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(Featuring 2 Photographers for December)
Well, as 2012 wound-down to the wire, we had a chance to revisit all of the amazing photographs our readers have shared with us. What a wonderful journey it has been and we look forward to reviewing the many, many new images that are already starting to pour in. It's clear that there is an abundance of creative expression out there and, these days, photographers are among the most prolific members of the artistic community. We are excited to let you see the two photographers we chose to feature in December, as shown below. Rachel Rawlins, a newcomer to the Contributors' Gallery, shared a Christmas picture that is nostalgic, heart-warming and beautifully lit! James Orr (a contributor whose Venice, Italy image was featured in our January 2011 gallery), shared a few spectacular shots from he and his wife's recent trip to Africa. Both photographers created works that are thoughtful and beautiful in different ways.
Oak Hill, Ohio
What a magical moment! Rachel, an eager and talented young photographer, caught this genuinely candid Christmas-time moment with her sister and her sister's infant son. What's not to love in this charming photo? The use of light from the glowing bulbs, the authenticity of expressions and the softness of the overall scene all come together to to create a scene that looks like it's out of the pages of a Norman Rockwell coffee table book!
Great work Rachel and thank you for sharing this.
We can almost hear Nat King Cole singing the Christmas Song in the background!
James Orr and his wife aren't satisfied to sit in their backyard waiting for the world to come to them. Their penchant for travel has brought them to some of the real wonders of the world (not the touristy stuff), presenting some significant photo opportunities. The top picture is an idyllic sunset image that reveals the starkness of the Serengeti, contrasted against a breathtaking orange sky and silhouetted trees.
The image on the bottom is a great example not only of wildlife photography, but also, of the interaction between animals that most people never notice.
Great photography James!
(Featuring 2 Photographers for October)
Petach Tikvah, Israel
After reviewing this impressive photo and deciding to feature it as one of our October 2012 contributors' selections, we noticed that the photographer's last name was a familiar one. Vicky Lalo later told us that our June 2012 selection was photographed by her sister-in-law, Carmel Lalo (scroll down). It would seem that, in addition to sharing a family relationship, they also share an artistic insight!
Despite being busy in her career, and seeing to the needs of her children and grandchildren, Vicky still finds time to express her creativity with a camera. In this case, she used her iPhone 4 which performed well, given the ample light.
What our Submissions Review Team liked most about this image was the striking way in which the yellow field leads the eye to the single red car that seems both out-of-place, yet, somehow relevant. The two rows of trees that flank the field effectively move the eye to Vicky's red car. The field is so crammed with dandelions it almost appears make-believe, but it is all very real!
Puffy white clouds emphasize the red car and, further, contrast against the blue sky in a way that completes the composition. Driving through Tel-Aviv, Israel, Vicky just knew that there was something special unfolding in the scene in front of her. She said, "There was something in the air that day and in the color of the sky. It seems like a carpet of flowers, and my red car at the far end seemed like a ladybug."
We are so glad that you decided to share this with our international audience Vicky!
2nd selection for October 2012:
Brice Denize has lived in Macao, China, since the year 2000. An engineer by profession, he likes technical subjects. He recently made the leap to a DSLR, buying a new Nikon D7000 and since then has enjoyed getting re-acquainted with the technical side of a more serious approach to photography. Brice was a film-based shutterbug for years, but the inconvenience of processing eventually encouraged him to move on.
Like many former film photog's, Brice held onto his old auto-focus SLR lens. He finally gave-in to his wife's prodding and brought new life to the old glass! Our reviewers took one look at this image and there was no doubt that this powerful picture would make it into the October selections. What a visually arresting picture this is! It has everything; technical accuracy, blurry bokeh background, tack-sharp focus, high emotional impact and beautiful diffused lighting that gives way to gentle contours of the subject's face.
The subject? It's Brice and his wife's son, Noan. Brice told us that Noan is an active child, so catching him in such a peaceful and pensive moment was truly a photo opportunity. Brice happened to be pointing the camera toward Noan as he played with the settings and this awesome moment-in-time image was born; what a heart-tugging moment it is, now frozen forever.
Reflecting on the photo, Brice said, "This photo is totally unprepared and lucky, because it is simply impossible with Noan to prepare a picture. Maybe the reason why it looks special. Our apartment has a huge window on the side of the sofa and we get a great light in the afternoon when Sun is turning to West. A very soft and natural light through the window and the lens did a great job capturing it! The house was quiet, and this picture reflects exactly this peaceful moment. His big eyes are saying so much."
Thank you Brice for sharing this beautiful portrait with all of our readers. It's something that all photographers should be eager to emulate!
