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April 2005 POTD winners announced!
(Wednesday, May 4, 2005 - 12:26 EDT)

Another month of great photos, another set of difficult choices for our Photo of the Day judges!

It was another great month for the IR Photo of the Day (POTD) contest. More tough decisions for the judges, but they were once again up to the task. Events once again intervened this month to make us a little late with this announcement, but we're sure you'll feel the wait was worth it, once you see the winning photos! So, without further ado, here are the three top winners for the month of April, 2005, along with some of our thinking that went into their selection:

First Place
Bubbling, by Danny Yanai
(Danny won a Kodak EasyShare LS753 camera)

Among other things, this photo proves that you don't need an expensive lighting setup or dedicated studio to take great pictures. It also shows that color, contrast and drama aren't the be-all and end-all of photography. We liked this photo because it captured the moment so perfectly, and conveyed the magic of playing with bubbles so well. Compositionally, Danny's careful centering of the child's lips inside the bubble ring strengthened the piece, and helped draw our eyes to the central subject, the ephemeral bubble itself. The composition also breaks some rules, but is stronger because of it. The second child, only partly visible on the left edge of the frame, does draw your eyes away from the main subject, competing with it for visual attention. At the same time though, her presence strengthens and completes the underlying story. Without her in the frame, the overall image would be much more sterile, and might not have made it even as a choice for Photo of the Day, let alone as our monthly winner. Not every photo has to tell a story, it's perfectly OK for some to stand alone on composition, color, or contrast alone. - But photos that tell stories are an important genre, and this one is an excellent example of it.

Second Place
Self Portrait, by Tiberius Dinu
(Tiberius won a Lexar 512MB memory card, in the format of his choice, and a copy of E-Book Systems FlipAlbum Pro.)

This is an exceptionally powerful study in light and contrast, making for a visually arresting and emotionally impactful image. The interplay of light and shadow, and the haunting, almost sinister eye staring out at you makes for an image that is highly engaging, and almost disturbing at the same time. Tiberius showed exceptional vision here, in the setup and careful lighting of the shot, and in his excellent use of the tonal range of the camera. (The fact that he shot it with a relatively inexpensive point & shoot camera also illustrates the point that it's the photographer, not necessarily the camera, that makes for great photos.) This shot actually came very close to being our first-place choice for the month, just barely missing on execution details. The primary reason it didn't get the top spot is that the symmetry was just off: While Tiberius' hands are centered on his face, are oriented vertically, and are almost perfectly centered on the white/black break seen above his head, that division isn't what your eye sees as the primary graphic element in that part of the image. Rather, the line separating light and shadow on his left hand (on our right in the photo) is the logical extension of the white/black break at the top. This is entirely fine, but the light/dark break on his hand is angled a few degrees from the white/black break at the top that really defines the symmetry in the photo. To our eyes, this breaks the symmetry that the photographer worked so hard to achieve otherwise, and that the whole photo is built around. As Shawn said when we were discussing the images, "If you're making a point out of symmetry, you've got to just absolutely nail it, or it doesn't work." What's here clearly did work though, and it worked well enough for the photo to rise above the rest of April's submissions and claim second place. - It's just that the image could have been that much stronger with a very minor tweak of the composition.

Third Place
The Thin Red Line, by Roberto Agnello
(Roberto won a copy of E-Book Systems' FlipAlbum Suite)

We loved this photo, perhaps in part because we've thought of something like it at times in the past ourselves. It's a great juxtaposition of motion and stillness that also works in part because we all understand what's going on -- The photographer is shooting a subject on the other side of the subway station, through the windows of the moving train car. A neat trick, and one that we suspect Roberto spent a little while getting to come off properly. (Another truism: Great photos are almost always shot on purpose, rather than as lucky accidents.) Waxing philosophical, some of the appeal of this photo also derives from the fact that on the one hand, the train is so dominant (massive, fast, and dangerous), and yet at the same time so ephemeral that the people on the other platform are clearly visible through it. Nicely done!

Well, that's it, another month's harvest of great photos collected and displayed, and three of the very best appropriately honored. We hope all of you out there are having as much fun with this as we are here at IR! Keep clicking and uploading all those great photos: Who knows, maybe next month will be your turn to see your work honored in this space!

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