We want to start out this post with saying how honored we were to receive so many truly stunning photographs for this contest. It was obvious that you all went to great lengths to take these fantastic shots. The level of skill and technique was above and beyond what we could have hoped for. Thank you to everyone who submitted a picture for this contest. As we always like to acknowledge – it is very difficult to put your pictures out there for critique and judgment, so we are grateful to all that participated. Each one of you should be very proud of the pictures that you took, and we hope they are all hanging in your homes!
We would also like to take a moment to thank our very gracious judges; John Vanausdall, President of the Eiteljorg Museum of Western Art and professional photographer Marc Lebryck, who is the custom content photographer for the Indianapolis Star. Your opinions, point of view, artistic eyes, knowledge and experience were such a huge contribution to this contest. We appreciate all of your time and comments regarding these photographs.
And now…for our winner! We would like to congratulate Cynthia Baldauf of Pittsboro, Indiana for her winning photograph, “Cowboy in the Dust.”
Winner: Cynthia Baldauf; “Cowboy in the Dust”
Summary of comments from Marc and John: This photo stood out in the very beginning as a potential winner. It embodied everything that we were looking for related to the theme of this contest. This picture is truly a piece of art. One of the things that we loved most about this picture is the story that it tells; which is the ranching story of the West and that this story is not just about the past, it still goes on today. We also love the anonymity of it. You can’t see the cowboys face, but you can still see his story and a small glimpse of his life. Everything about this picture, from the cows walking towards you to the dust in the air, makes you feel like you could actually be there. The technical aspects of this picture are also very good. The composition is very well thought out, it is sharp where it needs to be and it is colorful where it needs to be. The subject stands out perfectly. It is not trying too hard or forcing the image upon you – it is just simply a beautiful picture telling a beautiful story. Congratulations Cynthia!
See more of Cynthia’s images at www.cynthiabaldaufimages.com
Second Place: Kamthorn Lee; “Stormy Night in a Wild West Town”
Summary of comments from Marc and John: This was another photo that caught us by surprise from the start and we kept coming back to it. This beautiful picture gave us such a different and modern take on the West. This picture has a clear focal point of the lightning, which is perfectly captured, but it also has the very captivating small western town. Everything from the lights gleaming off the wet streets to the store names leaves you waiting for an old style gun slinger to come running out and jump on his horse. We were also very taken with the colors in the picture. The blues of the sky are so vibrant, but the orange hue of the street lights and the store windows give you a warm feeling. The only thing we would have improved up on here is that the left hand side of the picture is a little too dark. It would be interesting to see this photo with that either cropped out or with a little different post-production work to the lighting. All in all, a really fantastic image that this photographer should be very proud of.
Not that we are complaining, but this was a difficult contest to judge because we received SO many really great entries. Therefore, our judging would not have been complete without us mentioning these additional photos. While they were not our winners, these pictures (along with many others) gave our winners a run for their money and we were really impressed by their beauty and originality.
John Barrett: “Milky Way over Bodie, California”
Summary of comments from Marc and John: This picture was one that we all agreed upon was one of our top choices! We love the planning and the thought that went into taking this picture. This is a difficult shot to get and the photographer waited for the right timing and pulled it off very well. First off, the image of the stars is breathtaking. You probably only see stars like this out West, and this photographer went to great lengths to capture that. The way you illuminated the house was also a very nice touch. The only area where we felt you could have improved this picture would be to make it a little warmer by using white balance or post-editing to get some more orange or reddish tones on the house. The blues are beautiful, but that warmer color balance would have really added a lot to this picture. Regardless, a stunning image that captured us from the start.
Cynthia Baldauf: “Partners”
Summary of comments from Marc and John: Yes, another image from our winner…but we couldn’t resist. We also loved this photo and really loved the story that it told. This is a true rancher in his true environment. As with the photographers winning image, this picture also tells the story, but leaves her subject anonymous using shadows and lighting. The sepia tone is a very nice choice for this picture, because it gives you that dusty feeling of being out West, but it also gives you a feeling of warmth. The contrast of the light and shadows gives this picture very nice detail as well. It is illuminated enough just so you can see the weathering of the barn, the cobwebs on the ceiling and the dirt and hay on the ground, which tells more of the story. There were not really any changes we would recommend making to this picture – another excellent image!
Grant Nesbit: “Canyonlands”
Summary of Comments from Marc and John: This was a very good shot! Everything worked together beautifully in this picture. The photographer waited for the right time of day so that there were not shadows or glares – just great blue sky and colorful landscape. The composition of this photo is what really won us over. The angle is an interesting view point, and the relationship of the tree root to the arch of the rock is excellent. The tree root is also in such sharp focus. It makes for a great focal point, but still compliments its’ beautiful background. All in all, this picture is great. The only thing that might have made it better (but which would be completely out of the photographer’s control, is if there were crisp white clouds and big patches of blue sky to accentuate your colors – but as we said, out of a person’s control). You should be very proud of this picture!
Ron Wise: “South Coyote Buttes”
Summary of comments from Marc and John: Anyone looking at this picture will have no question as to why this was one of our favorites. We love the texture that this photo contains, and we love that the photographer chose to display it in black and white. The black and white contrast really brings out the detail and the beauty of the mountain. If this picture was in color, you would probably miss a lot of what this contrast highlights related to the lines and ridging in the mountain. You can also still see that it was a clear, beautiful day by the sky and how the light hits the side of the ridge just right. We hope this picture is framed in your home! It is a great picture.
Rob Baker: “Glacier National Park”
Summary of Comments from Marc and John: Something about the beautiful cobalt blues of this picture really drew us to it. There is a purity and stillness to it that makes you feel like you are there. The stillness of the water and clarity of the reflection is something that is difficult to capture – you either have to stumble upon this moment or plan for the perfect time of day to take a picture like this. It is a very nice landscape shot. Even though the left hand side of the picture is a little dark, it is very balanced and peaceful. Overall, an excellent picture!
Okay…a couple more:
We wanted to highlight just a couple of additional great photos simply for cultural reasons. We felt that these two portraits really captured the spirit of the West from a people perspective. Many people are not aware that these modern, western lifestyles are still there and still going strong. We felt it important to include these two portraits so that you can put faces alongside these beautiful landscapes.
Tom Hissong: “Acoma Native”
John Siskin: “Charlie the Ranch Hand”
We were extremely impressed with the amount of VERY good photographs that were submitted for this contest. One overall piece of advice that we would give is that in photography, waiting for the right light or the right time of day is crucial to getting a winning image. Good timing is the difference between a good and a great picture. Go out and get those morning or evening sunsets, wait 10 minutes for a cloud to move past so your photo doesn’t have shadows that are out of your control, wait for the light to hit that ridge just right, etc. Timing can be luck and you can stumble upon it, but it can also be everything in your picture. Thank you to everyone that submitted their pictures. We loved reviewing each and every photo and feel honored that you shared them with us.