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July Picture of the Month Winners
(Tuesday, August 29, 2006 - 00:19 EDT)

We chose "Hannah's Eyes," "Two Zebras," and "Peaceful Morning" as Photo of the Month contest winners for July. Congratulations to Alejandro Cerdena, David S April, and T K Wei!

We just love this part of the job, but we got quite overwhelmed this month with hot new camera announcements and didn't get to writing about these July photos until almost the end of August! Quite embarrassing, but better late than never (and better before the end of the next month, wouldn't you say?). Apologies to the winners and other contestants for the long wait. We had a whole lot of great daily photos again by the way, so be sure to visit the POTD Winners Gallery to see all of the daily winners.

And now, on to the top three monthly winners for July.

Hannah's Eyes

First Place
Hannah's Eyes, by Alejandro Cerdena
(Alejandro won a Canon EOS 30D kit digital SLR a Canon i9900 printer, and a Kingston 1GB CF card!)

A woman's gaze is powerful. A lovely face also doesn't hurt, and nice skin all make for a pleasing photograph. Getting all those things in balance, with lighting that loves on the skin and lips, well--I'm not going to say "Priceless," but it does get you First Place. This pose is interesting, charming, sweet, and a little sexy--with a bucket of innocence. Photographer and model got this one just right. It's not just a camera and a beautiful woman that makes a shot like this. It usually takes work to get a natural look (oddly), and the photographer and model have to become comfortable with each other. She's not trying too hard, not trying to be a model, not trying to be beautiful; what comes through is genuine. Good lighting and a simple set are also necessary, plus good grooming and makeup. Whatever the case, "Hannah's Eyes" is a striking image.

Two Zebras

Second Place
Two Zebras, by David S April
(David won a Canon S3 IS digital camera, a Canon iP6600D Printer, and a Kingston 512MB SD memory card!)

Here's an excellent example of cropping for effect. Sure, David could have backed the lens off and got a nicely composed shot of two zebras standing in a field or zoo, but instead he either cropped or zoomed in on what makes zebras unique and instantly recognizable sans hoof, head, or tail. The S-curve of the mane (I assume) breaks up the pattern and gives the image depth, despite the compression from the telephoto lens. I'm surprised at how clean the animals seem, given what I've seen in zoos, but it's certainly possible that they were just groomed, or perhaps they're just neat. This is not just a picture of two zebras, it is art.

Peaceful Morning

Third Place
Peaceful Morning, by T K Wei
(TK won a Canon MP800 multi-function printer!)

This is an example of a photo that doesn't necessarily follow the classic rules of composition, yet succeeds brilliantly all the same. Rule of Thirds, leading lines guiding your eye to the primary subject, and even the lack of anything that might be considered a true "subject" of the photo, none are to be found in this shot. Actually though, the very absence of a subject is what makes the image so evocative of a feeling of serenity, calm, peace... Choose your own name for that quiet mental state, one of waiting without anticipation, simple rest. Thinking about it, it seems likely that the dock in the picture will be the scene of activity during the day, perhaps even intense activity: All those bumpers bespeak a large boat tying up at some point, with all the attendant bustle and activity of people boarding and disembarking. But right now, there's nothing here but stillness and quiet. The judges discussed a fair bit what the effect would have been of having the dock positioned slightly differently, or perhaps of not having it there at all: Wouldn't that represent a scene that was even more peaceful? Perhaps in one sense, but the presence of the dock--obviously a location where things do happen, but so obviously devoid of activity when the picture was taken-- reinforces the concept of calm and serenity: This is a place where things do happen, but right now it's absolutely still. The strong geometric lines of the dock also contrast well with the organic shapes of the mountains, and the softness of the water, the juxtaposed contrasting elements once again reinforcing the central theme of quietude. A beautiful shot, perfectly rendered, one that draws your gaze and calms your thoughts just looking at it. Well done!

Those are our picks for July. Congratulations to all the Daily Winners, thanks for lighting up our home page with your fine photos!

And remember: one of these could be your photo next month! Grab the nearest digital camera, pick your best and join the fun!

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