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WINNERS of the Weekly Challenge #323 "I Spy with My Little Eye Two..."
Posted By: chmance, 05-10-2015, 02:43 AM

Greetings from Beautiful Vancouver in Beautiful British Columbia.

I apologize for the days it took me to declare the winners. It had been an incredibly busy week at work. Moreover, this is my first try at judging photos and I want to give each entry much thought rather than a cursory treatment. I did not expect the punishment that comes with winning first place in the previous week's competition. LOL! I had to judge 34 entries (see them here and how I wish each wins an award. I've created some special categories though: Most Imaginative Entry, Most Humorous Entry, Most Puzzling Entry, and Most Confusing Entry. Hahaha! Read on.

Arnold: Thanks Arnold for posting the first photo to start this 323nd edition of the Weekly Photo Challenge. Excellent choice of subject to portray the theme. You can never go wrong choosing two flowers blooming in "all their glory" to use your words. The roses' yellow colour sets them apart from the dark background. I could almost smell the floral scent. I would have loved though to see some breathing space around the flowers and the background blurred a bit more to give this photo that X factor.

K David: I read that a photographer’s choice of subjects reveals much about who he is as a person. (Some Pentaxian ought to write a Ph. D. dissertation on that.) I suspect you are a people person, K David, because you are one of the only two entrants who submitted people as subject. The colour rendition of the skin and hair and the soft outdoor lighting are noteworthy. (I suspect this was taken on an overcast day.) What do I love about this photo? It communicates affection, warmth, and companionship. Now, imagine if the lady's eyes were shut too just like the man's. That would take this photo to the next level. What if the background were blurred? It is unfortunate that the railing seems to be growing out of the couple’s heads. However, those shortcomings do not take away from the human-interest value of this photo.

RollsUp: When I first saw this, my mind went, "Two what?" Then I saw the seeds (or are they cereals?) on the snow. Three positive things stand out in this entry: First is the utter simplicity of the colour palette dominated by the white snow. The palette is basically the interplay of black and brown and tones in between. This is most evident in the intricate feathers. Second is the diagonal orientation of the bird relative to the frame. That lends a visual tension to what it otherwise an aurally still scene (saved perhaps for the bird’s feeble tweets). Lastly, this entry is a classic example of less is more. I like your minimalist approach, RollsUp. I can't think of anything to improve this photo saved perhaps for that missing highlight in the bird’s eye.

Scomatic: Stunning landscape. I like many things here: the leading line on the dry/wet sand, the ominous-looking clouds in the horizon, the inviting waves lapping the shore, etc. Where is this sliver of heaven, scomatic? Your entry made me work hard on counting accurately. One ... two lounge chairs. One ... two coconut fronds. One ... two coconut trees. (One ... two oysters sunbathing on the rocks. LOL.) Much as I love the mood and composition of this landscape, I feel that too many twos in it diluted, rather than added, to your effort to effectively portray the theme.

Atupdate: There is no mistaking what the subject is here. My daughter, who adores small dogs, saw this last night and her immediate comment was, “I love this one. I think this deserves to win.” Sometimes the merit of a photo lies not so much in its technical execution but in how it documents a fleeting moment in the company of those we adore, including pets. This is the beauty of this photo. (I have a dog too that ended up with my other daughter, who lives in another city. I miss my bichon and I always end up looking at his picture in my cellphone.)

Kobie: Technically excellent. As I was staring at this photo of two seagulls in a fight, I can’t help but imagine how challenging it is to maintain focus, ensure adequate DOF, and time the shot(s) of these two rapidly moving birds. I love the outspread wings and the open beaks. It is a pity that owing to colour, there is no clear visual separation between the birds and the sand. The flat lighting did not help. Am sure though that some thoughtful postprocessing could give this photo some visual punch.

Slowpez: Another lovely bird entry. I notice there two layers in this photo. First is the theme-driven portrayal of two subjects --- sandhill cranes --- from a physical stand point. Second is the portrayal of repeating patterns using two eyes, two beaks, and two necks. This technique is reminiscent of your other stunning wildlife pictures posted on Pentax Gallery. (I clicked on that link My PPG below your entry.) However, the out-of-focus background somehow distracts me. I also would like to see some spatial separation between the beak of the bird in the background and the head of the bird in front.

