Amateur Photographer Forum competition results for the June 2014 round – My Favourite Image

a competition that called for your favourite images was never going to be easy.
In fact, for reasons I’m sure you can appreciate, this was the hardest round
for me to judge. Someone on the forum asked me what would constitute a
favourite image. Should their entry be an image that worked best on a technical
level, or one that simply held some personal emotional significance for them?
My response was as follows:

The image should hold personal
significance. As we’ve seen in previous rounds, technical imperfections can be
an image’s strongest virtue, so a great image doesn’t have to be technically
accomplished by any means. I’ve often adored images that are out-of-focus,
grainy and defy every ‘rule’ of photography. On the other hand, your favourite
image could be one that demonstrates the time you finally overcame some
technical challenge. People’s images become their favourites for a variety of

Take a look
at The Guardian website and the My Best Shot features. Then look at the number
of reader comments beneath calling them rubbish. Photography is a truly
subjective affair, as we all know.

So there we have it. That should give
you some idea of how I went about my judging. It should also give you some idea
of what a lazy person I am as a writer when I just copy and paste my own words
onto a different thread. When I judge a competition, my opinion is entirely
subjective. I can only pick images that have a personal resonance – images that
I see a part of myself in. That’s why I think it’s crucial that if any of you
see an image you like in the competition make that known in the comments
section of the forum competition. Ask yourself why does it work and what does
it mean to you?

Let’s take a look at the top three
images from ‘My Favourite Image’.

Contents not included
Prize applies to UK & EU residents only

Our first prize winner receives a Manfrotto Active Backpack I. The bag is a structurally sound, high-capacity yet compact rucksack that can also be used as a standard daypack. With its capacity to hold a DSLR system with 2 standard lenses, 15″ laptop as well as personal items and accessories. The bag has four zippered compartments with the top part designed for personal items and the bottom for photo gear.

3rd Place
Stephen67 – Wired

This is one of those instances where an
image brought to mind the work of a particular photographer. As I’ve said
before, that’s not a bad thing at all. On this occasion the photographer who
entered my mind was Harry Callahan, a master practitioner of multiple
exposures. That’s obviously not the method that Stephen67 has employed here,
but the effect is the same. Here, as with Callahan, we have a focus on light
and dark, as well as line and form. The gentleman in the image is perfectly
placed, and despite existing in a chaotic frame he is clearly the subject of
the image. That said, reducing the image to monochrome has emphasized that this
is an image that is less about that particular subject – despite its prominence
– and more about an arrangement of shapes and lines.

2nd Place
JackHood – Against the Elements

Jack Hood is a name many readers and
gallery viewers will be familiar with. A couple of years ago we featured his
extraordinary macro shots and I was lucky enough to interview him. With such a
strong body of work it must have been difficult selecting the one image he was
most proud of. This is a departure from the kind of work I’ve seen from Jack.
The subject is familiar, but his presentation of it differs from the popping
verdant colours I had previously seen. Here we have drama and atmosphere. A
simple everyday scene is enhanced by a stark tonal range and beautiful light.
It’s a gorgeous image and one I would happily hang on my wall.

1st Place
Chrisevans – Jess – The Levitating Lady

think most of us can agree this is a pretty impressive shot. Rather than me go
on about why I like it, I’ll leave it to Chris himself to explain exactly how
it was done:

As I said in my submission, this shot was by far the most difficult,
emotional, stressful, time-consuming yet fulfilling photo I’ve ever taken. I had only been shooting with the Nikon D7000
– my first ever DSLR – for 12 months before I took this shot. Come the time of
the shoot, I actually thought I was crazy to think I could pull it off, but I
had this wonderfully willing model at my disposal.

Jess was amazing. She wanted some head shots for her new casting cards
so I took those first. One of these was used as the hanging portrait on the
wall above the sofa looking down on herself. I wanted to do this to give the
image a more eerie quality.

The Lighting
The main shot was set up in a meeting room, which was painted a stunning
blood red with a matching sofa. Lighting came from my two second-hand Speedlights
recently purchased from eBay. Flash 1 was placed camera right and was fired
through a large 80cm Lastolite soft box. This gave a large volume of soft light
ideal for Jess and the sleeping beauty feel I was after. Flash 2 was positioned
camera left and was used as a rimlight to separate Jess’s legs from the dark
background. It was fitted with a small grid to confine the light to her legs
and not spill onto sofa or background.

The Shot
Jess has many talents. Sadly, levitation is not one of them. This is a
two-shot setup and I now understand fully what it’s like to have someone across
a barrel. The first shot was taken with Jess lying on a large plastic barrel that
was supporting her in the small of her back. Her right foot received extra
stability from a small chair. Once all the elements were balanced in position,
I took the shot. All props were then moved out of the scene and another shot was

Post Processing
The two shots I had were opened into one document in Photoshop, one on
top of the other. The image without Jess and the props was on the bottom layer.
I created a mask layer for the top shot of Jess and as I mask off (or delete)
the area where you can see the barrel it reveals the underlying image of the
sofa shot without the barrel. Illusion created.

It was a fantastic experience. I set the
bar conceptually very high, but thanks to a very patient and willing model I
got what I wanted.”

Find out how to enter the 2014 competition

Look at all the entries for this round

Read all comments for this round

Leave your comments for winning pictures for this round