(Featuring 3 Photographers for September)
Photography by Leah McInnis
Leah McInnis, first time photo submitter to FreePhotoCourse.com, struck a home run with the spectacular image shown above! Photographed at beautiful Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada, there are so many good things to say about this particular photo. Leah told us that she started getting interested in photography when she was a teenager. Her mom bought her a little yellow film camera and a "how to" photography book. She contemplated buying a DSLR for years, but finally gave-in and got her Canon EOS Rebel T3.
For Leah, photography is just a hobby, but it's a one she loves and her camera is usually by her side. Her picture employs some of the best aspects of composition; that is, using basic shapes (see the three triangles created by the mountains and the space between the mountains), proper rule-of-thirds (with respect to placing the virtual horizon on the lower third of the frame) and lots of negative space rather than clutter. Leah had a good instinct to put the sun that's peeking through the clouds just slightly to the right of center. She also included the stones and boardwalk at the bottom of the frame; this helps provide perspective and gives the viewer the sensation that he or she is standing on the boardwalk looking at this captivating scene in person.
Finally, Leah used a shutter speed of 1/200th of a second, which was fast enough to maintain crispness of the wind-blown water, but slow enough to show the downward motion of the rain (or is that snow?). Her narrow aperture at f/14 ensured long depth of field, so that both the boardwalk/stones in the extreme foreground and the mountain cliffs in the extreme background are equally focused.
Great job Leah! Keep shooting and thanks so much for sharing your beautiful composition with the FreePhotoCourse.com community!
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Photography By Greg Lueck
El Segundo, California
Thank you, Greg, for submitting this very interesting and visually appealing photo! In case you haven't yet guessed, it's a vintage hood ornament, but stylized with purple light to give a futuristic appearance. Although Greg didn't tell us, we think that this little beauty was on a 1930 Packard.
What caught the collective eyes of our Submissions Review Team, was the sleekness of the overall look and the sharp focus on the front of the lady, while the focus drops-off quickly, adding to the apparent smudge that almost looks like she is moving forward. Greg also thought to include a bit of the curvature of the car hood. The dark blue background at the top and top right serves to define the hood.
It shows us that interesting photo subjects can be waiting for us just around the corner - you just have to keep your eyes open. Bravo Greg!
Photography by Maritza Baez
Boynton Beach, Florida
When Maritza Baez sent us this picture, we were taken with the simplicity of the idea. The man, silhouetted in front of the churning sea and the rising sun, seems dwarfed by his surroundings. While searching for 'treasures' that are probably eluding his metal detector, the man seems oblivious to the grandeur in the scene unfolding around him.
Taken with an iPhone, this image doesn't have nearly the resolution one would get from an actual camera, but still proves that you can take a decent picture with a smart phone, given ample light and the right elements. We didn't bother including the focal length or f-stop data in the photo caption, because this information isn't accurate, given the miniature lens on the phone.
But, aside from the technical stuff, this is a well thought-out photo that makes the most of some very simple elements. Congrat's Maritza!
Photograph by Ather Qureshi, India
Through 2010 and 2011, submissions to our Contributors' Photo Gallery depicted many different genres of photography, but people and, in particular, children, tended not to be popular photo subjects from our readers. How things have changed! We have had so many more portraits submitted during the 2012 photo year. Scroll down and you'll see that in addition to the absolutely adorable picture of the little Indian girl to the left, three more made it to the monthly selections so far during 2012.
Ather Qureshi, the photographer in this case, tells us that this little girl with the sweet smile and sparkling eyes is a rural child on a search for water, which is a scarcity - a major problem in many Indian villages. Despite the unimaginable circumstance - not having a sure supply of clean water which is so basic to human life - this little girl's eyes are smiling and brimming with hope.
This picture demonstrates how important it is to connect with your subject when taking a portrait. There's no question that Ather's interaction and gentle approach resulted in the honest and innocent expression we see here. While we generally advise taking pictures of children with the camera at the subject's level (ie. height), this picture is an exception. Certainly, when one consiers that this little girl is totally subservient to circumstances which are beyond her and her family's control, it seems visually appropriate to photograph her from a high angle.
Thank you Ather for taking this moving photo and sharing it with the world. We have a lot to learn about our shared responsibility in the world and in our own backyard. Your picture also reminds us that God reveals his beauty and hope in places we might think to be unlikely.
