Actually I kinda like 'Forward by Doug Brewer'. It hails back to the days when the leader stood at the front as battle commenced. Confronted by the bloodthirsty hoardes, the cry would go up: "Forward to victory!". We are right behind you Doug. About 35 miles behind you.... (with apologies to Blackadder). A touching and anarchic page of Brewer's finest. Just the right amount of humour and compassion brought together in a way that only Doug can. I could seriously feel myself welling up as I read. Until I burst out laughing at suitable junctures. Absolutely brilliant.
And so to the pics. We've a lot to get through so here we go....
Get Pentaxed by Peter Zalabai
Fitting opener by Peter of mousy model wielding - of course - a Pentax camera. Gritty portrait, almost monotone, with just the right amount of tension and surprise. Harks back to Film Noir, with undertones of Polanski - cracking good shot.
Outside the Museum by Jaume Lahuerta Ibarz
Strong composition with a pair of figures, silhouetted against a wall with an escalator, all framed in a window. The perpendiculars and the diagonals mix and match to create a thoughtful image, spurred on by a considered approach to capturing the lighting. Interesting and beautiful.
Sunset at Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia by Steve Sharpe
As sunsets go, this is (as Christine is wont to say) a Deusy. A lighthouse stands guard on the approaching night, the sky a deep red cast by the retreating sun. Considered and successful approach to positioning of main elements - creating a pleasing balance. I am reminded of JMW Turner, and think no less of Steve's image because of it. A superb display.
Chicago Fog by Christine Aguila
Only a few pages in and we're confronted with one of the most important works of the book. Photography and fog have a mutual love - but mastering it is the test of any photographer. Here, Christine has not only succeeded spectacularly, but surpassed excellence. The composition is faultless - a line of trees, sparse but not too thin, a clean snow-covered foreground, a clean background as the mist surrounds all. And there - in just the right place - a small group of people to give scale and add interest. The colours are so muted as to be almost black and white - but black and white here would be wrong. The contrast is subtle and we can see that a lot of thought has gone into this. The fog reduces the hues to almost grey - but not quite. And this is the essence of what fog does. Christine has conveyed the feeling of the scene and we stand in awe at its simplicity and elegance. One of my top pics from the book.
Through the Trees by Bruce Dayton
Harsh and sublime study of tree trunks in monochrome by Bruce. Love the contrast and the shapes. Just the right framing to create good balance between highlights and the deep shadows of this low-key photograph. We are teased by glimpses of more foliage through the trunks, and not distracted by their canopy held aloft. A gutsy contemplation that many would pass by, missing entirely.
Autumn Maple by Mark Cassino
Despite Mark's name, there's no gambling going on here - this picture is a winner. Very optimistic study of a thin deciduous forest nicely on the autumnal turn. Our big wooden friend in the foreground holds much interest and gives us a nice balance with other, less bulky colleagues behind. The hues of yellow, green and brown have jumped off the palette and onto the page - but carefully done - no pushing and shoving here. The result is a lovely canvas full of texture. I can smell it as well as see it - a credit to its success as an image.
Reflections in New York by Doug Bewer
Gritty, graphic view of an urban apartment block mirrored in the windows of a neighbouring building. I am instantly taken back to the newsprint art of Dick Tracy. The colour and shapes are straight out of a comic book and we feel right in amongst the hustle and bustle of New York where it might be freezing cold, or sweltering hot - are those air conditioners on or off! A very suggestive and evocative image, with gentle reminders of scale thanks to an adjacent building with its stark flagpole. This grows and grows on me the more I look at it - and makes me want to go to New York - a sign of its success as a photograph.
Chenonceau Reflection by Mark Roberts
Clever and successful use of water as a mirror for an everyday sight for the French - a chateau. To you and me it's a romantic castle with turrets and spires - and Mark has captured the romance without even showing us the detail. It's what we're not seeing that makes this pic a dreamy inspiration. Again, I see a hint of Turner, a hint of Renoir - and a hint that neither would stand still in the same room as one another! Wonderful feeling to this. Love the figures on the bridge. Excellent.
Crossroads 2008 by Dario Bonazza
Appealing view of models wearing large hats and not a lot else. Excellent juxtaposition between the two, separated by a graphic background, suitably softened by superb use of depth of field. The model's hat is a striking feature, although there are several other features of note that I will gladly enter into after a nibble and a nightcap. Absolutely first rate capture here of a scene that many see but very few can convey. Dario is known for his photographic preferences, and to his credit he provides just the right amount of titillation without the tat. And long may he continue!
Faith by Subash Jeyan
Frank yet considered approach to a delicate subject. Here Subash has brought us irony and wit, without degradation. Very very good use of lighting to keep things low key, and an absolutely perfect depth of field so we know what we are seeing without it being slap-in-the-face obvious. This photograph is all about subtlety and nothing about sarcasm. The fact that it stands by itself as a very simple image, yet conveys the most complicated and intense basic reference for humanity, is a great credit to the photographer. Time does not stand still, and very fortunately neither does pathos. Very poignant, and very very good.
