Photo of the Day Winners for April chosen!

by Dave Etchells

posted Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 11:37 AM EDT

Imagingresource-2009-144x86Well, another month gone, another month prior's Photo of the Day judging done. The judges continue to lag sadly behind on their judge-ly obligations, only now finally voting on the April photos of the day. We'll try to get caught up a bit this month, and get the May monthly winners submitted, but meanwhile, here are five excellent photos from the April contest:

(And if you're wondering what's been keeping us so busy, keep your eyes peeled on the site the remainder of this week. ;-)

From 30 great photos, "Harmony," "Starhenge," and "I See You" were chosen as our April winners. Congratulations to Lorenzo Cassina, Stephen Fischer, and Gloria Matyszyk!

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

Harmony, by Lorenzo Cassina

First Place
Harmony, by Lorenzo Cassina
Lorenzo won a Canon PIXMA Pro 9000 Mark II Printer. (review, info, shop)

Flamingos are a popular subject, and we often see them in pairs with their necks in unusual positions, but this is a particularly excellent shot. The mirroring of the pattern and the difference in sizes of the two birds combine for a really unique photo that captures your interest and keeps your eye moving. The shape of the birds' necks and the progression in size and position creates a dynamic composition. It actually leads our eyes to the lower right, as we seem somehow programmed to follow objects in descending size order. At the same time, though, because animals' heads hold their identity for us, our eyes are drawn back up again, to look there. This sort of dynamic tension makes images interesting to us (to the Judges, at least), and holds our gaze longer than might otherwise be the case. The dark background is well done, as it doesn't distract from the subjects, but also has just enough going on in it to avoid looking static or artificial. (We do think some work was done on it, because we can see some pixelation to the left and right on each bird's back, probably from a retouch brush used to clean up the edges in Photoshop.)

Overall, a great shot, that does indeed convey the idea of "Harmony." Congratulations to Lorenzo on a fine photo!

Starhenge, by Stephen Fischer

Second Place
Starhenge, by Stephen Fischer
Stephen won a Canon PIXMA MG8220 Printer. (review, info, shop)

This looks like a great example of finding beauty and mystery in the mundane. While it looks like something created by ancient Druids or Egyptians, we're pretty sure the stones are bridge abutments, power-pylon footings, or some sort of other modern (concrete) foundation. (The first tip-off was the little bolts that can be seen projecting from several of the monoliths, and examination in Photoshop revealed that they are indeed made of weathered concrete.) Regardless of their provenance, Stephen has crafted them into a mysterious monument to the stars. A big part of this is the exposure
balance he achieved between the diffuse city glow (possibly combined with light from the rising/setting sun?) and the stars, providing a lighter backdrop for the monoliths without taking over the composition. There's great visual interest here, too, with the contrasts between the undulating shapes of the horizon, the jutting shapes of the monoliths, the soft earth-glow, and the sharp points of the stars.

We see a lot of star shots in the POTD contest, but this one really stands out for all the reasons given above. Big congrats to Stephen for the eye, skill, and patience to bring this off!

I See You, by Gloria Matyszyk

Third Place
I See You, by Gloria Matyszyk
Gloria won a Canon PIXMA MG6220 Printer. (info, shop)

Macro photography is a great pastime, as subjects are literally all around you, and you discover sights and perspectives so different from daily, walking-around reality. Gloria's shot of the little frog peeking from inside a plant is a great example of the genre, and it's perfectly executed as well. The focus is spot-on, often a difficult task when working at such close range, even with an aperture of just f/32 as was the case here. Exposure and color are wonderful, and we love the composition: This could be an illustration shot for an article on the "Rule of Thirds", with the frog smack on the upper left-hand corner of the central 1/3 x 1/3 portion of the image. There are other elements that help as well: The yellow striping on the flower parts helps lead the eye to the main subject, and the rim and mouth of the flower provide a perfect frame for the little subject.

All in all, a great macro shot, and one that we're sure required a lot of patience to capture. Congrats to Gloria for the great result!

Honorable Mentions

Open Wide
Wild Fire
Open Wide, by Les Coombs
Wild Fire, by Philip Roberts
by Les Coombs
by Philip Roberts

Open Wide, by Les Coombs
We love photos that make us laugh, and this one surely did. Blue-footed Boobys look ridiculous enough just sitting, there, but squawking like this they're over the top. Great lighting and background, perfect exposure, and of course a perfect pose. We're sure this fellow was sounding off regularly over Les' intrusion into his/her territory, but we're also pretty certain that it took a fair number of shots to get one as perfectly posed as this. Congrats to Les, he made the First Runner-Up position in this month's contest.

Wild Fire, by Philip Roberts
What a great action shot of a firefighter at work! Using a drip-torch to light backfires isn't terribly dramatic in and of itself, but a relatively long lens helped compress the apparent distance between the firefighter and the burning brush behind him/her, greatly increasing the drama. We liked the way the firefighter is silhouetted against the flames, and the way the sharp edges of the silhouette contrast with the amorphous shapes of the flames in the background. A really dramatic shot, with a nice composition and lots of visual interest. Congrats to Philip on his Runner-Up win!

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 our April 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' photos? Use the comments section below to weigh in with your own opinions. (We're sure congratulations would be appreciated, too!)