Strobist Photos of the Year, 2007 -- 3rd Place Winner

One down, four to go. And like yesterday's photo, the SPOY 2007 fourth-place winner also understood the power of not letting the light upstage the rest of the image.

See the 3rd-place winner and judges' comments after the jump.

3rd Place: Dionaea - Hosford, FL

"Dionaea - Hosford, FL" was photographed by reader Forbes Conrad) with a Canon EOS 20D and a pair of Nikon SB-26 speedlights.

An SB-26 was at camera right, through an umbrella and another was slightly behind at camera left and gobo'd to control lens flare.

Chase Said:
Photographers take note: What stands out in this shot is that the light doesn't stand out - it's in perfect harmony with the image.

Many Strobist shooters -- or those in the early stages of fiddling with strobes or off camera lighting in general -- get caught in a paradox where the "less gear, more brain, better light" mantra gets misunderstood to mean "less gear, more brain, MORE light".  

Not so.  

Lighting an image is not only about big dramatic brush strokes with your gear. Sometimes the best light is really noodly and wimpy. It's light that you don't even recognize. This shot exemplifies this principle. It is beautifully -- and very simply -- lit.

And the lighting does not distract the viewer. It's a shot of the fly and the flytraps, not of the light that's lighting the fly and the flytraps.  

Catch my drift?

I Say:

First of all, I'll second what Chase said. The idea of making a photo about the light is a habit that I always have to work hard to overcome. There are times when you need to make something out of nothing. But there are also times when you should not let the light take center stage in a photo.

To me, the quiet light in this photo is very important in that the star of the photo is not the plant. It's not even the fly. The star of this photo is the tension arising from the knowledge of imminent death.

Even if the fly is not truly in danger (i.e., could be a dead fly, a plant that is not closing for some reason, etc.) the visual tension still holds. FWIW, the fly looks real to me, and the only standard which would come into play if it is not is a photojournalistic one.

Long story short, every person viewing this photo instantly knows what the fly does not -- that it likely is living on borrowed time. That's a powerful and riveting property in a photo, even if that subject of that photo is an bug.


Congratulations, Forbes Conrad, on the photo. If you would be so kind as to choose your top four prize choices, in order, from the list below and stick it into a comment on this photo's Flickr page, it will greatly help to speed the process of distributing prizes to the five winners after they have been announced.

Thanks again to the following sponsors for contributing such great prizes:

• An AlienBees ABR800 Ringflash, courtesy AlienBees.

• A pair of Pocket Wizard Plus II's courtesy the MAC Group, facilitated by Midwest Photo Exchange.

Elinchrom D-Lite 2 Kit, courtesy Elinchrom and facilitated by The Flash Centre.

• Two Nikon SB-800 Speedlights, courtesy Nikon USA.

• A Canon Powershot G9 Digital Camera, courtesy Canon USA, facilitated by Midwest Photo Exchange.


Discussion: SPOY Results Thread on Flickr


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