The beauty of summertime: We crown our July Photo of the Day monthly winners


posted Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at 4:29 PM EST

Photography is fun any time of the year, but the summer sure is a good time to catch the light. And while there's no guarantee that all of these contest-placing images below were actually shot in the summer months, they all seem to share a vibrancy that lends itself to a summertime theme.

We're proud to crown our contest prize winners and worthy runners-up for the month of July. Thanks so much to everyone who enters our Photo of the Day contest, and congratulations to the winners this month! The top three winners all receive gift certificates from Adorama of $300, $200 and $100, respectively. Please keep the wonderful submissions coming our way!

Below are the winning images from July with comments from our publisher Dave Etchells:


First place • Suspended Above Water by Linn Smith • Canon 5D II

Linn's name will be familiar to IR POTD-watchers, and for good reason: She's been the source of many beautiful shots over the years. We all loved this one, it's a gorgeous composition. The gradation of color, tone, and the ripples in the water create a strong horizontal theme, subtly supporting the strong horizontals in the bird's neck and legs. The wings create a graceful counterpoint, and the bird's reflection in the water nicely balances the weight of the bird's body above. The framing is also great, with the bird flying into and across the frame, rather than being statically posed in the center. An absolutely gorgeous shot, congrats (again), Linn!

Second place • Morning fishermen by Graeme Chow • Nikon D800E

This is a beautiful, very dramatic shot, but we were a little afraid that, by ranking it highly, we're going to get flooded with highly saturated images next month! (Don't try this at home! ;-) We're generally not huge fans of cranked-up color, but felt in this case that it was OK, as it added drama and worked well creatively. With that comment out of the way, this is a really great composition. The lines of the nets and angles of the fishermen's (fisherwomen's too?) bodies create strong leading lines pointing to the sun. The foreground shadows also reinforce this. Once our eye's on the sun, though, the strong tonal and textural (for lack of a better word) contrast of the fishermen's heads and torsos draw our eyes back down again. The strong leading lines also stand out against the dominant horizontal elements in the background of the waves, horizon, distant mountains, and even the shading in the sky. A really well-done shot from another regular here at IR POTD. Big kudos, Graeme!

Third place • Close Family 5011 by Karen Celella • Canon 7D

Wow, this must be "regulars" month at IR, Karen's another frequent contributor. How can you not love this shot? It goes a lot beyond just "cute", though; it's an excellent composition. The dark mass of the mom's back directs your eye to the cubs, and their stacked heads curves and makes a line with Mom's neck and head. There's also a nice layering, both of the cubs' heads and Mom's haunch, back, the top cub's body and Mom's head. A really delightful composition! The colors are so similar, we might have darkened the background just slightly, to provide more separation, but that's also something where just a smidge too much could result in an unrealistic-looking photo. A really lovely shot from Karen, congrats for having the eye to see it, and the patience and prowess to capture it!

First runner-up • Whoa... by Melissa Anderson • Canon 70D

Guess what? Another great shot from a frequent contributor! (Honestly, we don't usually have this many regulars piled up in a single month's winners.) What a great shot! The competition this month was very close, we almost wished we could hand out four top prizes, but we decided long ago there'd be three winners and two runners-up, so Melissa's great pic is one of the latter this time. I can't imagine the number of shots, and the bird-in-flight tracking skills required to get a shot like this! Not just to catch the two birds in such great poses, but to have them so perfectly aligned. Of course, maybe this is a composite of two images, but you know what? That'd be perfectly OK! Creating fine-art pictures is every bit as legitimate as simply recording them, at least in our book. However Melissa arrived at it, the composition here is exceptional. I'm a bit at a loss for words to describe it, but the way the lower birds tail wraps under that of the upper bird, and their beaks help enclose the negative space between them leads us to see them as almost a single object. Perhaps it's the tension between that perception and the obvious fact that they're two very separate objects that generates such visual interest. However described, this is a really gorgeous shot by Melissa - Congrats again on your great eye, patience, and skill! 

Second runner-up • Crimson Clover Sunset by Jeff Curtis • Canon EOS 600D

OK, can we have five full winners this month? Just this once? Please? - I probably appreciate this shot more than most, because I've always been interested in wide angle photography, but usually fail miserably at it. There wasn't any EXIF data for this shot, so it's possible it wasn't in fact shot at wide angle (looking at it again, it doesn't actually seem to be), but it solves a fundamental issues that often trips me up, namely how to gracefully include a lot of near foreground with background elements.  The nature of the subject helps with that here, but it's a skillfully-done shot, regardless. Among other things, the judges loved the sense of depth in this shot. I could go on about textural, color and tonal contrasts, leading lines, etc, etc, but will instead just leave readers to let the serenity of Jeff's image take them away from whatever cares, troubles, or stress might be affecting them. An absolutely beautifully-done image, Jeff!


For anyone wanting to know more about our competition please visit this news story which describes our contest and also offers some useful tips to help you succeed. To see camera and exposure information on this month's winners or to visit previous months please visit our POTD winner's gallery.

[Ready to submit a photo of your own? Just click here! And to compliment these photographers on their submissions or offer your own analysis, please use the comments section below.]