Congratulations to our July – August Photo Contest Winners! The theme was “Faces.”

Theme: Faces

Inspired by the book: Adobe Photoshop CC for Photographers, 2014 Release

Guest Judge: Martin Evening

Buy from Amazon!

Comments from Martin:

Grand Prize winner:

“Simple Man” by Russ Elkins: There was a high standard among all the finalist entries, which made it hard to choose the best three photographs, but this particular photograph stood out as the clear winner. It’s clearly a setup shot, but looks like an authentic documentary style portrait. The lighting and black and white tones remind me of the work of classic portrait photographers such as Yosuf Karsh.


“A part of my fantasies” MortezaJ: I chose this photograph as a runner-up because it works so well as a fashion portrait. I liked the styling, the choice of model, the natural light and soft colour palette, but also the composition and framing. It looks like the result of a great team effort.

“Daddy” by Dorothea Boonstra: This is another deserving runner-up. I like the use of natural daylight and shallow depth of focus, but above all the candid pose where the subject appears oblivious to the presence of the photographer. I suspect a fair amount of tone dodging might have been needed to lift the shadows around the eyes, but this has been done very skilfully to produce a great portrait.

Click here to see all of the finalists!

Grand Jury Winner

“Simple Man” by Russ Elkins

Runner Up Winners

“A part of my fantasies” MortezaJ

“Daddy” by Dorothea Boonstra

People’s Choice Winner

“IMG_5556″ by Lmer

Thank you to everyone who entered!

Enter our September – October contest! Theme: Close Up Photography in Nature. Enter for a chance to win $200 worth of Focal Press books and Close Up Photography in Nature!


Congratulations to our May – June Photo Contest Winners! The theme was “Distortion.”

Theme: Distortion

Inspired by the book: Lensbaby: Bending Your Perspective

Guest Judge: Corey Hilz

Read excerpts from Lensbaby:

All That Blur…

Slice Vs. Sweet Spot

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Comments from Corey:

“Grand Prize winner:

JOHN8500-Flight: The use of distortion in this photograph lends a remarkable sense of movement, particularly against the dreamlike backdrop. The selective details–the clarity of the bird’s face and right wing amidst the surrounding frenzy–and blue-gray tones are striking in their subtlety. Congratulations on an excellent achievement!


Float on: It is amazing how this images makes you feel as if you were in the water right next to the frog, seeing the world through it’s waterlogged eyes. The shot is vivid and real and allows us to explore a new world by revealing more underwater than above.

Spoons: The mixture of textures and light in this photograph is so stimulating it is difficult to look away before becoming hypnotized. The simplicity of the subjects combined with the element of distortion work so well together it makes this masterful shot seem easy.”

Click here to see all of the finalists!

Grand Jury Winner


By MrPhoto1

Runner Up Winners

Float On

By hcherdon


By timot78

People’s Choice Winner


By ianmarshall

Thank you to everyone who entered!

Enter our July – August contest! Theme: Faces. Enter for a chance to win $200 worth of Focal Press books and an Adobe Photoshop CC for Photographers!


Congratulations to our March – April Photo Contest Winners! The theme was “Capturing Light.”

Theme: Capturing Light
Inspired by the book: Capturing Light
Guest Judge: Michael Freeman

Read excerpts from Capturing Light:

Gray Light – The Beauty of Restraint

Capturing Light: Magic Hour – Magic Colors

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Comments from Michael:

“The way that judging usually goes in photo competitions is that you scan quickly through the selects, and almost immediately see the small group from which the winner will emerge. Although there’s a narrow band of maybes, it’s usually clear cut, and the uncertainties come in fighting it out with other judges! This competition, I have to say, was different. For once I don’t enjoy making a choice, because the overall level among the finalists is so high. I’m actually more concerned about disappointing the ones I do NOT pick, because they all deserve recognition. That said, it’s also a little unusual in that for the overall winner I agree with the People’s Choice of ‘The Perfect Gap @ North Curl Curl’. Simply outstanding. Much more than just camerawork went into achieving this shot.

For the two runners up, I’m choosing ‘Milky Way over the Italian Alps‘ and ‘Shining‘. Choosing between the star shots (all good) was difficult, and among the others I chose ‘Shining’ because, while the subject itself, if you simply described it, is not much—just a flower in morning dew, which has been done many times—the sheer enthusiasm evident in this image, and the explosion of light, pushed it high on my list.”

Click here to see all of the finalists!

Grand Jury and People’s Choice Winner

The Perfect Gap @ North Curl Curl
By TheFrothLab

Runner Up Winners

Milkyway over the Italian Alps
By Thomas Zagler

By Agnieska D

Thank you to everyone who entered!

Enter our May – June contest! Theme: Distortion. Enter for a chance to win $200 worth of Focal Press books and a Lensbaby Composer Pro!


Congratulations to our January-February Photo Contest Winners! The theme was “Public Displays of Affection.”

Theme: Public Displays of Affection
Inspired by the book: This Modern Romance
Guest Judge: Stephanie Williams

Comment from Stephanie:

”This was tough! A lot of good entries, but I went more with the “PDA” title for the winner – the public aspect. The winner is “Love is Everywhere” by Clark Anthony Capistrano” – Stephanie

Grand Jury Winner:

Love is Everywhere
By Clark Anthony Capistrano

People’s Choice Award Winner:

By Melissa Richardson

Runner Up Winners

Gross Kisses
By Valerie Jo Adams

By Massimo Laurenzi

Thank you to everyone who entered!

Don’t forget to enter the March-April contest!  Theme: Capturing Light


Thank you to author Brooke Shaden for acting as our guest judge for the December contest. The theme was “Seasonal Inspiration” sponsored by Brooke’s latest book, Inspiration in Photography.

First Place: “Spirits of Monsoon Playing”
by Abhijit Dey, Barrackpore, West Bengal, India

What Brooke had to say:

For the theme of “Seasonal Inspiration” I found this photograph to be spot on. It reminds me of being a child yet with the distinct feeling that I cannot fully relate: playing in mud puddles during the rainy season with my sister, yet this is a place I do not know, with people I’ve never met. The action of it is beautiful, the way the rain is captured. This picture contains one thing that I love above most else, which is joy in darkness – these boys take advantage of the rain and what it has to offer instead of staying inside or being blinded by the beauty of it. I love the connections between them, the way they all have the same goal. I love how immersed they are in the scene, completely unaware of a camera lurking nearby.

Second Place: “Way to Nowhere”
Anindya Phani, Beledanga, Kolkata, India

What Brooke had to say:

So many things about this image speak to me. The person walks away, no umbrella to stay dry but instead embracing the surroundings. The fog creates uncertainty – we do not know where the person is walking or how they are feeling. I love images where the face is hidden – it allows me to interpret the character in my own way, which may be different from what the photographer intended but makes for a more dynamic interaction. The bridge and the leading lines of the ropes draw me in, and I never want to leave.

NOTE: Brooke will be choosing another 3rd place winner since the same person cannot win twice in one contest.

Third Place: “Awakening”
Anindya Phani, Beledanga, Kolkata, India

What Brooke had to say:

There is much to love about this image, and what struck me instantly was the composition and color palette. The person in the image looks so small, while the world is so huge. I imagine it to be cold there, which adds to the intensity of the image. The water is blue while the sky is warm, and this seamlessly creates a dynamic that is both cold and inviting. We do not know what the person is doing: fishing, or maybe enjoying a boat ride, or even still, maybe transporting him or herself? The answer is unimportant, because a story is implied.

Thank you to everyone who entered!

Don’t forget to enter January’s contest!  Theme: Public Display of Affection


Thank you to author Harold Davis for acting as our guest judge for the November contest! The theme was “HDR Photography” sponsored by Harold’s latest book, Monochromatic HDR Photography.

General Comments from Harold:

Judging this contest was difficult because there were so many high-quality entries. In addition, HDR is a set of techniques—and neither a style, nor a specific genre of subject matter. This means that there was a great deal of variety in the submissions, and it is always difficult to compare apples to oranges.

So in order to judge the competition I primarily looked at three image characteristics:
– Artistic conception and photographic vision
– Effective use of HDR (and suitability to concept & vision)
– Technical execution and finishing

Based on these metrics, my winners are:

First Place: “On the Right Track”
by J.J. Guy Longtin, Renfrew, Ontario, Canada

What Harold had to say:

I am so totally in love with this image. Everything about it was done perfectly, including the title, the subtle HDR, and the gentle sepia toning. In terms of the artistic value of the image itself, this shows the majesty and power of photography when used correctly to take the chaos of a fairly everyday scene—railroad tracks and overhead wires—and turn this well-observed chaos into an orderly visual essay on the nature of choices, chances, and organization.