Megan by Scott Loveless
Classic study of child on bicycle in a reportage style, absolutely unashamedly. Nice contrast give this a stark feel, and the composition is spot on. Quirky and slightly awkward, it is a grabbed moment that evokes memories in us all of times past. The fact that it is part of a record of a life does not detract from it being an excellent pic in its own right. I really like this image and it would feel right at home surrounded by Martin Parr.
The Hunter by John Sessoms
Passionate but subdued consideration of a wading bird looking for food. Very low key with most of the image in deep shadow - setting the perfect introduction for our feathered friend to stand out from. The reflection is just the right intensity and the framing precise and perfect. Moving to the bird - an egret - we look closer and discover beautiful texture and shading on its body, with a satisfying pose and sublime neck and head, ready to strike the unwary submarine world. This is a delicate subject and a delicate image, though solid in approach and success.
Blue Dasher by Mark Cassino
Absolutely stunning example of macro work here from Mark - amazing detail that he has found in such a narrow area of focus - and he has hit that focus just right. The background is a delightful shade of green, the subject hits you in the face - what more is there? The fact that our friend has prey seals the interest and makes this one of the most appealing insect shots I have ever seen.
Fungus Family by Bill Robb
Extremely pleasant low-key photograph of wild mushrooms lurking amongst the forest floor. They rise like buildings from fog, sometimes not always visible - just hint of shape. The deep greens and browns of the plant life surrounding contrast perfectly with the fungi and the level of detail is actually quite surprising. It's the sort of picture one might glance at in passing, but returning later to find more interest. The depth is in the detail, and this shot has plenty.
Pinnacle Shower by Dave Savage
Ghostly sentinels lit from the side stand firm against the moving night sky in this scene straight from science fiction. The foreground silhouette provides uncomfortable interest and guides us to the fascinating light on the other formations. Like creatures from another world, the texture and shadows of these things sits in the mind for several minutes. The photo is meant to be thought-provoking, and it is.
Seraing, Rue Ramoux by Ralf Radermacher
Continuing with the sci-fi theme - and here we are in the film Bladerunner. Ralf Radermacher's industrial scenes are now legendary among PDML folk, and this image sets out the lay of the land. Gritty detail with unforgiving ambient lighting in the foreground, picking out an urban backstreet view, but there hovering behind is the mothership - a steel smelting factory in full throe with plumes of mist rising like some sort of huge plasma engine just ticking over, waiting to lift off on a journey to the stars. Ralf has spent many dozens of hours capturing this heavy industry by day and night - and here we see one of his more subtle examples, but no less an impact for it. The shot is straight out of film noir, and any minute I expect to see Sam Spade leaning against the lamp post with a cheroot. Or maybe a bladerunner taking out a replicant. Absolutely exquisite work, satisfying and disturbing at the same time. Actually breathtaking.
Scale Model Sex Cells by Bruce Walker
Bruce has gone for the saucy and the quirky here with a figure of a glamour girl on the bonnet of a scale model car. Presumably just off to the right is a figure of Dario Bonazza holding a camera, although we might just have to imagine that. No imagination needed for the subject, as she is held in sharp and unforgiving focus, directing our attention straight to the humour of the scene. Bruce has kept the background at bay and managed to control the lighting - not an easy task with miniatures. A fun image.
Red Car by Wendy Beard
Known more for her pugs than her bugs, here Wendy tries her hand at something different. The incredibly red Volkswagon sits on a textured surface with the slightest depth of field imaginable. The red has merged into a plastic beacon, shining out in a sea of grey with smooth creamy areas of soft focus. But my eye keeps going to that textured slither of detail that is the road under its wheels. Delightful and playful.
Highland Cattle in Saskatchewan Winter by Tim Bray
Excellent livestock on a windswept, snowy plain in Canada. These muckle coos are a long way from their ancestral home, but fine in the white stuff. Well executed with the obvious difficulties that snow brings to exposure, the detail is all there in the furry faces, and in the snow. Pleasing composition and just a downright nice photograph.
Hot Dog Heaven by Walt Hamler
Some photographs understate themselves, other speak highly without being intrusive. This satirical view of Walt's lunch gets up and slaps you in the face a few times before settling down - until the Pepto Bismol is needed. Great use of wide angle places good emphasis on the meal in a bun. More meal than bun, actually, and here more humour than hot dog. Wicked fun and a spanking composition add up to an archetypal view of Americana at its best/worst depending on your viewpoint. Can I get a shake with that?
Build We Must by Ann Sanfedele
Stark vantage of New York (note spire from Empire State morphing out of foreground building, left third) with its deep shadows, its bright highlights - its buildings. Nice contrast between perpendiculars and vortices. Fabulous and poignant at the same time. A super shot.
At the Brick Factory, Fraga (Huesca) Spain by Jaume Lahuerta Ibarz
Understated study of texture and form with everyday housebricks holding the interest. This one grows on me slowly as I begin to appreciate the tonal qualities of the bricks, the uniform nature of their presence, the ironic placement against bricks already being employed, the sedate hues with reds and browns and everything inbetween. A considered approach which turned out to be the simplest - and simplest is usually best. I do like this.
Carpeted by John Coyle
Delightful carpet of flora punctuated by a garish orange structure intruding into frame, nicely placed. I like the patterns at work here, the contrast between the gentle aspect of nature and man's harsh intrusion into it. Nice work.
Ascent Beginning by Godfrey DiGeorgi
Interesting study of concrete and humanity in this minimalist enclosure that observes a woman and her child on a journey. As with most of Godfrey's work, the viewer eye's are led to a focus of action and centre of study in one portion of the image, which tends to be framed by large areas of texture and shade. Very subtle hues mean that this image is almost monotone - but not quite. The photographer presents us with a story in both title and visual description, and succeeds in both. Lovely work.
Leading Lady by Bruce Walker
Visually satisfying monochrome study of a vehicle hood ornament. Excellent use of depth-of-field to produce a scene that offers excellent contrast and form. Very pleasing composition and extremely well observed with wonderful areas of soft focus and a razor sharp area of main interest. This image works so well on so many levels.
Jeanne d'Arc by Dario Bonazza
A pair of female performers on a stage, a moment caught, and Dario provides us with both a question and an answer in this photograph. What's going on? Ah, theatre. Like voyeurs, we have stumbled upon a sliver of time that could be entirely appropriate - or not. Dario likes the human form, and his work reflects this. Whether at work, at rest, or in error - we are treated to a sight with subjects that might make us feel comfortable, or not. The viewer is left with a few doubts, and perhaps a few thoughts after turning the page - but isn't that the sign of a successful image?
Tires by Marnie Parker
Excellent street furniture shot like only the Americans can do. The viewer is left with no doubt at all in this classic composition with many interesting elements involving buildings, sky, form and colour. The eye is led between a multitude of points of interest, with signs, objects and shapes in a very pleasing photograph.
Frameworks by Doug Brewer
Frames within frames is the motif in this extraordinary observation of an art gallery. Wonderful colour and even more wonderful composition - the photographer has captured a scene that most would pass by - and captured it so well. I am reminded of an advertising image, with such strong colour and perfectly placed pools of light - yet Doug has happened across this view and placed himself in just the right position to take advantage of all the elements available. One of the best of this type I have seen.
Butterfly by Dave Savage
Whimsical and fun moment caught in a hallway with wall patterns mimicking a butterfly's wings on a central subject, a woman. Nice use of wide angle lens leads the eye to the visual pun straight away and raises a smile. Pools of light contrast nicely and give interest where flash would have destroyed the scene. Very well observed.
Greeting the Sun by Brendan MacRae
Very well observed and technically excellent image of a young bather on the beach, arms outstretched to embrace the warmth. Well-placed elements layer the picture from distant waves, through areas of texture and tone, descending on the subject and finishing off with the classic shadow surrounded by reflections. Good use of fill-flash, and overall excellent exposure makes this a sharp and colourful composition, and a satisfying image.
Sad Ride by Bill Robb
Dreamy submarine view of a child's bicycle in this low key photograph taking in very muted colours and large areas of sombre darkness. The image gives us an everyday object placed in an unnatural setting with commensurate feelings of unease and disquiet. Low contrast and soft lighting give this a painting-like quality - and yet it is a recorded image. A very interesting perception.
Bodie Rust by Jack Davis
Absolute classic ghost town view with rusting automobiles and a razor-sharp hue to the sky. Looking for all the world as if on the set of a film, Jack has captured probably the best angle of scene that the vast majority of us will never witness in person, in our lifetime. The buildings look like they are cardboard cutouts perfectly placed on the image in a graphic illustration of clever artwork manipulation. The photographer has given us everything we need to see, and in just the right amount. Visually stunning with its crisp and bold elements, a very strong image.
Wearable Art by Derby Chang
Black and white portrait of a gothic chick complete with enhanced makeup and perfectly over-emphasized red lips. Great use of contrast and design here to offer an interesting and graphic portrayal of the deepest affections of the heart. Strong style and stronger makeup with a suitable model create a visual statement that will confuse some, satisfy others. Either way, perplexing or stimulating, an entertaining image.
Mindanao by Bong Manayon
Cover photograph and a worthy choice. Portraiture at its best with a stunning and beautiful image of a stunning and beautiful subject. Her head dripping with colourful costume, the model gazes straight into our eyes and conveys eastern charm and passion. The most delicate texture and shading of light across the face in a well-controlled scene mean this portrait is amongst the most effective of its type. The tight composition retains great intimacy and allows the model's natural beauty to be seen, and enjoyed. The texture in the lips is absolutely amazing - the focus and depth of field give us just what we need, and what the photographer intended. Vastly successful and hugely enjoyable. Superb.
Cadiz, 2008 by Juan Buhler
This reviewer must try and keep a distance here, as I am one of Mr Buhler's biggest fans. Gritty monochrome reportage is the meat and drink of this photographer's repertoire. With this offering showing us a slice of Spanish street scene involving two pairs of human legs, a dog and a chicken, we have all the ingredients for a classic Buhler image. Other giveaways: the tilted angle of view, the merest glimpse of a face with one fuzzy eye cowering in fright, the high contrast imagery, and the unashamedly 'grabbed' nature of the moment. Certainly not his strongest work, but absolutely reminiscent of the thought-provoking style and downright investigative process in seeing what is on offer. Find the dog and you have found the picture. Brilliance in simplicity.
Unaware of the Stare by Frank Theriault
Another street urchin who conveys amazing feeling with his reportage work, Frank Theriault shows us how it is done. An everyday scene, a woman at a bus stop, a poster on the shelter - separately they are nothing. Put the two together and you have both a dazzling observation and a strong statement. Here the statement is comic irony, but Frank's talent lays in being able to bring out many feelings from pure agony through to the outright absurd. Being able to spot these emotions in a scene - and then capture and convey them through photography is a sign of nothing short of genius.
Gazing into El Yunque by Adam Montoya
Swampy, foggy, low key and menacing - a disarming study of a tropical rain forest with much detail - some seen in the highlights, most lost to the dark nature of this subdued photograph. Interesting shapes of the foliage mingling with stout trunks and goodness-knows-what on the forest floor. Understated and real. An impenetrable image with mystery beyond. Very well done.
Spooky Sun by Adam Montoya
No points for the name, but this dark and moody landscape scores well if you like visual puzzles and emotion rather than detail. Are we looking up or down? Is that the sky or is it reflections in water? This image asks more questions than it answers, and that seems to be the purpose. In this respect, the photograph succeeds. A style certainly worth exploring.
Memories of Green by Boris Liberman
Beautifully observed study of form and texture in nature with this detailed view of a plant leaf. Crisp features and adjoining large areas of tone contrast nicely and guide the eye to the action. A stunning network of veins that could be a plan view of the earth, or perhaps an insect's wings. Here Boris shoots a common subject, but portrays it with astute observation in terms of composition and lighting, giving the viewer his interpretation of natural beauty.
Green in Green by Stan Halpin
A minute insect on wet foliage captured in perfect focus by photographer Stan Halpin. Excellent use of a macro lens to achieve a remarkable clarity where it is required. The gorgeous markings and colours of the insect contrast nicely with the almost overpowering hues of the back and foreground, with limited depth of field separating areas of interest to just the right degree. The composition here is the major feature - placing the bug in the image where he did, and giving us a series of satisfying diagonals, Stan has produced a worthy study of a world often looked at but seldom seen.
Indy by Wendy Beard
Comic and 'in your face' portrayal of one of man's (and woman's) best friends. The colours and shapes here leave no room for guesswork - we can feel the fur and smell the breath as a familiar scene literally besieges us. Excellent composition conveys the sights and sounds from memories past, and shows us what the photographer really thinks of animals - she loves them. That is the beauty of truth in a photograph - perfectly displayed here.
Mile High Swinging Bridge, Grandfather Mountain, NC by Cotty
Wide angle subdued view of a famous landmark. Technically interesting perspective of a famous landmark. Could do better.
The Bruararfoss Waterfall by Thrainn Vigfusson
Striking and graphic interpretation of a series of plunging waterways in this gritty but charming illustration. Use of long exposure turns the water into fog seemingly drifting down in to cloud-filled gulleys. The subtle hue of turquoise informs us of the cold nature of the scene, and the photographer makes a bold feature of the almost airbrush-like quality of the work. Scale is bypassed: are those falls three feet, or three thousand? It is not necessary to know. A pleasing composition and high contrast round off the style and invoke both admiration and pleasure.
Smokies by Dave Brooks
Wonderful use of infrared recording material or processing here as photographer Dave Brooks produces a worthy landscape and stunning image. With a nod to Ansel Adams, the sky merges in the distance with a series of mountains, and hills carpeted with a texture reminiscent of wool. Through a series of peaks and valleys we catch glimpses of fantastic shade and highlight, contrasted nicely by foreground treetops and their classic infrared canopy. This type of photography is an acquired taste, but once tried, few will shy away from further servings. An absolutely superb example.
Leaving by Luka Knezevic-Strika
An important piece of work by Luka - a pinnacle of achievement with a faultless composition and tonal gradation in this monochrome delight. Figures shrouded in mist walk alongside a deserted railway coated in snow. The strong perspective leads the eye on a simple trail dancing between the gritty forms of four pedestrians as they make their way to and from a hidden goal. A stark and graphic image. An absolute classic.
The Spading Right of Way by Frank Theriault
Another cold scene from Canadian photographer Frank Theriault. A busy north American street scene in the depths of winter crowded with walkers and streetcars. The eye is led on a marathon of crisp detail and provides the viewer with an abundance of interest. Of historical importance, Frank's work is always a pleasure to view.
Double-Crested Cormorant by Christian Skofteland
Iconic image by a wildlife master. This is surely one of the most pleasing images in the book with it's graphic nature and inspirational light. If one asked an illustrator to draw a silhouette of a bird in a stark tree, this would be the result. Ultimate achievement in compositional terms, faultless framing. A truly perfect image.
Not a Cormorant by Mat Maessen
The comic nature of the title belies the excellent work of the photographer here. A wading bird captured in beautiful light with good contrast and detail, framed with water. Nice poise and delightful texture of the feathers provide good interest and illustrate yet another pleasing result in the natural world.
