"It makes me want to sit in front of a fireplace!" was how Globe assistant chief photographer John Blanding summed up his feelings about the First Place winner in our January contest, which had the theme of "Cold."
But a chilly ambiance wasn't the only thing John liked about this shot. "This is a well-balanced photo compositionally, both horizontally and vertically," he said. "The tonality of the hills as they fade in the distance is well done. The photo demonstrates how powerful a black-and-white image can be.
"It's just a great photo to look at," he said. "It is such a quintessential New England scene. I want to hang it on my wall!"
SECOND PLACE -- $50
John liked the strong sense of cold conveyed here by this snow-covered, bundled-up guy (turns out it's a self-portrait with a brand-new remote release) with steamy glasses and a colorful scarf. "Normally, I don't do this much Photoshop manipulation, but here it works," John said. "The color in the scarf actually helps emphasize the cold starkness of the rest of the photo."
THIRD PLACE -- $25
There were many great photos of ice-covered plants, branches, buds, etc., but John felt this one stood out because of the effective use of sunlight and color. "Even on the coldest days, you can harness bright sunlight to your advantage," he said. "And this photo demonstrates how sometimes sunlight can bring out the best of nature's beauty."
As he said when narrowing the field to the Final Fifty, John asked me to please tell you all again that he reluctantly passed on many images that were very good photos, but didn't fit the theme "Cold" quite as well as some others. The one exception was a photo that used a clever turn of phrase, an alternative meaning of "cold", and a good perspective to land in the Top Ten.
Here's the entire Top Ten field of finalists. Use the "Full Screen" link for the best view: