Weekly Competition #72 - Contre jour Competition

Competition Details
Closing Date: 23/11/2008
Judge: davidtrout

The use of light is the most essential ingredient in photography. Beginners are told never to point their cameras towards the light source but experienced snappers know that by doing this they can create some wonderful images. So for this week's competition let's shoot against the light to get some creative shots with backlighting,rim lighting, silhouettes etc. The subject is contre jour - against the light.rnBest of luck everyone, David.
Competition Entries


Link Posted 24/11/2008 - 08:40
Thanks to Cabstar for giving me the chance to judge this fine entry and I hope you enjoyed your holiday. I'm sure your chance to judge one of these competitions will come along again very soon.
Judges often find it difficult in a quality entry to pick the winner but here the winner stood out for me all along, it was harder seperating 2nd, 3rd and the HCs.
I said this last time and I'll say it again now, the winners are just my personal choice. Who can say what the best picture is? - thats a different choice for different people.

I'll post my awards now - the individual comments on each picture will follow very soon.

1: Daniel Bridge.
2: Prieni.
3: MikeW.
HCs: Deecy, Giving Tree, Darkmunk; Serendipity; John Riley.

Before my indivdual comments here are a few general observations. When I chose contre jour I was hoping for dramatic, creative or aesthetic use of light. Some of the entries, otherwise fine photos, fell just a little short of what I was expecting, particularly those with soft or misty lighting which didn't really shout that they were backlit.
Quite a few pictures were skewed and would have benefitted from being levelled in Photoshop. It's easily done. One more thing: There are quite a few sunsets in the competition and my view of sunsets is that while they look great in real life photos of them often fail to match the orignal scene. Here the entries have had varied success.
But I was must say I was delighted at both the overall quality and quantity of the entries. There were quite a few which were almost HCs.
Here goes with the comments:

Bigcog: Nice black and white conversion with good rim lighting picking out the tree trunks on the right. Perhaps the jumble of trunks and twigs is a little too much to form a powerful image. For my taste the flare and burned out highlights on the right spoil an otherwise very good image.

Gartmore: It's a lovely shot with a dominant dark hillside holding in the picture from the left and a lovely recession of distant peaks. For me the best bit is the light punching fingers down through the clouds. Overall a beautiful picture.

Prieni: What lovely light. A powerful silhouette of a fishing boat set in a sparkling sea with great detail in the shadowy shapes in the background. I particularly liked the factory building emerging through the mist on the extreme right and the inevitable escort of sea birds. 2nd

Hyram: A commentary on one of Britain's declining industries. The crane makes a powerful statement thrusting defiantly into the sky. The patches of blue coming through the clouds add colour interest and perhaps a glimmer of optimism for the future.

Viewfinder: A lovely view of a dales scene with good light and colour. I feel the near and middle distant area is a little too dark while there is some burn out in some of the clouds. But I do like the darker areas of cloud and the superb light area with great colour in the centre of the scene.

Josh: An imaginative interpretation of the subject but I think it would have had more impact if the secondary sunshade had been sharper. However I enjoyed this picture very much and liked the idea.

Beebee: This has a dynamic angle and a tree with an interesting shape. The creeping ivy referred to in the title is too dark to add anything to the picture but the shot has impact and the choice of viewpoint is excellent.

Belinda B: Good overall lighting. There is just enough detail in the RIBS to be interesting without the picture becoming too cluttered. The little bit of flare in the bottom right is always a risk when shooting into the sun. Its a worthwile photographic enterprise.

Rothwell: I've spent a long time studying this shot because I can't help comparing it to the original which you posted in the Gallery recently. Then the lighting was subtle and Bonnipics said it would benefit from a crop on the left which I agreed with. Now you've done that but you have also overcooked the contrast. The lovely subtlety of the light area to the right of the tractor in the original is completly blown here and the dark furrows have blacked up. It's often difficult to judge how far to go in Photoshop and we see so many pictures that have been overdone. I'm one of the worst offenders myself. I know you have a superb picture here but this entry does not do it full justice.

HowardJ: A fine record of Nelson's statue but the light you had available here was not of the best quality which meant the picture does not come alive as an exercise in contre jour.

Kacsoisti: Another brave photographer who is prepared to shoot directly into the sun and gets interesting flare coming out of it. The foreground is not quite exciting enough to put this picture in the top few of this particular competition.

