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RESULTS – ‘Couples’- PhoozL


RESULTS – ‘Couples’

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There were many wonderful submissions for the ‘Couples’ contest. Judge Christian DeBaun comments (with some good tips for future photo contest submissions):

“Hello Fellow Phoozleers and nice work on this competition! A good friend of mine is William “Bill” Albert Allard, an award winning National Geographic photographer for almost 50 years. I have had the pleasure of seeing him judge and critique images on several occasions, and his methodology is exacting and precise. I have learned a great deal from Bill, and I try to emulate his criteria for judging photos: (1) Tell a story; (2) Leave them wanting more; (3) Get it right in camera, not in post processing; and (4) Let the light you have be your guide. There are other factors that come into play, such as the ones listed in this contest’s instructions, but I think these four are excellent rules when it comes to making photos (we do not “take” photos, we “make” them).

“My feelings on the ‘Couples’ theme: To me a couple should invoke an emotion of togetherness, intimacy, and bonding. And sometimes secrecy. That’s what I was looking for in these photos.

A Few Tips You Might Find Helpful:

Read the Actual Contest Rules! Some of the images had to be discarded (which I hate to do), as they failed to meet the requirement of: ‘Couples should be living or breathing humans or animals or both.’ Every photo contest has its own set of rules and regulations that need to be adhered to. For this competition I also received images that were sized 300 pixels on the longest side. When viewed, they were equivalent to holding a deck of cards at arm’s length – and very difficult to judge. PhoozL allows an image size up to 1200 pixels, so you should always shoot for that!

Get It Right in the Camera! I always hammer this into my students when I teach basic/beginner photography. It’s so much easier to spend an extra minute (you’d be surprised at how long a minute lasts), and think about your composition, focus, and light before you invoke the shutter. Yes, some things can be fixed after the fact with post processing – but a truly blurry shot will always be out of focus, and a badly composed shot will never bring back what was cut out of the shot. LOOK AT YOUR LIGHT – it is often the difference between an “OK” photograph, and an outstanding one.

Don’t Over-Post Process: Photography is like cooking – you can always add, but you can never take away. Actually, that’s not entirely true now with non-destructive editing – but if you heavily post process something and push it out for the world to see, it’s hard to put it back in the bottle. A good friend of mine once told me: ‘A photographer is only as good as his worst shot.’ So always publish and showcase your very best work and nothing else (I’m still learning this too, by the way). Several of the shots in this composition would have actually turned out better with less vignetting and a lower saturation.

“Again, great job everyone – lovely images, and some very hard choices for me when I judged this competition.”

— Christian DeBaun, Christian DeBaun Photography

(click here for the Gallery of submitted images)
(click here for 2013 Winners Showcase for Weekly Wednesdays contests)
(click here for 2013 PhoozL Points tally for Weekly Wednesdays contests)
(click here for this contest’s Instructions & Rules and information about the Judge)


(NOTE: click or tap on the images for larger views)

First Place
by zEdge
“Grief at Arlington National Cemetery”
Judge’s Comment: Without a doubt, the strongest image in this competition – congratulations zEdge. There is a story behind this, and as a viewer I want to know what happened. Why are they there, and who gave his or her life for their country? When judging this competition I never once looked at the PhoozL website, but instead looked at the original images provided to me. I had no idea where the photo was taken, but I strongly suspected Arlington (I’ve been there several times). This photo – with a lovely depth of field, tack sharp focus, good composition and light – is truly a winner. It left me “wanting to know more.” Taking good candids at just the right moment is incredibly hard, and this photo delivers. His expression says it all.
Gallery Photo Detail Page


