By Paul Marotta
May contest judge
These Top 12, I think, really grab a viewer’s attention and hold it, making them look for all of the elements that are present: color, composition, structure, unusual subject, and even, in some cases, confusing the viewer.
Looking at a strong image that is a reflection and hard to decipher or even confusing is actually quite fun, and even technical flaws can be overlooked if the image is compelling.
The Top 12, and especially the top three, should and do make other photographers say, “Wow, I wish I had done that!”
Getting to the Top 3 winners wasn’t easy. It never is in any competition, and this was no exception.
At this stage, all the finalists have something strong going for them, and it’s usually either a tiny flaw or something subjective that creates the order. All three here had good form and structure on their side, strong technical editing, good reflections, as well as that something extra I define as having passed the “so what” test.
Congrats to all who entered, and special kudos to the top three. Herewith are more specific thoughts.
FIRST PLACE - $100
Sometimes the perfect shot is not always the most complex. The photographer may have done tons of work on an image to get it where they want, or they may have done nothing, letting it speak for itself. But if it seems effortless and elegant and powerful all at the same time, then that is perfection.
I really liked the simplicity in this image. The white background removes any distractions and focuses the eye on the bird itself. I see a very slight blue haze around the head in the reflection, implying that perhaps the background may have been brushed out? The bird is simple and elegant all at once.
The horizon line is not visible, but is implied as it splits the image. The green grasses and the yellow legs provide a subtle and elegant touch of color. The reflection is strong and clear; the image could be virtually turned upside down and not lose any effect. Is this bird a tern? Where was it shot? The bits of brown in its feathers are perfect.
In its simplicity it holds my eye for a long time; there is a lot to look at in the image despite its simplicity. Nice - bravo!
SECOND PLACE - $50
Wow, I really liked this image. There is a lot going on here. The colorful glass beads cut across the image from top left to lower right corner perfectly. The colors are subtle. The three glass beads create a perfect pattern of thirds structurally, and the fill the frame nicely.
Not sure how exactly how big these are in real life. Did the photographer shoot these in macro mode? How close was the photographer? Where are these? Was the image cropped or edited in the camera, so to speak? Where are these? Were other angles possible? This wonderfully subtle image has me asking a lot of questions, which is always a good thing in an image.
My only caveat would be that a round reflective image is always hard to shoot. It’s in essence a "fisheye", so getting out of the shot is not easy, and the photographer is reflected in the image. I wonder if moving around it would have yielded a different shot? The sky is nicely reflected as is the garden arbor. My personal rule of thumb as a photographer? Stay out of the shot!
However, well done, and this subject warrants another outing!
THIRD PLACE - $25
There is a lot going on here, and I always like to see complexity and simplicity combined in a photograph.
First of all, the colors are great, as is the strength of the reflection itself. The little bits of stuff floating in the water help define the difference between the reflection and the actual subject.
More importantly, the subject fills the frame, but the smaller boat steals the show, so to speak, just at the perfect position in the image, splitting the mid frame. And that something extra in this image is the juxtaposition of smaller boat against the larger one.
The contrast between the two, combined with the reflection and everything else going on in this image, make it a terrific shot. Well done!
ED. NOTE: The rest of the Top 12 photos are all Honorable Mentions, in no particular order. Here's a gallery of all Top 12 winners.
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Judge Paul Marotta of Perfect Bokeh Photography liked your "Reflections" photo so much that he chose 51 instead of 50! He also has chosen the Top 10, but is having a bit of a tough time deciding which to make the Top 3 winners. He'll get me those results tomorrow.
Meanwhile, he wrote some very thoughtful and thorough comments for you about the field of photos:
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Our judge for the delayed May contest (sorry) is a local guy who has achieved quite a bit in the field of photography. His bio:
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You RAW Dawgs have outdone yourselves ... your "Reflections" photos are really terrific. And close to 250 entries. Just fantastic.
If you haven't seen them all yet, here's the gallery. And the June and July themes are coming right up.
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Hi everybody ... sorry for the absence. My project is starting to ease a bit. I still don't have a producer to help me, but hope to hire one soon. Meanwhile, I wanted to clarify one of the rules for the May contest:
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For the May "Reflections" contest, I received pleas from several people to let them use photos of reflections that they have in their portfolios from trips, etc., so I've decided to eliminate the rule that your photo must be taken this month.
That rule is meant to encourage people to get out and explore and shoot, but I also understand that if you captured a terrific image in the past, you would want to show it off for this contest.
For the March "Human Form" contest, I have the Top 10 choices of our judge, Mark Sarver, but I still don't have his comments for each of the Top 3 finishers. As soon as I get those, I'll publish the winners.
But if I don't get them by 2 p.m., I'll publish the winners anyway and add his comments later. Don't want to leave you hanging!
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Let's take photos of reflected objects this month. Not simply reflected light -- make sure it's objects or people that are being reflected. The reflecting surface can be something shiny, glass, plastic, water, your car, a mirror, a wine glass, an eyeball ... use your imagination.
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Our May judge, Alison Shaw of Martha's Vineyard, chose 40 finalists from this month's entries. Her comments:
I took the liberty of judging these photos with my partner, Sue Dawson, a former designer at The Boston Globe, and co-owner of Alison Shaw Photography and Gallery. We looked through the photos separately, and then compared our lists. Interestingly, we agreed on our top choices, but our opinions varied a bit as we went through the photos again and again, looking for the next tier of photos to choose.
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Our May contest judge, Alison Shaw, is going through your 270+ landscape photos and plans to have her Final 50 chosen by the weekend. So we'll post that gallery on Monday.
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I'm very excited to announce that Alison Shaw, the award-winning Martha's Vineyard photographer whose fine art and editorial photography has been featured in newspapers, magazines, books, catalogs, and even on CD covers, has agreed to judge your photos entered in the May "Landscapes" contest.
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This month, you submitted 270 gorgeous landscape photos for our contest; we've now finished putting them into six full-screen galleries so everyone can page through easily and see them in all their glory. There are some that are borderline sea/lake/pondscapes, despite what the rules said, but I'll let the judge decide if they qualify. (More on the judge later.)
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We've tried many different themes here on RAW -- 21, in fact, since we launched in August 2008 -- but haven't yet done one of the most basic shots in photography: Landscapes.
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By Pat Greenhouse
In judging the May Flowers contest, I had to whittle 287 images down to 50 and then select a top 10. The top 30, those that immediately impressed me, revealed themselves in the first cut. The standouts made good use of natural and artificial light, perspective, composition, mood, and a bit of whimsy. The top 10 came from this group.
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I don't think I've ever seen such a stunning variety of photos of flowers ... and I now know more about stamens and pistils than I ever thought I'd want to know.
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Because of her schedule, it looks like Pat Greenhouse may not be able to narrow the May contest entries to the Final Fifty until next week. So to keep you busy until then, how about another Photo Challenge: Portraits. We've taken photos of the moon, rain, flowers ... let's try some fellow human beings for awhile. Here are a few simple guidelines:
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We've chosen a judge for the May Flowers contest, and we've posted all the eligible photos in one of the six galleries you can find linked on the first frame of our "slider" above. If you don't see your photo in any of the galleries, and you think it's eligible, please send an e-mail right away to email@example.com and we'll check it out for you.
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OK, little Dawggies, my Moms project has eased since the site is launched! Meanwhile, back to our business: I haven’t had a chance to post a poll for contest themes for May and June, so I’m using my prerogative as Top Dawg to declare them unilaterally.
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