From the beauty of tranquility to motocross: We announce our November POTD monthly winners


posted Friday, December 12, 2014 at 6:03 PM EDT

We love peaceful images as much as we love the more adventurous shots, and perhaps more so during this reflective time of the year. This month's winners begin with two wonderful images that fall in that category, followed by a terrific motocross shot and finally two wonderfully playful bird shots.

The battle between Canon and Nikon also continues. For any of you who didn't see our news post surrounding the race - "Revenge of the DSLRs" - it's an interesting look at how weighted our winners have been to using these two DSLR heavyweights to capture their prize-winning images. At the time of that article the race between the two for prize winning photographs was extremely close, and we'll double back at the end of the year to see which manufacturer takes the yearly crown.

Thanks so much to everyone who enters our Photo of the Day contest, and congratulations to the winners this month. The top three all receive gift certificates from Adorama of $300, $200 and $100, respectively. Please keep the wonderful submissions coming our way!

Below are the winning images from November with comments from Imaging Resource publisher Dave Etchells. (Clicking on any image will bring up a slightly larger version in a new window.)

(A note from Dave: Apologies to this month's winners, but the writeups below will be shorter than usual. We're in pre-holiday craaazy mode here at IR, so I'm just ridiculously behind on things; have to shave minutes wherever I can :-/ )

First place • Little Steps by SIRSENDU GAYEN • Nikon D80

Wow! (I seem to say that a lot here) I love this photo of Sirsendu's! This is another one of those examples where one small element is the difference between good and great (or great vs outstanding :-) In this case, of course, that element is the young monk climbing the stairs. He provides a focal point, a splash of contrasting color, and brings balance and scale to the whole composition. Framing within the image is particularly interesting: Note how the shadowed inner walls echo the shapes of the openings, and especially the way in which they almost create Escher-like figure/ground illusions. They play subtle tricks with your brain, framing the subject and lower stairway in unique ways.

Second place • Follow the Yellow Leaf Road by Nicholas • Nikon D5300

This photo from Nicholas is a type of shot you see a lot, usually looking down a road, path, or other landscape element. The narrow spacing here makes this one a little different, and I really like how that works here. (In fact, I might go even a little tighter on the sides, to further emphasize the sense of narrowness and confinement.) One thing that works especially well here is the tonal gradation from top to bottom in the center, going from bright yellow to deep shadow, drawing attention to the "passageway" ahead. Then, the gradation within that part of the image echoes what's above. I love it! I can really see this cut even a little narrower, printed large, and hung at the end of a hallway or in a stairway. (BTW, I was so fascinated by this photo, I Google Image-searched it, and found that it was shot at the Boardman tree farm in Oregon. Maybe a tip for others, for a place to get some interesting shots!)

Thirsd place • Launched by Steve Vit • Canon 1D Mark III

This one from Steve Vit gets another "wow" - What a great shot; everything really works together in it. We're not generally big fans of heavily processed images, and this one does have an HDR look to it, but Steve holds it in check, and the slight otherworldliness and odd tonality comes together with the subject and background to create a mood that works very well. If I had more time, this would be a great shot to go into more depth about leading lines, mass in the image, contrasts, etc, but alas, I'm already late on at least three other things. I'll just note the way the spray of dirt behind the bike, the bike's shadow below it, and then what I think is the shadow of the rider, perhaps merging with that of a tree in the center foreground creates a circle of sorts that frames and sets off the bike and rider nicely. Lots of great things going on here, kudos to Steve for getting the shot!


First runner-up • Battle in the Everglades by Jose Garcia • Canon 7D

Ouch! A bad day for the snake, but a wonderful composition -- the way the bird's neck, eye, and bill guides your eyes down to the unfortunate reptile, then the bird's eye calls our eyes back to the center of the frame. Really nice shot!

Second runner-up • Dance of the Reddish Egret by Bob Jensen • Canon 5D Mark III

While it didn't quite make it into the winner's circle, I'll confess that this shot by Bob Jensen was one of my personal favorites this month. The pose, the crispness of the bird's feathers, contrasting with the blurred reflection, the ripples on the surface of the water, the high-key tonality setting off the bird itself; it's all just great. This shot has a mystical, almost totemic feeling to me, it just draws my eye again and again. Huge kudos to Bob on this. I'd say I wish I'd shot it myself, but I know I'm not this good :-/

For anyone wanting to know more about our competition please visit this news story which describes our contest and also offers some useful tips to help you succeed. To see camera and exposure information on this month's winners or to visit previous months please visit our POTD winner's gallery.

[Ready to submit a photo of your own? Just click here! And to compliment these photographers on their submissions or offer your own analysis, please use the comments section below.]