Image Club – February 2016

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, 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)

Jaggy Stephan first

Stephan did very well to capture this scene with brooding storm clouds and exceptional light. The muse of photography really smiled down on him. But he knew that this backlit scene posed special challenges that he had to meet.

Cameras can capture a limited dynamic range of luminosity, but the photographer can extend this range through photographic and post-processing techniques. Visually, these photos are more colourful, more luminous and have a hyper-real appearance. The trick for the photographer is to decide how far to push the effect known as High Dynamic Range (HDR).

In my mind Stephan’s post-processing enhancement of the image is successful. The only advice is to do a tighter crop, eliminating the bush in the left bottom corner, as well as the reeds further back, and some clouds at the top in order to keep the aspect ratio. This will clear the corner (if possible, keep those corners clean in landscapes) and move the little house out of the central position to a more pleasing vertical third.

  • Photographer: Stephan Jaggy
  • Camera: Canon EOS 6D, 16-35mm lens at 35mm
  • Settings: f14 at 1/30 sec, ISO 200

Second prize (R750 cash prize)

Rob Dickie second

The visual impact of the digital age and the immense popularity of photography are changing how we look at and appreciate photographs. Inundated with perfect pictures, judges and viewers are now looking to find the personal voice of the author.

Rob Dicky speaks to me in this photograph. He bends the ‘rules’ of photography, goes graphic and creates tangible mood. Without the conspicuous road sign, it already is an image with metaphorical content – a road/journey to somewhere. But the glaring white road sign stops the viewer to think laterally and to try and read the author’s visual statement.

  • Photographer: Rob Dickie
  • Camera: Canon PowerShot SX40 HS
  • Settings: f4 at 1/60 sec, ISO 200

Third prize (R500 cash prize)

It is by zooming in on subjects in nature that the infinite order and rhythm of the natural world presents itself. By cropping tightly, the photographer divorces the subject from the objective world, thereby moving into the terrain of abstract photography.

Some sources say that if the viewer asks ‘What is this?’, the photographer has successfully created an abstract image. Good abstracts, however, go much further than that. How the photographer implements the elements of design and composition guidelines becomes crucial. Symmetry and formal balance determines the almost architectural main motif of this image. Add to that the lines, shapes, texture and splash of colour, and this abstract of a peacock taken from behind can easily find its place on the wall of a house.

  • Photographer: Leon Pelser
  • Camera: Sony SLT-A55V, 16-300mm at 50mm
  • Settings: f10 at 1/80 sec, ISO 200

Fourth prize (R250 cash prize)

Bridget Purdon fourth

Tree frogs are magic subjects for photographers and they hardly ever fail to elicit an aaah! reaction from the viewer. They are tiny, cute and colourful and to see them so close up brings home the incredible wonder of nature.

Bridget perfectly captured this forest tree frog: pin-sharp eyes, the subject well-positioned on the third line, and just the right depth of field to achieve a soft background. A slightly tighter crop that excludes the intruding leaf on the right-hand side might improve the image. Otherwise it is spot-on.

  • Photographer: Bridget Purdon
  • Camera: Nikon D3100, 18-55 mm at 34mm
  • Settings: f4.5 at 1/80 sec, ISO 400

Keep_Anita_clAbout 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.

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