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February 2005 POTD winners announced!
(Tuesday, March 1, 2005 - 09:47 EST)

Another month, another exceptional batch of Photo of the Day entries to sort through, and another trio of outstanding photos bring their shooters fame and glory!

Each month it seems to get harder to select our winners, and this month in particular, we had some really tough decisions to make. - Once again, Shawn and Dave are sitting in for our celebrity judge Gary Bernstein, who's only just now returning from his recent trip. Once again too, the final decisions were very tough, taking a lot of thought and debate to arrive at the final choices. Read on for the decisions and a little of the thinking that went into them. Here are the winning photos:

First Place
Small Traveler, by Mikolaj Kamienski
(Mikolaj won a Kodak EasyShare LS753 camera)

It's tough not to appreciate a cute child in a floppy hat, especially when it's well lit. We'd almost have to call it cheating to put those beautiful, innocent eyes in a photo contest, they're so irresistable. More appealing is the overall light on the scene. The flash is balanced perfectly against the light falling on the background; you almost don't know that a flash was used except for the shadow the hat throws on the boy's brow. The shot is also casual and un-posed, but the photographer was smart to do something we'd like to admonish all POTD contestants to do more often, and that's fill the frame with your subject (even if you have to crop post-capture), and choose simple backgrounds. In this case, the simple background was created through use of a long focal length lens set at a wide aperture. Using both of these simple techniques, the eye is not distracted by anything, and is left to lock eyes with this handsome little fellow.

Second Place
Journey Home, by H Monfared
(Mr/Ms Monfared won a Lexar 512MB memory card, in the format of his/her choice, and a copy of E-Book Systems FlipAlbum Pro.)

We really loved this photo, it seemed to just keep drawing our eyes back in, even as we went on to examine other candidate photos this month. By itself, the image of the tree against the hazy, snowy background would have been appealing, the angles of the trunk and branches producing a nicely dynamic composition, but the tree alone would have been just another take on a cliched winter shot. The addition of the person pulling the sled is what elevates this photo above the mundane. The pose and position of the person adds motion and direction, bringing the photo to life, at the same time that it sets a scale for the background. With the addition of the person, the white background changes from a blank wall to a vast, snowy expanse. The figure and sled also work very well compositionally, the rough triangle formed by the figure, the rope, and the sled echoing the triangular shape of the branches on the lower left side of the tree, and the white space they frame. (Had the photographer instead waited for the figure to emerge on the other side of the tree, the angle of the figure and the line of the rope leading back to the sled would conflict with the lines established by the branches on the left side of the tree. All in all, a beautiful composition. - We're just glad we didn't have to wait around in the cold ourselves, while the elements came together. Very well done!

Third Place
Ridin' the Disney Rocket, by Robert Niesen
(Robert won a copy of E-Book Systems' FlipAlbum Suite)

It's safe to say that an overwhelming percentage of the population knows this ride, so most everyone knows immediately where these boys are without the title. This shot captures an entire day at a Disney park in a single frame. While many might have raised the shutter speed to "capture action," Robert kept it low for this shot, perhaps by raising the aperture, and once again ended up with a nicely blurred background that isolates the children and rocket and conveys motion. Since the photographer was also on the ride, this shot was made easier because he really didn't have to pan at all. He just waited for one of the kids to look at them, and fired. The boy in the red hat is the connection point in this picture. He draws you in, and that the boy behind him is looking at him completes the connection between the kids and the audience. It's a good picture because it's fun, but more because it's a perfect portrait of these boys at an amusement park.

Once again, three exceptional photos, chosen after much deliberation and debate from a set of 28 truly terrific ones, which in turn were selected from hundreds and hundreds of fantastic images sent in by our talented readers.

As before, we here at IR continue to just enjoy the heck out of this contest. Reviewing and judging the hundreds of entries we receive every week provides a welcome break from the endless cycle of camera testing and review writing, a rejuvenating and welcome reconnection with our photographic roots. Perhaps more than anything else we do, this contest connects us with our readers, who so generously share slices of their lives and creative passion with us. Thank you, one and all!

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