Winners of The Art of Nature Photo Contest by PhoozL

Posted Aug. 9th, 2012 by Daniel J. Cox

I recently judged a photo contest organized by an online Internet site called Phooz that’s organized by a friend of mine, Harald Johnson. Harald and I met during our time working together with Hewlett Packard. The entries were superb and it was hard selecting the three winning images. Over all there were prizes for the three best pictures and then I was allowed to choose six honorable mentions. Below you can read my thoughts about the winning images. It was a lot of fun and there were some terrific entries.

My judging for The Art of Nature Photo Contest is done. Take a look at the Phoozl web page to view the winners.

You can read more and see at least some of the wining entires by clicking on Read More. 

Overall I was very impressed with the quality of photography that was entered into the competition.  I saw many really beautiful images and it was hard to narrow it down to just three winners. Everybody did a great job with sticking to the theme The Art of Nature. I thought I would share with you some of my thoughts about how and why I picked the images that I did.

All of the winning photographs were pretty conventional from the perspective of a traditional photographic look. A large part of my selection process was based on whether the image looked real or not, then it came down to light, composition and subject matter.  I do realize that the contest had the word Art in its title and maybe that’s why I saw so many images that were obviously manipulated. Several were extremely beautiful but since my personal photographic style doesn’t include image manipulation, I naturally gravitated towards a more conventional presentation. Sorry to those who spent a lot of time working their images on the computer, but that’s just me. Something everyone should consider is who the judges are that will be making the decisions. Some contests have more than one so it could be more difficult to try and predict what they may like, but in this situation it was just me. Anyone with a computer could have done homework on the type of image I might be most partial to. Just a little FYI for the future.

First Place Grand Prize Winner: Matthew D. Potenski
The overall winner was an amazing image of a whale shark feeding on bait fish, and it was by far the most natural looking of all of the pictures entered, however,  its beauty came from numerous elements such as capturing just the right moment in time – the difficulty of getting such a photo of a relatively rare subject as well as perfect composition and gorgeous natural light. It’s a stunning image and it jumped out at me above all the others even during my first perusal through the initial review process.

Marine biologist Matthew Potenski was able to capture this whale shark feeding at the surface while an entourage of sardines swirl around it near Mafia Island, Tanzania during the whale shark aggregation in February, 2008. Matthew D. Potenski

Second Place: Andy Hutchinson
The second place winner, the pelican and setting sun is also a very natural looking image. The intensity of the sky is stunning but by itself that wouldn’t be enough to win. It was the beautifully composed pelican that made all of the elements of this image come together. Without that pelican it was just another gorgeous sunset, and without an eye for composition, this image would not have gone as far as it did. It is just stunning from foreground to background with great elements of interest, the pelican, the colorful sky and a background of additional roosting birds. I’m just hopeful all these elements are truly natural.

Went out to get a carton of milk and noticed that the sunset was looking interesting, so diverted to the nearby Shoalhaven river to see if I could get any interesting shots. The tide was high and I had to wade out into the water waist-high (shorts got a bit damp) with my tripod to get a clear shot of the river. The sunset turned spectacular pretty quickly and shortly before it disappeared, a lone pelican glided into view. In the background are thousands of roosting seabirds just behind the local oyster beds. Took this shot with an ND4 on my Canon 550D with the standard kit lens. Hope you like it as much as I do. Andy Hutchinson

Third Place: Marty
Have not heard from Marty yet on my request to post his photo here in this blog article. Will hopefully add his photo in a day or so when he gets back to me.  Meanwhile you can read the description below of the third place entry.

Ladybug in the flower, is another great example of how color can make you look further. The intensity of the flower mimics the warmth of the ladybug and together they compliment each other beautifully. I had some concern about the ladybug being nearly smack dab in the middle of the frame but in this situation I actually think the composition of the insect is a bonus. The beautiful lines of the multi-colored petals make up for additional compositional elements that work to make the ladybug seem fine just where she’s at. (Are all ladybugs she’s? 🙂 A centered subject wouldn’t normally be very appealing but a good photographer knows when to break the rules and if they can get away with it. Here it worked.

Honorable Mentions:

Selecting just six was really tough. There were many that could have been in the honorable mention category. Here are three out of six from photographers who have given me permission to share these with you.

“End of Eternity” by Gabor Dvornik

“End of Eternity” by Gabor Dvornik

The duck swimming silently in the still water of a bayou or northern wetland was another favorite. This image has so much etherial emotion and mood in it. Normally I don’t care for an image with a great deal of white cloud with no details at the top of the frame but once again, that broken rule works wonderfully here. Normally white spaces in the sky draw your eye out of the frame. This image is no exception but the way the duck is headed it’s as if he’s moving off into the sky or could be.  The pattern just works where I normally would have been very anti-white sky.

 “Lagoon” by Peter Parker”

“Lagoon” by Peter Parker

The egret landing on a small pond is another example of the beauty of just the right light and capturing the key moment.The bird’s wings turned out creates a large enough subject for interest. The only drawback to this image was the sky just wasn’t as interesting as say, the second place image, however, the foreground with the river and the bird is stunning. But these are the small differences that make one a winner and one really nice.

“Modest Grandeur” by Lara Nouri

“Modest Grandeur” by Lara Nouri

The beautiful purples and greens in the frame holding a beautiful drop of water was also intriguing. I have no idea what this is. Possibly a flower but the colors and the composition is stunning. This image I just liked from an artistic perspective. It’s beautiful!

So those are the entries I have permission to share with all of you. I hope to hear from the third place winner and the other three honorable mentions. Stop back in a few days or head over to the PhoozL Contest Page to see the other images.

Congratulations to all of you. There were a lot of great images and it’s always fun to see how others see the natural world. I really enjoyed being a part of the PhoozL experience. Keep up the great work and get yourself prepared for the next contest.

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