Oasis by Fernando Terrazzino
Thought-provoking and curious, a wonderful photograph by Fernando. A rich quality to the colour of both walls and foliage here in this street scene with shoppers populating the sidewalk. The quality of light here is simply stunning, with pools filtering through the canopy to the world below, picking out walkers at random. Graphic road markings contrast well and the lack of traffic adds calmness and concentrates interest towards the trees. The pattern and shades are a joy to see. One of my favourite images in the book.
Daydream by Fernando Terrazzino
Surreal image reminiscent of the style of classic advertising photographer John Thornton. A figure on a horse comes across a dining tableau on a beach. Wonderful content and very well observed with a pleasing composition and style.
Step by César Matamoros
Intriguing low-key observation of footprint in the sand. Nice and subtle use of lighting and depth of field to produce a simple but effective image. The detail in the sand is actually quite amazing, the tiniest of reflected highlights giving a sheen, as it were, to the scene.
Superior Shore by Ken Waller
Nature photographer Ken Waller has offered here a very pleasing and graphic account of how sunlight plays through stark wooden fencing in sand dunes. The strong perpendiculars and diagonals provide much interest silhouetted against the soft sunlit sand. Intricate tonal areas between the shadows punctuate freely in this adept and competent image that we have all seen at some point in our lives.
Bronze by Brian Walters
Interesting and recursive pattern created by arced shapes with a large bronzed leaf the main subject, set against a background of stone paving. Harsh lighting provides deep shadow and deep saturation of colour giving us the meaning of the title. Good level of detail with a graphical nature of the patterns, a pleasing result.
Landing Pattern by Bong Manayon
Low key stonework with a fairly harsh pool of light picking out crumpled and discarded foliage here in this calm study. Concentric circles are offset with perpendiculars in what could be seen as religious imagery. Pleasing patterns and shapes here.
Holiday Sidewinder by Derby Chang
Surreal and artistic portrait with heavy saturation and a feeling of motion and energy. The subject is not the subject - the subject is the mood, conveyed here well.
Waiting for the Miracle by Peter Zalabai
Interesting and quirky study of a young girl with head bowed. Nice light on the face, hair - harsh but not destructive. Chosen focus brings us right in to the child as she concentrates on her task. Of particular note is the play of light in the hair, reminiscent of a forest. Well seen.
Have a Pair of Nylons, Sweetheart by Jostein Øksne
A cliff face full of nesting seabirds here in this pleasing wildlife photograph. Recurring patterns with an avian theme mark this piece with an interesting contrast between the muted rocky colours and the bright plumage of the fowl. Quite where the nylons fit in remains to be seen by this observer. Perhaps more astute viewers will reveal.
Piazza del Campidoglio Evening by Joe Tainter
Excellent use of ultra-wide angle view in this Italian landmark photograph. Central patterns concentrate interest and provide focus to lead the eye into the greater detail found beyond. Here, groups of people can be seen in the dusk, their muted reflections pointing them out. What could have been a staid tourist snap has been catapulted to a well seen and well captured image of great interest.
Beale Street Backflip by Christine Aguila
Bright colours and harsh contrast mark this reportage piece, recording an acrobat at work. The decisive moment has been captured perfectly to provide an almost surreal centre of attention by street photographer Christine Aguila. The subject is frozen in a precarious and awkward position, providing excellent interest, with just the right amount of blur to convey movement. Background architecture is conducive, if sparsely populated. This actually adds to the bizarre nature of the image. Christine is an excellent reportage photographer and this example reinforces that view.
Cool Down by Paul Stenquist
Seeing and capturing a granddaughter as only a grandfather can. Advertising photographer Paul Stenquist makes excellent use of light and shutter speed to capture a tiny fragment of a second in this appealing portrait at the water fountain. The feeling is so well conveyed, we not only see the smile, but we hear the laughter and feel the cool splashes of water - pure charm by both subject and photographer.
Blood Red by Jack Davis
Inspirational work here from Jack. Strong colour and texture offset by a powerful form and muted background all add up to make this a beautiful image. Very interesting the way the wall detail adds so subtly to the overall effect, led by the amazing colour on the branches. A sweet, sweet image.
Memories of Blue by Boris Liberman
Continuing his theme relating to colour, here Boris chooses a scene that confronts many people on a daily basis. What Boris has done is represent that scene with very subtle timing. The yacht is perfectly placed to take advantage of the light surrounding it, turning it into a silhouette. The framing is excellent, allowing the sea to alter tone at left, into a darker form, contrasting just right with the sky. This picture is all about subtlety in detail, and is delightful as a result.
Don't Shoot Me, I'm Only the Piano Player by Tim Øsleby
Whacky, fun image of entertainer on stage. Odd green light provides much interest as it hits the subject, with excellent detail being picked out on his garments. Nice contrast with smoke effect behind. Tim's preference for the comic title understates the attractiveness of this image, which has energy and vitality.
Co-Pilot by Paul Stenquist
Is the dog driving, or the girl? One of the questions Paul is asking in this classic street image from American popular culture. A visual pun, always a delight, well executed in this example. The coiffures are so similar, one wonders if they share the same stylist.
