Nature Photography Competition – April Winner!

Working through almost 400 entries to ultimately select one winner is tough.  Very tough.

 

This is what the Wild Eye team and our panel of international judges had to work though the last work or so but now that the dust has settled we finally have a winner and two runners up for the month.

 

As with all competitions which involves judging you will never keen everybody happy.  In an upcoming blog post I will share with you how the top ten images are chosen but rest assured that every single image get considered,scrutinized and ultimately judges according to the following criteria:

 

- Technical Quality

- Subject Matter & Content

- Composition

 

Each judge scores the above according to a certain set of criteria and then there is also a certain allowance made for each judge’s personal feelings about the image.  All the scores are tallied up and the ten images with the highest scores go through.  It is a slow process but more on this later.

 

For now, here are the winners and two runners up for April 2012 in the Wild Eye Nature Photography Competition!

 

Winning Image – April 2012

 

Gecko in the Dunes

Image by Isak Pretorius

 

For his winning image Isak will, apart from progressing to the grand finals, receive:

 

- ProBody Sport sponsored by Clik Elite SA

- Copy of Colors of Southern Africa sponsored by Hannes Lochner

- R 1,000 rental voucher from Wild Eye

- 8GB CF Memory Card

- Wild Eye Baseball Cap

 

Judges Feedback

 

Andy Biggs:  I love this photo!  The posture of the gecko really makes this image what it is.  The inclusion of the environment with the use of a wide angle lens helps give the image a sense of place, which is important.  The sense of space is what sets the image apart from an image that could have been taken in a captive environment, such as a zoo.  Very well done.

 

David Lloyd:  It’s nice to get a (near) macro with a great deal of the subject’s environment included. It looks like it was taken with a fisheye which means that this gecko was surely inches away from the photographer and I can be sure that the photographer was covered in sand afterwards. To be honest I don’t know how fast this guy moves but if he’s anything like the geckos I’ve seen then I’d expect he had to be quick for this picture. I thinks it’s a very appealing shot and I think the photographers decision to middle the subject was a good one.

 

Greg du Toit:   This is a very special image in that it shows a subject in its environment.  The subject in question is also very small and the photographer has done an amazing job in showing us this creature in its world.  ‘What about the subject being in the middle?’ some of you might ask.   In my opinion, the composition works well here as it helps show the expansive 180 degree environment!

 

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1st Runner Up – April 2012

 

Common Scarlet Butterfly

Image by Elaine de Bruyn

 

For her second placed image Elaine will, apart from progressing to the grand finals, receive:

 

- Traveler Shoulder Bag sponsored by Clik Elite SA

- R 500 rental voucher from Wild Eye

- 8GB CF Memory Card

- Wild Eye Baseball Cap

 

Judges Feedback

 

Andy Biggs:  I have to admit that I am not very well leaned in the ways of macro photography, however this photograph grabbed me as being unique and very interesting.  Tack sharp, nice and even background that doesn’t interfere with the subject and a very nice color palette. I wonder how many shots were needed to get the image, as shooting butterflies that are still aren’t commonplace!

 

David Lloyd:  Bright colour wins in a colour picture and this one has a good representation of all of the primary colours. I’ve always felt that orange goes well with green and the blue adds a little more. This is a very pleasing picture and  would imagine the photographer must have needed plenty of patience for this one. (Butterflies normally fly away when me or my shadow encroaches towards workable distances.)

 

Greg du Toit:   This is a wonderful macro image!  The photographer has managed to get the eye of the butterfly nice and sharp and there is sufficient depth of field (public enemy number 1 for macro shooters) to really make this image work.  The use of flash here is also excellent as it helps reveal detail  and to juxtaposes the butterfly against the darker blue background beautifully!

 

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2nd Runner Up – April 2012

 

Namib Fairy Circle

Image by Mark Dumbleton

 

For his third placed image Mark will, apart from progressing to the grand finals, receive:

 

- Memory Card Valet and Wrist Strap sponsored by Clik Elite SA

- R250 rental voucher from Wild Eye

- Wild Eye Baseball Cap

 

Judges Feedback

 

Andy Biggs:  Wonderful landscape image of a subject that have found challenging to capture. Fairy circles can be found all throughout Namibia, I haven’t seen one as compelling as this image. The photographer must have used a combination of ND grad filters for the sky as well as for the entire scene, as the clouds have a wonderful whisp-y character to them as a result of a slow shutter speed. Very well done.

