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The January 'What's That?' Top 10 winners

Posted by Teresa Hanafin  February 16, 2010 08:32 AM

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Abstracts, colors, shapes, ambiguity, and mystery marked the Top 10 winners in our January "What's That?" competition. Our judge, Philip Greenspun, made his final choices over the weekend and added comments to each of the winning images.

He also put the 7 Honorable Mentions in order of finish.

Philip made special mention of a few photos that were terrific images, but missed the final cut either because the subjects were recognizable or because a technical flaw knocked them out of contention. Those photographers should find Philip's comments helpful.

Tomorrow, we'll post each of the Top 10 in a separate entry and see who can post the first comment that identifies the subjects specifically and accurately.


The winners:

Philip wrote: "For the top three images, I'm insisting that they all be as challenging as an abstract painting, with nothing recognizable and the photographer confronting the terrifying freedom of being able to put almost anything in the frame."


FIRST PLACE - $100

OllieGapperProject 365, Day 1 by OllieGapper

Philip's comment: "I've looked at this photo quite a few times, but still have no inkling as to what it might be. The lines are very interesting and the image would probably work pretty well as a black and white, which is one sign of a good composition."


SECOND PLACE - $50

02Carl_ReidMystery125.jpg

Philip's comment: "Again, I have no idea what this is, but the organic shapes are fascinating. I like the color balance. The brighter blues occupy only a small portion of the frame and therefore don't overwhelm the visually less exciting colors. I sure hope that this isn't a Lava Lamp!"


THIRD PLACE - $25

03LBpicsWhatsThat.jpg

What's That? by LBpics

Philip's comment: "It looks like a Greek chorus, perhaps from an Aristophanes play. After a lot of staring, there is a figure/ground ambiguity."


Here's the full-screen gallery of all Top 10 winners, with more of Philip's comments.


In addition, he singled out a handful of images for special mention:

"I wish that I could have included this photo among the Top 10, but the rules forbade me because the subject is not supposed to be recognizable. Ditto with this image, which definitely should win a prize as 'best toothbrush photo ever.'

"I like the spoon photo both because it reminds me of Jan Groover and because it leads the viewer to ponder how reflections work. Is it really possible for the shadow of the spoon to show up so vividly on the back of the spoon itself? Apparently so."

"This photo surely would have been among the Top 10 if cropped square, with the distracting left edge removed. I also liked this image, but thought that the lack of depth of field (soft foreground) looked more like a technical mistake rather than a conscious aesthetic choice."


You can revisit the 40 finalists here, and don't forget to enter the February contest.

Thanks to everybody for entering.
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