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January theme: "What's That?" v.3

Posted by Teresa Hanafin  January 9, 2012 12:11 PM

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It's our recurring January theme: Take a photo in which an object is difficult to identify. We then hold a follow-up contest asking people to guess what the item is ... and award prizes to those whose guess is correct or comes the closest.

These were the winners in 2010 and 2011:


Photo by OllieGapper

Photo by Carl_Reid

Photo by LBpics

Thumbnail image for 01DeWitt.jpg
Photo by Timothy DeWitt of Chilmark

Thumbnail image for 02BroginiOrig.jpg
Photo by Simone Brogini of Quincy

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Photo by Lynn Cianfarani of Saratoga Springs, NY

In previous years, photographers have taken images of drops of water on a CD with a rainbow effect, a close-up of a blue office delivery water bottle, a pine cone, the inside of a walnut shell, a reflection in a cheese grater, olive oil, ice crystals, a martini glass, a Mac screensaver, a paperweight, glass containers, and even theater seat shadows.

The photos we've received have been extremely creative. The challenge is to take a photo of an object that is difficult to identify. It can be an extreme close-up, part of an object, or just something odd.

Be as tricky as you'd like, but make sure it's still a good photo. Since the judge won't know what the object is, your photos will be judged on technical merits. So use lighting, shadows, composition, lines, and angles to create a visually arresting image.

BONUS CONTEST: After the judge has chosen her or his Top 10, we'll post each photo in a separate entry so everybody can post comments guessing what the object is. The first person to guess correctly for each of the 10 photos will win some swag.


1. Since we have extended the deadline, your photo does NOT have to be taken this month.

2. One photo per photographer.

3. The new deadline is midnight Saturday, March 31.

Here are our complete contest rules.


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