Second Place: “Abandoned”
Robert Coates, Mount Nasura, Australia

What Harold had to say:

While decaying buildings are almost cliché as HDR subject matter, this image is one of the best executions of the theme I have seen. The continuity from inner space to outer space is extremely well managed. From a technical perspective, halos can be a problem with this kind of subject, and these are entirely avoided. The exterior landscape has some interest on its own, but the nifty conflation of exterior space and interior space make this an extraordinary HDR image.

Third Place: “Rockport Reflection 2011”
Richard Tranfaglia, Southborough, Massachusetts, USA

What Harold had to say:

Rowboats and their reflections in a Maine harbor of course are a natural subject for color photography. This HDR image works to exaggerate the color, but not so much as to be offensive. In other words, the photographer has used a photographic and post-production technique (HDR) to enhance the natural painterly qualities of the scene that they captured.

Thank you to everyone who entered! Below are some honorable mentions chosen by Harold.

Don’t forget to enter December’s contest!  Theme: Seasonal Inspiration


Ely Cathedral—for the excellent monochromatic HDR execution.

Toolshed—for the very cool rendering of translucent containers.

Badlands—for the abstract rendering of the Badland landscape, making it seem almost like fabric rather than hills.

Gardeners Reserve—Nice rendition of potentially troubling lighting.

Taajmahal—Excellent HDR rendition of a commonly-shot landscape without crossing the line to cliche.

Walk through old Panama—Courageous tackling of an extreme exposure problem.

Philadelphia Center City—Genuine HDR enhancement of an urban landscape from potentially over-dark foreground to background horizon.


Thank you to author Steve Caplin for acting as our guest judge for the October contest! The theme was “obviously photoshopped,” sponsored by Steve’s latest book, How to Cheat in Photoshop CC.

General Comments from Steve:

The quality of the Photoshop work in all the submissions was very high, with many outstanding entries. Ultimately, I was looking for the most powerful final image, irrespective of the amount of Photoshop trickery that went into its creation. My final selection is largely a matter of personal preference, but they all show serious Photoshop skills and a keen eye for composition.

First Place: “Missing the Last Train”
by Anindya Phani, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

What Steve had to say:

There’s a sense of loneliness and isolation here, with a strong composition that neatly contrasts the motionlessness of the man on the bench with the high-speed blur of the passing train. It’s also a perfectly crafted image in terms of lighting and arrangement; and the faraway look on the man’s face gives a real sense of his state of mind. Edward Hopper would have been proud of this beautiful image.

Second Place: “Drop Dead Gore-geous”
Jeremy Hochhalter, Timnath, Colorado, USA

What Steve had to say:
Whether or not you find the subject matter appealing, a huge amount of technical skill has gone into the creation of this powerful image. Everything has been thoroughly worked up, from the immaculate hair cutout to the torn skin, the vacant expressions, and such details as the skewed tiara, the loose strands of hair over the faces and the bloodied clothing. A real tour de force from a Photoshop expert.

Third Place: “Sway”
Carlos Bortoni, McAllen, Texas, USA

What Steve had to say:

I like the apparent simplicity of this image – a pair of jeans and a shirt blowing in the wind. But there’s just enough torso in that shirt to give the impression of someone inside it; the face is tilted back in a subtle scream. The double shadows on the sheet may be a shadow too many, which is what has pushed it down into third place.

Thank you to everyone who entered! See below for more honorable mentions and notes from Steve!

Don’t forget to enter November’s contest!  Theme: HDR Photography


Catching Planes: I’d like to see all the planes flying as if they’d come from the man’s hands, rather than clearly in the distance; and I’m not sure about the Oil Paint filter.

Egg Heads: A great idea, with many fine touches. A few of the faces don’t quite fit the angles of the eggs, though, and this rather spoils the illusion.

Kevin in Color: Clever and detailed work. But the man’s expression tells me nothing: shouldn’t he be reacting in at least a small way to this incursion of paint?

Power Surge: Beautifully rendered lightning, and a great original photograph. But I’m confused as to whether the lightning is coming from the electrical source or the sky: a stronger sense of origin needed here.

Behind Her: A great concept, artfully constructed. The lack of the woman’s feet is distracting, though; if you don’t have her feet in the shot, a cropped room would have worked better.

Metro Station “Fishing”: This was very nearly a winner – a great composition, and the couple opposite looking at the fisherman really make the image work. But the water doesn’t look like it belongs in the scene; try reflecting some of the lights in it for a more realistic appearance.

Abstract #2: I love the shapes here, but why is the image such low resolution? A piece of artwork like this deserves to be seen in sharp glory.

View Through my Window: I like the composition, but there’s no sense of glass in the window. Add any room interior at a very low opacity to make a reflection that will bring this image to life.


Thank you to author Lou Jones for acting as our guest judge for the September contest! The theme was “flash photography,” sponsored by Lou’s book, Speedlights & Speedlites: Creative Flash Photography at Lightspeed, Second Edition

First Place: “Splashing Strawberry”
by Roberto Roseano, Bergamo, Italy

What Lou had to say:
This is exactly what flash photography is for: to enhance the photographer’s ability to see and show things not only better but also what we cannot see with our naked eye.   Although this is probably a composite, marrying the stunning beauty shot with excellent flash usage and the very difficult stop motion/splash photography of the water and strawberry is flawless.

Second Place: “The Boatman”
by Sirsendu Gayen, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

What Lou had to say:
This unusual juxtaposition of flash with available light photography is taking it to the next level. Composition is very compelling even though symmetrical.

Third Place: “Dancer in Flight”
by Ian Bornarth, Alcadideche, Fremont, California, USA

What Lou had to say:
Using flash to freeze human movement is a traditional application. With the addition of the costume, extreme form and lack of background distraction, this image is strangely unique.

Thank you to everyone who entered!

Don’t forget to enter October’s contest!  Theme: Obviously Photoshopped


Thank you to author Daniela Bowker for acting as our guest judge for the August contest! The theme was “surreal photography,” sponsored by Daniela’s book, Surreal Photography: Creating the Impossible

General Comments from Daniela:

Whatever the image that you are making, whether it’s a straight-up photograph or a complicated, multi-layered composite, its strength sits in its narrative. All photographs tell stories and when you set out to create a surreal image, you must be certain of what it is that you are trying to convey. Without a clear storyboard, your viewers will not be able to invest in the image and you’ll find yourself including extraneous elements and details that do nothing to enhance it, merely distract from the story. Everything has to work together as a whole in a surreal image, and this starts with the story.

Attention to detail is vital. The small, subtle intricacies are the things that will convince us of the veracity of an image and they must not be overlooked. Light should always be consistent, objects will require shadows and shading, reflections need to be accurate. Again, you need to present your viewers with an image that they can believe, however unbelievable it is. The secret to this lies in the details.

Finally, it’s said that Coco Chanel always used to look at herself in the mirror before she went out and remove one item of clothing or an accessory; it might’ve been a brooch or belt, but something was left behind because it doesn’t pay to be overdone. Before you flatten your final PSD file, look over your composite: do you really need those butterflies? Is the suration a bit overcooked? Does the contrast need to be toned down? Just because something is surreal, it doesn’t need to hit you over the head with its other-worldliness.

First Place: “Waiting for the Train”
by Corey Tucker, Canton, Connecticut, USA

What Daniela had to say:
The narrative flooding through this story makes it impossible to ignore, and despite it being far from perfect, it was my overwhelming choice for first place. To me, it exemplifies the notion of the surreal, standing us at five degrees to the world we know. The subject is doing something that many of us do on a daily basis, but surely not like that! The use of colour is also very impressive; surreal images can often suffer from being over-saturated and bold to the point of distraction or just that bit too dark and brooding. The use of colour here is distinct, but the tones are subtle and harmonise together to create a very pleasing palette.

I’m a stickler for straight horizons (unless they’re Dutch Tilts) and would dearly love to have seen this tidied up. It’s testimony to the strength of the image’s narrative that it hasn’t been kicked off of top spot because of it. A bit more rail track in the foreground might have helped, too.

