"Into the Abyss," "Eurasian Black Vulture," and "Kitchen Window" were chosen as our June winners. Congratulations to Jeffrey S. Rease, Gerri Jones, and Diane Blackford!
Without further ado, here's the three monthly winners for June, and comments from the judges on what made them so great. Clicking on any image will open a larger version in a new window.
Into the Abyss , by Jeffrey S. Rease
(Jeffrey won a Canon PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II Printer.)
Wow, this photo was as close as we ever get to a unanimous decision for first place! The lighting is perfect, the composition excellent, and the sense of drama truly exceptional. This is a prime example of "rule of thirds" subject placement, with the primary subject (the
climbers) appearing in a natural interest point in upper right of the central third of the image, but the composition goes far beyond such basics. The shaft of light connects the climbers at the top of the frame to the masses of light and dark at the bottom, and naturally directs your eyes to the primary subjects. We like, too, how the arrangement of the climbers and hanging duffel bag mirrors the tall orientation of the overall frame, and the beam of light surrounding them. If it were just the two climbers by themselves, sans gear bag, the composition would be weaker. We also applaud the extraordinary effort this shot must represent: Jeffrey had to get to the shooting location, and then coordinate with the climbers to begin their descent, all timed to occur when the sunlight was at the right angle within the cave. (It likely had to not only be the right time of day, but the right time of year, as well, as sun angles change considerably with the season.) Clearly not a snapshot that "just happened," it's a great illustration of the effort and commitment required for great photography. (Now Jeffrey, please don't tell us that you just happened to be sitting there and snap the shutter for this!)
Eurasian Black Vulture , by Gerri Jones
(Gerri won a Canon PIXMA MP980 Printer.)
Lighting was a key factor in all the winners (and runners-up) this month, and was a significant part of the appeal of this image to the judges. Some may be surprised by our comment about the lighting here, as it doesn't shout at you or call attention to itself. Rather, it just illuminates the subject, wrapping around it beautifully, yet leaving some parts dark and in shadow, and the background unilluminated. Combined with the exceptional sharpness of the bird's facial plumage against its beak, and the very shallow depth of field overall, the result was an unusually three-dimensional image. The subject and its pose contributes a great deal as well: All the judges commented on the "character" of the bird, the way its appearance and pose contributed to an almost anthropomorphic sense of personality.
Finally, something for all aspiring Photo of the Day contestants to note: This image isn't exactly as it came from the camera, Gerri did at least some cropping to it: Note that the aspect ratio isn't exactly 3:2 or 4:3 - It may have been only slight (it's awfully close to 3:2, so we can't tell if it was cropped a little or a lot), but Gerri clearly cropped it some to improve the composition. You'd be amazed (and dismayed) by how many POTD submissions end up being rejected that could otherwise have been at least daily winners, if the photographer had only taken the effort to crop the image a little, to avoid distracting detail or otherwise strengthen the composition.
Kitchen Window , by Diane Blackford
(Diane won a Canon PIXMA MP620 Printer.)
Another shot that's really made by the lighting. Composition and contrasting lines count too, but this would have been an altogether different photo with different lighting. Diane may have dodged/burned (lightened/darkened) parts of the image on the computer to increase the contrast and remove distracting detail, but that's perfectly OK in this contest. (Just don't overdo it - We've seen plenty of images ruined by overzealous dodging and burning, and/or excessive use of HDR technology.) The inclusion of the window in the shot helps frame and give context to the overall scene, and the view of the outdoors through the window helps reinforce the sense of "home" conveyed by the dishes and containers. Without the window and view of the outdoors, we believe the photo would lose much of its evocativeness. (Try covering the window with your hand, leaving just the right half of the image, and you'll see what we mean.) Visually, the image is interesting, with the contrasts of light and dark, the warmer tones of the wood indoors vs the green leaves outdoors, and the rounded shapes of the dishes, mugs and containers against the linearity of the shelves, window mullions, floorboards, and wall boards. The graphic contrasts are a critical part of the image, but we suspect much of its appeal is in the emotions it evokes of "home."
|Andante Cantabile ||In the stable |
| || |
|by Dejan Stojanovic ||by Ruggero Passeri |
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 June'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!