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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.”

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Colourful. Emotive. Exotic. Creative. There are many ways we can describe Victoria McDonald’s Exotic Travel entry and the winner of the 2018 Better Photography Photo of the Year Award!

We touched base with Victoria about her category win, but we didn’t tell her that she’d won the overall prize at that stage. Exclaimed an excited Victoria, “I’m blown away and in total shock! I won the Exotic Travel section in 2015 and couldn’t believe it. To win again, I still can’t believe it! Thank you so much to the judges and all concerned!” We’re figuring she’ll be pretty happy with first prize as well!

Victoria works in hospitality and photography is her creative outlet. She loves taking a new view of the world around her and sharing it with others.

“I’m a member of the local photography club which inspires me to keep going, to try new things and hopefully improve. I like to have a go at all genres, although I don’t feel I’ve really mastered any!” Well, maybe she has now!

“I enter the Better Photography Competition as the feedback helps me to see which of my images are on the right track and those which need a different approach.”

So, how does travel fit into her photography? “When I get the chance to travel,  I hope I can somehow capture the essence of the places I visit, whether they be within my own country or overseas.

“This image was taken in Bali, Indonesia. My first visit to Indonesia was in 1977 and it’s a country I never tire of because there’s always somewhere new to explore. Behind the hustle and bustle of the tourist areas is a country of beauty and an ancient culture that has carried through to the present day and is in the forefront of daily life.”

The photo was taken in January 2018 in Tirtha Empul.

“I had never been to Tirtha Empul, so it was my aim to get there. My travel buddy and I hired a local photographer for the day to take us to areas we wouldn’t get to on our own. Our pre-dawn start gave us a day filled with experiences that most Bali tourists just don’t see. Tirtha Empul is a place of great spiritual importance to the Balinese. I took numerous images here and I like them all, but I feel that slowing down the image gives a real feel of the spiritual importance of this place and the sacred water purification ritual.”

The photo was taken with an Olympus EM5 Mk2 with a 7-14mm f2.8 lens, tripod mounted with a remote trigger. Victoria also used a 0.6 Nisi ND filter and the exposure was 1.6 seconds, ISO 400 at f11.

“Most of my editing is in Lightroom. The image has been cropped and I used Lightroom’s gradation filter to darken the edges, drawing the viewer’s eye to the line of worshippers performing the cleansing ritual. I have also lightened the exposure in that area, to draw in the eye. I dulled down the pink in the top of the girl in the group in the top right.

“Looking back in LR, I have updated highlights, saturation, clarity, exposure, dehaze, noise reduction, sharpness. Then I took the final image into Photoshop to resize and save for the competition.”

Victoria takes out the overall first prize which is a cash purse of AUS $5000, two amazing LaCie DJI Copilot 'backup on set solution' drives and NiSi is adding in a 100mm Professional Filter Kit! Total value over $7500 in prizes!

In addition, Victoria was the Exotic Travel category winner and she and the other five category winners will receive a wonderful package of goodies, comprising a Canson Discovery Pack Fine Art Photo, a Datacolor Spyder5, a Momento photo book voucher, Capture One processing software, and a Wacom Intuos tablet. In addition, the Landscape category winner will receive a Nisi Filter 100mm Starter Pack and the Travel category winner (Victoria again!) a Sirui W-1204 Waterproof Carbon Fibre tripod.

The category winners were:

2018 Emotive Portrait Category Winner: Dikye Ariani

2018 Incredible Sport Category Winner: Alain Schroeder

2018 Exotic Travel Category Winner: Victoria McDonald

2018 Creative Flair Category Winner: Helen Mary McLeod

2018 Classic Landscape Category Winner: Timothy Moon

2018 Revealing Nature Category Winner: Pedro Jarque Krebs

Thanks to our wonderful sponsors for supporting our competition. And thanks also to our esteemed judges Peter Eastway, David Oliver and Tony Hewitt, AIPP Grand Masters of Photography.

This year there were 1111 entries and 663 entries earned a Bronze Award. A Bronze Award is given where the judges can see some elements of photographic skill and imagination and want to acknowledge what the entrant has submitted. And given the competition is entered by passionate photographers, it's gratifying to have such a high overall standard.

Silvers are harder to attain with 393 delivered and there were just 19 Gold awards. Silvers and golds really have to be earned, so congratulations to these winners.

Each entry also received a short judge comment which will hopefully be of use to entrants for the future. If you entered, you can log back into your account at the website to see your scores and read your comments. And here are the other category winners!

2018 Emotive Portrait Category Winner: Dikye Ariani

2018 Incredible Sport Category Winner: Alain Schroeder

2018 Creative Flair Category Winner: Helen Mary McLeod

2018 Classic Landscape Category Winner: Timothy Moon

2018 Revealing Nature Category Winner: Pedro Jarque Krebs

View Top 20 in each Category - click here.

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