"Eye2Eye," "Moonlit," and "At the Window" were chosen as our September winners. Congratulations to Zoran Buletic, Julie Furber, and George!
Without further ado, here's the three monthly winners for September, and comments from the judges on what made them so great. Clicking on any image will open a larger version in a new window.
Eye2Eye, by Zoran Buletic
(Zoran won a Canon PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II Printer.)
Wow, what a dramatic (if not more than a little creepy) photo! The judges definitely had to overcome a bit of arachnophobia to vote this image in as our monthly winner, it was just too strong not to. Macro photography is endlessly fascinating, because interesting subjects are literally everywhere, and we see a *lot* of macro shots in the POTD submissions. Really great macro shots are tough to create, though. The first hurdle is the purely technical one dealing with literally microscopically shallow depth of field, and an often lively subject: It can be a challenge just to get your subject in focus. Next comes lighting, a critical component in any photo, but made more difficult on the micro scale by the often close proximity of lens and subject - There often just isn't much room to get the light in to strike your subject from the angles you want. (A telephoto macro lens like the 180mm Zoran used here helps a lot with that, giving you much more working distance then the more common shorter macro lenses.) The biggest challenge, though, is to provide context for the subject. It's fascinating to see a bug or other tiny subject enlarged and micro details made visible, but believe us, looking at endless photos of well-rendered bugs loses its sparkle after a bit. What's really unusual here (and so hard to do with macro subjects) is the sense of context provided, as well as the wonderful dimensionality conveyed by the spider's web. We somewhat skipped past lighting in the discussion above as just another technical hurdle to be overcome, but the lighting in this shot is just perfect. Finally, kudos on the complete lack of distracting background: We suspect Zoran somehow convinced the spider to make her web on a previously-prepared black backdrop (showing impressive dedication to setting up the shot), but if not, the end result is perhaps an even more impressive display of technique. Bottom line, a stunning image, a macro shot that really transcends the ordinary. Hearty congratulations to Zoran for this amazing photo!
Moonlit, by Julie Furber
(Julie won a Canon PIXMA MP980 Printer.)
Another month, yet another winning photo by redoubtable landscape photographer Julie Furber. At least it seems that way, as this is Julie's *third* top-3 photo this year. As in her previous winning images, Julie's "Moonlit" shows a remarkable sense of depth and dramatic interplay of light and shadow. We love the combination of stars and blue sky; something that takes patience, a long exposure, and the right conditions to achieve. (You can get some idea of how dark it must have been, by noting the exposure parameters displayed on the POTD page under Julie's photo: 30 seconds at f/4 and ISO 2,500!) We loved the interplay of the branches of the foreground tree with the starry billows of the Milky Way, stretching diagonally across the sky. We're tempted to manually crop the image to drop out the foreground, leaving just the branches against the sky: That brings the principle elements into sharper focus, creating an almost abstract image. - But doing so loses a lot of the context, and an important sense of contrast between the solidity of the ground and the openness of space and stars. A great shot all around; further testimony to Julie's great photographic eye and mastery of her camera. Congratulations on yet another great photo, Julie!
(Here's a quick one-woman show of Julie's other winning photos this year; check out these links for some beautiful examples of the landscape photographer's art:
- They kind of make you want to take up landscape photography, don't they?)
At the Window, by George
(George won a Canon PIXMA MP620 Printer.)
We've said it many times: Light makes the photo (no pun intended). That's certainly the case in this gorgeous portrait by "George" (no last name given). The way the light wraps around the subject's face, while leaving most of both subject and background in shadow (a technique called rim lighting) makes for a uniquely minimalist image that nonetheless conveys a strong sense the subject's personality. It might be just a personality that the photographer wanted to portray; one not actually characteristic of the subject at all, but for the purposes of the photograph as an artistic piece, it doesn't matter which is the case. The look is pensive, thoughtful, contemplative, and perhaps a bit wistful, drawing you into the photograph and connecting you emotionally with its subject. Given an assignment to shoot a portrait, most amateur photographers concentrate more on a careful, representation of the subject's visage; "well" lit, but void of emotion. There's also a tendency to have the subject stare into the camera. (After all, there's that rule about not having subjects looking out of the frame, to avoid drawing the viewers' eyes out of the image.) In At the Window, though, while the subject's eyes are gazing out of the frame, the quietly contemplative pose and the tight closeup invite us to look at the subject, rather than where he himself is looking. Structurally, the slight forward-leaning pose and rim lighting produce a dynamic angled composition that contrasts with the quiet, contemplative look of the subject. Camera angle and shallow depth of field create a progression from softer, less-defined shapes in the lower right to sharper, more etched details at upper left. The combination guides your eyes to the catchlight in the subject's right eye, drawing you in a closer relationship with him. Just a beautifully-captured and rendered image, congrats to George for a truly great photo.
|Mornings Glorious ||Duck |
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|by Steve Sampson ||by Tun Aung |
As always, 30 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 September'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!