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Country Press SA

Best Photo


WINNER:  John Scanlon, The SE Voice, "City Streets Illuminated"

Scanlon's image of a new car at night in rain is exciting to view with it's great contrasts and strange colours. The rain would have created some anxiety for the photographer and balancing the bright headlights with the dark background was done very well. The depth of field is almost perfect, isolating the vehicle from the background quite well, although the park bench is a little too dominant in its focus and runs out from the car's grille. Lighting works very well to bring the viewer's attention to the "face" of the vehicle and the textural pavers create a lovely leading line from the front-of-frame to the subject. Other ambient lighting provides intriguing incidental highlights on the car's body and (unfortunately no original image was supplied) it seems some clever Lightroom or Photoshop selective vignetting was applied in post to further highlight the vehicle as the image subject.

2nd Scott Murphy, The Mt Barker Courier, "The Roaring Reds"

Substantial planning is evident in the final product of this series of images by Murphy. The talent and costumes are eye-catching and the framing with the old mill's wheel as a backdrop is striking and immediately recognisable. Diffuse off-camera flash is evident and contributes greatly to a dramatic, contrasty image. However, care should be taken when posing subjects, especially when using wider-angle perspectives as this sort of lens can accentuate or distort the size and shape of a model. For instance, always ensuring a gap is visible between the elbow and the waist creates curves of bodylines and turning the closer hip to camera can be more flattering. (Wedding photographer Jerry Ghionis is "recommended viewing" on YouTube.) Please note, also, that the secondary image of three models shows the foreground female subject "long-sided", with the bright side of her face to camera. This can cause a face to look rounder in an image than "shortsiding" by showing the darker side of the face to camera. Herein lies the trap for users of off-camera flash - it must be used carefully to highlight shape and texture from the side, or behind, whilst creating extra shade and depth. Easiest rule of thumb is 45x45. (Set up the flash 45 degrees away from the camera to the far side of the subject's face, then 45 degrees above the subject's face from the horizon to create "Rembrandt Lighting" with the nose's shadow ... And season to taste.

3rdGabrielle Hall, The Plains Producer, "Hart Beats Strong"

Hall's image of a beaming baby toddling through a thick crop of wheat is endearing and quintessentially "country". The framing is good for the image's purpose and overall ambient lighting works well. An on-camera flash pointed straight up but with an extended bounce-card would have created a nice little catch-light in the baby's eyes and really brought the image to life. An alternative is to use the pop-up flash on a pro-sumer grade camera but dial back the flash exposure value by at least a full stop (-1 FEV) This puts a little extra light into the frame without making it look too "flashy" but, more importantly, still sparks a little light in the eyes.

Sean McGowan


(Triple-winner, Silver, Best Photographer, Walkley SA Media Awards.

Not entered in this category but could have been a winner if it was.

Rod Penna, YPCT, "Every Hour Counts"

Penna's striking image of a header in action at sunset depicts the plight of farmers racing against time to reap what has been sowed. The composition of this image is ideal for use in newspaper publishing with plenty of negative space for text, as witnessed by the final layout with headline and copy overlaid. The image subject is quintessentially "country" and is set within a ripe crop of farmland. 

The spectacular background sunset drives home the hour of work, as do the starry spotlights on the header, speaking to the necessity of farming at all hours. Finally, the technical skill shown by Penna in the execution of this image shows a sound knowledge of lighting balance and capture at its most difficult, in a situation of dramatic contrast. It is a beautiful, spectacular image with important undercurrents illustrating the stress and vitality of farming. Country press photography at its best!


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