Second Place: “Far Over the Misty Mountains”
by Emilis Baltrusaitis, Castlewellan, Co. Down, United Kingdom

What Daniela had to say:
This is has been very cleanly composited with good attention to detail. Again, there is a very strong story behind this image and nothing extraneous has been included in the scene. It is hanging together well as a whole.

I would have liked a little more weathering in the foremost stone head – it is very exposed, after all – and a little more differentiation (if it wouldn’t have sent the artist Far Over her or his Misty Mountains) in the stone figures.

Third Place: “Living in the Edge”
by Robert Weber, Alcadideche, Lisbon, Portugal

What Daniela had to say:
I kept on returning to this image because I loved its fantasy feel. The castle-rock rising out of the cloud, the colours, and the trickling waterfalls, makes it something beautifully dream-like. I appreciate the attention to detail in the form of the tree roots.

However, the turret is a little too perfect for the rest of the scene.

Thank you to everyone who entered!

Don’t forget to enter September’s contest!  Theme: Flash Photography


Thank you to author Michael Freeman for acting as our guest judge for the July contest! The theme was “black & white photography,” sponsored by Michael’s book, Black and White Photography Field Guide

First Place: “Fishing” by Mithun Saha, Gangarampur, West Bengal, India

What Michael had to say:
It’s not just the excellent timing of this shot, but the way in which several image qualities mesh together to create an image which unusually has immediate impact and yet is worth lingering over. The boat is moving diagonally towards the camera, so from this high viewpoint there was only one chance for the shot. See also how the connection between the top of the net and the dark area of ripples top right initiates a long sweeping curve through the men, craft, pole and wake. And in the context of this month’s theme, this is an image that uses black and white purposefully: the contrast of silhouette and the surface texture of the water. Cropping is entirely justified here, holding the three points left, below and right.

Second Place: “Praying” by Guy Dahan, Sceaux, Ile de France, France

What Michael had to say:
Personally, I like ambiguity and uncertainty in pictures, and I don’t see enough of it these days. There’s a sly sense of humor at work here, and I certainly did a double-take when I saw it as a thumbnail. Images that start off as one thing, and take a short while to resolve themselves as something else will almost always get my vote. Beautifully processed, by the way, holding not just the texture of the pale hair but of the dark felt hat also, so it also qualifies nicely in the black-and-white department.

Third Place: “Vintage Shay #5” by Cynthia Sperko, Marietta, Pennsylvania, USA

What Michael had to say:
Irresistible! I’m not even a great fan of steam trains, even though I had an uncle who actually drove them in Yorkshire, but this captures so much that I can feel the appeal. The combination of billowing, tactile smoke from the stack and white steam from the whistle (they couldn’t have filled the upper part of the frame more), and their contrast with the sheen of machinery make this a thoroughly textural image in good black-and-white tradition. Well caught and framed too, even if it has, as I suspect, been cropped a bit to tighten it all up.

Thank you to everyone who entered!

Don’t forget to enter August’s contest!  Theme: Surreal Photography


Thank you to author J. Dennis Thomas for acting as our guest judge for the June contest! The theme was “urban and rural photography,” sponsored by Dennis’ book, Urban and Rural Decay Photography: How to Capture the Beauty in the Blight .

First Place: “The Nutcracker” by Nathan Ortiz, Madison, Wisconsin, USA

What Dennis had to say:
The complementary pastel colors give it an interesting separation, but still ties it together. The composition falls into place really well, it’s well balanced, yet still maintains a feeling that something is off-kilter.

Second Place: “Waiting” by Mark Andrews, Bend, Oregon, USA

What Dennis had to say:
I love how a wide-angle lens is used, but the frame is filled with the subject. What really makes the composition work for me is the way the fence is used not only as leading lines which draw your eye to the different elements of the image, but also the way the fence is used to frame the farmhouse.

Third Place: “Turn Off the Hot Water” by Chuck Kerr, Orlando, Florida, USA

What Dennis had to say:
The soft lighting really makes this one interesting to me. Too often decay photography is very harsh and jagged, but the softness lends this image a melancholy tone. The way it’s composed with the corner in the middle creates a nice triangle that draws your eye into the center of the image to the sink. The brightness of the window panes separated by the line also leads the eye into the center of the image.

Thank you to everyone who entered!

Don’t forget to enter July’s contest!  Theme: Black and White Photography

Entangled Venetian Blinds

Thank you to author Shirley Reading for acting as our guest judge for the May contest! The theme was “objects,” sponsored by Shirley’s book, Exhibiting Photography, 2nd Edition.

What Shirley had to say:
I liked all three of these because they take a fresh look at the most ordinary and everyday of things around us and remind us that you don’t have to travel to make an unusual and compelling image. I liked them because each used colour well and relied on a reduced colour palette which emphasised the colours in the images. I particularly liked the use of line and light in “Entangled;” the evocation of mood in “Empty” and the way an ordinary object becomes mysterious in “Trashed Drum Skin.” But there were lots of excellent images here and it was hard to choose!

First Place Choice: “Entangled” by Kishore Jothady, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Second Place Choice: “Empty” By John Raimond Gapasin, Kidapawan, Cotabato, Philippines

Third Place: “Trashed Drum Skin” By Jamie Kronick, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Thank you to everyone who entered!


Thank you to authors Dave Stevenson and Nik Rawlinson for acting as our guest judge for the April contest! The theme was “light,” sponsored by Dave and Nik’s, Focus on Photoshop Lightroom.

First Place Choice: “Silhouetted Taj” by Krishnendu Pramanik, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

What Dave had to say: The Taj Mahal is a spectacular thing to shoot, but finding an angle that hasn’t been done before takes an awful lot of work – I photographed it in 2009 and had to crawl out of bed at five in the morning to get a crowd-free shot. This well-realized frame is packed with energy, creating a frame bursting with life that’s a cut above the standard dead-on shot you’re greeted with when you first walk through the gates.

What Nik had to say: It’s unusual to see so famous a building become almost incidental to its setting. Pushing it into the background within the composition gives it a new twist, and speaks volumes about the way in which for those who live close to any landmark, be it the Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower or, here, the Taj Mahal, it’s often merely the backdrop to the comings and goings of everyday life. The photographer hasn’t let this remarkable site blind him to the greater story of human existence, with the acrobatic antics of the subjects themselves reminding us that it’s companionship and human interaction that brings true joy and meaning to our lives.

Second Place Choice: “Icy Winds” By Iris Waanders, Vught, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands

What Dave had to say: This image tells a real story. The low camera angle really makes you feel every exhausting step, and the snow blown onto the lens gives you a sense of how hard going things must have been. Shooting straight into the light makes for difficult photography, but it works here, and the black and white processing gives the frame a spartan, high-contrast feel that should make anyone reading this in front of a computer in a warm house feel fortunate.

What Nik had to say: It’s the imperfections in this photo that really make it work, with the spotting on the lens accentuating the extreme conditions in which it was shot. The photographer has perfectly balanced the lighting, despite shooting directly into the sun, while not losing detail in either hiker. The larger of our two walkers sits in a very traditional space to the right of the frame, but allowing the smaller, more distant man to come so close to leaving the image entirely makes the viewer question what might be just beyond the horizon, and ultimately helps us to be drawn in by, and engage with the subject matter.

Third Place: “Little Steps” By Sirsendu Gayen, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

What Dave had to say: Light is everything in this image. Waiting until the monk stepped into the patch of light on the steps has created an image with strong composition, and the wait for a human shape in this image has been well worth it.

What Nik had to say: There’s a fairy tale quality to this image, which takes us back to the stories of our youth. The effect is heightened by the slanted light coming in through the trees, and although this shot may be one of many captured at the same time, the skill has been as much in selecting the best frame as it was in setting up the initial composition. Picking the one image in which the subject has strayed into the light gives it an ethereal quality, while the unusually narrow portrait crop heightens the impact of the steps themselves, and leads the eye up them in the wake of the subject.

Thank you to everyone who entered!


Thank you to author David Leibowitz for acting as our guest judge for the March contest! The theme was “color,” sponsored by David’s, Mobile Digital Art: Using the iPad and iPhone as Creative Tools.

First Place Choice: “Resting” by Ahmad Zico, Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia

What David had to say: Although color is not the subject of this photo, I found the importance of color and in this case, color palette, to be too compelling to ignore. The palette, man-made, is so textured, earthy and real, that it places the subject in a world that envelopes our senses and tells a story. The dashes of color, muted yet in this context, so vibrant, are so distinct from their surroundings, each screams for our undivided attention. Bravo!

