blp shabash 430x45

  • Gouldian Finch (Image ID 28164)

    Gouldian Finch.   Photographer: Bill Harding

  • Red-browed Finch (Image ID 30944)

    Red-browed Finch.   Photographer: Anna Browne

  • Eastern Rosella (Image ID 23592)

    Eastern Rosella.   Photographer: Con Boekel

  • Banded Stilt (Image ID 35124)

    Banded Stilt.   Photographer: Jane Putland

  • Eurasian Coot (Image ID 34776)

    Eurasian Coot.   Photographer: Linda Unwin

In many respects this competition is the premier annual competition, given that photographers had twelve months to plan, capture and post-process their very best images.  The images entered in this competition do not disappoint.  There are so many wonderful submissions from which to choose the award-winning entries.  The process has not been an easy one with submissions spanning a wide range of genres; in fact, this aspect makes this competition the most difficult to judge in the competition calendar.  The overall quality of images was exceptionally high with only a small percentage of images displaying a soft focus and over-processing artefacts.

My reaction when first going through the entries was of both delight and concern – delight because there were some excellent photographs submitted involving considerable skill and patience on the part of the photographer.  There are clearly many talented photographers submitting work and many deserve praise.  I felt concern because I would need to make some tough choices to pick the top shots but didn't want to leave entrants with the impression that these were the only good photos submitted. Furthermore, judging always involves a fair amount of subjectivity.  A different mystery reviewer would likely make different choices. So I ask all of those who entered to read my review and consider my choices and the reasons behind them.  Congratulations are due to those who I have picked.  But equally congratulations are due to many other entrants even though I may not have been able to make specific mention of them.

After reviewing these entries for some time I whittled down my preferences to about ten or so images which meet the overall assessment criteria to a good level.  However, I had difficulty in deciding how to rank these because while all have merit none really jumped out at me as the clear winner.

Photographing pairs of birds has its technical and aesthetic challenges which the competition organizers no doubt had in mind when this theme was chosen.  Ideally, the two birds should be in focus but this is often not easy to arrange especially as many bird photographs are opportunistic captures.  Just getting a pair in the frame can require a great deal of planning, patience and good luck.  When it is possible to get only one of the birds in focus, there is a strong preference for the bird closest to the camera to be the one in focus.  I don’t know the reason for this preference, but it is agreed by critics and photographers that it results in a more pleasing composition. 

The theme for this competition is Pairs as defined by a pair of birds, male and female, of the same species.  For those species which cannot be clearly identified as male/female on the basis of plumage, we accepted images of pairs where the behaviour observed when photographed indicated that they are a male/female pair; photographers were required to include the relevant information in the comments field.

They say that photographing odd numbers is more visually appealing than even pairs.  However, this is not always the case, and here it is evident that we have many appealing images.  I think there are a number of ways to achieve this.  Showing some interaction between the two is one way.  On the other hand, showing a clear disconnect can work.  Another way is using juxtaposition, where the subjects are placed close together with a contrasting effect.

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