Submissions by Mike DiRenzo, Coram, New York
Mike DiRenzo has, on several occasions, submitted samples of his flawless photo works to various exhibits and galleries here at FreePhotoCourse.com. (...and our Submissions Review Team has unanimously selected his work for publication each time!) You can see more of Mike's work here and here on our site. Click on each of the images above and you will be awed by the beautiful eye-candy that just makes you want to see more and more. Mike is a greater New York area photographer who enjoys traveling around the United States, capturing its diverse beauty and majestic photo opportunities. While anyone can travel and take pictures, Mike is a serious artist with tremendous attention to detail. As you can see above, his photographic works are techincally accurate and beautifully composed. It's true that exceptional subject matter and scenery will enhance a photographer's chances of producing good photos, but that in itself is not enough. Mike uses his skills, imagination and camera to take beautiful landscapes and make them seem out-of-this-world incredible.
For those eager to create stunning night-time pictures like Mike has, pay attention to his manual exposure settings. For the first and third photos on the far left and right above, notice that he sets his camera, a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, to a relatively low ISO of 200. This will prevent 'noise' that is present when high ISO light-sensitivity values are used. He has also used a high f/stop setting of 22, meaning that he will get crisp detail at different lens-to-subject distances. However, the high f/stop setting produces a very small aperture (lens opening) which cuts available light. The result of a low ISO combined with a small aperture means that trying to take a picture of a night-time skyline with a standard shutter speed would result in a completely black image. To correct this, he uses a 30 second exposure and, of course, a tripod.
You can see more of Mike's work at his photo site.
This isn't the first time our Submissions Review Team selected a photo by Carmel Lalo (see her October 2011 submission here), but her camera has changed and so has her genre. Regardless, her work continues to show much insight and a sense of the aesthetic.
Carmel took this picture of her friend's daughter, Shira. She converted the color photo into a mostly monochrome image which really emphasizes this beautiful little girl's honest expression. She seems so full of wonder and positivity! Don't you just love how her wavy hair compliments her carefree spirit?
Carmel's low f/stop number and her close proximity ensured a pleasing bokeh (the blurry background or 'short depth of field' effect). The composition is also very nice, the girl's head slightly tilted with a bit more room on one side of the frame. This is inspired work!
Of all of the contributors' photo submissions we receive at FreePhotoCourse.com, less than 10% would be considered to be abstract in genre. No matter the reason, we were thrilled to receive Ashwin Ambrose's interesting and highly imaginative image shown on the right.
Although some viewers may get frustrated trying to identify the strange looking subject matter, as with all abstract photo works, the subject is less important than the artistic treatment. The artist who creates the work 'abstracts' a part from the whole, finding the extraordinary in the ordinary. The artist viewing an abstract work is, likewise, able to appreciate the colors, lines, shapes, textures, rhythm and other elements without needing to know what the subject actually is.
The center focal point is sharp and the exposure is good. The scribbly black lines leading to the green center 'disc' are almost as interesting a the center. Ambrose has shown an important characteristic of good photographers and that is a sense of curiosity. Bravo!
Ashwin Ambrose, India
(photographed in Winter Haven, Florida)
By the way, if you're still wondering and can't stand not knowing what Ambrose used for a subject in this abstract photo, here's your answer... In his own words: "This picture was taken from an opening in a concrete bridge. I tried to capture the green leaves (through the opening in the bridge ) which were floating on the stream beneath the bridge. The pattern (black groovy texture) in the concrete hole of the bridge which leads to the circle of green leaves was my focus."
In a word...whimsical! Nir Gonen captured a special moment that embodies the free spirit, wonder and love of life that only a child can truly exhibit. It's an irresistable moment-in-time image that bursts with emotion. Freedom and strength of spirit are just a few of the feelings that come to mind.
From a technical standpoint, the photo is well-composed, with just enough space behind the girl; her stance facing the unobstructed right as she confidently jumps and seemingly twirls toward the open side of the frame. A cloud of sand suspended around her feet, the girl seems to rise above it.
One member of our submissions review team pondered the top crop, wondering if the entire hat/head should have been shown. However, it's not a deal-breaker. In a way, the tight crop seems to suggest movement, as though she has burst through the frame. Beautiful exposure, focus, use of directional light and composition.
Nir, this is truly exceptional photo work!
Mark submitted this photo near the end of February when, as you can see in his very interesting photograph, "Old Man Winter" still had his grip on the landscape. The interesting perspective, deeply saturated yellows, and silky-smooth glossy texture shown in this image immediately caught the eye of our reviewers.
It's one of those pictures that tweaks a certain unspoken, "What the heck is that?!!" response. Upon further examination, one realizes that the pelican (or is it a stork??) is a unique mailbox. Take yet another look and you'll notice the tiny icicles hanging from the bird's beak and throat.
