Photo Feedback

Given all the publicity about a number of photo awards in recent months, I found it interesting to read how one particular winner was given a hard time by people who read something different into his photograph.

As reported on PetaPixel by Michael Zhang, Edwin Ong Wee Kee won the $120,000 first prize in the Hamdan International Photography Award. See link here. The photo, which you can see cropped above on the left, depicted a mother and children with nice lighting and a non-descript background. It's a good photograph. Now, add in the theme 'Hope' and suddenly, as viewers and judges, we can begin to read in all sorts of stories and backgrounds to the mother's expression.

So, why the controversy? Some viewers didn't like how the photo was taken! They don't seem to be complaining about the photo itself, just the way it was captured.

The photo was taken on a photo tour. If you were one of the other photographers on this tour with a better angle and a better shot, wouldn't you be dark for not entering the competition!

2018 Classic Landscape Category Winner: Timothy Moon
Better Photography Photo of the Year Awards

Timothy Moon is retired from a successful architecture practice and now enjoys a good photograph. “I now spend a lot of my creative energy learning and crafting the visual art skills of a photographer behind the camera lens.

“Capturing, refining and distilling the essence of place was something I aimed for in my architectural work, and now it is an approach I continue with my photography. I love the challenge of seeing with fresh eyes and having previously used a paintbrush or a pencil to capture landscapes, both built and natural, the digital age enables me to approach landscape painting with a camera (and a drone).”

The remarkable landscape was captured among the dunes of the Empty Quarter, about a two hour drive from Abu Dhabi. “A catch-up with friends provided an opportunity for a layover on the long trip to Europe. Renting a car was an easy option, which enabled day trips around the sights of Abu Dhabi and the adventure bound journey into the Rub Al Khali (Empty Quarter), an area described as the world’s largest uninterrupted sand mass. The dunes roll and fold their way to the horizon.

“I went in winter, so on the day of capturing the image, it was only 35 degrees at sunrise! During the day, the light is bright and intense, tending to burn out any detail in an image. The time before sunrise was ‘magic hour’, with the soft predawn light highlighting the colours and details in the dunes.”

Tim says he used his trusty Nikon D810 with a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 lens and a Sirui carbon fibre tripod (he’s still cleaning the fine dust of the dunes out of the joints of the tripod).

“The image was processed in Photoshop with only a few strategic adjustments. First, the colour cast was neutralised, then an auto curve applied, and finally an enhance per channel contrast. Some selective dodging and burning adjusted the light and dark areas to help direct the eye within the image.”

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2018 Revealing Nature Category Winner: Pedro Jarque Krebs
Better Photography Photo of the Year Awards

Peruvian Pedro Jarque says he has dedicated himself to photography since he was 15 years old.

“I have always had a special interest in portraiture, especially the non-human kind! I consider myself an animal photographer in the broadest sense of this definition. This includes wildlife, but not exclusively. I will shoot portraits of animals in any environment, be it in the wild or in captivity, in zoos, sanctuaries, nature reserves and preservation centres.

“For the winning  photo, the pelicans were in a natural park in England at the moment of being fed. Birds are some of the most difficult animals to photograph because they are easy to scare, elusive and can disappear in seconds from the stage.

“But pelicans are more accustomed to human presence and often take advantage of fishermen's waste to feed themselves. In this shot, we can see that competition is hard and only one pelican will get the fish while the other two realise that it is not going to be their lunch!”

Pedro used a Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera with a Canon EF 70-300mm f4-5.6L IS USM lens. He uses a monopod for stability and the light is natural.

“However, in most of my photos, I burn in the background to darken it. My initial aspiration was to work with the animals directly in photographic studios, but this is difficult for me, so I decided to try other ways to achieve a similar result. My approach is to photograph the animal in its environment and then simulate the studio effect by darkening the background. My surprise is that the end result pleased me even more, because the animal, not being in a situation of stress, can show its natural behaviour naturally and the only difference is that I obscure the background in post-production.

“I think my method has the great advantage of showing the animal’s spontaneous behaviour.”

To see all the winners and also our great sponsors, visit

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