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Picture This Winners – February 2011

A big thank you goes to our first time judge from England , Andrea Jones, who pushed the limits by offering ‘Genius Loci’ as the topic for February. She did a fantastic job facilitating our entrants to shoot dazzling, insightful and compelling photos.  To order Andrea’s books or any of her several magnificent prints,  click here……Fran Sorin

 Here’s what Andrea wrote:

“I am thrilled that so many of you have taken on my challenge of ‘Genius loci’ – especially at such a bleak time of year for most of us!

Even more delighted that you ‘got it ‘! I was concerned that the task I set in winter, of all time, was really too tough and that you might pass it over – stay indoors and wait for the next one! I’m sure it was tempting; but the results are better than I could have dreamt! Congratulations to all who took part.

Since setting the task, I have given a lot of thought myself as to what makes a good photograph – what gives a photograph the ‘wow’ factor. Sure, there’s an element of luck. The light comes right at just the perfect moment – or the mist rolls in. But in this particular task, what I was really asking for was thought. Think before you shoot. In this age of digital technology it is so easy to just ‘snap’.

Book Photographer of the Year. Andrea Jones. 5 of 10. Lurie Garden. Frances Lincoln. September 2009

When I run photography workshops, the most beautiful music to my ears is when students say to me before they leave ‘do you know I’d never have thought of photographing in that way before.?’ Or ‘I see things quite differently now! ‘

It’s nothing to do with me – it’s just that I have slowed people down and made them look. In some instances I don’t even allow them to take a camera on the first trip! I suggest a black frame and a pen and paper.

Think back to when artists had no choice but to trek into the landscape with an easel and set up their painting in the wild and work for hours. It goes without saying that they would choose their position with a good deal of thought. After all, it’s a lot of trouble to go to and then decide the composition might have been better if they’d moved over to that rock a few paces on the right!

Landscape artists have to think this through carefully before committing paint to canvas. And not just artists but early Photographers like Roger Fenton who captured landscapes and war scenes in the Crimea in the mid 1800s. He had a horse drawn caravan of photographic gear and a dark room to lug around! There was no ‘snapping’ opportunity for him! Take a look also at Alfred Stieglitz, an early photographic perfectionist from New Jersey with a relatively modern Single Lens reflex camera. Look at the amount of trouble these guys went to to ‘get their shot’.

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Reminder For Picture This Deadline

Selectively pruned trees lining avenue and gravel driveway in early morning light. Hither Lane, Long Island, USA. Designed by Reed Hilderbrand Associates For those of you who haven’t gotten around to it, a reminder to get your entries in for this month’s contest. Our judge, Andrea Jones, has given us a great subject , Genius Loci. To read the original post and rules for entering, click on here.

The contest ends tomorrow, Wednesday, the 23rd at 11:59 pm.

Those who have already entered are offering up a feast for the eyes. Check their photos out at the gallery.

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Picture This Photo Contest – February 2011

When Noel Kinsgbury suggested  a colleague of his, Andrea Jones , as a possible judge for Picture This, I was ecstatic. I have been a big fan of her work for years. She has that rare ability to capture subtle, evocative moments in gardens and nature that resonate deep within the soul.

Andrea is one of the world’s foremost garden photographers, having built up an international reputation for her photographs of landscape architecture, gardens and plants. The latter was the subject of Andrea’s critically acclaimed solo book Plantworlds (2005). She has collaborated on numerous other book projects since; Bold Plants and Grasses and Bamboos, both by Noel Kingsbury (1999). Andrea’s collection of work forms the stock library Garden Exposures and appears in the international press including Gardens Illustrated, Garden Design (USA), House and Garden and The Daily Telegraph. Based in Scotland, Andrea is a Fellow of the RSA and exhibits her work around the world having had several successful solo exhibitions in both the UK and US. In 2008/9 she was voted Photographer of the Year by her peers in the UK’s Garden Media Guild.   Fran Sorin

” It has been said that anyone coming across the village of Barr by accident could be forgiven for wondering if they had stumbled into Brigadoon, the fictional Scottish village said to emerge from the mists only once every 100 years.  The village lies buried deep within the Carrick Hills and of the three roads leading across the moors and down into the valley in which it nestles, all are winding and one is so contorted in its twists and turns that it is known locally as ‘The Screws’.*

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Winners for Picture This – January 2011

 The winners are in for our first Picture This Photo Contest of 2011! Here’s what our tireless judge, David Perry, has to say.

