Choosing our monthly winners of the Image Club competition is as exciting as it is challenging. Fortunately we can delegate the task to one of our contributing photographers. Their deftness at analysing images is always educational and fun.
This month, Country Life contributor, Dale Morris was tasked with the judging duties. Here are the top four prize winners with Dale’s thoughts.
First prize (R1 000 cash prize)
This image taken on a moonless night among the quiver trees in the Richterveld – close to Kokerboomkloof campsite – is simply wonderful. I usually have some input on how to improve an image but this shot requires next to nothing. It’s almost perfect. It took Willem time and planning to get this shot correct. The lighting, shutter speed and multiple exposures, grain control, colours and composition are all
pretty much spot on. Well done and a much-deserved win.
- Photographer: Willem Kruger
- Camera: Nikon D800, Nikon 17-35mm lens at 17mm
- Settings: f8 at 1024sec, ISO 200
Second prize (R750 cash prize)
It’s an oft-photographed event, a whale breach. The water explodes with the emergence of nature’s grandest of beasts with a swoosh and a splash. But it’s not easy getting sharp pictures of the moment. The boat you are on makes working with a long lens tricky and, if shooting from the land, the subject is often in the distance. This image of a humpback whale, taken out at sea in Plettenberg Bay, is sharp in all the right places and conveys the dramatic moment well.
- Photographer: Allan Theron
- Camera: Canon EOS 6D, 15-600mm lens at 150mm
- Settings: f5 at 1/4000sec, ISO 500
Third prize (R500 cash prize)
It’s an image we’ve seen before but one not always simple to catch so well. Yes, a fish is thrown into the water and will float on it, and then just focus on the fish and wait for the eagle to fly down and grab it. But here, the composition with the bird on the left of the frame, moving to the right, works well. The depth of field is shallow enough to blur any distracting background, but the eagle and fish are still pin sharp. A fast shutter speed crystalises the action and water droplets, and the eagle’s eye is not obscured by wing feathers. Well done.
- Photographer: David Owen
- Camera: Nikon D4, Nikkor 80-400mm lens at 400mm
- Settings: f/6.3 at 1/3200sec, ISO 400
Fourth prize (R250 cash prize)
A lovely sharp portrait of a bird of prey, a Chanting Goshawk that also goes by the evocative Afrikaans name, Bleeksingvalk. The use of a shallow depth of field makes the detail on the bird, its feathers, its face and its profile stand out crisp and sharp against what would have otherwise been a cluttered background. The background is still somewhat uneven and distracting, what with the unequal placing of the trees, but the photographer has done well to keep the viewer’s eye well and truly fixated on this beautiful bird.
- Photographer: Sandra van Heerden
- Camera: Nikon D4, 400mm lens (with 1.4 converter)
- Settings: f5.6 at 1/8000sec ISO 1250
About this month’s judge: Dale Morris, a regular contributor to COUNTRY LIFE. Born in the United Kingdom, Dale purchased a one-way ticket at the age of 18, and thus became an exceptionally well-travelled refugee. He finally put down roots but that hasn’t ended his regular photographic adventures into Southern Africa and beyond. Dale’s award-winning writing and wildlife and travel photography have been published worldwide. See his images on www.geckoeye.com
How are your photography skills? Can you take pictures like these winning photographs for our Image Club competition? There is prize money to be won and exposure in the magazine. Who knows, your image may even make the cover of one of our upcoming magazine issues! To submit an entry of your own, fill in our entry form here.