Max Howe in the running for Moran Photographic Prize

Katoomba artist Max Howe has been named one of 30 finalists in the Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize.

Howe has had many jobs over the years - working in a coal mine, for trade unions and on a tugboat - and is not a professional photographer.

"I have always had an interest in photography, secondary to the visual arts," he said.

The first-time entrant was surprised to be named a finalist.

"I didn't anticipate to get in. From the semi-final to final was very surprising," the 68-year-old said.

He took the shot near United Cinemas in Katoomba on a Spring evening.

"The road split in two and it almost says two things. There are two directions - you can go one way or the other," Howe said.

"Things aren't as they appear. There's always a reading between the lines. Something is behind the ordinary."

The 30 finalists were selected from more than 3000 entries. The winner will be announced on May 7.