Photolady95: A beautiful macro-photographic look into the world of petals and pollens. I had to pause for a while to figure out what those yellow things were. Initially, I thought they were mushrooms. Then I realized they were anthers. I like it when a photograph puzzles the viewer. Just one more comment: the two water droplets somehow distract me. I was looking for a place to rest my eyes on.

Tamia: This picture is absolutely gorgeous given the arrangements of the elements and the mood, which says, “It is lonely and cold out here. I need company.” (The title Together on a Cold Day reinforces that message.) I particularly like the (1) diagonal orientation of the twig and (2) the pair of birds perched on its end, which, respectively, provide (1) a linear counterpoint to the orientation of the larger branches and (2) a visual counterweight to the trunk. The colour palette is simple --- black to brown against the stark whiteness of the snow --- interrupted only by the greenish tinge on the out-of-focus pine bough on the upper right hand side. Three things I would love to have seen in this entry: (1) a slightly brighter exposure; (2) a “whiter” snow to increase the birds’ delineation from the background; and (3) a catchlight on the eye of the bird on the left (which am sure was impossible given the lighting condition and the distance from which this was taken). Overall, this is a very lovely entry.

Outis: Let me quote MadMathMind: “This thread seems to show us that birds come in pairs a lot …” Absolutely true and this entry from Outis is proof of that observation. This is unique in that it is the only entry with the theme portrayed through the use of silhouettes. Outis, did you realize that your work is a commentary on duality? I see duality in light (setting sun’s warm light) versus darkness (birds and trees); stillness (bird on the tree) versus motion (bird in flight); and animate (crows) versus inanimate (tree). Here's one thing that might improve the composition. The out-of-focus tree limb at the bottom may need some cropping. Perhaps changing the aspect ratio so that you have less of the bottom third would help

Sealonsf: How did you get them to pose perfectly for you? Either you bribed them. (How many buckets of peanuts?) Or you waited patiently for the right moment. It looks like you took this from a boat or something that makes taking this even more challenging given the appropriate depth of field and the amazing sharpness of the elephants. Great picture!

Hattifnat: Engaging landscape. Engaging mood. Engaging depth of field. I like the arrangement of the primary elements: the pair of benches facing the sunset invites me to sit on either one and contemplatively gaze at the sunset and the trees silhouetted against it. I could almost hear myself muttering, “It is lonely and cold out here. I need company.” Not only are the scene and mood engaging; but the technical aspects of this photo are also commendable. The twigs in the foreground and the twigs in the far horizon are all sharp (I examined the larger file in Flikr in a big monitor), thus giving the viewer a sense of being actually there. I like many things about this picture but the title “Two Benches, Two Tree …” is stretching it a bit for I counted more than two trees. LOL! (Okay, okay, okay. I know you were highlighting the two trees in the line of sight to the sunset.) Am not into heavy postprocessing, yet I would prefer a lighter rendition of the snow to give this very beautiful work a little bit more zest. That, of course, is just my personal taste.

Jacamar: Another gorgeous bird entry. Judging this thread is getting harder by the minute. I appreciate the minimalist approach here. Two swans flying in perfect synchrony against a perfectly blue and empty sky. The swans’ black beaks and feet provide a robust counterpoint to the preponderance of white and blue in this composition. Great timing too.

MadMathMind: What … another twosome from the avian world? LOL! (Interesting there were not more dog entries given that most pictures are from North America.) Lovely colours. Lovely subjects. Lovely exposure. You timed it well because it is not often you get birds “posing” this way. The many tiny circular highlights are pleasing. I would have loved if the background is not as busy and the palm tree is positioned more towards the right side away from birds’ heads. Would a vertical composition fit the subject more?

Charliezap: I give these picture three loud cheers. The first cheer is for superb focusing. Given your use of an old manual focus glass, it is hard to pull this off. (Did you use the SMC Pentax M 100mm f/4.0 macro? I have one and I know its relatively long focus throw is a real challenge given a rapidly moving subject.) Thanks for including the EXIF data. The second cheer is for the superb timing and appropriately short flash burst to freeze the decisive moment. This shows mastery of gear. The third cheer is for the pleasing composition: the hummingbirds are placed at just the right spots. Two comments though before I end. How I wish (1) the tail of the bird on the right was part of the composition and (2) the saturation of the red bird feeder and the glossy reflection of the flash were a tad muted. I think a black and white rendition would be interesting.

