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Winners Weekly Challenge #401 Reflections with Water
Posted By: NickDB, 10-06-2017, 01:17 PM

Phew…. Pentaxians, you’ve given me a tough job. I am not an experienced judge and my comments may be totally out of whack. All I ask is that you treat anything I say as pure observation and an attempt to be constructive. I will try not to be negative for the sake of it, but tell you what I see while in some cases suggesting what I think could make the image better. For the most part, I have been blown away by so many of these entries – what a pleasure it has been to look at them during the last week. Thanks to every one of you for sharing!
Here are some comments….. take ‘em or leave ‘em as you will:

Vaskebjorn: From your logo and your entry, it looks like you are a birder like me. The image is wonderful; you have observed the perfect rule of thirds with your subject moving into the picture. It’s just that I can’t make out (can’t zoom in enough) to see if the coot’s red eye is in pinpoint focus. If it is, with all that motion going on, then you have a great image. If it is slightly blurred, trading a higher shutter speed for an f-stop could have done it. Well captured!

jacamar: I like this one very much; just a pity that the front right avocet had its beak vertical. It is SO difficult to get a group of birds to pose in exactly the same way. But your composition and placements of the birds along the length of this shot are spot on!

whk1992: You’re going to see me write a bit about rippling water in the set of comments below, but sometimes this works in the favour of the photographer. You’ve managed to create one of the loveliest shots of Seattle at night that I’ve ever seen! Using the blur of the unsettled water to create the foreground “smudged-art” juxtaposition against the pin-focused buildings worked immensely well. And you either cropped it perfectly top and bottom, or if you saw that when you constructed your shot, kudos to you!

mattb123: Here is why glassy water works every time! (And not only for water-skiing!) What an immensely good shot. The rule of thirds is there in the vertical plane on the water’s edge and the sweep of the coastline takes the eye only the “blast” effect of the cliffside, creating a focal point 1/3 from the left-hand frame as well. It is a technically excellent shot, it contains beautiful scenery, it works 100% in monochrome, the blacks are rich and the whites are light and it makes me want to go to Colorado tomorrow! Well done.

loco: I sat and looked at this image for a long time, I was enthralled! I’m so glad you beat the fountains, both for the sake of your warmth and our viewing pleasure. What a lovely shot! For a while I thought that you’d just missed a straight horizon, but then saw that the bridge’s slight arch effect gave me that impression. You got this one nailed 100%!

zen3D: Oh wow! You’ve got my favourite subject (a posing bird – is that a great blue heron?) and an ethereal surround created by strong contrasts removing the background. Could you make the blacks a bit deeper / richer? Or does that spoil it? I can’t help feeling that slightly more contrast would enhance this one. But the way you’ve created an isolation for this picturesque subject is quite masterful. Congrats!

pntxjack: You’ve managed to get a crystal-clear focus on that frog’s eye, and I like the way you’ve set the f-stop to create depth, even across the short distance of the amphibian’s head. Imagine if a bug came floating by and it struck out with that long tongue? That would have given this nice image some huge clout! But us nature-photographers can wait a lifetime for that sort of shot and never get it….well tried.

RGlasel: Such a shame that the water was not 100% glassy-flat. This sort of image requires a perfect mirror. Then if you’d managed to widen out and put the water contact line half way up, the small boat on the right a third of the way from the right-hand frame, and redden the sky and reflection a bit with an editor, you’d have something you could proudly put in a frame on your desk!

Hattifnatt: I am amazed at two things….. (1) you got a photo in Ireland without it raining, and (2) your image. I could sit and look at this for lengthy periods of time – it is so serene and tranquil. I like to think that there wasn’t even the sound of bugs or frogs when you took this shot. Your colours are my absolute favourites, and the way you caught the sun’s final rays splitting through the trees means you have a sense of perfect timing! A minute later it would have been gone. A great photo, perfect angle and composition – well done!

eva: Please keep trying, and keep sending your photos, it’s great that you’re using your Pentax for differing subjects. I do like the way you’ve composed the second shot – nice balance. These are good snapshots for the family album, but difficult for me to comment on any technical or aesthetic aspects, I hope you understand? Keep it up….

Arjay Bee: So difficult to get pinpoint focus in caves, but you may have done it (?) I can’t really see without being able to zoom in. Did you have a tripod? The image is intriguing, though….. and without wind you get totally flat water underground! It’s a very pleasant shot, very quiet.

charliezap: This is what I’m talking about when I say “glassy water”. What an incredible mirror image you managed to capture! The minute I saw it I knew you’d inverted it, the reflected detail can’t have more sunlight than the real subject. But wow, how intriguing is this shot? It’s almost a duo-chrome, with not much more than greens and a bit of brown other than B&W. The lighting is stunning, the colours are beautiful and the effect is mesmerizing! Congrats.

aaacb: Personally, I think you got your choice wrong. Here’s why: Although the colour one is bigger and bolder, it has quite a bit of wasted space in the bottom half, creating a heavy underside which detracts from the loveliness of the twilight skyline of the city. Your second image is the kind of shot I like to think I can take, but rarely succeed. Your slightly slower shutter speed creates that misty effect of slow-moving water, while the algae-led contrast on the rock in front creates a subject that draws our eye so easily to the bottom third. Only then do we search for detail on the beach and find that we are suddenly looking at a line along the top third. Your second image may be a lot better than you think! I think it is magical…..

djb47: You were so unfortunate to have petals or other “wee thingies” floating on the water, and a bit of a ripple. A classic case of nature spoiling an otherwise interesting shot. Maybe a wider angle to include the building/castle would have given us a better clarified perspective of the subject? Just saying….

kev.vanmeter: A very good example of an industrial photo that works. Perfectly flat water. Companies pay a lot of money for shots like that of their premises. And it works well in black & white! Have you thought of making calendars for industrial companies?

