Closing the Loupe : Part 2 : Image selection and stories

Korpudalur Iceland: (Gold) – Marianne 89

This evening in Iceland was a special one in terms of lighting. The sun hovered low on the horizon which is typical for an Icelandic summer. Horizontal rays lit only the base of the distant mountains. This image had performed well in a previous competition so we wondered if its track record would speak for itself.



 Gunyah Dunes: (Silver) –Dylan 86

When we were photographing Gunyah Dunes at Coffin Bay National Park, the light was beautiful though Charlotte was not enjoying the windy conditions and goggled outlook on the world. This was a personal favourite scene which was fresh on our minds which made it difficult to be objective when comparing to other images we could have entered. I ended up including this one instead of an image of Cradle Mountain boat shed.



Halls Falls: (Silver)- Dylan 86

Some images grow on you with time. After taking this image and processing it, I thought to myself that this tells a story that we’ve visited Halls Falls and little more.  During the process of contributing to the book “Tasmania , A Visual Journey” in 2011, it was voted highest of all the images submitted by the contributors and was received into 1x as well. While I like the picture, it seems that our photographic peers like it even more than I do hence I thought it may have a chance to do well  in this competition.

Halls Falls

Halls Falls

Milford Sound: (Silver) –Marianne 84

This is part 1 of an amazing evening in Fiordland National Park. We had split up that night with Marianne staying down at the sound with Charlotte while I was walking the Routeburn Track. When I returned , I was chuffed with my own results and then saw Marianne’s and thought ‘wow’!

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Lake Mackenzie: (Silver) –Dylan 84

Part 2 of the amazing evening as seen just after sunset at Lake Mackenzie. This shot was my pride and joy of the recent New Zealand trip. For some reason, I just wanted it to do well in other competitions too. It was beaten in a photograph of the week competition and then knocked back by 1x on the basis of being “overcooked” which disappointed me. A silver in the loupe has breathed some life back into it for me, especially the high end score

Lake Mackenzie

Lake Mackenzie

Binalong Bay:  (Silver) – Marianne 84

Iconic trees seem to be a common theme in competition front runners. Instead of the Wanaka tree, we thought we’d throw in this one from Binalong Bay. It is located ideally with westerly and easterly aspects to it making it great to photograph at either end of the day. Strangely, we don’t have an strong emotional investment in this scene ; rather, we just apply the ‘gut feel’ of liking it.

Binalong Bay

Binalong Bay

Godafoss: (Silver) – Marianne 84

We had photographed Godafoss in 2009 with very little success. Despite the scene looking grander, we photographed it early in the Icelandic spring wihen the volume of water submerged the rock visible in this scene. The wind was also blowing directly into us downstream. When we visited again in 2010, the conditions were the exact opposite and we spent a great deal of time appreciating this beautiful albeit small falls (relatively speaking by Icelandic standards). This image had also done well in a previous competition and like the Korpudalur image, we hoped that its history would speak for itself.  While each of the crop suggestions has merits, both of us still like the original crop for the reasons that the vignetting adds depth at both ends to the image ending up focussing on the falls themselves.



Murphy’s Haystacks:  (Silver) –Dylan 82

After returning home from a night in this paddock, I had no idea if this star panorama would turn out. In the past, I’ve had to do some whacky transformations of U shaped stitches when attempting wide angle vertical stitches but on this occasion, that didn’t occur. The end result was something I was pleased with but I had no idea that it would become our most popular image ever! I had not seen many star images doing very well in this competition so I thought I’d see if this one could buck the trend. I’ll wait for the top 50 announcement to see if it gets in but in the end , it snuck home for a silver. We did raise an eyebrow about the 23 point scoring spread in this image but I suspect that will always be the case with images that generate heated debate.

Murphy's Haystacks

Murphy’s Haystacks

The Bronze Awards:

Personally, I think all of these images I chose for ‘oddball’ reasons andwill not do so again in the future. Both Kirkjufell images were chosen on the basis that they became very popular despite the fact that I had overlooked processing them for a year after we returned from the trip. Perhaps my gut instinct was right about them? The narrower crop on the waterfall image makes sense to me but the crop of the reflection seems a little too severe for my liking.

The image of the iceberg was yet again an image I chose as the third of 3 in a series of iceblock images on black sand. Somehow it became far more popular than the others. I ignored it for a long time because of the polarising effect in the sky (forgot to turn the effect off at the scene).

Godafoss part 2 really is just weaker version of Marianne’s. So why exactly did I include it? Who knows really ! I just kind of shake my head as to why I thought it was a good idea in the first place.

In summary, we are happy with our results but there are still some lessons to be learned:

  • The selection process was largely left to me. As a result I probably chose Marianne’s images better as I had the more objective eye in doing so. Perhaps in the future, Marianne should choose mine!
  • Popularity on social media and photosharing sites doesn’t necessarily translate into popularity in photography competitions.
  • One should wait until all the results are in and the initial nervousness of the wait is over before jumping to premature conclusions about the judging process.
  • I am uncertain about repetition of themes within entries. After all, the open category landscape winners this year did include two very similar images of the same boat shed.
  • It seems that our initial selection of images to process shortly after capture were the ones which received the highest scores. Look with a tilted brow at images you’ve rediscovered on an archive archaeological dig!
  • Like most aspects of life, the balance between giving yourself credibility without taking yourself too seriously usually allows you to learn from experience and progress for the future.

What do you think and what images of ours do you think we hypothetically should have entered? Until next year’s ILA!


Posted on December 7, 2012, in Iceland, New Zealand, Photography, South Australia, Tasmania and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Fantastic series of images there Dylan! I always struggle with the choice between submitting the image that I like, and the image that the public seems to like. For some reason with my images they always seem to be mutually exclusive! I’m yet to compete in a ‘professionally’ judged comp such as the Loupe awards, but in the ones I have entered I’ve always leant towards my own gut instinct. Sometimes with success…more often not, but at least I don’t regret submitting a particular image that way! Thoughts?

    • I reckon that’s probably the way to go in the future. We’ll choose images either that we personally like or happen to come across that we think will be suited to a particular competition. The ‘experiment’ of submitting historically popular images has probably been somewhat of a failure lol! We’ll try different things in the next year but what we won’t do is shoot an image specifically ‘for’ a comp if you know what I mean.

  2. Most of my competition environment is a local Photography club and I have a grown up daughter who has a good photographic eye. When I go with her instinct my images do much better than when I go with my gut instinct (probably because I saw more of the environment and the effort involved). There seems to be a trend here – let someone else make the selection!
    Great images – hard to pick a favourite from the silvers 🙂


  3. Can’t believe you only got a silver for Murphy’s Haystacks. The judging was certainly inconsistent and should have been reviewed. In fact, looking at all those images, I am really surprised that the judging in an amateur category is so harsh. Makes me feel a whole lot better about my scores! I think every photographer struggles with image selection and what they like compared to the public and judges.

    Really love your photography and post processing. Looking forward to seeing you both in WA next year at the WAPF event.

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