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The Decisive Moment Wrap-Up


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

"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.

"Motorcycle Stunts" by Ian Hanslope

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.

"Martin Brodeur Eyes Puck And Saves The Day" by Richard Druckman

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.

"Hit By pitch" by Phil Strauder

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.

-Marc Lebryk

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.


Roberts Re-Launches Photo Contest, Now Through Facebook

Now, this didn't take us too long, did it? We know you guys all loved the new photo contest, so, we worked extra hard to get it back up, online, and totally better. So, what's new, then?

  1. The contest will now be run through our Facebook page. If you do not use Facebook, you will find a link there to submit through an alternative method.
  2. We will now be using a non-Roberts, professional photographer as our judge: Marc Lebryk.
  3. All photo contests will now include an hour live webcam critique of the five finalist photos, with tips, advice, compliments, and thoughts from our judge.
  4. The rules are now a bit tighter. Heavily watermarked images or advertising will be disqualified, and we strongly expect all submitted photos to be new and unique for the contest.
  5. To help encourage you to stick with the higher expectations, we're raising the stakes, too. Our first photo contest will be for a $50 Roberts Gift Card plus a canvas-wrap print of your photo.
  6. The contest will be every other month, or six times a year.

So, that's the news! The first theme is "The Decisive Moment," which most of you will probably recognize as the key concept given to us by photographic pioneer Henri Cartier-Bresson. The idea was that the photograph, unique to any art form before it, was able to capture precise moments, and that used properly photography was a way of capturing that unique moment in every situation that defined the whole. For Cartier-Bresson, photography was about taking hundreds of shots in the quest for the perfect one that got the scene and timing exactly right. And, that's what we want you to push yourself to do. See the world around you as a series of moments, and work on knowing when to hit the shutter, and on focusing on which photo best captures the essence of the scene you wanted.

And that's it. You can read all the official rules over on the FB page, and get going. You have through the end of the month, and winners will be announced the first Wednesday in June. We'll let you all know later where the video critique is happening, and you're all invited to that.

You can enter here:



Monthly Photo Contests Put On Hold

So, you've all probably noticed our running of the monthly photo contests lately has been a bit... er... bad. We're sorry. We can't actually say enough how sorry we are. The problem is, we've gotten ourselves busy with an unexpected and totally cool project that we've all been working our butts off on, and we let this slip through the cracks. And that's bad. But, we're still too busy with the Super-Cool Secret Project to run the contest the way it needs to be done. So, for now at least, we're calling an end to the monthly photo contests. We're sure they'll come back someday, we just can't tell you when that'll be.

Judging has begun for entries to the last contest, and all pending entries have been approved and are up. We'll announce the winners on here once we have them.


New Photo Contest: White Space

It's a new month, and that means a new photo contest! While our judge gets to work reviewing last month's delicious pie photos, we're going to go ahead and get you going on our new theme: white space. You know, that space around your subject. Sometimes called "negative space." It's empty, "unused" space around your subject matter used to help isolate the subject and give it visual weight and impact. It's an important compositional concept, not just in photography but in all arts, and we want to see what you can do with it. Sort of like a back to basics course.

So, you know what to do. Get out there, shoot, pay attention to your background and foreground. Are they too busy? What can you do to reduce the visual clutter? Maybe find a cleaner wall? Change your angle on that field? And, either way, show more of the space, don't close your subject in with the crop. Give them room to exist, give them space. And then upload the picture to our contest page before midnight November 30th.

And, because we love you all dearly, he's an example photo we like to get you started on the right path:

Enter this month's contest here:


Extending the Hot

Due to some staff shortages around here this week, our judge for the contest is buried and won't have time to review last month's entrants until next week. Sooooo.... we're just going to extend the August contest through to midnight September 11th. You've now got an extra few days to get us those pictures of "Hot," don't waste them.


New Photo Contest - Forced Perspective

So, we finally got a new photo contest up (whoo!). The theme? Forced perspective, baby. You know, that trick they used to turn Elijah Wood into a hobbit? You know, using distance between a far object and a near one to create a spacial illusion with their differing size? Oh, you know what, just check out the Flickr group:

Then go out and shoot your own. Come back and upload it here. At stake, as always, is a 16x20" print for your own personal collection. And some fun. Do people still like fun these days?


March Photo Contest Winners Announced (Finally)

So, last month we had a photo contest, it was called For The Birds. It was out biggest turnout ever (thanks everybody!) and as such took our judge a lot longer than usual to get through. Sorry about that. But, without further ado, here are the multiple winners for that contest:

by Richard Gentry, Monthly Photo Contest winner

by Nathan Gardner, 2nd Place

by Robert Dromgoole, 3rd Place

by Emily Wood, Honorable Mention


Last Photo Contest Over, New Photo Contest Begins

Well, it's April 1st, and that means the last photo contest is officially over. Nope, sadly, this is not a joke. We're done accepting entries for "For The Birds," and judging will now get underway. By the way, congratulations to everyone who entered, with 193 total entires, this was our largest contest turnout ever. Go you!

Now, it's time for a new theme. We wanted to do Spring, but sadly it hasn't shown up here in Indy yet. So, instead, it's springs. Get it? Yeah, we're awful. But, still not kidding. Springs, like the metal ones. They're everywhere in our post-industrial society. Find a way to make them interesting, and you stand to win a 16x20 print and the respect of your peers. And even if you don't win, you get to get out, take photos, and have some fun. So, get to it. Go. Shoo. Stop staring at this computer screen, there're pictures to be taken!


February's Photo Contest Winner Announced

Monthly Photo Contest Winner, by Jennifer Parker

Just a quickie here, but we have finally picked a winner for last month's photo contest, and the award goes to Jennifer Parker, who our judge felt had the most original take on the theme "Marriage" and pushed to find a unique vision for it. Thanks to everyone who submitted, though, and don't forget there's still plenty of time to get your pictures in for our current them, For The Birds.


Ice Contest Winner Announced (Finally!)

by Michel Roy, Monthly Photo Contest Winner

Well, we've (finally) dragged a winner out of our manager, and congratulations and the 16x20" print go out to Michel Roy for his shot of the ice-skating duck. Woohoo!

So, congrats, Michel, and thank you everyone who entered. We had some staff realignments in the middle of it that made things rocky, and we're sorry, but we appreciate every submission we received!