I really don’t like contests. Any kind of contest, not just photo contests, but I will focus… get the pun?… on photo contests since this is a photo blog. Contests are too random. At least the ones I enter. The state fair has different judges each year. Which is good… and bad. The good is you don’t know their biases and preferences. The bad is that you don’t know their biases and preferences. If you do know the judge(s) you can tailor your submissions to (hopefully) match their preferences. That can work out well, as I did just that several years ago at my photo club’s annual contest. I won several prizes, including Best of Show.
So why do I enter contests? I enter because they push me to continually improve and shoot better photos. There are a lot of good photographers in the world, and at least keeping up with them is a challenge. Unfortunately, there are also some mediocre photographers who are gurus with Photoshop and Lightroom, and they can produce some stunning images that grab people’s attention… and judges are people, too.
I’m not a purist by any stretch of the imagination, but I do feel that the primary skill of a good photographer should be… wait for it… photography. Call me old fashioned, I guess.
The photo above is the one that won “Best of Show” at my photo club’s contest. That was in 2010 or 2011. It’s a bit small here because it’s so long. This is 17 images stitched together to form the panorama. Hopefully you can see it well enough. And, yes, I have this one hanging on the wall in my living room. It’s 7 feet long and printed on canvas and is gorgeous.
Yep, this is a landscape photography site, but every now and then I’ll post something different. I’ve highlighted Wesley before, and will again. I’ve given a shout-out to Missy, and no doubt will again. And here we have an old car, albeit not necessarily in the original condition, as you can see. I doubt metallic purple was a common color back in the 1930s. I took this shot in Rio Vista, California, I believe in 2001. Oh, and this one hangs on my wall, too.
This car is an old Chevy. I believe it is a 1932, but am not sure. This was handheld, on film, at a car show. I had to do all my shots close-in like this because of all the people wandering around. I didn’t want the people in the shots. I also used a star filter to get the star effect. I almost never use that type of filter, because I do not feel it generally gives a realistic effect, but in this case I thought it worked nicely. I have another identical shot without the star effect, and while it looks more realistic, it doesn’t look as good.
Moral of the story: Rules are made to be broken. (Where have I heard that before?)
This photo has always been a favorite of both Missy and I. We took this about three years ago near McCallsburg, Iowa, in Story County. The image evokes kind of a nostalgic feel and nicely contrasts the old and the new. That and the quality and richness of colors is what makes it so appealing, I think. This photo is yet another example is stumbling onto something when you least expect it.
In our case, we had attended an all-day Toastmasters meeting in Ames. We chose to take an indirect route home, avoiding the main highway and using still-nice, but rural, county roads. Took longer, but we had the luxury of time, and we did purposely want to see new places both with photography in mind and simply just to see new things.
What’s strange, to me at least, is that in spite of how much we like this photo, we haven’t done much with it, and I cannot explain why. I’ve never put it up on my website for sale (that will change soon). I’ve never really displayed it, except a couple incidental publishings, and I think I entered it into a club contest once. This needs to go on my wall.
As we end August let’s go back to April… 2004. I was still living in California. I was into my photography. I had another website that I allowed to go defunct a couple years ago (I don’t even own the URL anymore), and this was one of the premier photos.
Now, California is known for its awesome beauty. The Sierra Nevada Mountains, Yosemite National Park, the redwood forests, the coast, and yes, even the desert. So much to choose from. And yet even within all that splendor, you can find little nuggets like this.
This photo has always been one of my all-time favorites. I shot it several times from varying angles, and was never disappointed. I spoke with the owner one day… an extremely nice gentleman… and he told me that its even better in the winter with snow on the ground. I can believe it. I would be willing to make a special trip back just for that.
I plan to incorporate some of my better west coast photos into my blog and website, though they will remain primarily Iowa and the Midwest.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, this photo is still literally a “wall hanger” in my home.
So there I was, lazily looking around, looking for decent shots, lugging the tripod around, shooting a few shots here and there, when… I see this vintage car coming down the road. Suddenly, the adrenaline was pumping. OMG! OMG! OMG! I have to get a shot of this. Old covered bridge, old vintage car, it’s perfect! Talk about a scenario being heaven-sent. I have to get a shot of this.
I knew I had to act fast. The driver wasn’t going to stop for me. In the matter of literally a few seconds I had to set the tripod, focus on where I wanted to catch the car, and shoot shoot shoot.
Needless to say, I got the shot. This one is a “wall hanger”, if you know what I mean.
After the car had passed, everything suddenly felt anti-climatic… it had nowhere to go but down from here… so I packed up and continued on my journey.