Malo61: Dolly the sheep is a perfect and straightforward example of contre jour photography. The rim light is absolutely delightful and as I write this I'm sure the English members of PU are reaching for the mint sauce. Apart from the good rim light I love the highlights on the grass which looks like early morning dew. Its a simple but delightful picture.

John Riley: You always expect good quality in a JR photo and here it is again by the bucketful. Its another example of the use of simple elements to make a picture which packs a massive punch. The silhouette of the two people in the boat set against the silvery water is fantastic. I tried cropping the light area off the top to see how it worked against just a black top but which ever way its a stunning picture. HC

GlynnM: More good use of backlighting. There's just enough detail in the dark areas to prevent them blacking out into silhouettes. Some might suggest cropping off the foreground area but I rather like the interesting shapes of light. I think I would have taken out much, but not all, of the yellow sky to concentrate on the darker areas.

Roscoe: Beautiful colours in the sky and a nice cloud formation. The two boats and the pier make a valuable contribution to the composition. But the dark bit intruding on the shore line, extreme left is a bit distracting.

Serendipity: The magic of Scotland's west coast is evident here. A strong base line supports the picture while the distant boat is is an ideal focal point. The sky has some lovely cloud detail. Another of my favourites. HC.

Chelsea Blue: The wide angle or fisheye lens has given the horizon an interesting curve which the two rods pierce to prevent the picture being cut in two. I wonder if its a tiny bit overexposed. More impact might follow if its given a little less brightness. The two figures have a tiny amount of detail in them and they wouldn't suffer from becoming total silhouettes.

Randal85: Its a great view throgh to the glass pyramid. Careful work seems to have been done to maintain detail in the dark areas such as the the figures and pillars. I like the way the arches form a tunnel of vision and absolutely love the shadows of the figures and detail in the paving.

Daniel Bridge: Wow what a cracker. This is an absolute stunner, contre jour at its best. I delighted at the pinsharp hairs on the poppy stem and the beautiful shape of the flower head. The wonderfully diffused background tops it all up. WINNER.

Johna: You have given yourself a very contrasty subject here Johna. The dark mountain areas, the white water, bright sky and distant peak are all held in control. Perhaps there's too much dark area in the mountainside on the left. I'm not suggesting a crop but a little selective lightening here might have helped. Overall its a majestic scene.

SPB: The diffused early morning light here is very appealing.
But perhaps the light is just a little too gentle for the context of this particular competition. I like the birds.

Dr Mhuni: As with one or two other pics in the competition its not apparant here that you are shooting into the light which is too diffused to create impact. As such we are left with a hornbill almost in silhouette but without the benefit of rim light.

TonyO: I'm impressed at the originality of this shot. Many photographers would have just walked past this scene, I'm glad you didn't. There's good control of the colours in the artificial light, not to mention a steady hand at 8th sec.
The joy of the picture is made complete by the loving couple on the right. Excellent.

Ikillrocknroll: I like a photographer who demonstrates flare in his work and here IKRNR certainly has flare. Hes's used it to good effect by shooting straight into the sun, a brave move even at f16. I love the pastel colours. This is a very worth while entry in contre jour.

Puds52: Great colour in the sky and the sun just breaking through is nicely kept under control. The tree makes a strong silhouette but I think the base is a little too deep and half of it could have been cropped out.

Darkmunk: Another of my favourites as this picture has a high impact count and the black and white conversion is well done. Although the child is reduced to a silhouette there is just enough detail left in part of the scooter to keep interest. I love the sparkle in the sand. Overall a very striking image. HC.

Coriander: The profile is very good and the face has wonderful rim lighting. I think you need the bright area behind the head to seperate the back of his head from the wall but could it have been toned down a bit? Some detail has been lost in the bright area of the chest but its an eye grabbing shot.

Lenscape: Another shot straight into the sun. There's no flare or unsightly spots just the sun's rays forming a star burst. Despite the extremes of contrast there is still a lot of detail in the hillside on the far shore and quite a lot of detail on this side of the loch. There's good rim light on the sheep. I like the single tree isolated against the the loch just left of centre but the two spindly looking bushes on the extreme left do nothing for the composition.

Beakeynet: Good positioning to get the sun coming through the old fashioned lamp. I love the wonderful colours, shapes and detail in the sky. The silhouetted trees are wonderful but would it be even better with a tadge cropped off the dark area at the bottom.

Giving Tree: Don't they look delicious. Great idea, well lit and a most aesthetically pleasing photo. A very imaginative and creative entry but on my screen parts of it look just a little on the soft side. It just failed to make it in my top few selection Emily but only just, it was almost there. HC

Galoot: This is one of those pictures judges describe as 'well seen.' The lights inside the window suggest an opulent interior while the external architecture shouts style. Despite the lights coming from inside the window there are still some interesting exterior reflections. Well done.

