I have enjoyed viewing and judging the entries in Wirral Festival of Firsts Smartphone Photo Competition. May I take this opportunity to commend the vision and enthusiasm of the organisers who have recognised smartphone photography as a serious photographic art form. Choosing the winning shots was a challenge due to so many interesting entries. After much deliberation, I am pleased with my final choices and I congratulate the winners. Smartphone photography is the most popular way of taking pictures and these winning entries are proof of the quality that is achievable. In every competition there has to be losers, if you were unlucky this time then please don’t lose confidence in your shots; learn from the experience and keep pushing yourself to take more shots and develop your skills.
On The Road To The Summit
I chose this photo as my winner because of its strong visual narrative that leads the viewer into a story. Even without the descriptive title, we understand that the horse-back traveller is being guided along a rocky track to the snowy peaks that lie ahead. I think the picture perfectly embodies the competition’s theme of ‘The Great Outdoors’. The composition classically follows ‘the rule of thirds’ with the subject entering the frame from the left-hand vertical third, the mountains being positioned on the top horizontal third and the track leads the viewer’s eye through the piece. Exposure is well controlled with detail throughout in both the snowy highlights and deep shadows in the foreground.
I really like the drama and detail that the photographer has captured in this photo. This concrete wall protects the local area from the forces of nature, yet beautifully reflects the very waves that it defends against. The black and white treatment is perfect for this subject.
Rivers Edge 3
This image has a peaceful and almost spiritual feel. Shooting directly into sunlight can produce harsh highlights that may obliterate details but the photographer has done a really great job of controlling the exposure throughout this photograph of a beautiful misty forest.
Yacht on West Kirby - Marine Lake
Perfect symmetry in this simple yet beautiful image. The key elements of the sky and clouds are elegantly punctuated by a lone sailboat gliding across a centrally positioned horizon. The photographer has handled the exposure of both sky and water extremely well.
Hanging On (Ness Botanic Gardens)
This photograph is highly engaging due to the simple centred composition and the beautiful golden tones throughout. The picture tells the story of the passing of a season and the stubbornness of the last leaf of autumn. This entry was only beaten by the quality of the winning entries, unlucky this time.
Meols Evening Light
An effective use of silhouettes contrasting dramatically with a beautiful sunset. Careful attention has been applied to the position of the elements in the frame which made it a strong contender.
An engaging composition conveying a powerful emotive message. Careful placement of the subject allows the audience to view the same scene as the person on the bench. I personally would have liked to have seen this image in black and white.
Caledonian Trees at Sunset
Use of Golden sunlight creates a contrast against the snow covered hills and gives a captivating depth to this scene. I would have a preferred a different crop to reduce the amount of clear sky.
By The Way
A perfect example of the quality of close-up photography taken with a smartphone. This beautiful study reminds us that the perennial nuisance to gardeners is an amazing miracle of nature. The foreground stem and leaves are an unnecessary distraction, I would have repositioned the camera to avoid them.
Peeling paint and rusted metal are detailed under a brooding sky in this dramatic composition. Having a smartphone with you at all times allows the opportunity to capture great photos no matter what the weather. The inclusion of so much ground has made for an unbalanced composition, a slightly different angle or tighter crop would have made a big difference.