Amateur Photographer forum competition October 2011
Theme - Lone tree
That lone tree thing – it’s just not as easy as you might think, hey? It’s one thing finding a lone tree, but quite another finding the ‘right’ lone tree, and then the right background to go with it. Lone tree is probably the oldest theme in the book, though it’s rarely a competition theme – just one of those things photographers naturally feel compelled to photograph. Sometimes we don’t have a choice, and the shame after can be hard to live with. I don’t know how many I have stashed on hard drives and in neg files, but when I think about it I’m glad The News of the World has shut down. ‘AP editor in Lone Tree shame’ – I can see it now.
I jest, of course!
This year's competition is being supported by Samsung, and this month's first prize is the Samsung PL150 compact camera with dual LCD screens - one on the front as well as the back, and 12 million pixels. The second and third placed winners will receive a wonderful Amateur Photographer Loves My Pictures mug.
There are lone trees that we’ve seen a thousand times but, just like another popular subject, there is always room for originality. Here I’m rewarding the classics and the new views. And there are plenty need rewarding. My shortlist was a bit long, so I went at it with the chainsaw and trimmed a few off to make it neater. Those who were close, but not quite, are Skiddawman, betinalap, AdrianSadlier. Well done, great efforts.
3rdturbulentwheat for Ei-lean
There is something very striking about this picture that caught my eye straight away. The tree is leaning, of course, but that isn’t enough on its own. It is a remarkable tree, reaching out to the right of the frame, and seeming tense with that long branch stretching beyond the roundness of its basic head-like shape. The head shape begins, after a short while (and no alcohol), to take on the appearance of a brain x-ray. The spinal cord enters from the base, and the nerves and blood vessels carry the essentials about its body. But there is something wrong with this brain, as the paths and signals seem to travel in odd directions. Perhaps it’s the brain of a serial killer.
I like the softness of the branch endings, and though the shutter speed was short there’s an implied movement, like there’s a wind on that ridge. The background is plain enough that we can concentrate on the subject, but detailed enough that we have an idea of the context.
An intriguing picture, turbulentwheat.
2ndMiked for Leafless in Settle
We had lots of colour shots this month, and pictures that make the most of a dramatic sky, but this one uses the colour so well and the landscape to emphasis the loneliness of the subject. This is our classic shot – with the tree perched over to one side, standing forever on its own with all that passing theatre in the sky. The sun below the hill streaks the clouds with reds, peach and golds, and creates a hotspot that balances the darkness of the silhouetted tree. I love the curve of the horizon, and its slope away to that lower left hand corner, and the way the specks of birds on the right hand upper add a fleck of attention-grabbing interest to counter the plain background directly behind the tree. All very cleverly seen and composed. Great job, Miked.
1stScphoto for Sutton Park Tree
This is a surprising winner. Surprising in that I’m surprised I picked it, and because it is nothing like the picture I expected to see at the top of the podium. But I just kept coming back to it. While most of the other images here are dynamic and bursting with energy, this one is peaceful and understated. It could so easily have been just a tree in a field, but Scphoto’s careful composition and that foreground detail lend it depth, texture and a clear route from front to back. It is a difficult kind of scene to measure for a good exposure, as that ground-level scrub can so easily descend into blackness, but we have plenty to look at - and even a nice moderate sky to boot.
I’ve tried a more contasty version – with a touch of curves dragging a difference between the mid tones – and while it is more three-dimensional and punchy, I’m not really sure it improves the picture. It is supposed to be flat and restrained – and it works very well for it.
A really enjoyable photograph, Scphoto. Well done.
I’ve relished this round, and been impressed with how well you have tackled it. Classic views do not have to be clichéd, and you’ve proved that you appreciate that fact – just as traditional themes don’t have to be handled in the traditional way. It has been fun, and eye opening. Well done to everyone that entered and especially to those who made the shortlist and beyond.
See our forum competition theme and entries here