Knock: As with #1, the unsettled water disturbs what would have been a great mirror image shot. You got your horizontal perfectly middled, though - well done.

rod_grant: You could give this one to the University of Melbourne Geology prof to use in lectures on sedimentology! :-) You live in a spectacular part of the world – hope to see more of it, Digger!

atupdate: I’m still trying to work out of that super-bright light makes or breaks this shot. I’m swayed towards making it – you have created a very strong focal point with it, although it may detract a little from the reflections you have tried to capture.

SpecialK: I know your name from the Weekly Caption Contest! :-) Again, I’m trying to work out if the trees should be there or not. I think what you were attempting to capture was the way the clouds had formed on that day, as they repeated the patterns of the broken tar surrounding the manhole. I wonder if it would work better if you cropped it in from the right, removing all but the top-leftmost tree with the rest of the image, and made it monochrome?

RollsUp: Oh man…. If the front bird was just looking up at you! My son and I are avid birders here in Africa and bird images ideally need the eye in sharp focus. The focus you got brilliantly, showing lovely depth in the image, but you need the eye to make it really good. Nice one, though. Is it in Alaska?

bigoak: Wow, I love this shot! It’s quite dramatic. Imagine if you’d had a bird sitting on that rock? They talk about the 1/3 and 1/6 rules in composition. Sometimes 50% is the only way and you pretty much nailed that in both the X and Y planes. Is that a tiny sun flare centre-left? Try and crop it out, it distracts the eye unnecessarily. But a powerful entry anyway – nice one!

noelcmn: Another regular in the Caption Contest! I’m guessing that’s Rietvlei Pretoria, not Rietvlei Cape Town (the hills are too low for CT). I absolutely love this picture! It may be personal, but I cannot resist sunset colours, clouds in the sky and a wide-angle lens – and African sunsets give you SO much colour it can make you weep! You’ve caught the whole spectrum from the bright oranges and yellows to the pastel blues. If I have anything to add, it would be just to imagine how it would have been enhanced if you’d caught that wee bit more of the circular shape of the clouds towards the upper-left, allowing the clouds and their reflections to complete the loop, as it were. You’ve captured the serenity and natural beauty of the vlei so well.

dlneubec: Indiana is so full of places you want to run away to, to scurry away from the grind; and yet it can be so harsh in the winter. You’ve shown us the sort of place everyone would want to just pitch a tent and stay for a week during summer! What a pity the water was not glassy… it would have turned a peaceful snap into a far more lovely photograph. Also, it may have been a low light condition leading to a slightly off-focus background. No matter, I still want to go there!

So….. the positions. Well, it was easier for me to choose the top 6, but to break that down into the top 3 was much harder, so I chickened out and chose a top 4 – and then picking a winner was impossible so I drew a name out of a hat containing the top 4 names!

Top 4 in order:
1: mattb123 for his perfect shot of the Dillon Pinnacles across the Blue Mesa Reservoir
2: noelcmn for that startlingly good shot across Rietvlei
3: loco for that hard-earned pre-dawn reflective city scene
4: charliezap because it so well reflects (excuse the pun) the topic
Special honours to Hattifnatt and zen3d – I really love your entries, you are talented photographers!

Last edited by NickDB; 10-06-2017 at 01:26 PM. Reason: Correct errors
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10-06-2017, 01:37 PM   #2
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Congrats winners!
10-06-2017, 02:07 PM   #3
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Amazing work- congrats to the winners!

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10-06-2017, 02:56 PM   #4
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Thanks again!

10-07-2017, 07:01 AM   #5
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Very honored to be in 2nd spot, such a wonderful array of images in this challenge. Congrats Mattb123, a stunning B/W, worthy winner. And extended to Loco and CharlieZap. Thanks Nick for the challenge, the comments and critiques, and the 2nd spot. That could not have been an easy exercise!
10-08-2017, 04:45 AM   #6
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Congrats to the winners! Some stunning images there.

NickDB, thanks for the comments! You are right on. That shot caught me with the wrong lens available in low light conditions and no tripod. I wanted to go back last week and take a new one, but the weather didn't cooperate.
10-08-2017, 04:55 AM   #7
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Congratulations to the winners and many thanks to Nick, I think he did a wonderful job as a judge and commenting on all the entries. Also thank you for my mention

QuoteOriginally posted by NickDB Quote
Hattifnatt: I am amazed at two things….. (1) you got a photo in Ireland without it raining, and (2) your image. I could sit and look at this for lengthy periods of time – it is so serene and tranquil. I like to think that there wasn’t even the sound of bugs or frogs when you took this shot.
This is the trick with Ireland I guess, it rains pretty much all the time but often the light is great before or after the rain. My shot was taken just between two showers and yes, there was no sound when I took the photo.

Now let's see what Matt comes up with!
10-08-2017, 08:15 PM   #8
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Congratulations to the winners.


RollsUp: Oh manů. If the front bird was just looking up at you! My son and I are avid birders here in Africa and bird images ideally need the eye in sharp focus. The focus you got brilliantly, showing lovely depth in the image, but you need the eye to make it really good. Nice one, though. Is it in Alaska?
Yes, it was taken in Alaska.

10-08-2017, 09:40 PM   #9
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Congratulations to the winners and thanks Nick for all the comments!
10-09-2017, 10:19 PM   #10
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Congrats to the winners,HM's and NickDB for comenting on each photo.

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