall, it is difficult to fault the 5D Mark III, given its current price on the second-hand market.’ This excellent DSLR can be found at MPB for between £284 and £644, depending on condition.

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, with lens. Image: Canon

Canon EOS 5D Mark III, with lens. Image: Canon

The pro-spec Nikon Nikkor Z 50mm f/1.2 S lens is a classic focal length that’s ideal for a wide range of situations, and Charles Ashton used it for his candid third-placed shot. Its f/1.2 aperture makes it a superb choice for low-light photography, and it’s constructed from 17 elements in 15 groups, including two ED elements and three aspherical elements. The nine aperture blades help create pleasing bokeh. Find this premium lens at MPB for £1,849 in like-new condition.

sony a7 iii

Taking fourth place, Dominic Beaven used a Sony A7 Mark III. This hugely popular camera won the EISA Camera of the Year in 2018-2019. It features a 24.2MP back-illuminated Exmor R CMOS image sensor, and its excellent AF system makes it easy to focus on and track moving subjects. It also features a burst speed of 10fps. This excellent mirrorless model can be picked up at MPB for between £1,059 and £1,259.

Sony A7 IV vs A7 III: what’s the difference, and what’s new?

To browse the extensive range of stock at MPB, visit

See the best cameras for low-light photography and video, and lenses.

Best photography competitions to enter

Further reading:

Guide to night landscape photography

Night photography: how to take great photos at night

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