Second Place Choice: “Leaving” By Anindya Phani, Kolkata, India

What David had to say: I love this image for multiple reasons. The composition is immaculate, as the lush green path leads our eye to the center of the photo, where the human figures provide scale, splashes of color and a serendipitous progression from large to small, leading us off the side of the frame. BUT WAIT!  Look at that sky…it’s almost like a bonus in this image. Just when you thought you were surrounded by color, you look up and there’s much , much more. The sky is epic, with a gradient of color that says late, or early light, magic hour either way. There is also a wonderful color symmetry with the red in the sky and the red clothes. Love it!

Third Place: “Into the Tunnel” By Danny Vangenechten, Meerhout, Antwerpen, Belgium

What David had to say: For the subject “Color” I couldn’t resist this piece. The symmetry of color, real and reflected, is cut into by these two human figures which provides us an excellent sense of scale. They are heading toward the center of the forced perspective, sucking us in too. Awesome use of color.

Honorable Mentions: (David just couldn’t resist!)

“ToolShed, Fir Island, Washington” by Edward Mchugh, Conway, WA, USA

“Drop – Colorful World” by Melahat Kizil, Izmir, Turkey

“Blue” By Apurva Madia, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India

Thank you to everyone who entered!


Thank you to author Michael Freeman for acting as our guest judge for the February contest! The theme was “street photography,” sponsored by Michael’s, The Photographer’s Story.


First Place Choice: “l’Inspecteur” by Alexandre da Veiga, Braintree, MA, USA


What Michael had to say: Storytelling is notoriously difficult to carry off in a single image, so this was a real challenge. A single image needs a balance between obvious and obscure, but it does need to intrigue. One solution is to hint at something through expression, a suggestion that we might want to know more about what that person is thinking. This image, technically and visually very competent, does that for me.


Second Place Choice: “Alan with lung cancer” by Eleanor Leonne Bennett, High Disley, Cheshire, UK


What Michael had to say: Here’s a perfect case of a meaningful title (which I can’t extend to some of the others!), and interestingly the only submission of the three hundred plus that tackles a painful story head-on. The expression is caught, and there’s an ambivalent relationship with the companion. It’s just slightly let down by the too-heavy printing, but that could be improved by going back to the original raw file.


Third Place: “Cleaning the graffiti” by Apurva Madia, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India


What Michael had to say: The story here is not really that someone is cleaning up vandalizing graffiti, but includes the idea that the series of photographs (we have to assume the girl here shot them) is of the street in which they are hung, so they are like a series of windows into the scene itself. It helps that the lighting is the same in the image and in the strip. Actually, I sometimes walk up this street to the Moroccan butchers.


Overall Comments:

I’m not sure that everyone had the storytelling theme in mind when they selected their entries. There were, for instance, a number of good, competent shots that would have done well in a travel-oriented competition, but what we were interested in was how a photographer can give a sense of a story. Some other images were, while again good in themselves, stories only in the photographer’s imagination — the skill is sharing that imagination with viewers.

Thank you to everyone who entered!


Thank you to author Tracey Clark for acting as our guest judge for the January contest! The theme was “family,” sponsored by Tracey’s, Elevate the Everyday.

First Place Choice: “LOL” by Naomi Weiser, Efrat, Israel

LOL - First Place

What Tracey had to say: The perspective of this shot is what first captured my attention as it’s unique and unexpected in the most wonderful way. But, beyond that, I’m drawn to the expression of each member of the family here. Each one is expressing themselves a little bit differently; each personality seems to shine through. The overall feeling of joy here is infectious! This portrait of a family is not only visually compelling, it’s emotionally expressive which makes it a great shot and a perfect interpretation of the theme family.


Second Place Choice: “Linear Family” by Kate Reavill, Headington, Oxford, UK

Linear Family - Second Place

What Tracey had to say: What I’m drawn to first in this shot is the overall composition; the space, the strong diagonal lines, etc.  The perspective of the shot offers a unique window into the leisure time of this family giving us plenty of context and a sense of place. Overall the image evokes a feeling of nostalgia and exemplifies meaningful moments spent with family enjoying life’s simple pleasures.


Third Place: “Family” by Randy Riksen, Grand Haven, MI, USA

Family - 3rd Place

What Tracey had to say: This shot captures something that every parent can relate to; the mayhem and hilarity of what family life sometimes looks like. I’m drawn to and amused by the cast of characters here and the way that even in the absurdity of it all, you can feel the family’s connection and love for one another. Obviously this was a somewhat contrived moment at a family photo shoot, but I really appreciate that this shot feels like an authentic and loving moment caught in between the poses.

Thank you to everyone who entered!

Festive Welcome

Thanks to authors Ellen and Josh Anon for acting as our guest judges for the December contest! The theme was “holiday,” sponsored by Ellen and Josh’s, See It: Photographic Composition Using Visual Intensity.

First Place Choice: “Festive Welcome” by Gerri Jones, Wilson, NY USA

What Ellen and Josh had to say: We think that the image was true to the Holiday theme and showed considerable ingenuity by creating star shaped specular highlights.  In addition the limited depth of field not only served to identify the subject clearly, it also helped to keep the visual intensity of the image within a pleasing range. Had the entire image been in sharp focus it would have been chaotic.

Second Place Choice: “Mystery in Blue” by Tatiana Loguinova, Antwerp, Belgium

What Ellen and Josh had to say: The wintery scene looks as though it would be at home on the front of a holiday card.  The limited color palate along with the vignetted edges balance the visual intensity of the delicate details of the snow icing on the tree branches creating an image we want to linger over.  The image has a very painterly and timeless feel to it.

Third Place: “Sunbath” by Tathagata Mukherjee, West Bangal, India

Ritz_Water_Drop_- Slater

 Thanks to author Clive Branson for acting as our guest judges for the November contest! The theme was “macro,” sponsored by Clive’s book, Focus on Close-up and Macro Photography.

First Place Choice: “Ritz Water Drop” by Chad Slater, Yardley, Pennsylvania USA

What Clive had to say: Seizing water droplets in mid air is technically challenging. It takes multiple attempts, perfect lighting and technical knowledge (i.e. where to focus, the correct exposure, etc…) The added appeal was the brilliant color and humor that drew me in. Most water drop shots have a seamless background. I found the image both engaging and unique.

 Second Place Choice: “City Through the Bubble” by Richard Macien, London, United Kingdom

What Clive had to say:

This is a very difficult shot to capture – a floating bubble. Not only did the photographer seize the bubble, but was able to focus on the reflection. The kaleidoscopic colors of the oily surface of the bubble is a nice contrast between its gentle apparition and the earthy, staid environment. It could be construed as “the escape.”

Third Place: “The Essence of Nature” by Sawsane Abdelsamea,Cairo, Egypt

Sweetness of Nemo- Kernan

 Thanks to author John and Barbara Gerlach for acting as our guest judges for the October contest! The theme was “pets,” sponsored by John and Barbara’s new book Digital Wildlife Photography.

First Place Choice: “The Sweetness of Nemo” by Carolyn Kernan, Holcombe, Wisconsin USA

What John and Barbara had to say: We liked this cute dog in black and white and loved the snow as an extra element.  We like the shooting viewpoint at the same height as the dog and the very clean non-distracting background.

 Second Place Choice: “My Mate” by David Ruddle, Suffolk, United Kingdom

What John and Barbara had to say: Another great composition, perfect viewpoint, clean background and well done image with a lot of human interest to the pose.




Third Place: “Family Picture” by Baptiste Rutko, Cork, Ireland


Thanks to author Matt Armendariz for acting as our guest judge for the September contest! The theme was “food”, sponsored by Matt’s new book Focus On Food Photography for Bloggers.

First Place Choice:Kabsa Biryani” by Shirish Sen, Haryana, India

What Matt had to say: This photo has everything going right for it: delicious subject, great use of light, wonderful depth and very thoughtful composition. It makes me hungry!

Second Place Choice: “Tapas in Tasmania” by Jan Barton, Lago Maggiore, Italy

What Matt had to say: This photo accomplishes what great food photography is all about: it establishes a great sense of place, it’s super inviting, and manages to capture the room and food together deliciously. Bravo for this!

