September POTD Winners Chosen!

by Dave Etchells

posted Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 2:42 PM EST

Imagingresource-2009-144x86We're pretty late announcing the winners of our September Photo of the Day contest, but this time with good reason: There's a new (and wonderful) first prize, and we had to wait to announce the winners until the new printer was publicly announced.

In case you haven't guessed, this means that rather than the (excellent) Canon PIXMA Pro 9000 Mark II that was the previous First Prize, from this month forward, the first place winner will receive the extraordinary new Canon PIXMA Pro-1! This is a really exceptional new printer; producing the highest-quality images of any Canon printer to date. It has the same 13-inch carriage width of the Pro 9000 Mark II, but is in all other respects a massive upgrade. It's pigment-based for the ultimate in print longevity, but with completely new pigment formulations, producing the widest color gamut of any Canon pigment printer to date; approaching and in some areas surpassing the gamut of Canon's dye-based models. It also has a set of 3 grey inks for high-quality black and white printing, huge 36-ml ink tanks mounted off-carriage for enormous print capacity, the ability to work with more than 140 third-party art papers right from the start (with hundreds more ICC profiles planned in the coming months). The new pigment formulas and dot-placement algorithms, combined with the clearcoat "Color Optimizer" also almost entirely eliminate metamerism and "bronzing" of prints.

Read our review of the new Pro-1 here, and our interview with Mr. Shimizu, the head of Canon's inkjet operations, talking about the development of the Pro-1 here.

Here's a look at the winners of our September contest:

From 30 great photos, "Yellowleg," "Mirror Surface, Mirror Image," and "Ant Farming" were chosen as our September winners. Congratulations to Ron Grant, Linn Smith, and Carol Lynn Fowler!

Without further ado, here's the three monthly winners for September, and comments from the judges on what made them so great. Clicking on any image will open a larger version in a new window.

Yellowleg, by Ron Grant

First Place
Yellowleg, by Ron Grant
Ron won a Canon PIXMA Pro-1 Mark II Printer. (review, info, shop)

The judges loved the simple beauty of this shot; the symmetry of the reflection, yet with the slight asymmetry provided by the ripples. The water plants were a great touch, and leant a bit more interest, framing the subject. The faint shadows or reflections in the background were nice as well: While background detail can distract from subjects, the gossamer reflections here served to subtly suggest the surrounding world, providing context and a little dynamic tension, without drawing your eye away from the primary subject. (Although we did have a few grumbles about the signature at bottom right: Printing on a photo is often enough to get it bounced out of consideration for a monthly prize, but the image itself was so strong here that we ignored the intruding text.)

A beautiful shot; congratulations to Ron on the win. (Will you send us a print from your new Pro-1 printer when you get it?)

Mirror Surface, Mirror Image, by Linn Smith

Second Place
Mirror Surface, Mirror Image, by Linn Smith
Linn won a Canon PIXMA MP990 Printer. (info, shop)

As you might guess, we get a lot of bird shots in the contest, but it's pretty unusual for us to select two together as monthly winners. Along with Ron's Yellowleg image above, Linn's Mirror Surface, Mirror Image shot is just gorgeous: The subtlety of detail is really exceptional; it's a wonderful study in tone and structure. Mirror-image shots like this can be tough to really get just right: If you're going to focus on symmetry in a photo, it's got to be really right on in order to work. This shot is nearly perfect in that respect, though, and the tonality of both the bird and its reflection is just amazingly rich. At the same time, the ripples around the bird's legs break things up and add a little action, making for a much  more interesting photograph than as if the water had been perfectly still.

An absolutely beautiful shot, Linn; we really wish we had two first prizes this month!

Ant Farming, by Carol Lynne Fowler

Third Place
Ant Farming, by Carol Lynne Fowler
Carol Lynne won a Canon PIXMA MP640 Printer. (review, info, shop)

Some photos are all about the composition, in others it's the subject itself that dominates. While Carol's composition here is quite nice, it's the subject matter (and the tack-sharp macro photography) that really made us sit up and notice. This is just what we love most about macro photography; showing us a view of the world radically different from what we see with our own eyes. We also like the visual story here, of the ants farming the aphids: Something we've often read about, but never seen so clearly illustrated. There looks to be quite a bit of HDR applied here, as the tonality is a little otherworldly. We normally don't like HDR that's visible as an effect; it's become so overworked of late. Given the subject, though, we're sure that a fair bit of HDR was unavoidable, in order to render all the elements clearly visible. We'd have liked a little less overall, but the net result is still an absolutely arresting photograph, with much more interest than the usual "wow, look at the big bug" shots that most of us (present author included) end up taking.

Kudos to Carol for a truly great macro shot!

Honorable Mentions

Balletic Grace Omaha Beach (Normandia)
Balletic Grace, by Bill Johnson Omaha Beach (Normandia), by Massimo Della Latta
by Bill Johnson by Massimo Della Latta

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 September'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!