Strawberry Beret: Here you have done a good and competent job of recording some gorgeous sky colour. I'm not sure the silhouetted shapes sustain long term interest though. But there is some intriguing rim light round the bottom osshape which I assume is some sort of sign or notice. A very near miss.

Womble: Good old Womble, no rumaging through the files to find something to fit the competition. That's better than my record in these competitions. He went out in The WEATHER to get soemthing new and I'm glad he did. Here the light is well controlled and the flare has been held in control. I really like the subtle greens in the backlit fields and distant buildings.

Ben76: This is a silhouette that really works for me because the rapier sharp palm leaves are both a technical and aesthetic delight. The half submerged bodies in the silvery sea add appeal to the scene, except where they are cut through on the edge of the frame, while the headland in the middle distance helps the composition.

EricP: This sunset adds beatiful colour to the scene and while in most pictures vehicles spoil the view here the rim lighting on them gives the photo foreground interest. Its a pity the street lights aren't lit and that the image is skewed. It could have been easily straightened in Photoshop.

MikeW: Now this really is being creative. A back lit slice of apple has been technically and artistically recorded to perfection. It doesn't need a lot of comment, let this beautiful photo tell its own story. 3rd

Honesty: One of several interesting shots of gnarled old trees set against the light in this competition. Here we also have the curse of landscape photography - power lines. I like the interesting clouds and sky detail but there is soemthing a bit confusing going on bottom left. Would a slight crop have helped?

Ganners: I bet that was a great holiday. The photo has some wonderful shapes and the diagonal line cutting through what looks like a fabric screen adds impact to the composition. The sun filtering through the screen is fabulous.

Deecy: One of the better silhouettes in the composition and a lovely black and white conversion. The grouping of the figures is perfect as are the tyre tracks in the sand. Then there's the icing on the cake - the tiny bits of backlit spray being blown from the crests of the waves. HC

Chursunlu: Looks like you are new member so can I welcome you to PU and say congrats on entering the competition so soon. The light in this picture is subtle and very pleasing and I do like the way the figures have split into 2 groups. Their reflections in the wet sand are superb. The image could do with straightening to prevent the sea from running out of the frame on the left when the tide comes in.

Rob: One two excellent backlit farm animals in this comp. The rim lighting s wonderful although just a little burned out in one or two places. For me the real delight in this is the translucent red in the ears.
Last Edited by davidtrout on 25/11/2008 - 08:34


Link Posted 24/11/2008 - 09:13
For what it's worth I agree with your choice of winner - classic shot very well delivered. Many thanks for the third place and thanks for a quick result, I'll look forward to the comments.



Link Posted 24/11/2008 - 10:24
Ah well, who would have thought of this shot as the winner? (Apart from me and cohorts of other PU members, that is.)

What a great entry, it's hard to nail the theme better than with this shot. So congratulations to Daniel for a deserving winner!

Thanks to David for awarding the "sweet spot" No. 2 (nearly as much fame and glory as the winner and no work in the following week (if and when the winner takes on the next competition, I might hastily add ).

And thanks again to David for setting this theme. I don't recall a previous competition with so many entries I really liked. It seems that this topic brought out the best in everyone.

Now Daniel, that's a hard act to follow

How inappropriate to call this planet earth when it is quite clearly Ocean. - Arthur C. Clarke
Prieni's PPG page

Dr. Mhuni

Link Posted 24/11/2008 - 12:00
Congrats to the winners and thanks for the judging David. Must have been tough as there were some excellent entries this round. I particularly liked Tony-O's different take on the theme.



Link Posted 24/11/2008 - 12:14
Well done the winners And well done David, not a easy task with all those great entries! And thank you very much for the HC, my first


Edited for spilling;o)
[img]http://www.danasoft.com/sig/223008.jpg[/img] K10D,K100D Super.
Last Edited by serendipity on 24/11/2008 - 12:15

R o b

Link Posted 24/11/2008 - 13:09
Well done to a worthy winner, and thanks David for stepping in at the last minute with such a good topic, plus all the effort you've put into the comments.


Father Ted

Link Posted 24/11/2008 - 13:24
Well done Daniel. As has been mentioned, a stunning photograph.
Getting there! Thanks to you guys

Pentax K10d, *istDL, Kit lens ( 18-55mm ), 50mm f1.7 lens, Tamron 70-300mm lens, Prinzflex 70-162 manual lens, Various old flashes.


