Amateur Photographer Forum competition results for the February 2014 round – Working with what you’ve got
You can thank the Greek god Hades for the winter season. According to mythology, Hades kidnapped Persephone to be his wife causing Persephone’s mother, Demeter, to plunge into a deep depression. Her misery was so severe that the air began to chill – an event that caused newly paved patios up and down the land to frost over and become the death trap of the Greek bipedal mammal.
The point of this round is to show that the winter season doesn’t have to throw you into a deep depression. Winter has a lot to offer a photographer, as we’ll go on to see. Even the flat light that is so characteristic of the cold months can be used to your advantage.
Selecting a manageable shortlist was a near impossible task for this round. There were some good images that didn’t make it in, but that’s in no way a reflection on their success as photographs. Take a look through the gallery and see which ones you would have included.
Our first prize winner receives a Manfrotto Active Backpack I. The bag is a structurally sound, high-capacity yet compact rucksack that can also be used as a standard daypack. With its capacity to hold a DSLR system with 2 standard lenses, 15″ laptop as well as personal items and accessories. The bag has four zippered compartments with the top part designed for personal items and the bottom for photo gear.
There were visual tropes that seemed to appear here and there. Compare Mike_Morley’s ‘Bad Weather at Sea’ with PhotoEcosse’s ‘Gloomy Day Cottage’ and Helander’s ‘The Bog and the Buchaille’, for example. All three images make fantastic use of location and weather. All feature mountains and the kind of skies landscape photographers dream of. They’re all equally atmospheric and brilliantly executed.
Next we have the recurrence of piers with Scottxk’s ‘Cold Flight’, Paulclifton’s ‘After the Storm’ and Sadler2121’s ‘Grey Day at the Beach’. The attraction is clear. Piers are haunting places. Their characters truly come out in the kinds of moody conditions they have been shot in here. If I had to pick a favourite from the bunch, I’d say it is ‘Cold Flight’. The detail of the ocean really does it for me. Plus, the small element of the gull holds it all together. And if you’re wondering where the pier is, it’s that small blob in the background.
Special mention must also go to Nicon’s ‘Arctic Fox on the Run’. This is a lovely shot that utilises one of my favourite visual techniques – empty space. Nicon has placed the fox at exactly the right spot – having it on the right with one of its legs off the ground suggests a journey through the frame. Had it been in the middle, the shot would have been lost. Having its head turned towards the viewer also engages us and brings us into the fox’s world.
APchris – Sunlight
Our number three image is an unusual shot indeed. The focus and exposure have worked in tandem to highlight one area of the landscape, throwing all else into shadows, blown-out highlights or simply out of focus. What could be seen as mistakes have easily worked in the image’s favour. These kinds of shots are my favourites – the ones where imperfections become virtues. There’s a dreamy atmosphere to this image. It somehow doesn’t feel real. At the same time, I can imagine being there and experiencing that strange air when the rain briefly clears and the sunlight penetrates the clouds.
Andy Teasdale – A Winter’s Walk in Snowdonia
This is a great narrative shot from Andy Teasdale. I’m not a fan of mountain or hill walking, especially when I’m being pelted by snow. But these troopers laugh in the face of exhaustion and discomfort. I’m particularly fond of the tonal range. You could argue that Andy could have pushed it a little further, but I think you need the detail in the clothes and rucksacks in order to get a fuller sense of what you’re seeing. The snow in the air gives the image real texture.
Sarmad – Missing
Would this have been everyone’s number one? Probably not. But I really feel this is a shot that has a great deal to say. That’s the thing that can confuse people when dealing with abstract photography. What is it trying to show and say? Sarmad’s description reads: ‘From the mountain in southern Turkey. Overlooking the sea on a dull day. An experiment that paid off.’ It certainly did. For me, Sarmad’s image communicates the landscape in flux – something that is particularly true of the temperamental, ever-shifting lands found on the coast. No two coasts ever look the same. Light and landscape are always altering and reconfiguring to reveal something new each time. Shooting the image in this way communicates that idea brilliantly. Hence, it’s this month’s overall winner.
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