SpecialK: This was the first entry that made me laugh. The resolving power of the lens you used is amazing. I can see the lint on the rocks. LOL! We need more entries like this that leaves a lot to the imagination. Am sure there are two subjects lurking somewhere there. Unfortunately, my two little eyes are not allowed to see them. Hahaha! I would give you an award though: The Most Imaginative Entry.

Arjay Bee: This is a classic illustration that you can break a cardinal rule in photography and place your subject dead centre. I love that (1) the two butterflies are symmetrically placed, (2) the lepidopteran wings mimic the shape of the leaves, and (3) the colour palette is simple and pleasing. There is only one downside I see in this otherwise stunning entry --- the top portion of the wings is significantly out of focus. Unfortunately, that is the first part that catches the viewers’ eyes. I know the technical challenge of doing that given the rapid fall-off in the DOF for macro or zoom lenses with some macro capability.

Frankthewitch: Frank, are these two bananas part of the witch’s brew for that day you snapped this entry? This is a rather unique portrayal of the theme. A picture of two bananas is banal but you have added some elements to make this out of the ordinary. I love the directional lighting and the mood it creates. The addition of that pendant saying “Just for Today” adds to the story. It made me wonder if the photographer was on a diet. I would prefer to see the whole bananas and the string to be totally sharp given the totally out-of-focus background.

Geomez: Viewing this in a big HD monitor is a visual treat par excellence with its high resolution, accurate colour rendition, and soft lighting. I could count the strands of hair and whiskers of these big cats. Try looking at the eyes with the lioness and you'll get a feel for not just the beauty but the brawn of these beasts. Again this last comment is a reflection of personal taste. I was thinking what if the lioness’s eyes were placed slightly above the vertical midpoint with the inclusion of more of the lower portion of the body and less of the male’s mane? I think that would add one more erg of power to this outstanding photo.

Jheu02: This is a pleasing shot unique among the entries in taking its cue from the architectural world. I can see that you put a lot of thought into this picture given the placement of the elements following the Rule of Thirds. The placement of the cross on the right bell tower and the sun peering through the windows show someone with a keen understanding of the visual arts. The presence of details in the shadows held my attention as I explored what things are hidden in the darker part of the photos. (Did you know that this photo converts wonderfully to sepia? I have downloaded a few of the photos and experimented with conversion to see if they are better rendered in monochrome.) My last comment: I see that this was taken with a 4X6 aspect ratio; I find that an 8X10 would work better for this one with less empty sky in the upper third.

Buruny: Gorgeous landscape! Is this on planet earth? From the verdant grass on the foreground to the faint outlines of the mountain peaks in distant horizon, all the elements of a beautiful landscape are captured here. Two things from my “how-I-wish” list for this entry. (1) Two spots in the sky are washed out. I downloaded this photo and tried opening it in Camera Raw. There were no data in those washed out areas. (2) How I wish the other horse wasn’t so shy. I would love to see its face.

Simon_199: Simon, am glad you said that you spied two bugs. Otherwise, I'll need a microscope to find the other bug. Seriously, this photo made me chuckle for a few minutes. Yours added spice to the variety of entries. You have contrasting subjects in terms of size and species and that makes your entry wonderfully incongruous! Hence, I bestow on you a special award: The Most Humorous Entry. Just a thought: Have you tried a narrower aspect ratio (say 4X6 rather than panoramic) for this photo? That would result in a crop that would remove the distracting highlights on the right side.

Rod_grant: This is another that is best experienced in a big high-def monitor. I could almost hear all the squawking and splashing in this picture. An aptly timed shot. The pelican’s bright colours contrast nicely against the drab background. Did you tell those smaller waterbirds to look at the pelicans? They definitely help direct the viewers’ attention to the pelicans.

Dieterson: This is the only entry that makes me hungry. I love how (1) the subtle lighting sculpts the fruit giving it a three dimensional quality; (2) the branches are oriented in such a way that they direct attention to the fruit; and (3) the apples’ colour set it apart from the rest of the composition. Do you have a horizontal composition for this one? That might be more appropriate for this scene.

Sorel63: Welcome to the Pentax Forums. I see that you are a newbie here like me. This is a very colourful attempt at portraying our theme. The yellow flowers (sunflowers?) contrast nicely with those two dark insects. (By the way, what are those creatures?). This is a lovely picture in need of a make-over. How? I would crop it following the Rule of Thirds and put the insects away from the centre. You can reattempt this shot with an opening smaller than f/7.1 to get a deeper depth of field so the entire insects are sharp. You would also need to invite those insects for a retake. ; )

Perspicador: Birds really do come in pairs especially when they want their pictures taken, don’t they? You have colourful geese here contrasting nicely against the blue sky with the sunlight coming from low in the horizon. I would love to see this composition in a larger file.

Kyricom: Two candles. Two books. Two candle holders. That makes six subjects! : ) While the vast majority of entries portrayed the theme taking subjects from the world of people, fauna, and flora, you gave it a shot using a still life. I love the warm tone of this photo. I could almost smell the candles and sense the warmth of the flames. And as a book worm, I can relate to this picture. My parting comments: Do you have other shots of this scene? How about more breathing space around the books and the candles?

StephenHampshire: Great storytelling here. I think WC just spotted two more cigars. Seriously, I love the lomographic-like rendition of the colours in this entry. The subject does appear to say, "I spy with my little eye (literally in this entry) two …” Very apt entry.

Mail2rich: Yes, there are lots of twos in this photo. Two wings on the plane. Two engines on each wing. Two contrails from each engine. Oh … should that be just one contrail from each engine? Now am confused. I am giving an award: The Most Confusing Entry. Hahaha! Wise attempt at portraying the theme. Lovely diagonal lines. Lovely colour palette of white on blue.

DoctorX: My first thought when I saw this entry in my cellphone’s puny screen was: “Hey, there is a wonderful story going on here. The shutterbug is spying on a pair of eyes behind the leaves. Those eyes behind the leaves are spying on a pair of eyes behind the lens. Who is really spying on who?” There is a strong element of serendipity in this photo. Sure the out-of-focus leaves are distracting but the double-edged storytelling element overpowers that visual distraction. I love the fact that the cat’s eyes (1) mimic the colour of the leaves and (2) standout against the black fur. That the whiskers are visible added to the certainty that the surreptitious gaze is from a Felis domesticus and not something else.

Mecrox: This is a work of art so deftly done in black and white! Look at the amazing three-dimensional quality of this photo. The location makes me want to go there and explore. This is a photo where all the ingredients necessary to make it stunning converge. My brain, however, had to burn extra glucose to process the statement: “I spy with my little eye two Homo sapiens.” Somehow there is a disconnect between what is cognitively true and what is visually obvious. Perhaps it is because one is rendered as a silhouette and the other isn’t. It took me awhile to realize that indeed there were two old men. The storytelling here would have jive better with the theme had both been sitting close to each other, whether in the shade or in the open.

Noelcmn. This is the most puzzling entry as far as I am concerned. (I’d give this The Most Puzzling Award.) What are those red things anyway? Are they really bean seeds? Or jelly beans? Your entry stumps me, noelcmn! Lovely composition with the red subject clearly delineated from the background. The bokeh is lovely. One minor note: The noise caught my attention.

Vaskebjorn: Welcome to one of the planets in the Pentax solar system. You’ve landed in the right place. Glad you’ve joined this thread, where photographers at different skills level are welcome. I can tell these ducks spied on you too because they are on a hasty retreat. : ) This is an interesting attempt to portray our theme. Am glad you sent your first ever entry to this contest.

Skrewloose. Whew! I finally got to the last photo. Your name and entry, including the comments, made me smile. Funny people like you are a big part of the reasons I enjoy this forum so much. I like the mood the two wheelchairs, with its broken rattan seats and backs, sets. It transports me to a period when I would be looking at actual photographs (paper) while typing these comments. The square format fits squarely (pardon the pun) with your subject. I would love to see the exposure a tad brighter. Otherwise this is a good picture for documenting the past and the theme.

Drumroll please. Here are the winners!

Third place goes to hatiffnatt (topmost picture).

Second place goes to RollsUp (middle picture)

FIRST PLACE goes to DoctorX (bottom picture). Yours is the only photo that so effectively conveys the theme at two levels. You have the honour of hosting next week's challenge.

Congratulations to all our winners!

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Last edited by chmance; 05-13-2015 at 03:46 AM.
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05-10-2015, 05:54 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by First Poster Quote
that so effectively conveys the theme at two levels
Very true! A well chosen winner.

Congratulations to DoctorX and also to RollsUp and hatiffnatt. Great photos, everyone :-)

A big thank you to chmance for a fun and interesting topic and the thoughtful commenting!
05-10-2015, 05:54 AM   #3
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Great job chmance. Lots of great entries this week. Congrats to hattinfatt, rollsup and, of course, to doctorx for a really wonderful image.
05-10-2015, 07:10 AM   #4
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Congrats to DoctorX and the runners up in the challenge.Charlie did a great job of judging the challenge.I am looking forward to the next challenge.---Charliezap

05-10-2015, 07:54 AM   #5
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What a visual feast this challenge has been, and for Chmance, a headache inducing challenge. That could not have been easy, and I'm sure your daughter received an extra tight hug for her help. Thanks for a stunning challenge, and for the detailed and constructive comments on all the entries. Much appreciated. Congratulations DoctorX-I reckon our judge got this one right, that is such an appealing photo. Great stuff! And of course to Hatiffnatt: and RollsUp are congratulated too. Thanks for the most puzzling award . Simple really- its seeds -I don't have the exact name (I'll check sometime) but the tree produces an abundance of these. Have a look here for some other images. " target="_blank"> " target="_blank">

Ps. I discovered these are the common Coral tree Erythrina lysistemon

Last edited by noelcmn; 05-10-2015 at 08:03 AM.
05-10-2015, 08:30 AM   #6
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Thanks for the in depth comments and congratulations to the winner, looking forward to the next challenge as usual
05-10-2015, 09:12 AM   #7
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Fab comp! Congrats to the winners and for such positive and sensitive judging!
05-10-2015, 11:53 AM   #8
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Thank you for the third place! Great great challenge and amazing comments. I took my time (and some wine) reading all those while watching the respective pictures in another tab. Very interesting read and I really feel I've learned a few useful things going through all this.

QuoteOriginally posted by First Poster Quote
I could almost hear myself muttering, “It is lonely and cold out here. I need company.”
Those were EXACTLY my thoughts when I took this photo. The original title on Flickr is "Stay here for a while", should have gone with that one. It was indeed very cold but I would had so stayed there a little, if only I had somebody to watch the sunset with.

The quality of the pictures submitted was so high (especially in the light of Charlie's comments) that I really feel like a winner with my third place Congratulations to DoctorX (worthy winner), RollsUp (keep up the minimalist approach) and to everyone who participated! and of course, many thanks to our judge.

05-10-2015, 03:26 PM   #9
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Wow! I'm truly and pleasantly surprised! Thank you chmance for the great theme and thoughtful comments, you set a high bar for judges. There were excellent photos in this week's contest, so much so in fact that I wasn't planning on entering anything until I noticed Frank the Stray stalking me. We were, as you suggested, deeply engaged in co-stalking and I have many soft and one-eyed pictures. This adequately sharp, two-eyed shot was an outlier* (foreshadowy music).

Thanks everyone for the kind words and great pictures. I'll put the next theme up tomorrow.

Matt (DoctorX)

*Outlier | Define Outlier at
05-13-2015, 12:47 AM   #10
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Congratulations again to our winners --- DoctorX, RollsUp, and Hattifnatt.

Thank you for your kind comments regarding my judging. I enjoyed the whole experience totally and can't wait for the next theme.

QuoteOriginally posted by noelcmn Quote
I discovered these are the common Coral tree Erythrina lysistemon
I learned something new from noelcmn. I had no idea red Skittles grow out of those pods. Perhaps I can plant one of those trees here in Canada. LOL!
05-14-2015, 09:42 AM - 2 Likes   #11
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Good day,

A bit late, but nevertheless it was nice to compete.
I also know the below photo can not compete anymore, but today I found a creature not often encountered that would have fit in this contest perfectly.

I found one of the infamous treepeople peeking at me


Last edited by Vaskebjorn; 05-14-2015 at 09:47 AM.
05-14-2015, 04:47 PM   #12
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Congratulations DoctorX, RollsUp and Hatiffnatt on your wins! Charlie, you did a fabulous job judging entries in this excellent theme. Outstanding! Thanks for the thoughtful comments on everyone's photos. As for the lighting on my photo, you're right, it wasn't really possible to bring out the eyes. It was a very dark early morning, unfortunately. I was moved by the togetherness of the two starlings on this rather brutal day. Great job everyone!

---------- Post added 05-14-15 at 07:51 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Vaskebjorn Quote
Good day,

A bit late, but nevertheless it was nice to compete.
I also know the below photo can not compete anymore, but today I found a creature not often encountered that would have fit in this contest perfectly.

I found one of the infamous treepeople peeking at me

Welcome to the forum, Richard! This is an extraordinary photo, very interesting. Terrific capture!

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