“WOW!

Great word, but even better feeling. And that is exactly what I feel when I look through this amazing body of work collected here under this one, unifying theme.

“Macro In A Mason Jar”, indeed.

David Perry-onions-Micro In A Mason Jar

Let me just say it one more time, with feeling: WOW!

Of course you must know that the creativity you’ve shown individually here, each of you with your own very personal explorations and interpretations, makes life a little tougher for the person tasked with choosing the winner(s). And at the risk of seeming to complain when I do not feel at all like complaining, I scarcely know where to begin.

And so, I must head back to the original guidelines that I provided you when this little adventure first began.

David Perry-shot made from table and lamp set up

So, this month, I’m asking you to think small and get in close . . . to show me some essential aspect of a subject that simply cannot be seen or appreciated from a distance. The point of this contest is to encourage you to look and see from new perspectives, to learn more about your camera’s amazing capabilities. For your entries I want to see pictures that take me into the depths of a subject and that leave me feeling that I’ve seen something in a completely new way. I want to see pictures that record the play of light and shadow, and texture, and that set the table for an intriguing story while looking downward into a glass jar.

Your pictures can be of nearly any subjects for this contest, but I really want photographs that allow me to see seeds, feathers, plants, flowers, insects or textures in ways that are fresh and unexpected. The images should be about seeing first and the subjects second. They need to evoke mood, and they should strive to elicit some sort of emotional, poetic, or “Wow!” response.

David Perry-bottom of jar shooting through the mirror

Pared down, the criteria were these:

Get in close.

Show some essential aspect that cannot be appreciated from a distance.

Take me to the depths of a subject.

Leave me feeling I’ve seen something in a completely new way.

Make pictures that record the play of light and shadow, and texture.

Make pictures that are fresh and unexpected, that are more about seeing than the subjects themselves.

Thank goodness I’ve got that as a compass to navigate by and as a rudder to help steer me. Sorting through the flood of evocative, emotional responses your pictures elicit as I look through your works of art and then figuring out why they speak to me as they do . . . Well, that promises to be as complicated a task as it is delightful.

GOLD MEDAL: Landscape Lover’s Floating Walnut

picture_this_gold[1]
Landscape Lover  

 

Without question, there is one picture that hits nearly every point on my original wish list, and that is the image of the lonely walnut floating in a world utterly unfamiliar and unidentifiable. It is quite amazing in its precarious visual dance between a world that one knows (walnut), and one that cannot possibly be fathomed without explanation (the frosted glass with that walnut, floating in a puddle of water).

Landscape Lover, you hit it out of the park with this one. You did not just point and shoot with your point and shoot. You looked and experimented and looked some more, and thought and refined, and played until you were granted something akin to magic.

Your photograph is pure and simple, and totally unexpected . . . There are moments while looking into it that it is almost vertigo-inducing. I like it. I like it very, very much!

The honest truth is that my second and third favorite choices have been arm wrestling with me for the past several hours, first pulling me one way and then the other. They are both flower shots, and both very much about the play of light and texture, and both absolutely magnificent. And though neither of them is nearly as mysterious as the Gold Award winner, they may both be slightly more accessible and heartwarming, and thus, comforting.

SILVER MEDAL: Annelie’s Pale Pink Tulip In The Snow

picture_this_silver[1]
Nature As I See It  

 

I’ve selected Annelie’s photo of the pale pink tulip in the snow for my second place winner because I just can’t stop looking at it. That warm sunlight, coming in at such a delicious, low angle, makes the tulip literally glow. Add to that the psychological play of that inviting warmth inside the jar against the icy cool blues, outside and you have a very friendly tension. I didn’t notice until I carefully zoomed in that Annelie had nested the tulip in snow that she’d place within the jar, but when I did finally notice, it only added to the image. The texture, the way it refracts the sunlight and mottles the highlights on the flower. This image is Magic in a Mason Jar.

