After the superb results for the July round of our monthly photography competition I had high hopes for out August theme, â€˜Rural Landscape'. Landscape photography is very popular, and we here in Britain are blessed with some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. I felt sure that we'd see some fantastic photos.
However I have to say that on the whole the standard of this month's entries was a bit of a disappointment. There were some very good photos, but they were the exception rather than the rule. There were two main problems. First, it seems that a lot of people don't know what a landscape is. Landscape photography, or indeed landscape painting, is the art of representing the landscape. This can include figures or objects within the landscape, but the main subject is the landscape itself. Instead I received photographs of houses, waterfalls, a fairground roundabout, several trees, men fishing, butterflies, elephants and in a moment of surrealism of which Monty Python would have been proud, even a water-buffalo. Yes, it was standing in a field, but it was still a photo of a water-buffalo.
The second problem was that of technical quality. Several potentially good photos were spoiled by technical flaws, many of which could have been easily corrected. If you're submitting a photo to a competition, especially a landscape photo, at least try to make sure that the horizon is straight. What makes this worse is that I published a tutorial on this very subject in July. Other flaws were even worse. If you're out driving and you happen to spot a nice photo, stop the car, get out and take the shot. Don't try to take contest-winning photos out of the window of a moving vehicle, because it's not going to work. Also please note that adding sepia toning to a dull photo doesn't make it any better.
Anyway, enough with the bad news, lets take a look at the best entries. I'll start off with a few that, while not classical landscape shots, are such good photos that I had to share them with you. The first is this excellent nigh-time shot from Jeffrey Levy of Arlington, Virginia, USA, who also submitted one of the best shots last month. This one was taken using a 20-minute exposure, with the camera set up on a tripod pointing towards the North.
Also not a traditional landscape, but a stunning photo nonetheless is this excellent portrait-format wide-angle shot of the Humber suspension bridge, by Phil Beardshaw of Scunthorpe, North Lincs, UK. It's a simple but striking composition.
Another very beautiful photograph which isn't quite a landscape is this poster-quality telephoto shot from Kevin Ho of San Dimas, California. Isn't that where Bill & Ted are from? Excellent!
This is more of a sunset shot than a landscape, but Philippe Roelants from Belgium has used his Pentax compact to good effect, proving that it's the photographer that takes the photo, not the camera.