Third Place: “Homemade Bagels” by Amanda Sanford, Prince George, Virginia, USA

Thanks to author Haje Jan Kamps for acting as our guest judge for the August contest! The theme was “travel”.

First Place Choice:Ganga Aarti at Varanasi” by Sirsendu Gayen, West Bengal, India

What Haje had to say: This photo is a fantastic shot. It encapsulates the magic of traveling beautifully; the photo screams exploration and travel to me. Technically, it’s a mighty fine shot, too – the repeating pattern of the dancers into the background looks great, and the smoke gives the image fantastic depth and a feeling of intimacy. Great stuff.

Second Place Choice: “Floating House” by Martin Tanubrata, West Java, Indonesia

What Haje had to say: Looking at this picture gives a very strong impression of being oh-so far away from home. The impossibly clear and blue water, the colourful clothes the people are wearing, and the simple concept of a floating house… Lovely. I quite like the composition as well – there is something off-balance about this picture that draws the eye to it again and again.

Third Place: Back Streets of Naples” by Scott Moodie, Plover, Wisconsin, USA

Thanks to author Harold Davis for acting as our guest judge for June’s contest! The theme was “water”.

First Place Choice:Calla Drops by Maria Capilupi, Niagra Falls, New York, USA

What Harold had to say: Elegant lighting, good exposure control, and painterly depiction of water and these flowers.

Second Place Choice:Silence” by Marzena Wieczorek, Lindau, Germany

What Harold had to say: Evocative rendering of a lone buoy on the water, and excellence in monochromatic conversion

Third Place: Sunset Water” by Alexandra Grebenyuk, Sherborn, Massachusetts, USA

Thanks to author Adam Duckworth for acting as our guest judges for this month’s contest! The theme was “flash”.

First Place Choice:Hawleywood’s Barber and Ballerina by David Le, Costa Mesa, California, USA

What Adam had to say: A truly professional-quality environmental portrait of a barber, showing his unique style – complete with lots of tattoos – as well as his old-fashioned barber’s shop and chair. Great eye contact, and you really get a feel for the character of this unique person. Technically tricky to do, balancing the low-light and neon signs in the gloomy shop with off-camera flash. It’s been executed here perfectly, proving flash doesn’t have to be hard and kill the atmosphere. A fantastic, stylish portrait.

Second Place Choice:Storm Brewing” by Simon J. Lusty, Worcester/Worcestershire, UK

What Adam had to say: A haunting photo, full of drama, using nothing more than a humble compact camera. it proves you don’t need lots of expensive kit to get great shots. Just a good idea! The super-low angle and burst of flash on the thorny stem makes it look like a truly menacing shot. And the birds flying overhead add to the dramatic effect. Great use of underexposure, low viewpoint, dramatic composition and a burst of flash work wonderfully.

Third Place: Ice & Light” by Indhira Minerva Rodriguez Guerrero, Laredo, Tamaulipas, México

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Thanks to authors Joseph Meehan and Gary Eastwood, authors of Photographing the Elements, for acting as our guest judges for this month’s contest! The theme was “weather”.

Gary Eastwood’s First Place Choice:Judgement Day” by Mike DiRenzo, Coram, New York, USA

What Gary had to say: Lots of great images made it a hard decision this month, but I love the colours and sense of scale and drama in this image. The side lighting from the setting sun gives the image warm tone and depth. I think composing slightly more on the ‘thirds’, with slightly more foreground, would make the image even stronger. With so many great images this month, I just went with the image that ‘spoke’ to me the most – and Judgement Day is it.

Joseph Meehan’s First Place Choice:Colorado Fog” by Chad Slater, Yardley, Pennsylvania, USA

What Joe had to say: The key to photographing landscapes in fog is to make use of the way the diffusing effect of the fog can separate out the different parts of the scene.

In “Colorado Fog,” the scattering of light increases as the distance from the camera position increases. In addition, there are patches of ground fog that separate out the different stands of trees and the mountains in the background. Thus, the impression is one of distinct visual layers and a progressive lowering of color saturation that combine to support the illusion of depth. Without the fog, the trees would more likely merge into a uniform mass of textured green. The photographer has also included the “S” shaped road that helps lead the viewer’s eye into the landscape. Although the description of this photograph makes note of a biker on the road, the small size of reproduction on the website does not provide enough scale to comment on this part of the picture.

Third Place: Lightning Beauty in Nature” by K.S.Rajaram, Bangalore, India

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Winners: March 2012

Thanks to author Robert Hirsch for acting as our guest judge for this month’s contest! The theme was light. Bob asked me to convey his general thoughts to everyone who entered:

“I want to thank everyone who took the time to submit his or her work to the Focal Press March Photography Contest. Regarding the theme, Light is the fundamental ingredient shared by all photographs. There were many intriguing and well-seen compositions and it took me repeated viewings to make my decisions. The images that stayed with me were those in which the makers utilized light to convey an atmospheric mood that communicated essential characteristics of the subject. I encourage everyone to continue photographing and submitting your work, as each juror brings their own perspective to selecting work.”

First Place:Day End of a Barber” byAbhijit Dey, West Bengal, India

What Bob had to say: “I was drawn to Day End of a Barber due to the atmospheric way it expressively shows the intimate interaction between a barber and his client. The lone artificial light bulb serves as a reminder how the human made world illuminates the once dark night. The harsh single light source reveals the simple surroundings while retaining enough detail in the mirror to provide a multidimensional view of the subjects. The wall’s cool color balances the warm skin tones, as the doorframe provides a proscenium arch under which the interaction unfolds.”

Second Place: In the Light of Tuscany” by Jaroslaw Pawlak, Pienza, Italy

What Bob had to say: “I selected In the Light of Tuscany because of the complex, abstract, interrelationships among the colors and shapes within the compressed visual space. The raking light brings out detail in the foreground and middle ground while obscuring the background. The complementary color palette generates visual contrast. These competing dynamics encouraged me to linger and look deeper, which is what all photographers strive for.”

Third Place: “Light of Knowledge” by Thejas K Rajaram, Houston, Texas, USA

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First Place:Closing Time” by James Murray

Second Place: Baby Balinese Monkey” by Oliver Dixon, East Horsley, Surrey, UK

Third Place: “Leap of Faith” by Michael Kandel, Washington, DC, USA

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First Place Choice:Sunshine Dancing” by Sara Taylor, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

Second Place: Summer Bath” by Guga Millet

Third Place: “Seeking Warmth” by Elizabeth Thankful Shannon, Venice, California, USA

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Winners: December 2011

Linda Bellingham: First Place Choice:NYC Breakfast” by Eden Potter

What Linda had to say: It was nice of the photographer to mention that Starbucks made the food; however, the composition of elements in the image is perfect! And, the natural lighting is spectacular.

Jean Ann Bybee: First Place Choice: Macaroons” by J. Annie Wang, New York City, New York, USA

What Jean Ann had to say: Simple, beautifully lit, colorful. Shows a good eye

Brad G. Rogers: First Place Choice: “Ribbon Candy” by Jamie Lynn Rice, Oracle, Arizona, USA

What Brad had to say: Simple, which is often the best approach. Colorful, which catches the eye. It was fun and struck an emotion which is what everybody is trying to obtain.

Third Place Winner: “Cherry Tomatoes” by Alex Ntertilis, Athens, Greece

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Winners: November 2011

First Place: Anthony Hopkins, Moreton Morrell, England
Title: Whitby Beach Huts

What Steven and Paul  had to say: We particularly like the careful use of the reflective sunset/sunrise. Our only suggestion would be to crop a little off the right edge of the image. Otherwise we feel it’s a great photographic example of the subliminal effect of the early morning/evening light. They don’t call these the “golden hours” for nothing.

Second Place: Gemma Carly Pepper,  Conwy, North Wales, Great Britain
Title: Hope

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First Place: Tomas Castelazo, Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico
Title: Old lady in San Miguel, Mexico

What Haje had to say: In the winning photo, we get a cornucopia of awesome: the strong and bold colours catch the viewers eye, and create a great negative space for the main subject of the image: The woman, bent over, taking a rest from her walk. The contrast between the colourfulness and the relative lack of colour, and between the solid door and unyielding wall, is a great effect in this image. Way to make a photograph tell a story – great work!