It's an interesting subject made even more interesting by the nicely contrasting yellow against blue sky theme, the beautifully smooth texture, an engaging perspective and the unexpected icicles.
Great creative vision Mark Beamish!
Chiara "Claire" Magnosi
Chiara "Claire" Magnosi
Claire, a twenty-year old woman from Rome, Italy, tells us that she is absolutely passionate about photography. We can see in her work above that she has a strong sense of what is important and interesting in photography. The context? The young man featured in the lower left area of the frame, happened to be juggling in a public square when Claire noticed a photo opportunity. She tells us that the man's expression was one of both hope and kindness. Although at first glance he may appear to be following the track of one of his juggling balls, but upon further study, there does seem to be something going on that transcends his act.
Don't you love the way the light falls upon his face? Or the fact that all of the people in the background are busily on their own way, ignoring the show. This is an intriguing photo that is ripe for a game of "What's going on here?". Thank you for sharing this with us Claire!
When we first looked at Paula's whimsical picture to the left, we didn't know exactly what to make of it, but there was something enticing about the strange juxtaposition of the tiny metal girl skipping rope, on top of a fence post against a pale blue Montana sky. Paula photographed this in the Bear Paw Mountains area of Montana.
We decided to do a bit of research, considering that none of our staff had ever been to the Big Sky State. Turns out that there are more fence posts in Montana than just about anywhere else! Better yet, the whole idea of fence post "art" has its own following and they are fiercely dedicated to promoting it.
There are an abundance of positive qualities in Paula's photo. Her focus and exposure are accurate and attractive. The short depth of field created by the relatively wide aperture at f/6.3 allows the viewer to engage all attention on the texture of the fence post and, of course, the art on top of it.
Pictures of art are often uninspired "photocopies" of other people's creative work; a mere classification or documentation of something that has already been created. However, Paula's work is more mature than this. Her framing, with the horizon line just below the top of the fence post, the positioning of the skipping girl and the angle of the golden-hued sun, all combine to provide something that compliments the fence post art rather than merely documenting it.
Thank you Paula for sharing your photographic work with our FreePhotoCourse.com community!
Grimsby, Ontario, Canada
Northern Great Britain, U.K.
Raymond Barlow is a highly talented professional wildlife photographer who redefines the word "busy". We saw one of his images in a newspaper feature about a Great Grey Owl that had been spotted in Kingsville, Ontario during the Christmas holidays. During a conversation that ensued, we invited Raymond to submit one of his owl pictures for our January gallery and he kindly did so. We are so pleased that he decided to share his fine work with our visitors!
You really don't get the full sense of his absolutely flawless technical precision and artistic treatment without seeing a larger view (click on the picture to the left for the expanded view). We love the stunning clarity and edge definition, the perfectly balanced exposure and his expert use of short depth of field to emphasize the owl.
(You can see more amazing wildlife pictures from Raymond's impressive portfolio here.)
Eighty years (or so) young, Harry Hann hones his creative edge by staying active with the art of photography. He's no stranger to FreePhotoCourse.com, as three of his photos were selected previously to be featured in our August 2011 Photo Challenge.
This time around, Harry captured two images, only minutes apart, that despite an apparent simplicity, speak volumes. The image to the far left is interesting in that the photographer on the hill is eclipsed by the expansive sky and the jet airplane floating overhead. The photographer appears oblivious to the interesting sky overhead. Brilliant idea!
Harry's black and white picture on the right side provides a significantly different sense of emotion.
Without the blue, this photograph looks like a storm is approaching; the photographer readying himself to capture a weather event with his camera. The sky is brooding and somber, only giving way to the beams of light that somehow escape the clouds' grasp. Mostly silhouetted by the sky, the photographer looks somehow symbolic amidst the beams of light, as though he represents a deep human longing for something to fill the void of the human condition. Hmmm....deep analysis but worthy of such an interesting and emotional photograph. Bravo Harry!
Have a photo you want to show-off to the world?
Use our Electronic Submission Form
Send us your "best of the best" and if it's good enough, we'll post it for the world to see!
If our Submissions Team decides to post your image here it means something special is going on with your photography. You have the pride of knowing that your photography is at a higher level. Best of all, you can show your posted work to friends and family - you can also put-up a link to this page up on your Facebook, Flickr or other sharing site!
NEW!! - Contributors with a photographic work that is accepted and posted here will receive a special certificate by e-mail.
In a way, it's a bit like winning a photo contest where your work can be seen by the world!
Currently accepting photo submissions for our regular monthly 2013 photo gallery.
(Submission Limit: Maximum 2 pictures per month)
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