The results are in for April 2010′s Picture This Contest. Here’s what our judge, Rob Cardillo, had to say and to whom he awarded the medals:
“Wow! I was floored by the number and quality of entries this month and it made my job as judge especially demanding. Many of you attempted to capture something beyond “snapshot pretty” and your unique viewpoints, artful compositions and affinity for interesting light made me smile many times over.
To start, Fran downloaded all the entries into Sideblog where I could review images without seeing entrant’s names or websites. I try to judge photos, first by their emotional content and if an image moves me significantly, I can forgive lack of focus, tilted horizon lines, improper exposure or any other camera club rules. I made a note of a few that grabbed me in some way and then reexamined every entry several times to make sure I wasn’t overlooking any subtle artistry or intent that needed to be uncovered. Some photographs need time to reveal their secrets.
Once I settled on a handful of finalists, I reviewed them again, looking more critically at their technical qualities and craftsmanship and chose the winners. As a last step, I went to back to everyone’s blogs to see who you all were and explore the context of each image. I was surprised at how much gardening passion and personality I found: it made me wish I was a more active blogger. However, I was even more surprised to spot images on some sites that I found more compelling than the ones that were entered! Oh well.
I wish I had the time and space to praise and/or gently critique everyone’s entry but here are comments on a few. There were two very playful entries that gave me a grin — “Peas in my Heart” — a cute visual pun by #17, Byddi Lee, and #19, Theresa at Garden Shoes Online — a botanical version of the Sistine Chapel. (shown at the very top of this post).
Not many landscapes were entered but two that stood out were #34, by Pam at Digging, a true study in greens and blues at Chanticleer and Hannah at Qui Mal Y Pense, a nicely balanced and geometrically infused view of a tree and its shadow.
There were quite a number of beautiful renderings of leaves and flowers but several stood out of the crowd. I’m usually not taken by overly centered images but the in-your-face allium bud from #10, Pam at Tales from the Microbial Laboratory has lots of raw energy and texture to offer.
The delicate furriness of an unfurled frond in #16 at Heather’s Garden is set perfectly against a pastiche of soft earthy tones. The background makes this simple image stand up and sing.
A young penstemon is finely rendered against a bit of spotlighted lawn in #45 at Ginny’s Garden. Here again the selection of background has elevated a simple plant study into the realm of art.
Backlighting often means beauty with foliage studies and #30, Meredith at Great Stems, shows how to do it with another surprisingly simple composition. The sun illuminates the subject from within and adds a fine corona on the leaf margin and stem hairs .
The polygonum from #38, Phillip at Dirt Therapy, also benefits from pretty backlighting. The sun adds depth and interest to the image as does the echo of the second plant in the background.
The Silver Medal goes to #4, Carolyn at Rose Notes, for this exquisite botanical study. Rose foliage is generally not very compelling but with the jewel drops of dew, an out-of-the-box composition and a superbly chosen light-infused background, this image steals my heart. Would love to see it bigger sometime.
The Gold Medal Award goes to #61, Craig of Ellis Hollow, for this precious garden moment. There’s much to say about why this is such a successful image and I’ll try to break it down a little.
The gracefully curved young polygonum shoots are clear and slightly off center — a great way to add compositional strength to almost any image. They’re also elegantly balanced on the diagonal with the fragmented elements of bright sky. The plant’s green and pink tones are deliciously repeated in the background and the colors overall are rich and sensuous without being oversaturated (an easy Photoshop sin to commit).
And by using just the right aperture and a longer lens, the background is rendered in soft painterly shapes that echo the subject and add context. The aperture choice also softens the foreground elements helping achieve a fine illusion of depth — something I aspire to with much of my photography. Also notice how the tips of the main shoots fall on quiet spaces in the background. Well-seen and well-executed.”
A big thank you to all of you who entered. Your images will be added to the gallery of past Picture This Contests. To check out all photo entries over the past year, click on here.
And as always, we want to thank Rob Cardillo for offering his expertise, time and thoughtfulness in coming up with the winners and honorable mentions for April’s Picture This.