Second Place: Richard Dodge, Holtsville, New York, USA
Title: Radiant

What Haje had to say: I love this photo for its playfulness and for the connection we have with the model. The beautiful light in her face, contrasting with the crisp blue sky, the splashes of colour from her sleeves and gloves, combined with the natural elements (the wooden table and the straws of grass in the background) make this come together great. THe expression on her face is priceless, natural, and unforced – it’s one of those photos that simply makes me happy to look at – what more could you want from a portrait?!

Third Place: Mardoni Luy, Davao City, Philippines
Title: Half Naked and the Rosary

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Winners: September 2011

First Place: Rachel Goble Carey, Rachel Carey Photography, Bay Area, California, USA

Title: Learning

What LaNola had to say: I just kept coming back to this photograph.  This image is a simple window into the complexities of childhood.  I love the soft pallet, the layering, expression, focus, and composition.  I don’t need to know the story of this photograph to know that there is one.  There is truly nothing predictable or kitsch about this shot and that is what makes it great; it’s just an authentic moment captured.

Second Place (#1): Todd Birdsong, Paducah, Kentucky, USA

Title: May in Grass

What LaNola had to say: I love how the photographer described this capture as an “in-between moment.”  Life is made of these types of moments and I think that is why a whisper from these moments always catches our attention as viewers, they are just so familiar, yet often over looked.  I love the pure blacks and the glowing whites that both frame and compose this child.

Second Place (#2): Stuart Rome,, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Title: Sarah and Gabbie

What LaNola had to say: I know that the photographer is close because of the wide-angle nature of the lens.  I appreciate a photographer that can get this close and still find an image that does not distract from the fluidity of the moment between the girls (no pun intended).  Adolescence can be a difficult subject matter but it provides a rewarding last glimpse of childhood before it disappears.  Another thing I love is the vibrance of the colors and the separation of the children from the background (which appears to be a masterful use of fill flash).  Well done!

Third Place: Alexandra Grebenyuk, Sherborn, Massachusetts, USA

Title: Who Needs Toys?

LaNola’s Honorable Mention: Manahi Taber-Kewene, New York, New York

Title: Grandpa Magic

LaNola’s Honorable Mention: Barbara Corvino, Italy

Title: Vertical

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Winners: August 2011


First Place: Phil Tooze, Riot Photography, Heanor, Derbyshire, U.K.
Title: True Believers

Second Place: Pepa Niebla, Chingford, London, U.K.
Title: It’s Real


Third Place: Anne Izabel Le Clainche, Plaisir, France
Title: Seabreeze of Happiness

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Winners: July 2011

First Place: Jamie Cortinas, Modesto, California, USA
Title: Skelly
What Corey had to say: Great blending of elements of the real person and the skeleton. The dark border and the treatment to the empty area on the right side of the image do a lot to help with the mood of the image, matching well with the decay suggested by the skeleton.

Second Place: Leslie Granda-Hill, Montclair, New Jersey, USA
Title: The Hotel
What Corey had to say:
Simplicity is key here, the dominating lines are cleanly arranged, creating a strong foundation. What makes this image stand out are the people, giving a sense of scale. The people also offer a sense of motion in contrast to the static building. Great timing capturing them with their legs and arms outstretched.

Third Place: Heather Tiffany, Aurora, Illinois, USA
Title: Sunset Through a Child’s Eyes

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First Place: Faisal Khan, Kashmir University, Kashmir
Title: Eternal Faith
What Peter had to say: This image scored well on many levels. The simplicity of the composition and strong sense of light set it apart from the other entries. The exposure is perfect. Light and shadow create a mood, delineate the subject and build a storytelling scenario. Shafts of light form a connection between the window and the figure, creating an energy and flow within the frame. Great image, very well executed.

Second Place: Carlyn Porter, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA
Title: Ride
What Peter had to say:
Interesting viewpoint, rich color. Placement of the shoes makes them strong focal points in an otherwise monochrome setting in shades of green. Leaving the subject’s identity just outside the frame turns the image from a portrait to an air of mystery. It involves the viewer to figure out what’s going on here. The result is an intriguing scenario with much for the eye to explore. Nicely done.

Third Place: Sawsan Hafiz
Title: Spirit of Light
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Winners: May 2011

First Place: Estiaan Labuschagne, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Title: Barbershop Madness
What Carrie had to say: I chose the winners based on the criteria of the competition, which was titled “Fashion”. Barbershop madness had a story line, comedy, fashion, and got an A for effort in choosing a location, attention to styling and character casting and setting a mood. Same goes for the 2nd place winner; attention was paid to location and mood setting. They also created a smoke which added mood to the shot. There were some nice shots that I didn’t consider simply because they weren’t really “Fashion” shots; Nausikaa was a fun retro shot and Jamaican Beauty Red was a well done portrait.

Second Place: Natalie Field, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Title: Hoiden

Third Place: Ryan Roake, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Title: Hoiden

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First Place: Heide Hoffman, Paremata/Wellington, New Zealand
My World Through Broken Glass
What Carl had to say: While there were many great photos included in the April entries, this image offered a unique perspective on the landscape that I haven’t seen before. In addition it has a wonderful balance of details, colors, lines, and contrasts that draw my eye all around the image, with just the right amount of softness in the background to really set off the sharp edges of the broken glass. Nice ‘backyard’ by the way!


Second Place: Volker Birke, Wunstorf, Germany
Gateway into another Dimension
What Carl had to say: This image captures the power of the landscape with only a few lines, details and color tones. The exposure helps simplify the composition to the essentials needed to communicate the power of this  spectacular landscape. It’s a great example of how opposing contrasts draw your eye into an image, while additional lines, details, and more subtle contrasts, carry your eye throughout the rest of the image.

Third Place: Giannis Maleoglou, Thessaloniki, Greece
Title: Calm Lake

Honorable Mention: Moe Chen, Scarborough, Maine, USA
Nubble Lighthouse
What Carl had to say:
In addition to the pleasing compositional balance in this image, I especially liked the effect of the long exposure on the sky and water. An image like this generally only comes from a lot of planning and experimenting as well as perhaps a little luck on the length of the exposure. Thinking about how this image was created helps open up additional ways to experiment with light on the landscape.

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First Place: Billie-Jo Miller, Spanaway, Washington, USA
What David had to say: This is a spectacular shot; reminiscent of the powerful oil paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries. I love the way the lightning has created a sharp, momentary flash of brightness that draws you into that dark, menacing cloud. Beautifully composed.


Second Place:  Shelley Johnson
Title: “Dancing Inferno”
What David had to say: I love the raw energy of this shot and you can almost feel the heat coming off that flame. I also like the contrast of the complex, dancing patterns of the fire against the linearity of the background. A  wonderful composition.


Third Place: Jill Odice, J Odice Photography, Littlerock, California, USA
Title: “Rare Snowfall in the Mojave Desert”

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First Place: Indhira Minerva Rodriguez Guerrero, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Title:“A sunset in an acetate”
What Bob had to say: I was repeatedly drawn to A Sunset in Acetate because of the imaginative way it expressively plays with notions of photographic truth. In terms of color, it demonstrates a dramatic, haptic interaction among warm and cool as well as complimentary colors. In terms of contemporary photographic-based imaging, it is invigorating to see the direct hand of the maker emotionally asserting control over the subject.

Second Place: Marjorie Bond
Title: “Glass of Many Colors”
What Bob had to say: I selected Glass of Many Colors because of the complex, abstract, interrelationships among the transparent colors and shapes. This encouraged me to look deeper and see things I was previously unaware of. Pictorially, it addresses how we live in a world of assembled fragments that unfold over time.

Third Place: Elizabeth Newman, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Title: “Wall to Wall”

Honorable Mentions

“LA Frame of Mind”
Randy Turoff
San Francisco, California, USA

“10th Avenue Condo”
Peter Brandt
Woodstock, New York, USA

Paul Kalstein
Southampton, Pennsylvania, USA

“Festival of Color”
Mohammad Rakibul Hasan
Dhaka, Bangladesh

“Asiatic Lily”
Bethesda, Maryland, USA

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Winner: Candace Moore, Houston, Texas, USA
Title: “Untitled”

What Kevin had to say:

“So many mother and baby portraits are too happy go lucky. But this image has a certain edge to it, it makes you wonder what the mother is thinking of. The image has a sinister edge to it as well because of the lighting but this edginess is of set slightly buy the inclusion of the dog. Really interesting image with so much to think about that’s way it’s the clear winner for me.”

Prize: The grand prize is a copy of Kevin’s book, along with an Epson® Artisan 835 All-in-One digital photo printer, replacement Epson® multi-color ink cartridges with and a package of Epson® premium photo paper glossy 4×6.