Lake Mathieson, New Zealand by Peter McIntosh
Absolutely stunning and perfectly observed landscape from a famous vantage point on the South Island of New Zealand. Also known as the Mirror Lake, and we can see why from Peter's photograph. Excellent composition features a large area of tone in the foreground that leads us straight away to the mountains beyond, cloud spilling freely from its flanks. A measure of its success, viewed upside down, it is difficult to tell the correct orientation. Beautiful.
Hazy Hong Kong Harbor by Ira H. Bryant
Mystical and magical. A haze dominates this seascape with a backdrop of imposing buildings on Hong Kong Island, the tallest of which is the 2 International Finance Centre. Rising like a gigantic megalith, it points upward to the hidden sun - the reflections of which are caught beautifully on the water below. The shipping in the foreground completes this fascinating picture, full of character. A superb image.
Nuovorecord by César Matamoros
Interesting study of bicycle gear mechanism in this stark and technical photograph by César. The photographer's sentiment is clear and he finds great pleasure in displaying the detail that many would take for granted. For those that take similar pleasure, this image will fascinate and inform.
Powered by Acura by Cory Waters
Engine parts and exhaust pipes provide a grip for car lovers and mechanics in this technical look at motor racing detail. A swarm of pipes and linkages move through the focus and the eye is catapulted with increasing velocity around the intricacies of oilways and return springs. Petrol heads will swoon.
Amgen Tour of California by John Francis
Technically proficient look at cycle endurance racing with this colourful shot of a Trek bike and its rider. Gritty determination emanates from his face and a suitably blurred background tells us his speed - not an easy photograph to make. John has captured the scene very well and gives us a powerful image.
Plowing by Dave Brooks
Excellent black and white action still of a ploughing competition. The focus here is on the handler and this is absolutely right. We feel the power of the horses indicated by his claustrophobic positioning between them, and his concerned attention. This image conveys perfectly the feeling and emotion of the scene, the delicate nature of the handler's skill in keeping the furrow straight and true. A wonderful picture, superbly executed.
Bowl Full of Jelly (Fish) by Dan Matyola
Looking for all the world like a slide of microbes swimming in some sort of mucus, the photographer presents us with a fluther of jellyfish floating freely in eery blue light. A fascinating look at a world seldom seen except by stunning photography such as this.
Fungus, Cambria County, Pennsylvania by Matthew Hunt
Very interesting monochrome composition of a fungus head. Limited depth of field selects the area the photographer wishes us to view, and the choice is excellent. The texture of the fungus is absolutely fascinating and very well observed. Astonishing image.
Jenner Sunset by Joseph McAllister
Subtle and understated seascape with the diminishing orb of the sun in its dying minutes. Beautifully deep hue of red and vast areas of dark tone compliment this rich image full of calm and peacefulness.
Seraing Blast Furnace by Ralf Radermacher
Another iconic image from industrial kitsch photographer Ralf. The blast furnace at Seraing in Belgium captured at night. Ralf's work is well known and this image is a classic. Large areas of detail with ambient lighting and misty areas from long exposure. Straight from the set of Bladerunner. Douglas Trumbull eat your heart out. Fantastic.
Every Last Ray by Cory Waters
Delightful sunset shot with amazing colour on the horizon and texture in the sea, punctuated by the subtle intervention of a child's silhouette. A stunner.
Seney Scene by Ken Waller
Beautiful landscape view of water and trees, silky smooth with mist and foreground grass. Truly lovely work from Ken Waller here.
En Pointe by Steve Sharpe
Voyeuristic but solid monochrome photograph of ballet dancers on the rail. Nice symmetry and repeating patterns with the dancers' arms and legs. A timelessness about this and an image that many women and girls will readily relate to. Soft lighting ensures gentle tones and this picture has plenty of both.
Dominion Public Building, London Ontario by Steve Sharpe
Curious use of ultra-wide angle here to present an everyday scene with a fisheye twist. A passer-by moves swiftly through the frame to create some foreground interest and the building itself is tamed by the presence of a tree intruding from the right. The black and white feels right for this public record of a public building.
Difference Engine #2 by John Francis
Straight on, no-holds-barred elevation view for this hand-cranked precursor of the modern computer. Looking like a high-rise tower block, perhaps with underground parking, this machine holds many important clues for how calculations were made in years gone by. John Francis records it for posterity here with a sympathetic eye and ambient lighting in a successful attempt at an unpretentious illustration.
Pass in Review by John Sessoms
A military theme here as soldiers march for inspection. The closest face to the camera is fixed on the lens with a neutral look and gives nothing away to the viewer. A pleasing composition with gritty contrast in the lighting from above, picking out arms, shoulders, helmets on the advancing troops. The setting is dusty and dry, and could be Iraq or Illinois. The sentiment is clear though, and many mother's sons are here to display their ability to fight for their country.
Storm a Brewin' by Bruce Dayton
Turbulent seas frame this view of a lighthouse on a windswept headland, with threatening skies above. Nice location for this effort, and ably assisted by the appearance of a gull to add interest. Muted colours and frothing waves ensure a sense of drama and it's only a matter of time before all hell breaks lose in this fine shot.
