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January Picture of the Month Winners Selected!
(Saturday, February 4, 2006 - 23:55 EST)

We chose "Cheek to Cheek," "Dark Rainbow," and "Winter Fun" as January's Photo of the Month contest winners. Congratulations to Ada Panichi, Dominic, and John Zimmerman!

Many worthy submissions came in for the first month of the year, and it was again difficult to choose. There were quite a few great pictures that just missed for one reason or another. Some had unfortunate cropping, others were pretty but just lacked a compelling subject. We're toying with the idea of a short list of runners up with critique, but would like to hear your feedback on the idea of receiving some constructive criticism. Would you like to know that your picture almost made it, and why it didn't, or is it better kept a mystery? Send us email at [email protected] with your thoughts. Now on to the winners!

First Place
Cheek to Cheek, by Ada Panichi
(Ada won a Kodak EasyShare One digital camera)**

I do believe good photographs are made. Sometimes that requires Photoshop, sometimes just seeing your world a little differently. Sometimes it just requires an inexpensive camera and a few tweaks on the computer. This shot is simple and intriguing. Human forms are always interesting, and they can become more so when you leave stuff out and focus on just a single feature. The gender of the two kids is hinted at, but still unclear, the eyes being the chief focus. Having eyes in-focus can be mesmerizing of itself, having them offset and opposed is also interesting. Coloring one green is a good idea, and making the skin an off color, apparently sepia, draws attention to the one eye, strengthening the composition. But analysis aside, this is a powerful image that nonetheless looks like it was taken of--or made by--a couple of kids having fun with the camera.

Second Place
Dark Rainbow, by Dominic
(Dominic won a Kingston 512MB memory card, in the format of his choice, and a copy of E-Book Systems FlipAlbum Pro.)

A sense of great depth and just plain oddity combined with other elements to make this photograph compelling. We're generally put off by words on photographs submitted for the contest, but this is appropriate, and well done enough that it was easy to ignore. This image makes me wonder. Is it a dredge? What is that brackish muck? Why are the kids standing around, and even playing in it? When was the image taken? The clothes could be modern, but could also be set in the 1940's or 50's. The foreboding sky above fits the scene's ominous title. The photographer was also not only able to freeze the motion of the water, but also leave incredible depth of field, both in the foreground and background, giving the image texture and a real three dimensional feeling. The kids, man, and background are framed by the water spout, but I don't think I'd like the image as much without the boy on the right, with lighter clothes, and looking into the frame. From the look of his pants, he's been playing in the muck too. The image offers a lot to explore in a single moment, with unusual composition--even if it is a bunch of guck.

Third Place
Winter Fun, by John Zimmerman
(John won a copy of E-Book Systems' FlipAlbum Suite)

We spent a lot of time looking at the rest of the photos, but kept coming back to this one. There must be a million of these out there right now, but this is just perfectly exposed--difficult in the snow--sharp, focused, and just looks like a heck of a lot of fun. I love the colors, love the expressions, and can feel the motion despite the fast shutter speed used. It's the sled ride that will just keep on going all winter. A good way to end the monthly winners.

One more big stack of photos from around the world, 31 in total, and our picks for the top three. Remember: that could be your photo up there this time next month! Grab the nearest digital camera (notice that the top winner this month used a Canon A70!), pick your best and join the fun!

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