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, 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)
A lot of thought, time and processing went into this image of the Milky Way, taken at Pearly Beach in Gansbaai. Isn’t it spectacular? These starscape images require the use of tripods and the brain. You need to understand the correct shutter speeds and ISO settings, and must have a good understanding of post processing.
I like the use of an ultra-wide angle (which has turned the Milky Way into a rainbow shape), the panorama-style cropping and the unusual beach-cove setting. A point of focal interest would have made this photo even better (such as a person standing dead centre of the frame). But, none the less, well done Florian.
- Photographer: Florian Breuer
- Camera: Fujifilm X-Pro2, Fujinon 16mm lens
- Settings:f/1.4 at 34x8sec, ISO 3200
Second prize (R750 cash prize)
Simplicity is the key to this rather pretty image, taken over the Namib Desert near Sesriem campsite. The off-centre composition, and the splitting of the horizon with an almost central line, gives this image balance. It oozes serenity and peace and makes me want to be there, drifting over those mountains in the cold of a pre-dawn sunrise.
- Photographer: Jenny Powis
- Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, 70-200mm lens at 75mm
- Settings: f4 at 1/8000sec, ISO 1600
Third prize (R500 cash prize)
They say three is the magic number and, in photography, it most certainly is. This is an example of a photographer getting his ducks in a row. Although the image – taken from the Maloutswa Pan hide in Mapungubwe National Park, Limpopo – is quite cluttered, the vibrant colours, the off-centre composition and the the use of a shallow depth of field (hence the blurred background) make this a rather pleasing shot.
It would have been even better if the ducks were not overlapping the flowers behind them (a few steps or paddle strokes to their left), and I might have gone so far as to crop out that bit of distracting log at the bottom of the frame. But it’s still a lovely shot.
- Photographer: Barry du Plessis
- Camera: Canon EOS 7D, 300mm EF lens with 2x converter at 600mm
- Settings: f/13 at 1/640 sec, ISO 400
Fourth prize (R250 cash prize)
It’s a great action shot of a Tawny Eagle hunting a Namaqua Sandgrouse at 14th Waterhole on the Mata-Mata road in the Kgalagadi. High shutter speeds and shallow depth of field have captured an exciting moment and produced a striking and uncluttered image. It’s not always easy to capture these super-fast micro events, and this image clearly demonstrates a good grasp of photography along with an understanding of the subject. Cropping it slightly differently, with the birds a tad to the right of the frame would have made this image a little more pleasing to the eye. But well done Kyle.
- Photographer: Kyle Kardolus
- Camera: Canon EOS 7D Mark II, EF100-400mm lens at 400mm
- Settings: f/6.3 at 1/4000 sec, ISO 500
Other entries making our favourites list this month
About this month’s judge: Dale Morris is a regular contributor to COUNTRY LIFE. Born in the United Kingdom, Dale purchased a one-way ticket out, 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.