Kenosha Rainbow by Bob Sullivan
More drama on the high seas, this time it's after the rage with a wonderful rainbow to balance the scene on one side, and a bright red lighthouse on the other in Bob Sully's big panorama of the entrance to a marina at Kenosha, Wisconsin. A smaller marker stands on the breakwater adjacent and protects the safe haven from Lake Michigan. The rainbow is a touch of magic, but the small flock of birds silhouetted in its colours are pure genius. A chance encounter with very pleasing results.
Pantheon Interior at Night by Joe Tainter
An ultra-wide angle lens is needed for this ultra-wide angle view inside one of the most iconic buildings in Rome, and the world. Joe Tainter pulls no punches here and records what he sees as it happens. Figures dart about underneath the great dome, and the ambient lighting suffices. Sepia hues predominate and fill the image with a gentle golden cast suitably reminiscent of its glorious past. A worthy record.
Svart Hav - Dry water Blues by Tim Øsleby
Smart little puffin stands on his pedestal, sentinel to any invaders. Norwegian photographer Tim Øsleby captures the scene beautifully with due respect for framing and colour. Note the light playing on its back and wing. A gorgeous image of a popular bird, and with access to such creatures, why not.
Morning at Mollymook by Brian Walters
A big, bold image and fitting that it belongs in New South Wales in Australia where landscape is in abundance. Here Brian has captured some stunning beauty with amazing detail and clarity. The sky is a fitting start with blues and greys, leading down to a luscious canopy of woodland adorning the side of a hill. Still further down, a sliver of golden beach punctuates the start of the reverse image mirrored in the water at the bottom. A really super landscape that has had justice done by the photographer.
Lakescape by Subasj Jeyan
Deep blues and greens saturate this extraordinary view of a lake in the mountains of India, framed by a dusty trail. The contrast in colours is stunning and the perfect exposure picks out detail and texture. The mountains are enclosed by the clouds, and the lake by the road, patterns mimicking each other and taking the eye on a satisfying journey leading off to adventure. A fabulous work, extremely adept and competent, and full of promise. Excellent.
Don't Bring Me Problems, Bring Me Yoghurt by Mike Wilson
Classic in-your-face child's portrait, eyes wide with wonder, mouth satisfyingly enclosed around a spoon. Food for the subject becomes food for the photographer and Mike takes advantage of sweet innocence. A wide angle view at very close range gives a comical perspective but the sentiment is solid, as the title suggests. Great work from Mike here, a cherished image.
Egret by Bob Sullivan
This image has to be one of the best avian photographs I have ever seen. The gentle lighting and level of detail on this bird are first rate, and worthy of high praise. The strands of feathers hanging offer wonderful shades of tone and overall texture. The classic S-shape curve of the head and neck with delicate shading are exquisite. A plain background concentrates the view on the bird, and some foliage adds foreground interest. Simply a wonderful photograph.
Dongguan, China by Ira H. Bryant
Stark and interesting depiction of ruined buildings, past and present in this Guangdong province city on the Pearl River Delta, in south-eastern China. In fact, the setting could easily be France or Louisiana. The architectural heritage here is simple: brick and tile, render and adorn. Sumptuous colour in sky and brick, well saturated with warm tones and rich texture. A semi-derelict scene that is alive with interest, and Ira has duly taken advantage. Nice work.
Still Life With Boogie Board by Mat Maessen
A large egg-shaped board in glowing hues of red sit on this sandy beach scene as if constructed by a fine artist for the purpose of unnerving viewers. Apparently it is boogie board, a device for skimming across the millimetres of water covering the tideline at some speed by juveniles and delinquents alike. Instead of looking at the action behind him, Mat has concentrated on the garish shape and form of the object, contrasting totally with the gentle hues of the sand. An interesting idea, and one worth pursuing, perhaps in prison.
Living Green on Avenue A by Ann Sanfedele
Visual pun master Annsan has produced yet another ironic image with this set of three green plastic chairs fronting an organic shop. Good symmetry and clever positioning have included all the detail we need to get this image to work, and work well. The brick background sets off the subjects well, great contrast in colour here. An intelligent image, well seen and captured.
Grapes by John Celio
Delicate hues of green confirm the title of this work. Seemingly enclosed in a jar with water, the subjects mingle with air bubbles and bits of flora for visual interest, the refractive properties of the glass altering the shapes of some of the grapes. Interesting choice of composition, but successful in this still life with a difference.
Tomatoes and Roses by Ted Beilby
A dramatic and artistic representation of a market scene here with some deft image manipulation either digitally or chemically to alter some colour characteristics. The deep colour and wide variety of shape and form make this a breathtaking image full of vitality. Excellent subject arrangement within the composition, well seen.
Oak Leaves by Rick Womer
Gentle and graphic play of light on foliage by Rick is luscious in detail. The illumination is direct and hits the leaves at a variety of angles - sometimes glancing off at a tangent and leaving subtle texture, sometimes hitting obliquely and causing rich saturation and shadow. Occasionally the shadows mix from different leaves and perform a display of light and dark with boundaries duplicating from elsewhere. This image has an amount of modesty tempering its assets. It wants to shout, but like all good things, doesn't need to.
