Our judge has made his selections, and now our first-ever Facebook-ran photo contest has come to an end. Before we get to the winners, we need to apologize to everybody about the lack of communication when photos were not accepted. While we did make it clear that photos we didn't feel matched the prompt would not be entered, we still owe it to everybody to inform them when this has happened, and to give them a chance to defend their entry. This was an unacceptable oversight on our part, and while it can just be put down to growing pains with a new system, we would much rather own up to it and make sure it never happens again. And it won't, we promise.
Now, that said, here are the winning photos, along with comments from our judge, local photojournalist and sports shooter Marc Lebryk:
"Tossing one back" by Thomas Jones.
Comments: I love the actual moment in this shot as a half of a second sooner, or later and the shot would be missed completely. The fish is framed within the birds mouth, and its got a little bit of blur from the motion of being flung in there. Beautiful capture of the Decisive moment, filling the frame enough to not lack in any details. The frame is sharp, and fills the frame meaning the image was well thought out and the photographer waited for "the" moment, not just any moment.
First Runner up:
"Motorcycle Stunts" by Ian Handslope
This image is very pleasing to the eye with a simple composition, as well as being a definite decisive moment. The motorcycle and the rider are now frozen in the air for eternity providing what is almost a feeling of incompleteness for the image. Incomplete in a good way, being that at the first glance the viewer sees the bike and rider in the air, but the more the viewer looks the more they wonder how or if the rider landed the trick they are performing. The red of the bike and warm tones of the rider greatly stand out against the solid blue sky, providing enough contrast to be very pleasing to the eye.
Second Runner up:
"Martin Brodeur Eyes Puck and Saves the day" by Richard Druckman
Comments: This shot is a great example of freezing time. The shutter is fast enough that the puck is frozen in time, and it is crisp enough that you can see the Goalie's eyes eyeballing it. The shot would be made better if the image was tighter, either by a crop (assuming sharpness is there), or if longer glass would have been used. It can be hard to use long glass shooting hockey though, since usually you're shooting through Lexan or shooting through a hole cut in the lexan. It's like I tell students I've taught in classes in the past; Fill your frame.
Third Runner up:
"Hit by Pitch" by Phil Strauder
Comments: I love the emotion in this frame. The batter was definitely just nailed by the ball and it shows, and the ball itself being in the frame make it so that you understand the elements of the story without needing any explanation. This really is a great example of the decisive moment because it freezes a window in time, and could honestly be named anything because the elements in the image tell the whole story.
Comments for everybody else:
Lots of things can be decisive moments, even if you stage them to be a moment. Example being photographing water droplets. The key to the decisive moment with people though is telling a story through the image as opposed to the title. A few images were beautiful, but required the title to tell the story. Another image used a longer shutterspeed to create an abstract image; which while pleasing to the eye, wasn't really a "decisive moment" as much as it was an "extended moment". Extended moments can be part of a Decisive moment, but really only when Panning, or providing as light motion blur for surroundings and not the subject. Faces are also incredibly important. leaving someone faceless can be just as important as showing their face. Leaving things to the side, or half covered isn't the way to go. It's kind of an all or nothing deal, like sharpness.
There are two things that my photo professor taught me that I feel as though can greatly improve any photographers images. Your image needs to be either Razor Sharp or very obviously intentionally unsharp, as well as always remember to Fill the Frame. Those two things will greatly increase the visual interest and quality of any photographers work. I hope that everybody in this contest takes that to heart, and the next contest everybody feels as though their work has been greatly improved by those simple words.
I'm glad everybody went out on a limb as entering a contest can be nerve racking sometimes. You never know how the judge will react, and hopefully some of the participants feel as though they were able to learn something with my few thoughts of the group as a whole. Continue to enter the contests, get feedback, become a better photographer. It'll be the easiest, cheapest, experience you can get.
And there we go. Thank you everybody for entering, even if your photos weren't accepted for the final competition. Thomas Jones will be receiving a $50 Roberts Gift Card and an 11x14" canvas wrap print of his winning image. We are looking to try another contest in July, so, keep your eyes peeled.