Prism (Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam)
©Lauren Schmidt, MSIIJudge’s Comments:
At first glance, this is mainly a photograph about blues and oranges, given that most of the kayaks are these colors. The photographer has used the title “Prism,” though, as a way to encourage the viewer to look more closely at all colors of the spectrum and enjoy their complexity. For example, most of the water is a full blue-green, but at its very tip in the lower left corner, the photographer has caught where the brightness of the sun has turned that same color into a very light tint of itself.
The photograph is also a marvel of composition. The eye begins by running across the housing system on the distant horizon, before being swept downward in a right circular motion around the boats and back up on the left into the denseness of the forest. For some viewers, the eye begins with the kayaks in the foreground and sweeps around in the same circular direction. It is both subtle and classic. Overall, the photo’s great strength is the way in which the horizontals and circular elements echo each other, via their colors, while backed up by the delicate verticals of the background trees. At every level this is a dynamic and artistic photograph.
Hanukah in Peru – Making a Menorah from Bottle Caps
©Sarah Smith, MSIII
This inviting work takes on a slightly skewed pyramidal formation—first, with the vertical edge of the left chair connecting with an upward white support of the banister; second, the joining of that support with the two thrusts downward from left to right; third, those two finally ending with the middle chair and the strong horizontal base.
The middle candle of the Menorah—the Shamash, the helper candle that is used to light the other eight—breaks free from the eight candles that are contained within the pyramidal structure, rising above the banister and therefore distinguished from the four candles on either side. The light it emits becomes symbolic of Isaiah 42:6, representing Israel’s mission as “a light unto the nations.” The significance of this particular Hanukkah taking place in Peru takes on more meaning when viewed in this context. The menorah is admirable in its simplicity, hand-crafted from common objects. It sits here in a country far from Israel, yet its ability to create this much brightness represents faith that outshines everything else in the room. The photograph speaks of great care and deep reverence, a spirit of common people finding their faith in common elements of life.
©Joseph Gascho, M.D. Heart and Vascular Institute, Departments of Medicine and Humanities
This is a fascinating work of great visual simplicity, constructed by rules and guidelines known by good photographers and artists but rarely known by those outside the field. One of the most elementary conventions is the use of an odd rather than an even number of objects. Odd numbers in art and photography are far more interesting, in that balance has to be created by placements and spaces rather than with geometric structures. While the collection of entries in this photographic competition is of remarkably high quality, this is one of the most unusual and artistic pieces.
The colors of both the “field” of the work and the subtlety of the wide range of blues in the triad of umbrellas are the key to what makes this photograph so powerful. In both cases, the colors are unique and challenging; and the interaction between the background color, with its linear horizontals and verticals, and that of the umbrellas, with its curvilinear shadows, is virtually mesmerizing. The eye wants to travel back and forth from umbrella to umbrella, even though the field between them is also inviting. The eye does not wish to give up, which indicates the magnetism of the photographer’s work. It is an uncanny visual experience.
Husband of Susan Landis, C.R.N.A., Department of Anesthesiology
The fact that everything within the mirror is upside down takes the viewer aback. The dark wooden floor is on top, and the brightness of the ceiling and its lights leads the viewer’s eye to the woman herself. The use of the circle keeps the viewer’s eyes bouncing from the dark wood down to the black coat the woman wears as she stands in the hallway. The very confinement within the four straight lines of the photographer’s paper gives strength to this magical circle. Ultimately, the viewer’s eyes cannot leave the mirror and its contents, despite the presence of the woman herself.
Because everything is being pulled into the mirror, one could question whether the contents of the mirror might be the true reality in this work. What is real? What is illusion? The mark of a good photographer is to see the unusual, the unexpected. That is what sets this photograph apart.