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.
First prize (R1 000 cash prize)
In some photography circles, guidelines are rules, never to be broken. To communicate through your work, you often have to push boundaries and break ‘rules’. Luke’s image taken outside Cullinan near Pretoria talks to me. Either on a conscious or subconscious level, he ‘saw’ the main motif – not the windmill but the vertical constellation of the clouds. The more than two-thirds’ space given to the sky, plus the vertical panorama crop, emphasises the overwhelming impact of the clouds, creating something like a vertigo effect. This is accentuated by the motion blur of the windmill’s fast movement. The colour treatment of the image further creates a palpably brooding mood: it is a duotone of warm sepia tones and a deep green, both colours reminding me of the patina of aged bronze. Not your usual windmill photo, but certainly one that lingers in the mind.
- Photographer: Luke Brouwers
- Camera: Canon 600D EF-S18-55mm lens at 55mm
- Settings: f29 at 1/10sec, ISO 100
Second prize (R750 cash prize)
What a perfect canvas to paint on with light, this one created on Kubu Island in Botswana. The technique of painting with light requires technical skill and pre-planning, and Issi has ticked most of the boxes. To capture the starry night, the minimum of ambient light is required, which means a moonless night. Setting up the camera on the tripod, composing the image and locking focus is done before darkness falls. A long exposure is required, but in this case not too long, otherwise the movement of the stars will be captured.
It also requires a higher ISO, but not too high, otherwise digital noise will show in the image, although this can be handled well during post-production. Once the shutter is tripped, the photographer paints the foreground and baobab with a torch, the brightness of the light and the duration or the painting process having been calculated beforehand (or determined by trial and error on the spot). With that, Issi delivered a breathtaking African Starry, Starry Night. Eat your heart out Vincent.
The only point of critique is that the foreground is a bit too cropped.
- Photographer: Issi Potgieter
- Camera: Canon 7Dmark II, 15-85mm Canon lens at 35mm
- Settings: f4 at 25 sec, ISO 6400
Third prize (R500 cash prize)
Definitely not just another bird on a stick. Geo managed, through dedicated patience I’m sure, to capture this African Darter at that split-second when all the elements that make up this image came together in perfect harmony. It is an action shot, with the shutter speed at that happy setting to freeze the bird’s movement and capture the streaky movement of the water drops. Added to that is the fact that the direction of the light produces striking rim-light, plus it accentuates the colour and beauty of the outspread wing. All this against a pleasing bokeh background. Detail seems to be lost in the tail feathers, but that’s a minor criticism in a picture as good as this one.
- Photographer: Geo Jooste
- Camera: Canon 1Dm4,100-400mm Canon lens at 180mm
- Settings: f5 at 1/320,ISO 400
Fourth prize (R250 cash prize)
This is the reason why wildlife photographers trek in their hordes to the Masai Mara during the migration season, when thousands of zebra and wildebeest cross the Mara River. Aubrey positioned himself well for a lower camera-angle shot of this dramatic scene, adding to the viewer’s perception of the ominous aggression of the event. The fact that the three zebras in the back are in sharper focus than the crocodile and the zebra under attack, distracts a bit from the image’s impact, as the viewer’s eye first goes to the subjects in sharper focus. But in photographing this kind of frenzied action, it is a minor criticism.
- Photographer: Aubrey Siebert
- Camera: Nikon D4, 600mm Nikon lens
- Settings: f5.6 at 1/6400sec, ISO 800
About this month’s judge: Anita de Villiers is a professional photographer and freelance photojournalist. Anita has a diploma in photography, teaches photography and runs wildlife and fine art photography workshops. Anita views technical excellence and the ‘rules’ of composition as the first steps in exploring this dynamic medium, and believes the uniqueness of a photographer’s image is what communicates visually. Bend the rules, play with light, capture the emotion of a decisive moment to venture into the world of expressive imaging. www.anitadevilliers.co.za
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.