Winners: January 2011

First Place: Gemma Carly Pepper, Conwy, Wales
Title:“Into the Soul”
What Ralph and Chris had to say: This picture is a fantastic example of what a good portrait should be. It is so much more than a mere likeness of the sitter. A tilted head and direct eye contact immediately pull the viewer into the picture and make it hard to let go and explore the rest of the picture. The viewer definitely feels a certain command to look. On the other hand, a soft smile, partially hidden by pulled-up clothing, leaves no doubt about the pleasant personality of the model while adding a bit of mystery. This is an image to be proud of!

Second Place: Michelle Lorenzen-Hunter, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Title: “Saving the Bird”
What Ralph and Chris had to say: This picture has it all. A great composition gives the picture stability through an interesting viewpoint onto the weathered hands. I like how the thumbs lead into the picture but miss the center of interest just by a hair, forcing my eyes back up again to focus on the bird. At that point, stability turns into security and creates an interesting contrast to the animal in need. The viewing experience finishes with a warm feeling about a happy end. In a way, it’s a portrait without a face. Hands say so much about a person. Great shot!

Third Place: Gurjant singh Sekhon, Maharashtra, India
Title: “What do you think When you are looking at me? Look at my soul within… Look Closer … see me!!”

“Into the Soul”

Winners: Dec 2010

First Place: Candace Moore, Houston, Texas, USA
Title: “Untitled”
What The Shutter Sisters had to say: This shot evokes strong emotion through honest expression, tone and mood. The perspective is compelling and draws in the viewer with it’s visual interest and the intimacy of the subject matter and context.

Second Place: Theo Spek, Aerdenhout, Bloemendaal, Netherlands
Title: “Birds of a Feather”
What The Shutter Sisters had to say: This shot is a classic example of perfect timing. The subject matter is unique in its cute and clever interpretation of the theme. That the babies and flanked by the parents makes for a humorous and relatable depiction of family.

Third Place: Jeffrey Gregor, Troy, New York, USA
Title: “In my Daughter’s eye!”

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First Place: Paul Cohn, Chennai, India
What Richard had to say: This photograph is surrounded by a dark sense of mystery. What appears to be a young woman in dark clothes is ascending a stairway. The girl was carefully photographed when her feet were astride, suggesting movement. A beam of light partially illuminates the stairway and wall, casting a detached shadow of the girl and her wind-blown neckpiece. The black curved area at the right provides an ominous frame. A textured gray and white wall shares the same contour as the black curved wall. In the white area of the wall one can notice a competition, called “contour rivalry,” for dominance. This activates that area and the mystery. The various tonalities, textures and geometry add to an interesting composition. As the young woman walks confidently up the stairs one might ponder who she is, where she came from and where she is going. All these factors adding to the unknown. Engaging in a photograph such as this can stimulate the mind and imagination. The photograph with its dark and black tones works well in conveying a feeling of mystery and possible danger. In color, it would not have the same effect.

Second Place: Tamas Kooning Lansbergen
Title: “Autumn Fruit”
What Richard had to say: Still life in paintings has a very long history. This beautifully balanced photograph takes on a lovely painterly look. The composition is impeccable. The brightly lit grouping of figs atop the bucket provides a near triangular shape. The three figs overflowing and resting on the table suggests abundance (objects in odd number such as three and five are more interesting than even numbers). The fig leaves in the foreground add color and meaning. A quiet textured bluish-gray background helps draw attention to the colorful figs and leaves. The space (interval) between the large circular cover resting against the wall and the bulbous shape bottle is very important. If the interval were not there and the objects were touching, or too far apart, something would be lost. Although part of the bottle is cropped and rests outside the frame we automatically see it as complete thanks to our ability to form closure on incomplete familiar objects. Still life photography provides an excellent opportunity for studying and arranging lighting and composition, as we see here.

Third Place: Kingsley Scott,  Doncaster, South Yorkshire, UK
Title: “My Best Man Framed”

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Winners: October 2010

First Place: Elena Stavrev, Sofia, Bulgaria
Title“Most Asian Neighborhoods Are Also Markets”

What Sue had to say: It gives the feel of a neighborhood. The photographer caught a decisive moment with the interplay between the people pictured in the shot. The composition was very good and the photographic interpretation worked well on this piece.

Second Place: Saro Nadjarian, Lefkosia, Cyprus
Title: “Lacoste”

What Sue had to say: It has a gritty, real feel that is quite evocative. The viewer can picture themselves walking into this neighborhood with caution. The low point of view was well done.

Third Place: Albena Velikova Markova, Varna, Bulgaria
Title: “Girl’s Play”

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First Place: Carlos J. Miranda, Tallahassee, Florida, USA
Title: Open Doors

Second Place: Rebecca Prowlus, Danville, Pennsylvania, USA
Title: The Driveby Apparition

Third Place: Jonathan Pearson, London, UK
Title: Brixton, London

Lance Says: The two images I chose for first and second place couldn’t be more different, and that diversity was reflected in all of the best images submitted for the Night Photography contest. In addition to the things common to all great photographs- Strong composition and technical execution, the best night photographs usually have a strong sense of atmosphere and mystery. Interesting lighting, whether it be natural, or artificial, existing or added are generally a strong component of an image’s success. There were about a dozen images that clearly stood apart from the pack, and any one of them could have been a winner. A few that stand out in my mind are, Ghost Train, Burnett River Bridge, Santa Fee Apartment, Abandoned Columns, No Turning Back, and Chromatism. These images all exemplify the things I look for in Night Photographs.

The first place image, Open Doors, exemplifies all of those traits. The image is complex, but well organized, and easy to read. There is a strong sense of depth and movement, emphasized not only by the combined indoor and outdoor scenes, but by the mixed lighting sources that cause the interior and exterior to have different colors. Every element of the composition is carefully placed. There is a quality to this image that reminds me of the work of the early twentieth century photographers Carlos and Miguel Vargas from Peru, two pioneering brothers who advanced night photography techniques with their sophisticated lighting.

Second place winner Drive By Apparition is more subtle and mysterious. Dark and moody, the movement suggested by blur and diagonal lines are complemented by the contrasting warm and cool colors of the image. It’s not often that precise timing is critical in a night photograph, but the position of the headlight trails in the image is essential to the composition, and it’s a big part of why this image works so well. Had the photograph been a fraction of a second earlier, the trails would have started outside the frame, and the image wouldn’t be nearly as strong. There is very little detail in the image, and it’s full of deep, dark shadows, but the message is clearly conveyed none the less.

It was a pleasure judging this competition and viewing so many great images. Thank you for the opportunity.


Winners: August 2010

First Place: Charles Todd Birdsong, Paducah, Kentucky, USA
Title: Memories of Dixon Farm

What Corey had to say: I was repeatedly drawn back to this photo, I was pulled in wanting explore the details and understand the story behind the image – and that is the mark of a good image. The combination of photos works very well with the intense images framing the more subdued, mysterious elements in the center. I find that not being able to easily identify or explain all the elements in the image made it intriguing (but at the same time wasn’t too abstract to lose the viewer’s attention).

Second Place: Tapas Basu, West Bengal, India
Title: Losted

What Corey had to say: The photographer has done a great job of blending and balancing the portions of color with the black and white. The black and white portrait dominates, drawing the viewer’s eye to the details and expression of the subject’s face, keeping the image focused on the person. The patches in color add depth to the image, giving the viewer more to consider when examining the photo. I find the bright colors suggest a liveliness that is not readily apparent in the black and white portrait. A creative technique that takes this photograph beyond being an ordinary portrait.

Third Place: Glenn Foster, Croydon, Surrey, England
Title: Arrows over London

First Grand Prize Winner

“Pot Shiner, Chennai, India”

Guest Judge: Michael Freeman

Winner: Brian Jolley, Providence, Rhode Island, USA

What Michael had to say: I’ve selected “Pot Shiner, Chennai, India” for its documentary clarity as a street portrait. Composition and presentation are satisfyingly confident, and it tells its story economically and without unnecessary sentiment.

Prize: Brian will receive Michael Freeman’s Digital Photography Reference System and a copy of The Photographer’s Eye, Michael Freeman’s Perfect Exposure, The Art of Printing Photographs on Your Epson Printer, and The Photographer’s Eye Field Guide all by Michael Freeman.