Second Place
by Kay Beausoleil
“Down the Cobbled Path”
Judge’s Comment: This defines “Couples” perfectly because I want to imagine the story behind their life, and what the rest of their life will be like. How many times have they walked this street together over the years? This tells me a story. The choice to post in black-and-white was a wise decision, it keeps our attention directly on them. We’ve got plenty of foreground (the cobblestones) to set the scene, nice walls on either side to frame the photo (but not too distracting), and a window in the background to balance things out. Shooting in mid-day sunlight can be killer as it can cast hard shadows – but there is a lovely touch of rim lighting on the man’s hair, shoulders, and trousers. It’s interesting to note that there’s a gentle twig of ivy/bush connecting their two heads. Most photographers would have cloned this out (it’s typically a poor choice to have things growing out of people’s heads), but for some reason it works here. It makes an interesting organic connection between them. Well done, Kay.
Gallery Photo Detail Page


Third Place
by Charlena
“Best Friends…”
Judge’s Comment: This is a wonderful photo. Nicely balanced subjects, and not centered too exactly (we almost have the Rule of Thirds in play here). Well-focused subjects, and I love the fact that they are looking at each other – and not the camera. It’s a small taste of love between owner and pet – and perfectly captured. The background is soft, and the angled wires gives us a nice sense of leading lines, perspective, and a direction headed to a vanishing point we can’t see – but don’t need to. The post processing is subtle (though it may have been slightly vignetted, it works), and her skin looks natural and healthy. I’m going to guess this was shot in the late afternoon (no hard shadows), when the light was sweet. Note to Charlena: I too am primarily a portrait photographer, so I’m really digging this shot. My eyes cannot help but look at branded text in any photo (dog’s collar) when I want to be looking at the subject. Cloning out those “Chevy” letters and logo might be an interesting or fix (or not). Either way, well done!
Gallery Photo Detail Page


Honorable Mentions

More winning images, not presented in any order or ranking…
(click here to see the Gallery of all submitted images)

by Lesley Ackman
“Coming and Going”
Judge’s Comment: People often have no idea how just hard wildlife photographers work, and what it takes to get a Class-A photograph like this one. Wildlife photographers are *patient* people because you can often sit there for hours and hours, and come home with nothing. In this case, Leslie got a razor-sharp image on a perfectly windless day (note the lack of wind that would have spoiled the superb mirror effect of the water), near-perfect subject positioning, and excellent composition. Note to Leslie: Is that steam/mist in the upper left-hand corner of the photo? It might be interesting to lower this entire shot .5 of an f/stop in post and see if that mist kicks a little bit harder into the image; it really adds something to the shot. Great photo – I’d be proud to have this framed and hanging in my home.
Gallery Photo Detail Page


by Leka Huie
Judge’s Comment: The couple here is subtly presented, and some photographers would argue that this is a landscape shot, and not a “people” shot. My imagination wants to guess that this is an airport perhaps? I’m thinking those light bars on the extended pier may be for a pilot to see as he makes his approach – but I could be wrong. I also think the man in the photo is taking a sunset photo (note the position of his arms), and like most photographers, I love photographs of *other* photographers. Great exposure lock on the sky, terrific leading lines, and a nice flat horizon (you’d be surprised how many seascape photos are tilted). Note to Leka: It might be fun to swap the horizontal axis on this and see what happens. As an American, I read left to right, and my eyes will often involuntarily look at photos in the same fashion. So my eyes went to the end of the pier first and moved right until I saw the couple. I wonder what would happen if the image were flipped the other way. Either way – nice shot!
Gallery Photo Detail Page


by Peter
Judge’s Comment: Again, following the rule of “tell me a story,” I want to know what the story is here, and I want to know more about Sally… who she was/is, and what’s important about her. Where was she when this was taken? What is she holding in her right hand? We want to know more. Some would argue that this isn’t a true “couples” shot, but I like the unique presentation. The photo of her is angled, and the lighting is great with a blacked-out background. Note to Peter: Have you tried post processing this entire photo in black-and-white? It might change the overall feeling – just a thought. Keep up the great work.
Gallery Photo Detail Page


Congratulations to winners and thanks to all who participated in this ‘Couples’ photo contest, and to our judge: Christian DeBaun. Don’t forget that new “Weekly Wednesdays” contests are already live or being planned. Get in the Weekly Wednesdays photo habit!

Harald Johnson
(aka AdminHarald)

(click here for current 2013 Winners Showcase for Weekly Wednesdays contests)


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