• Eurasian Coot

    Eurasian Coot.   Photographer: Con Boekel

  • Regent Honeyeater

    Regent Honeyeater.   Photographer: Bill Harding

  • Australian Shelduck

    Australian Shelduck.   Photographer: Ian Wilson

  • Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

    Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.   Photographer: Mark Lethlean

  • Grey Plover

    Grey Plover.   Photographer: Rob Parker

Thank you for inviting me to be your Mystery Reviewer.  Whilst I have been seriously involved in photography for many years, having received numerous awards at local, national and international levels and judged many photographic competitions, I am not a “birder” or a specialist bird photographer or judge.  So as with everyone who has entered, this competition is also a challenge for me.

Winner: Pink-eared Duck - Cherilyn Corker (Image ID 24009)

The combination of beautiful light, calm water and sharp detail set this image apart and make it a clear winner.  The colours and textures of the duck’s plumage have been beautifully captured and their distorted reflection in the water adds an additional dimension of interest to an already striking picture.  The soft blue/grey of the lake surface forms a satisfying and complimentary background that is free from any distractions.

As defined in the pre-amble for this competition, "the object is to achieve a well-exposed capture of the subject without blowing out the white areas of the bird’s plumage, whilst ensuring that there is detail in the black plumage and /or bare parts, and without excessive noise in the blacks".

This is not an easy achievement given the dynamic range of even the latest camera sensors will not attain the perfect exposure for the blackest blacks and the whitest whites in the one exposure. For this reason alone, this competition is possibly one of the most difficult assignments a photographer can undertake.

Once again, I really enjoyed judging these entries, as there were so many lovely images to choose from. At some point in the future, it’s clear that a competition solely for Pacific Black Ducks will have plenty of entries!

By the nature of this particular competition’s species, there were understandably a great many images “on the water”, and the quality of light and reflections, the depth of colour, and the graphic nature of the reflections, can greatly enhance the impact of the image.

This was a very difficult competition to judge, as there were so many images demonstrating a similar level of technical merit, which then brings it down to my subjective opinion on the individual aesthetic qualities to determine the final selection of 6 images. My sincere congratulations to all who entered, and at the end of the day what really matters is if you are suitably pleased with your own Best of 2016 entry, and look forward to raising the bar even higher in 2017!

There were a great number of very impressive images submitted, making the final selection very challenging. Many of these images would not have been out of place in the Advanced Level competition. Interestingly, a significant proportion of the 95 entries featured a (usually small) bird in very sharp focus, perched, with the background completely dropped out of focus. This is a highly effective means of keeping the viewers’ attention on the bird,

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