HONORABLE MENTION: First among the Honorable Mentions for me is Kerry at Container Gardening’ s Anemone Flower in a Mason Jar

container gardening picture of Anemone flower in a mason jar  
Container Gardening  

 

It really does rank as my third place selection, and has several things compositionally in common with my Silver Award winner, though it is darker and more visually boisterous. It is very, very yummy ( for the record, I do consider ‘yummy’ a valid technical term), and dimensional, and full of eye-popping color. However, the reason that I ultimately ranked Annelie’s just slightly above it was because in Kerry’s photo too many elements held nearly the same visual weight, meaning that my eye tended to keep moving, almost frenetically through the image, never quite knowing where to pull over and rest. With Annelie’s my eye would move through the image, wandering out toward the edges to check out some delicious detail but always come comfortably back along one of those beautiful curved lines to the yellow, glowing center. One image elicited a contented sigh, the other felt much more like a spicy salsa dance.

In no particular order after Kerry’s stunner are a half-dozen other photos that really did rock my boat.

I loved the quintessentially simple milkweed seeds submitted by Lynn @ Whispers and Whimsy. Loved them!

Lynn at Whispers and Windy

 

And from More Family and Flowers, Darla’s three African Daisy blooms in the jar atop the green-tissue-covered table lamp was such an elegant, outside the box approach with such beautiful seeing and composition. I’m going to have to try something like this myself, soon.

More Family and Flowers

 

I was able to get lost in the beautiful composition and razor-sharp details of The Whimsical Gardener’s flamingo colored bloom and those nifty refractions/details in the glass. I did not want to stop studying it.

The Whimsical Gardener

 

And if there was ever a “Making Gourmet Lemonade Out of Sour Lemons” award to be handed out it would surely go to “A Shattered Heart At Rest” which was submitted by Grow Where You’re Planted. You didn’t let the gremlins win, you kept exploring. That is the heart of an artist. And where you ended up, is really a powerful image. Strong work.

Christina @ Personal Garden Coach rocked her entry too, with the groovy (beaded?) matt beneath the jar which plays so wonderfully with the curves and distortions of the glass jar’s bottom. The single creamy hellebore bloom within that curvaceous and yet linear pattern is just the sort of visual riddle our eyes love to ponder and solve.

Personal Garden Coach

 

Sarah, over at Momosarah composed her very clever and elegant image of Chai ingredients, capturing not only their beauty, but their mystery. I liked the image so much that I went in and played with it a bit in Photoshop, to remove those very distracting white reflections in the glass on the lower right side of the image and to open up the shadows a bit more within the bowl that holds the cinnamon and star anise. I know that could be considered an affront to the artist, and hope no offense will be taken. I did it for my own curiosity because I just wanted to see how much easier it would be to see what I thought she intended me to see if those distractions were eliminated.

Momosarah

 

Which brings up that tender point. People, finish your pictures before you show them. Remove unwanted glares, either while you’re shooting or afterward, via Photoshop or some other editing software. Crop your pictures carefully to get compositional lines to enter/exit your picture just where your eye wants them to enter or exit.

You’re the poet, so polish your poems. Make them tight. Make them shine and eliminate anything that will distract from the meaning or the experience. Good enough often isn’t quite . . . good enough.

There really were no entries that missed the mark of this assignment, though it did seem apparent in a handful of cases that some had worked much harder than others. I very much liked the goldfish and the buttons, the lemon, the peanuts and the several images of leaves and the sepia toned lightplay, the gravel and broken glass shards and onion skins bird feathers and the delicious little scenarios several of you built within your jars.

You took a simple, very accessible tool and ran with it, and you should be very proud of your playful efforts. I’m proud that you trusted this assignment enough to invest the time to shoot for it and that you were then willing to risk sharing the results with all of us. You’ve honored me by trusting me . . . and by so very generously coming out to play. I thank you, each one, and I salute you.”

“A huge thank you goes to David Perry who once again outdid himself with his creativity and attention to detail (just to name a few of his abilities.

Next month’s subject is being tweaked by our first ever judge who is not from North America. So, rest up the next few days and get ready for February’s Picture This Photo Contest.

To see a gallery of all the photo entries for this month,                                            click  here………Fran Sorin

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A Reminder For Picture This Deadline

20101027_ps[1]-David Perry-opening photoA reminder that the deadline for January’s Picture This is tonight at 12 midnight EST;  there will be no exceptions. For all of you last minute folks, get moving. Please take the time to re-read the original post and rules.

This month’s contest, as expected, is going through the roof. I have been privileged to be able to spend time looking at each one closely when I post them in the gallery. There is a mystic quality to them; they emit a tremendous amount of light and are magnificent!

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