"Brown Eyes," "Manhattan Lights," and "The frog and the larva" were chosen as our August winners. Congratulations to Robyn Terrell, Neil Shapiro, and Jimmy Hoffman!
Without further ado, here's the three monthly winners for August, and comments from the judges on what made them so great. Clicking on any image will open a larger version in a new window.
Brown Eyes, by Robyn Terrell
(Robyn won a Canon PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II Printer.)
It's rare that we'd award a top-3 position to the same person two months in a row, but Robyn Terrell clearly earned a repeat visit to the winners circle with this great portrait. Getting really good people shots are tough, and close-in portraits like this even tougher. Like Robyn's second-place winner last month, "Brown Eyes" has obviously been fairly heavily processed on the computer, post-capture. Robyn's technique is great though, bringing an almost dreamlike quality to the images, but stopping short of what would feel unnatural. That's a really fine line with image processing: We can't tell you how many images we see every month that have been just manipulated to death, spoiling photos that could be great if the photographer had just left them alone. (Even more heartbreaking are the ones that people take *just* past the point of believability: There are literally dozens of images each month that would have been at least daily winners if the contestants involved had just backed off a little on the manipulation.) The thing that seems particularly tricky with portrait shots is to capture a natural-looking expression. Robyn's shot last month used a very formal, staged pose, where this month's image has more the look of a quick snapshot. The casual look is often harder to pull off, as it takes just a smidgen of a posed or "OK, so snap the shutter already" look loses the effect. The girl in Brown Eyes looks natural and alive, as if the photographer had caught her in the middle of play, or some adventure. A beautiful subject, beautifully shot, and beautifully rendered; just a great shot. (Congrats again, Robyn, but maybe it's time to give someone else a chance for a month or two? - Besides, do you really need *three* printers? :-)
Manhattan Lights, by Neil Shapiro
(Neil won a Canon PIXMA MP980 Printer.)
It's ironic, after just having ranted on about excessive image manipulation, that our second-place photo this month would be one with such an unnatural level of color saturation. (Is this is a composite image, as well? We're not New York natives, but this looks to us like it's shot facing south, rather than west, where the sun would normally be setting.) The answer to the apparent contradiction in our view is, of course, that sometimes the manipulation is what *makes* the picture. The whole look here is the deliberately exaggerated reality often seen on science fiction book jackets. It's a scene from a space opera, a view of a coming apocalypse. (We don't know what exactly the subject might be, but this image on a book jacket would make us at least pick it up and read the endflaps to see what it was about.) Besides the fun of the overamped color, we like the composition too: While the rectilinear lines of the buildings point elsewhere, there's actually a cone of of light and shape in the image that points to the setting sun. At the same time, there's an offsetting area of darker, negative space that leads to a darker spot on the horizon a bit to the left, setting up a tension that makes the composition more interesting than as if only the bright focal point were present. We shuddered a bit when we picked this photo, not because we didn't like the photo (we did, a great deal), but because we wince at the thought of all the over-saturated images we're going to see next month. Warning to readers: Don't try this at home. ;-) To Neil, though, a really great image, congrats!
The frog and the larva, by Jimmy Hoffman
(Jimmy won a Canon PIXMA MP620 Printer.)
We see a *lot* of macro shots every month: The great thing about macro shooting is that interesting subjects are everywhere (some of us are reformed macro junkies, we know whereof we speak). This shot showed a really unusual perspective, though, and we loved the way it revealed the structure of the frog's eyes so clearly. Low-angle macro shots are tough to capture, and do a lot to put you in the subject's world, compared to the standard high angle that you'd see if you just bent down to look at the subject normally. We do see a fair number of low-angle macros, but this one did more than most to put you up close and personal with the subject. We strongly suspect that the larva was stripped in via Photoshop, although Jimmy did a really good job with it. (Two giveaways: 1) If that larva really had been sitting there, it'd have lasted approximately 3 milliseconds before the frog ate it; 2) The closest leg of the larva is quite sharply rendered, while the portion of the frog's nose it's resting on is blurred due to the shallow depth of field.) While it was clearly a composited image, the larva added a lot of interest and provided a necessary focal point to what would otherwise have been a technically excellent but ultimately less engaging image. Great work, Jimmy!
|Rays ||Corsica Sunset |
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|by Aung Htay Hlaing ||by Rainer Mirau |
As always, 31 great daily winners made it hard to select the three very best, but that's a happy chore here at IR. Congratulations to all the daily winners, and thanks to everyone who submitted photos for August's contest. The consistently high quality of images submitted to the Photo of the Day contest are what makes it the success that it's been!
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!