Introducing... From the archives!

Having already amassed a fantastic collection of imagery and photography criticism on Photocrowd, we do not want it to simply gather dust in our archives. So we have decided to start sharing some of our favourite images and reviews from past contests on our blog; this is the first in a series of posts. Please do let us know your thoughts about the images and whether you agree or disagree with our judge's takes in the comments.

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Contest: Portrait using available light
Judge: Rossella Vanon

"There is a simple beauty about this shot that made it immediately stand out from the rest of the entries. Not only does the photographer make perfect use of the available light in a soft but not flat way, but there is also a certain depth to the image that goes beyond the technical side. The old lady is holding what looks like a picture of herself in her young years, and seems to be doing so with a certain melancholy. Everything in this picture makes me think about the passing of time: from the wrinkled hands to the old house and bed and even the soft pastel colours, which give the idea of something worn out with the passing of years. The choice of subject is beautiful and everything in this shot works in harmony and contributes to the theme and mood. Good composition and depth of field, which slightly blurs the background while still making it easy to detect and understand (the location is an important element in this picture and not a distraction). Overall a great shot and definitely a winner."

Contest: Wildlife
Judge: Dave Stevenson

"It is drummed into conservation photographers from an early age that anthropomorphism in photography is to be avoided: it's cloying, clichéd and lazy. Then you come across an image like this and that rather stentorian advice fades into the background: red squirrels are naturally comical little fellows and this image, which in my head I've entitled "Where on EARTH did I leave my nuts?" is hilarious. Kudos to the photographer for capturing a unique pose, particularly against a thick canopy of leaves, which, I can attest, makes red squirrels tricky subjects."

Contest: Patterns and Textures
Judge: Carol Sharp

"I like the three-dimensional aspect of this image. The composition is good with the weathered wooden posts leading the eye to the other monoliths that we know are huge in scale, but the distance and perspective has compressed them into quite a two-dimensional pattern. At first glance the posts look like gravestones and they continue to have that feel even when we know what they are, and the long exposure has smoothed the texture of the water, creating an other-worldly look. My only thought is that as nice as the sunset is, I would have cropped it off (and an equal amount on the other side) to make a more graphic composition."

Contest: Urban Landscapes
Judge: Sue Barr

"Although possibly more of a suburban than urban landscape, this photograph beautifully combines a reportage style within a landscape composition. It reminds me of Chris Killip or Tony Ray Jones, British school documentary photographers from the 1970s. The sunlight - perfectly captured in the hanging washing - creates a beautiful compositional foil to balance with the shadows on the ground. The off-center positioning of the young father and baby makes this a very elegant composition."

Contest: Pet Portraits
Judge: Sophie Gamand

"This very striking image deserves a spot in the top three for its strong graphic qualities. I love a photographer that tries to push the boundaries of classic pet photography, and this is it. We’ve seen portraits of cats a million times, but not like that. The mirror effect enhances the pattern of the fur and the strong expression of the model. The desaturated colours work very well in this composition. I am glad the photographer did not choose black and white, because that touch of color he kept makes the image even stronger. This is not just a portrait of a pet, it is also a work of art."

Contest: Landscape
Judge: Alan Ranger

"This is an absolutely stunning shot. I love this shot for a number of reasons, but overall it’s the simplicity of it that works really well for me. The image has been designed and captured with a real feel for space, texture and light and has been really well executed. The almost abstract feel to the design really allows your imagination to wander into the shot and place yourself in the scene. The two people walking are perfectly placed, surrounded by soft warm sunlit tones walking into the vast space ahead of them. The shot has real impact because of the high contrast nature of the light on the wet sand. This gives the sand an almost scaly quality with light and colour being mirrored across that gorgeous sweep. Technically these types of shots are much harder than you would imagine, particularly controlling your exposure so the bright and dark areas are exposed correctly. The photographer has captured a good exposure and retained a natural ratio of light in the shot which helps keep the whole image balanced. This is a cracking image that shows a great eye for composition. It's technically well executed and, above all, designed with simplicity to make the shot show intention, narrative and leave the viewer to use their own imagination and create some emotional connection to the scene. Well done."

You can read the follow-up to this post here.


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