Michael Freeman's Digital Photography Reference System The Photographer's Eye Michael Freeman's Perfect Exposure The Art of Printing Photos on Your Epson Printer The Photographer's Eye Field Guide

Winners: July 2010

July 2010 Photography Contest Winner

First Place: Sheila Haddad, Heppenheim, Germany
Title: “Ebbing Tide”

Second Place: Philip Bird, East Grinstead, West Sussex, UK
Title:Stormy Weather”

Third Place: Candace Moore, Houston, Texas, USA
Title: “Soak”

Guest Judge: Martin Edge

What Martin had to say: “I looked at all of the entries in some detail and was looking for an all encompassing feeling of the comp title ‘Water’. So often I was distracted by other elements but these two stood out again and again as I cycled through the pages at least 10 times over.”

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Winners: June 2010

“The Door”

First Place: Emirhan Karamuk, Istanbul, Turkey
Title: “The Door”

Second Place: Anthony Tancredi, Rochedale South, Australia
Title: “Sea of Creation”

Third Place: Glorianne Cassar, Siggiewi, Malta

Honorable Mention: Johannes Maurits, Lauredo, Texas, USA
Title: “Pozo Del Gavilan”

Guest Judge: Ctein

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Our apologies to everyone who entered the April contest for the long delay in announcing the winners. Our guest judge, Philip Andrews, has been hard at work on several new books but had still hoped to judge. He didn’t want to make anyone wait any longer, however, so we were lucky to have the Focal Photography Editorial Team step in on his behalf!

First Place: Valentijn  van der Sloot
Title: Lone Walker

Second Place: Popescu Cezar, Romania
Title: Thunder Clouds

Third Place: Donna Marchessault,  South Windsor, Connecticut, USA
Title: Ice Fishing in the Fog

Winners: May 2010

First Place: Sam Bienstock, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Title: “On a Train”

What David had to say: For me, street photography is about capturing unposed, fleeting moments in public places. This picture nicely captures a child’s spontaneous joy and has been shot in the challenging environment of a crowded and dimly-lit subway train.

Second Place: Dipak Dey
Title: “Fear Game”

What David had to say: I like the shapes that the childrens’ shadows make on the material and the expression on the face of the child being held up. He’s taking part in a game, but he’s not sure how to react. Those two bold red stripes, plus the line of shadow-figures, make a great composition.

Third Place: Manoj Kayastha,  Bihar, India
Title: “Child’s Adventure”

Guest Judges: David Clark, author of Photography in 100 Words
Theme: Street Photography

First Place: Jelena Blagojevic, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
Title: “Hard Life”

What Steven and Paul had to say: This a wonderful dramatic portrait. Nice use of light to bring out the texture in the face. Both the cropping and negative space are very effective.

Second Place: Brian Jolley, Providence, Rhode Island, USA
Title: “Pot Shiner, Chennai, India”

What Steven and Paul had to say: We like how the subject connects with the viewer in this one. The composition and the ambient light are excellent. What works well in this environmental portrait is the use of the diptych to “tell a story” about this woman.

Third Place: Ioannis Papadakis, Belgium
Title: “A Rajastani Portrait”

Guest Judges: Steven Biver and Paul Fuqua

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February Winner

First Prize: Jeff McCrum
New York, New York, USA
Title: “Bow Bridge”

Second Prize: Maria Capilupi
Niagra Falls, New York, USA
Title: “Five Degrees Fahrenheit”

Third Prize: Catherine Isaacson
Richboro, Pennsylvania, USA
Title: “Chin’s Frizbee Catch in the Snow”

Guest Judge: John & Barbara Gerlach

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Winners: January 2010

January Winner 2010

First Prize: Andrey Antov
Hamden, Connecticut, USA
Title: “Dream Life”

Second Prize: Emma Leech
Smarden, Kent, UK
Title: “Blue Flower”

Third Prize:
Elizabeth Parker
Title: “The Eye”

Guest Judge: Martin Addison

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December Winner 2009

First Prize: Regina Gunawan Lee
Okazaki, Aichi, Japan
Title: “Glittering Stars”

Second Prize: James Wicker
Hainesport, New Jersey, USA
Title: “Clifton Mill Water Wheel”

Third Prize (Tie): Becky Workman
St. George, Utah, USA
Title: “Beautiful Yellowstone National Park”

Third Prize (Tie): Robyn Aber
San Francisco, California, USA
Title: “A Surreal Winter Wonderland”

Guest Judges: David Nightingale

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Winners: November 2009

First Prize: Valerie Brabb McAninch
Springfield, Ohio, USA
Title: “Alaska Gloaming”

Second Prize: Bruce Miller
Van Nuys, California, USA
Title: “God’s Light”

Third Prize: David Bull
Lauderhill, Florida, USA
Title: “Secret Garden”

Guest Judges: John & Barbara Gerlach

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Winners: October 2009

October Winner 2009

First Prize: Philip Bird
East Grinstead, West Sussex, UK
Title: “Surface tension of a bubble”

Second Prize: Patricia M. Lavin
Moran, Wyoming, USA
Title: “Wildflower bud”

Third Prize: Mark Mortensen
Title: “Blowing away”

Guest Judge: Adrian Davies

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First Prize: Karen Sixsmith
Bowdon, nr Altrincham, Cheshire, UK
Title: Six of the Best

Second Prize: Ashely Bieliauskas
Brandon, Mississippi, USA
Title: Sandy

Third Prize: Michael Episcopo
Minoa, New York, USA
Title: His First Hydrant

Guest Judge: Andrew Darlow

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Winners: August 2009

Leslie’s Pick: Jorge Tenorio
Title: “Third Bout”

Bryan’s Pick: Leslie Granda Hill, New Jersey, USA
Title: “Jogger in the Fog”

Third Prize: Becky Workman
St. George, Utah, USA
Title: “Sibling Rivalry”

Guest Judges: Leslie Alsheimer & Bryan O’Neil Hughes

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Winners: July 2009

Chris’ Pick: Torri J. Koppenaal
Newton, New Jersey, USA
Title: “Up, Up and Away”

Corey’s Pick: Jorge Tenorio
Title: “It is Summer!”

Third Prize: Sue Jarrett
Title: “Shag Dancing”

Guest Judges: Chris Grey, Corey Hilz

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Joint First Prize: Wahid Adnan
Title: Bufferclass Passenger

Joint First Prize: Zahid Najam, San Jose, California, USA
Title: Down the Road

Third Prize (Tie): Marquette LaRee Mower, Fort Bowie, Arizona, USA
Title: Ready to Roll

Third Prize (Tie): Rachel Yarwood
Title: The Magic Lane

Guest Judge: Lou Jones and Bob Keenan

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Winners: May 2009

First Prize: Leslie Granda Hill
Montclair, NJ, USA
Title: Depreciation

Second Prize: Mattea Sportel
Title: Morning of Mourning

Third Prize: J.R. Orsborn
Dallas, Oregon, USA
Title: Elegant Surrender

Guest Judge: Richard Lynch

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First Prize: Leslie Granda Hill
Montclair, New Jersey, USA
Title: Right Before the Rain

Second Prize: Kevin Lozaw, San Anselmo, California.
Title: Contemplation

Third Prize: Lemuel Canady
Salem, Oregon, USA
Title: Eternity

Guest Judge: Michael Freeman

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Winners: March 2009

First Prize: C. Todd Birdsong
Paducah, Kentucky, USA
Title: Hilldale Road

There was a tie for second!

Second Prize: Bruce E. Coxley
Edmonds, Washington, USA
Title: Swamp Grass

Second Prize: Jeff Ringer
Washington, D.C., USA
Title: Eastern Market Sellers

Third Prize: James Tanksley
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Title: Untitled

Guest Judge: Philip Andrews

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First Prize: Dani Mouser
Dallas, Oregon, USA
Title: Light & Shadow

Second Prize: Gerri Jones
Wilson, New York, USA
Title: A Picture of Peace

Third Prize: Becky Workman
St. George, Utah, USA
Title: Zion National Park

Guest Judge: Robert Hirsch

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Winners: January 2009

First Prize: David Premo
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA
Title: Moonlight

Second Prize: Kenneth Vogt
Plainfield, Illinois, USA
Title: Tech Magic

Third Prize: Leslie Granda Hill
Montclair, New Jersey, USA
Title: 9-11 Memorial Lights

Guest Judge: Brian and Janet Stoppee

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