Photo of the Day Winners for March chosen!

by Dave Etchells

posted Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 4:51 PM EDT

Imagingresource-2009-144x86Well, we're setting another record for lateness, creeping into May and only just now getting around to voting on the POTD winners for March. Our apologies to those of you who've been waiting--we'll try to get caught up a bit with April's winners over the next week or two, but in the meantime, check out the fine photos below.

From 31 great photos, "Bella," "My Baby Girl," and "Purple Rain" were chosen as our March winners. Congratulations to Nick Lagos, Gerri Jones, and Vicki L. France!

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

Bella, by Nick Lagos

First Place
Bella, by Nick Lagos
Nick won a Canon PIXMA Pro 9000 Mark II Printer. (review, info, shop)

The judges were as close as they ever come to unanimity in awarding Nick's beautiful portrait of Bella first place this month. This is an absolutely stunning portrait, that we found ourselves studying for minutes on end. Everything about it is just beautifully executed, from the lush lighting to the natural, unposed expression on the girl's face, to the composition and use of negative and positive space. In discussing the picture, one of us commented that their first thought was that Nick had inadvertently cut off the top of the girl's head, but on reflection, it was clear that the resulting image was much stronger than if the full curve of her head had been shown.

Framed as it is, it's much more intimate, and the composition is balanced top to bottom: Leaving in the top of her head would have introduced a band of darkness at the top of the image, introducing a lopsided asymmetry from top to bottom, detracting from the very strong horizontal composition. "Horizontal composition" might sound odd for an image in which the subject is vertically oriented, but the overall image is clearly divided into zones horizontally, with the black area at the girl's back, the girl herself, the lighter background in front of her, and finally the dark area at the far left side of the frame. This horizontal arrangement and the careful vignetting of the background in front of the subject works wonderfully to draw your attention to the girl's eyes and her arresting expression. Her expression is very interesting, so much more so than the usual broad smile. It's relaxed, but not placid, with just a hint of a furrowed brow. What's she thinking, what's going on in her life to produce that particular expression? It's a mystery that kept us returning to the image over and over again. An absolutely stunning portrait, one of the best we've seen to date in the POTD contest. Big congrats to Nick for the vision and skill it took to produce this shot.

My Baby Girl, by Gerri Jones

Second Place
My Baby Girl, by Gerri Jones
Gerri won a Canon PIXMA MG8220 Printer. (review, info, shop)

A very different subject than Nick's photo above, but one that's also rich in emotional content. A beautiful composition here again, and again, including the very top of Mom's head would have thrown off the overall composition. (A good note to novices: Sometimes you want to be sure not to cut off people's heads, especially in group shots, but you'll often get much more compelling portraits by cropping tighter.) Compositionally, we love the interplay of light and shadow here (the lighting is just wonderful), and also the way the line of the mother's face directs your eye towards the baby. Interestingly, we also found the expressions on the two gorillas reminiscent of the girl in Nick's photo above. The expressions here aren't ones we'd interpret overtly emotional, but rather, both mother and baby appear contemplative and thoughtful. There's surely a lot of anthropomorphism in that observation, but that's how we humans tend to look at the world, so the expressions add to the impact of the photo. - And it certainly takes no anthropomorphizing to recognize motherly love and infant dependence. All in all a beautifully shot image that tugs effectively on human heartstrings. Congratulations on Gerri for so beautifully capturing this special moment.

Purple Rain, by Vicki L. France

Third Place
Purple Rain, by Vicki L. France
Vicki won a Canon PIXMA MG6220 Printer. (info, shop)

Wow. We see a lot of great storm photos in the POTD submission stream, but this one's a doozy. Gorgeous, dramatic lighting, and the flat landscape provides a great base for the image: The streamer-like higher clouds to the sides and top serve to collect your attention and focus it on the main storm cloud itself. From there, your attention is naturally directed down to the tiny buildings beneath the ominous cloud. The close proximity of the clouds to the ground really enhances the drama. It's one thing to see a threatening thunderhead high overhead and/or off in the distance, but this storm is very much up close and personal: The narrow gap between it and the ground increases the sense of menace. We really loved the lighting, too, with lighter sky peeking through here and there in the background contributing to the sense of localized menace, and the blue/purple background making the main storm cloud stand out all the more. A great shot; definitely one of the better storm photos we've seen to date. Congrats to Vicki for the great shot, we hope she managed to stay dry taking it!

Honorable Mentions

Rolling Hills
Jump Dog
Rolling Hills, by Gabriel Sucre
Jump Dog, by David Flemming
by Gabriel Sucre
by David Flemming

Rolling Hills, by Gabriel Sucre
Black and white photography is at once simpler and more challenging than color. Simpler, in that images are stripped to their essentials, with only the tonality mattering. More challenging, in that  you only have tonality to work with, so you can't rely on color to separate image elements. We loved this landscape study for the interplay of both stark and subtle contrast, and the way the shapes and distribution of the trees worked with the rolling landscape they're growing on. Beautiful!

Jump Dog, by David Flemming
What a great "capture the moment" shot, and we loved the visual trick of the painted dog mirroring the pose of the live performer in front of it. - Actually, when we first saw the thumbnail come up on our screen when we were picking daily winners, we thought the painted black dog was just the shadow of the brown one being cast on the side of the trailer. Ho hum... We love dogs, though, so opened the full-sized image to see what was going on, and immediately saw and appreciated the visual trick with the painted image. Very clever, and a perfect pose, with just the right separation between the two dogs's heads.

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 our March contest.

Inspired? Why not submit your favorite photo to our Photo of the Day Contest? You win a great Canon printer, and see your photo forevermore enshrined on our POTD monthly winners page! Submit your photo now!

Meanwhile, what do you think of the winners above? Use the comments section below to weigh in with your own opinions. (We're sure congrats to the winners would be appreciated, too!)