Turning over a figurative new leaf and battling their way through the worst efforts of the Distract-O-Tron (the device here at IR that sends us all scrambling, just as we think we're about to get a handle on things), the judges managed to get the judging done on time this month. Thanks to their herculean efforts, we have the full results available, and it's still only late afternoon of the first day of June! (No compliments or thank-you emails though, it would go to their heads. ;-)
Without further ado, here are the three top winners for the month of May, 2005, along with some of our thinking that went into their selection:
Supersonic, by John M. Lesko
(John won a Kodak EasyShare LS753 camera)
This wasn't the first time we'd seen a photo like this, in fact a similar shot won First Prize in the science and technology division of the World Press Photo contest in 2000. What the photos shows is condensation of water vapor behind the shockwave of a jet breaking the sound barrier.(Caused by the phenomena of adiabatic cooling, discussed here for those who might be interested.) Even though it's not the first we've seen, the image is nonetheless startling and very well executed. - A testimony to John's reflexes, and (perhaps) the 8 frame/second continuous shooting speed of the Canon EOS 1D Mark II that he shot it with. While it's indeed perfectly executed (sharply focused, properly exposed, well framed, etc), we named John's effort the Photo of the Month not so much on the basis of its purely artistic merit as for its "Wow, look at that!" impact. A successful Photo of the Month is all about impact, and that impact can come through conveyed emotion (with human subjects), profound artistic value (as with an exquisite landscape or still life), or through drama and novelty (as in this shot). While he's helped by the dramatic subject matter though, John's technique is letter-perfect: Having fumbled endlessly ourselves, shooting photos of high-speed race cars and motorcycles, we can appreciate the skill needed to pan fast enough to catch a supersonic jet at right angles to you, while still managing to get it centered in the field of view and reasonably level. All in all, a very nicely done photo, and one that made us sit up and take notice.
My Trolls, by Wolfgang Plautz
(Wolfgang won a Lexar 512MB memory card, in the format of his choice, and a copy of E-Book Systems FlipAlbum Pro.)
Cameras are about capturing moments as they happen. Sometimes moments happen simply because the camera is there. Two kids don't ham it up for no reason, and this shot would never have been had the camera not been invented. This shot is appealing because the two girls are appealing. As sisters they make a similarly silly face, which adds a level of connectedness between them and tells the story of the two girls. One looks like she's about to grab the camera, while the other is content to be photographed. Even though the girl on the left is slightly blurry, it tells me she's the one less likely to sit still. What's true about the children is only known to the parents, but the photo nonetheless tells a story, one that is all about their faces. It is cropped nice and tight, so we have no choice but to behold these two. We'd like to admonish our other contestants to think this way. Quite a few of the shots we receive would be far better pictures with just a little cropping. It's perfectly legal in this contest to crop and modify as you please. This photo was probably shot this this close, however. We encourage that as well: Get in close to your subject, and cut out the clutter. That very strategy helps make this shot a winner.
Tango, by Andrés Harambour
(Andrés won a copy of E-Book Systems' FlipAlbum Suite)
Whether this was shot in Argentina I do not know, but it does remind me of some of the places I saw in Buenos Aires several years ago. The setting makes me think it might have been shot nearby where the Tango was invented. The Tango is all about moments, and this one in particular conveys motion. No blur is necessary. The background balances the foreground, with the heavy brick window frame above left occupying enough of the frame to force the dancers off to the right of the frame. I also like how the multiple levels of brick and foundation suggest levels of society, or layers of time, and the graffiti a level of disrespect for those layers. While the two are content to dance on despite all of it. Absorbed in each other. All about the dance.
Well, that's it for another month: 31 great Photos of the Day, with 3 exceptional ones capturing top honors. - So what are you waiting for? That could be your photo up there this time next month! Dig through your digital shoe boxes, pick your best and join the fun!