 

David Lloyd:  I think superwide/fisheye may have been a subconscious theme to this months competition. Never having photographed a gecko or successfully a butterfly, now I find I’m unfamiliar with in this one too, so I’m beginning to find myself a little out of my depth this month. Once again it’s the warm and earthy colour that makes this one deserve its placing this month, and together with the openness it depicts well, typifies a place like Namibia well. That in itself makes it a successful picture.

 

Greg du Toit:   This is an image I just keep staring at!  The circular shape of the fairy circle anchors this image superbly.  The horizon at the top and detail in the distant mountains is brilliant.  But, what really makes this image for me is the dynamic movement of the clouds.  The clouds add a surreal dimension to the scene, elevating it into the realms of ART!

 

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A big congratulations to Isak, Elaine and Mark on their amazing images which will now also progress through to the grand final where they will stand a chance to win a photo safari for two to photograph the great migration in the Masai Mara in 2013!

 

There are still 8 months left meaning that there are still 24 spots available in the grand finals!  Make sure you give yourself a chance and enter to stand a chance to win some incredible prizes.  For more information on how to enter click here.

 

As with each the last couple of months, here are the highly commended images, in no particular order, that made it into the Top 10 and came very close to making it into the top three.

 

Highly Commended Images – April 2012

 

 

Wildebeest Sunset

Image by Brendon Jennings

 

This is a wonderful moody image that goes to show that you don’t always need leopards or lions to capture the essence of Africa.  One of the questions that came up during judging was whether Brendon shot this as a part of a sequence as there might have been a frame where the ‘running’ action of the wildebeest is shown more clearly.  Apart from that a fantastic image.

 

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Taking Flight

Image by Isak Pretorius

 

A fantastic action image where Isak clicked the shutter at exactly the right time.  This image is crisp, tells the story very well and used great implied diagonal2 lines to lead the viewer’s gaze from the bottom left to the top right of the frame.

 

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Cheetah at f/2

Image by Brendon Jennings

 

This image shows great use of the shallow depth of field created when shooting at f/2.  Some of the discussions during judging revolved around whether the image would have been better if the second cat was not included.  In the end it was agreed that the focus is without a doubt the main cheetah’s face.  Lovely image.

 

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Vulture and Jackal

Image by Stephen Earle

 

Photographing interaction has got to be one of the most exciting parts of wildlife photography and Stephen captured a fantastic moment here.  Everything from the eye contact, diagonal line between the two animals and the vultures wings folded over the scene makes for a very powerful image.

 

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Topi Sunrise

Image by Mike Gaudaur

 

A stunning scene which shows a herd of Topi against an African sky.   Some judges comments was that the animals might be just too small but overall a very powerful image.

 

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Frozen

Image by Isak Pretorius

 

Clean and clinical.  Isak could not have timed this one better.  The Teal’s feet and tail touching an otherwise flat water surface makes for a very stron image with a great title.

 

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Pouncing Goshawk

Image by Hendri Venter

 

If you have ever seen a goshawk in flight, and especially when it is dropping down to the floor, you will appreciate the skill it takes to create a sharp image like this.  Great timing.  Technically perfect.  A great image!

 

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So there you have it.   A fantastic collection of images!

 

Once again a huge shout out to our panel of international judges who assisted in choosing the winner and two runner ups.  Great to have their input in choosing the winner and get feedback on each image.  Also, I would like to thank Clik Elite SA for not only recognizing the photographic quality of images being uploaded to the competition but also for coming on board and sponsoring some truly amazing prizes.  Thanks guys!

 

As always we will be getting in touch with the winner and runner’s up to arrange for the delivery of their prizes and to get the RAW images of their images as these will be used during the judging process in the final.

 

Here are a number of links that you can check out for more information on the 2012 Wild Eye Nature Photography Competition which includes details on how to enter as well as all the entries for January and February this far:

 

 

The competition for May 2012 is already open and there are some fantastic images being uploaded.  Check out the entries for May 2012 and then make sure to get your entries in to stand a chance to win that magical trip for two to the Masai Mara in 2013!

 

Now as a separate competition on the side we asked you guys to predict the winner of this months competition.  The first person who correctly predicted was Andrew Aveley who wins some cool gear from Clik Elite SA.  Big shout out to everybody who shared their predictions, and especially to Guy Dekelver who gave it a good go!  We will do it all again next month so keep an eye on the May gallery and start choosing your favorites!

 

Thanks for all the support around the competition!  The images are getting better and better and we look forward to seeing our 36 finalists taking shape as the year goes on!

 

As always we would love to hear your feedback!   Did your favorite image make it to the Top 10?  Drop us a comment with your thoughts!

 

Until next time and good luck!!

 

Gerry van der Walt

 

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