October POTD Winners Chosen!

by Dave Etchells

posted Sunday, December 11, 2011 at 9:45 PM EDT

Imagingresource-2009-144x86Regular readers will have noticed the return of a popular feature to our news page, one which unfortunately wasn't ready quite in time for last month's cutover to the new page design.

We've just reinstated our Photo of the Day--with a renewed, more attractive design--front and center where it belongs, at the very top of the news page. We get a lot of really great images in our Photo of the Day contest, and so we wanted to make your artworks more visible. Hence, you'll also notice each day's image featured elsewhere around the site, in the right column on pages such as our camera reviews index, camera price lists, camera accessories page, and others. To those of you who didn't get to see your photo atop our news page in the last month, our apologies. Anybody wanting to see November's daily winners will find them in the archive on our Photo of the Day site.

With the reappearance of the Photo of the Day on the news page, now seems like a good time to check off another item on our to-do list: a recap of our October winners, along with thoughts from our judges. Canon's excellent PIXMA Pro 9000 Mark II printer returns as our First Prize, and following is a look at the winners of our October contest:

From 31 great photos, "Autumn Morning," "Sources of Light," and "Sunflowers at Sunset" were chosen as our October winners. Congratulations to Allen Conrad, Luis Argerich, and Gudjon Gudjonsson!

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

Autumn Morning, by Allen Conrad

First Place
Autumn Morning, by Allen Conrad
Allen won a Canon PIXMA Pro 9000 Mark II Printer. (review, info, shop)

The judges liked the way both color and tone divided this image, with the bright red leaves on top, the misty woods in the middle, the bright orange leaves on the road, and the road itself all forming separate zones. Various elements draw your eye into the photo (the lines of the road, framing by the tree at left and above, and the long shadow entering from lower right), while the central subject remains misty and mysterious. The "subject" here probably wasn't intended as such: It's just one tree with orange leaves standing in front of a cluster of trunks, but it serves to anchor your eyes, while the rest of the photo is absorbed as more of a gestalt. A very nice evocation of a Fall morning, in a quiet, contemplative photograph. Congratulations to Allen on his first-place win!

Sources of Light, by Luis Argerich

Second Place
Sources of Light, by Luis Argerich
Luis won a Canon Canon PIXMA MG8220 Printer. (review, info, shop)

We get a fair number of night-sky shots in the POTD submission queue (including others in the past by Luis himself), but this is one of the better ones we've seen. The "clouds" of the Milky Way galaxy are very well-delineated and sharp, the stars aren't overly blurred from a long exposure, and the slight sky glow and presence of the horizon along the bottom of the frame help give the shot some scale and perspective. Well done, Luis - hopefully this will make all those cold nights worth it!

Sunflowers at Sunset, by Gudjon Gudjonsson

Third Place
Sunflowers at Sunset, by Gudjon Gudjonsson
Gudjon won a Canon PIXMA MG6220 Printer. (info, shop)

This interesting shot really polarized the judges: About half really liked it, the other half didn't at all. A little explanation: For the most part, those of us judging IR's Photo of the Day contest have little use for most of the HDR images submitted. The short of it is that we like HDR well enough, as long as we can't tell you're using it. ;-) Part of this feeling is because of the incredible number of garish, ugly HDR images that flow across our virtual desks: Just pointing your camera at a ho-hum subject and hitting the "HDR" button doesn't make a great photograph! Although it can be very useful in showing a scene much more as your eyes would see it, given that the dynamic range of human eyes far exceeds that of most digital devices, HDR "grunge" has become a visual cliché. On the other hand, HDR can certainly be a legitimate expressive tool in and of itself.

For those of us who loved this picture, that's what we saw: HDR was used to beautifully craft an almost surreal image, with a wonderful painterly quality to it. Compositionally it's great too: The bright sun, the large foreground flower, and the mass of the trees on the right are contrasting elements to the expanse of sunflowers across the rest of the frame. Without that weight on the right, the field of flowers would be flat and boring. With it, though, a true sense of the expanse of the field comes into focus. At the same time, sky and flowers contrast very nicely, in both color and texture, separated by the trees on the horizon.

All in all, a beautiful image, and a great use of out-front HDR that really works. Congratulations to Gudjon for an exceptional piece of work.

Honorable Mentions

Magnetic Sky spotted
Magnetic Sky, by Gisli Kristinsson spotted, by Frank Somma
by Gisli Kristinsson by Frank Somma

As always, 31 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 October'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!