Grand Prize Winner

Young monks from Myanmar
Kyaw Kyaw Winn (Yangon, Myanmar)
Photographed April 2007, Bagan, Myanmar

“Winn traveled north from his home in Yangon to the countryside of old Bagan to capture this image of young Buddhist monks in the Shwesandaw Temple. “I found them lighting candles and praying,” Winn says. “You can see monks everywhere in Myanmar.”

This photo has moderate depth. It is more then just a subject up close, yet its depth ends at the wall. There is an intricacy of lines within this photo from the face of the statue, the table holding the candles,  the candles themselves, to the detailed engravings on the walls. These lines are in different direction but do not distract from the beauty of the picture but rather help to create unity. The monks are in motion, lighting each candle. These creates a mood of a somber nature, full of reflection and meditation. The one monk is off center which makes for a more dynamic picture. The face of the statue falls on a line of the rule of thirds, adding to the dynamism of the picture. The lighting is very natural. However, this lighting is not throughout the picture, its strength varies depending upon the distance from the candles. The monks are lighting the candles, and are also the focus of the photo thus the light emphasizes them.


People Category Winner

Newsstand salesman
Csaba Meszaros (Budapest, Hungary)
Photographed February 2009, Budapest, Hungary

“Meszaros remembers when people would line up at newsstands, and for him this photograph, sadly, is a sign of the times”. “Nowadays,” he says, “electronic media is more important and interest in print media is falling. The news agent has enough free time to read what he is offering. Twenty years ago, this was unthinkable.”

The subject contained within this photo appears to be “framed” by the lines of the magazines. This shallow depth of focus keeps the entire photo at an equal depth.  The actual subject is almost lying on the intersection of lines. As for lighting, it appears to be coming from an angle, directly above. This light illuminates the entire photo but sheds ample light on the subject. The beauty of this photo is in its ability to display a development of the Digital Age. Technology, more importantly media technology is going digital. Mediums are becoming multi-platform and in some fashion converged. The business model of print media is changing, some survive and others do not. One manner of survival is for print to go digital and be “published” through apps on the iPad.

The Natural World Category

Hidden frog
Laurie McAndish King (Novato, CA)
Photographed September 2009, Mendocino, CA

King was experimenting with a new camera in a local Mendocino County garden when a frog paused for a moment on the leaves of a nearby plant. She snapped; it hopped. “I’ve gone halfway around the world looking for new experiences,” she says. “This photo will always remind me of the beauty in my own backyard.”

This picture is has a relatively shallow depth in order to maintain focus on the animal and the plant. The lines within the photo, created by the plant, bring more attention to the frog. These objects are the focus of the picture because of their coloring and beauty in the “backyard” of the artist.  There is no movement, but this emphasizes a “peace” within nature, or in the natural essence.  The angle of the shot gives the picture a dynamic essence that a more straight-balanced shot would not allow for.  The lighting of the photo is very natural, fitting with the principal of the photo as a display of nature. I think the principal behind this photograph is what makes it so beautiful- there is beauty next to us, if only we took the time to recognize it. We live in a lovely world, a “snapping” a photo takes a piece of the world into our hands and gives it the recognition that it deserves.  The beauty is not always a plane ride away, but potentially a few steps. In some sense, the photographer is capturing her “unexpected”, illuminating individual ignorance of our surroundings.

American Category Winner

A group of young Mennonite women at the scenic overlook
Debra Vanderlaan (Lake Worth, FL)
Photographed June 2009, Smoky Mountains National Park

Even though she owns a more sophisticated camera, Vanderlaan had only a point-and-shoot model on hand when she came upon this scene. Fortunately. “If I had to attach a camera lens or manually focus a more complex camera,” she says, “I would have missed this shot completely.”

There is moderate depth of focus on this photo. Although the main focus is the Mennonite women, you can still see some distance beyond them, something relevant to the location (an overlook). The women create a horizontal line that shows a tranquility in the picture. This is consistent with the time of day and lighting of the photo. It is naturally lit by the sun, which appears to either be setting or somewhat covered by the haze. The women as a group cross through compositional lines and two of them somewhat lie on lines.An interesting principal of this photo is the traditional feel to it, something that is consistent with the method of capturing the photo- a point and shoot versus a Digital SLR or other sophisticated and modern camera.

Travel Category Winner

Yulong river
Bernardo Medina (Houston, TX)
Photographed October 2007, China

“The Karst hills of the Guangzi Province in China filled my head with wonder,” says Medina. “I stood there lost in the atmosphere, looking upon a primitive landscape with uncommon beauty while quiet words repeated endlessly in my mind: we are just passing travelers on this old earth.”

This photo has a rather large depth of focus. There is a dynamic essence to the depth because of the bamboo raft that flows into to picture. It is this line that the viewer follows into the rest of the picture. Another vital line to this image and its intended meaning is the horizontal one created by the raft passing through the picture. It is traveling across the water, as we are “travelers” on the Earth. The raft crosses through an intersection of compositional lines. As for the lighting, it is entirely natural from the sun. This illuminates the entire subject, poetically and physically the entire Earth. As a result of the location there is an ability for ample natural lighting, a tranquil feeling radiating from the scene, and a color composition that appears to be natural.

Reader’s Choice Winner

The nomads of Tagong
Conway Liao (Brooklyn, NY)
Photographed June 2009, Kham, Tibet

“I spent two days with the nomads of Tagong in Sichuan Province, China,” Liao recalls. “There was no running water, and we ate wild greens and fungi gathered from the fields. It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had, and this photograph reminds me of how simple and happy life can be.”

There is a shallow depth of focus in this photo. The depth of the photo itself is limited because of the covering that the nomads are existing under. Some of the nomads fall on a line of composition. There is a lack of lighting, however there is a small amount coming in from the cracks in the covering.

Altered Image Winner

Martin Alejandro Bordagaray (Concordia, Argentina)
Photographed September 2008, Salto, Uruguay

“Bordagaray was coming home from a photography excursion in Salto, Uruguay, when he spotted a sheep on a hill. “I stopped my car,” he recalls, “grabbed my camera and silently moved toward it, trying not to scare it.” The animal stood in the sunset light long enough for him to take this image, to which he added clouds and contrast.”

There is shallow depth of focus in this photo. The viewers eye is limited to focus on the sheep and a very small amount of the background. The diagonal lines of the sheep’s legs present stability in the photo. The sheep itself lies on two liens of composition, helping to make a more dynamic photo. The added clouds create a more tranquil and natural photo. The light emanating from the sunset is very natural and illuminates the subject and the photo in its entirety.