House of the Sun by Dan Matyola
Astonishing view of Haleakala volcano on Maui, Hawaii. Some colourization and image manipulation here producing a distinct and alien landscape with no accounting for scale. The subject is obviously a volcano, but are we viewing from a plane, or stood some miles away? Difficult to guess, but maybe we don't need to. We are offered an image that speaks on many levels, but the overwhelming desire seems clear: look at this and make of it what you will. An exciting photograph.
Lighthouse Kitchen, Tybee Island, GA by Rick Womer
Delicate and low key still life with fresh bread lit by the rays of the sun in a historic scene from the USA. Rich wood grain of the cupboard is highlighted by diagonal sunlight, the small curtain restricting its effect somewhat. Enough is allowed through to spotlight the bread: several crusty rolls in a bowl, golden in hue. A tantalizing glimpse of a nearby building through the window is enough to give clues as to the period, the history. A carefully photographed scene, beautifully presented.
Moonrise, Pittsburgh by Matthew Hunt
Clever and extremely adept cityscape that is nothing without its star subject: the moon rising from between buildings. Low key dusk skyline in the United States with a suspension bridge dominating the foreground tries desperately to attract the main interest but fails instantly in favour of the distinct orb of the earth's moon on it's journey up into the sky. Complete with a whisp of cloud across its golden surface, the contrast between the hard verticals of the city, and the soft round nature of moon is remarkably illustrated here in this fantastic depiction. Stunning work.
Blue Ridge Moon by Mark Roberts
Continuing the planetary theme, here we have a photograph that simply takes the breath away. There are three simple elements to this picture and only one result. Firstly, the moon is there, well understated through mist - a hint of the golden rays of the sun catching on its surface, pleasingly placed off to one side. Secondly there is the sky itself, a shroud of mist and cloud, a blending of two hues of blue (say that fast) that keeps the moon honest and allows no interference from below. Lastly there is the delightful tonal gradation of three ridges just strong enough to catch what little light is left, each one descending in shade until the last disappears from view, almost forgotten. This style of nature photography is often attempted, but seldom does it result in such a spectacular vision as this. Although not the strongest image in the book, I would say that it is the best. My pick of the crop for the PDML Photo Annual 2008-2009.
Dramatic (Sunol Water Temple) by Marnie Parker
Follow that, as they say. And follow it she does. Marnie Parker looks straight up and finds a wealth of subject in this striking structure full of interest and colour. Of note is the latitude and contrast the photographer has achieved. Bright sunlit clouds and deep shadows full of detail in the same frame. A careful marriage that reveals artwork and splendour on the one hand, impressive shape and form on the other. A superb picture, simply excellent.
Autumn View by Jostein Øksne
Not dramatic by name, but certainly dramatic by nature. This photograph is enhanced by the astonishing sky that immediately draws the viewer into the main area of interest, before allowing the eye to wander and discover ample note in the heather and on the horizon. The human element is a nice addition here, without being overpowering. We see just enough that we can return to nature and experience what the photographer and his subject did at the time: dramatic enjoyment.
Hunter by Mike Wilson
Crisp and assertive shot of a common gull swooping over the sea, beautifully captured with soft focus brethren behind. Another dramatic and successful wildlife image with perfect focus maintained on the subject throughout. Seabirds are ten-a-penny. Good photographs of them are worth their weight in gold. Excellent.
Evening Fog Fingers Grip the Land by Joseph McAllister
Understated and low key landscape depicting the rolling fog sliding along mountain ridges in its attempt to devour the land and cast cold shadows. The sun provides rich backlighting on the fog's upper surface and distant ridges to give this image the timeless and subtle quality it deserves. Very well observed.
The Oxararfoss Waterfall by Thrainn Vigfusson
Very graphical, almost monotone representation of rock, water and ice to offer the viewer a chilling vista from a distant land. High in contrast and high in complexity, this piece provides a glimpse of terrain that most will only see on the printed page or web. To experience it first hand is exciting. To photograph it well deserves admiration.
Flamenco! by Tim Bray
A curious image, this. Grainy black and white depiction of a scene that might have been taken 60 minutes ago, or 60 years ago. Musician and singers provide interest in this sociological study of custom and dress. By nature, the main attraction is taking place off camera, but we are guided to a side venue where proud people encourage their heritage with music and song, reinforced by previous examples on the wall. Convivial and simply fun, what a super shot.
Grandfather Mountain by Bill Owens
And to the last, pride of place and great kudos to veteran photographer Bill Owens of Charlotte, NC. Here Bill has captured the autumnal colour of one of the United States' most beautiful nature reserves, high in the Smokies. This classic view is seen many times by many people, and none more often in his lifetime than Bill. Here the sunlight provides more than enough illumination to bring out the deep reds and browns of the fall, as deciduous trees and plants give up their cover as they must each year. The resulting display is nothing short of astounding. Bill has done much justice here, and allows us a glimpse into that which he knows so well. Thanks indeed.
The 2008 PDML Annual Quotations list is reproduced after the photographs, and provides much merriment, not to mention a few odd looks. This ritual is now several years down the line and attracting its own reputation. Printing the quotes here is a brilliant idea and indicates the spirit of the PDML and its contributors. And long may it be so.
If you have read this and don't have the book - do yourself a favour - follow the link at the top of this page and go buy the thing - you'll thank me for it!