Link Posted 24/11/2008 - 13:30
Congratulations to Dan and many thanks to David for judging this week's competition with such a very high level of entries.

Bodies: K20D (2), K10D, Super A, ME Super, Auto 110 SLR, X70, Optio P70
Pentax Glass: DA* 300, DA* 60-250, DA* 50-135, DA* 16-50, DA 70 Ltd, FA 31 Ltd, DA 35 Ltd, DA 18-55 (2), DA 12-24, DA 10-17, M 200, A 35-70, M 40, M 28, Converter-A 2X-S, 1.4X-S, AF 1.7, Pentax-110 50, Pentax-110 24
Other Glass: Sigma 105 macro, Sigma-A APO 75-300
Flash: Metz 58 AF-1 P, Pentax AF160FC ringflash, Pentax AF280T

Daniel Bridge

Link Posted 24/11/2008 - 14:23
Thanks David! I was very pleased with this shot, taken with my Sigma 105mm macro on my K10D. There were plenty of great shots this week, so I'm obviously very pleased to have picked as the winner.

I'll have a think about a new theme when I'm having lunch and start a new competition as soon as I can!

K-3, a macro lens and a DA*300mm...


Link Posted 24/11/2008 - 14:44
Congrats to Daniel - definitely deserves the honor.

Excellent judging, David. I found myself looking at the pictures, reading your entries, then going back and thinking "mm-hmm, yep, I see that".
"Just put your eye to the camera and push the button-thingy."
Flickr page:


Link Posted 24/11/2008 - 15:46
Thanks David, for the nice words regarding my own entrie. Of course I second that.
You have picked the right winner in my book also, and obviously must have had a difficult task choosing the "rest " of the lucky ones. This round had a lot of quality submitted, and you did a very fine job in judging and awarding them.
Thumbs up!!

Best regards,


Curious about my photography?? Just Follow the Light.


Link Posted 24/11/2008 - 16:57
Daniel, what a cracker of a shot, no wonder you won, this is a real stunning image.


Link Posted 24/11/2008 - 18:00
I am so impressed with the winning shot - wish I could capture shots like these - I will be looking at the camera settings and hoping they will aid me in moving forward.
Everything is possible - just not today.
K7, K100d, 18-55mm kit, 50-200mm, Sigma 70-300mm, 50mm f1.4, 16-45mm f4.0, 50-135mm f2.8

Daniel Bridge

Link Posted 24/11/2008 - 21:30
Thanks again everyone for your comments!

beebee wrote:
I am so impressed with the winning shot - wish I could capture shots like these - I will be looking at the camera settings and hoping they will aid me in moving forward.

Sorry, there's no EXIF embedded in the pic so you won't be able to, but I'd also had a message asking how it was done, so I'll paste the reply here in case any others are interested:

Okay, just had a look at the EXIF data, and it was shot at ISO100, 1/60s @ f/5.6.

So a fairly wide aperture, and quite a slow shutter speed, bearing in mind I was looking into the light, but the sun was low (7.45pm in July), and being diffused through foliage in the background.

The combination of the lens (105mm) and the wide aperture have given the shallow depth of field, getting down to the same level as the plant has meant the background is thrown well out of focus (it's much further away from the subject than if I'd been looking down on the plant), and making sure the stem of the flower was parallel to the back of the camera has kept it all (well, most of it) sharp.

Simple really! The trick is to get down low, choose an aperture that will keep the important bits of the subject sharp whilst blurring the background as much as you want, and for this shot to experiment with the exposure to get it right. Having the camera on a tripod really helps fine tune the composition, and keep it the same while you experiment with focus, DOF and exposure.

Hope that helps!


P.S. Beebee, just seen your comment under the photo, so I hope this goes some way to appease you!
K-3, a macro lens and a DA*300mm...


Link Posted 26/11/2008 - 11:14
Congrats to the winner,and thanks to David and Mr Muhni for your encouraging words.My personal favourite was from Prieni,Great Shot! Tony-O
K7,DA*50-135, 35mmLTD Macro, 21mm Ltd, Voightlaender 58mm 1.4 NOKTON SL,Ricoh GRD,GRX, Zeiss 100mm f2 Makro Planar.Zeiss Ikon ZM,Zeiss f1.5 C Sonnar.

It ain't no sin to take off your skin,and dance around in your bones.Tom Waits.
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