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, regular Country Life contributor Anita de Villiers was tasked with the judging duties. Here are the top four prize winners with Anita’s thoughts.
First prize (R1 000 cash prize)
The elements that lift this image to winner status are the soft impressionistic light and colours, the rhythm of the concentric circles and reflection in the water, the delicate hesitance of the Grey Heron’s stance, all of which create an air of expectancy within the wholeness of cyclic movement. The artist Georgia O’ Keeffe said that she could express things with colour and shapes that she had no words for. Through visual grammar the photographer can lift a picture into the sphere of fine art, which is what James did with this image. This is one to be printed, framed and hung on the wall.
- Photographer: James Luckoff
- Camera: Canon EOS 1000D, 500mm lens
- Settings: f6.3 at 1/500 sec, ISO 400
Second prize (R750 cash prize)
Bathed in the warm glow of the golden hour, this image of a kudu bull coupled with its own reflection in the smooth surface of the water, shows that breaking the guidelines of composition can create a striking picture. Johan decided to not adhere to the rule of thirds by placing the dominant horizontal line in the middle, as well as positioning the predominant feature (centre of interest) on the vertical centre. Because of this bilateral balance, a strong sense of symmetry is achieved. Not the usual kudu at the watering hole photo – a very interesting image indeed. The photograph is further enhanced by the relatively shallow depth of field that translates as a soft, subdued background.
- Photographer: Johan Hosten
- Camera: Canon 6D, 150-6000 lens at 500mm
- Settings: f6.3 at 1/1600 sec, ISO 800
Third prize (R500 cash prize)
To photograph birds in flight, the photographer has to have knowledge of the subject and be on the alert, camera settings ready to either freeze or blur motion. With a fast shutter speed, Davide froze this Swift Tern’s fast flight, as it skimmed its beak across the water surface creating a luminous water path that ended in a forward tumble. This is quite a unique moment captured very successfully with the bird sharp against a soft background. The beautiful light is the final element that adds to the uniqueness of the photograph.
- Photographer: Davide Gaglio
- Camera: Canon 7D, 100-400mm lens at 400m
- Settings: f5.6 at 1/2500 sec, ISO 800
Fourth prize (R250 cash prize)
The earthen-coloured dunes fringing the pale crusted pans create canvasses that lure landscape photographers from all over the world to the Namib Desert, especially to Sossusvlei. Here, nature has formed scenes of such striking, simplified beauty, that the temptation is to just point your camera and shoot. But therein lies the challenge – to interpret your emotions elicited by this land and to capture that message in the image created. Elmar has done well in portraying the vastness of this space by devoting two thirds of the composition to the clay basin, while also bringing in texture as a dominant element. Experimenting with different camera angles, for example shooting from a low position, may add to the visual impact. The inclusion of the skull amplifies the feeling of desolation, but its exact placement on a power point could be a bit studied. Bend the rules, that is what they are there for. Warm side-lighting adds to this pleasing photograph.
- Photographer: Elmar Venter
- Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 17-40mm lens at 32mm
- Settings: f11 at 1/60sec, ISO 100
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
To submit an entry of your own, fill in our entry form here.