The NiSi South Africa Community offers keen photographers a space to share their photographic journeys and help each other learn. By pooling everyone's knowledge and experience on gear, locations and software, it makes for a great learning resource, whether you want to find out about a new destination, NiSi filter or to get some feedback on your images. It is also a great place for people to find shooting buddies for the sake of safety or just to split fuel costs when travelling.
Who can join? Anyone with an interest in landscape photography can join - you don't have to own a NiSi filter. We do however police the groups very strictly to make sure everything stays on topic and everyone is nice to each other.
We as Landscape Gear created the groups and administrate it for the benefit of the members. Towards the end of 2019 we decided to run a 14-month competition, comprising 6x 2-month themes that would force people to try new areas of landscape/seascape photography in the hope that it provides rich learning experiences. The key rule to the competition was that entrants could only enter newly captured images - we didn't want to create a competition for the free-stuff vultures to swoop in on. The competition is a sincere effort by us to try and motivate our customers to get out in the field and get out of their comfort zones for the sake of learning. You can find all the original details below.
Then lockdown was announced and no one could get out to shoot anymore. We decided to open up the capture date restriction on entries so that everyone could dig around in their archives. We also wanted to make it a bit more interesting, so we deviated from the theme and asked everyone to enter their best 5 images and for the community to practice giving and receiving constructive criticism on all the entries. We poached some prize money from the grand year-end purse to offer a first prize of R7000, 2nd prize of R4000 and 3rd prize of R2000.
Images were judged on originality, light, composition and presentation for a total score out of 100. Judges were asked to comment on their highest scored 10 and lowest scored 10, so comments might be inconsistent here and there. Emil was kind enough to comment on everything.
Below are the results. A big congratulations to all the winners and those who placed in the top 10. A big thank you is also due to Emil von Maltitz, Jon Kerrin and Kyle Goetsch for their judging efforts. Jon had a very hectic schedule during the week of the judging and he didn't get around to commenting on all the images, so his comment is missing from some of the images.
NB* - For those not in the top 10, please send us a mail on firstname.lastname@example.org to request your scores and comments.
1st Prize | Bertus Hanekom | 88.7
- Emil - Another beautiful image with good balance in the composition, great light and well presented.
- Kyle - This was my personal favourite image in the competition. All the elements aligned for this photo. Perfect sky colour, light on the rocks, no foreground blur in the bushes while doing a long exposure, really pretty foreground lighting on the rocks and bushes and the long exposure effect on the water and sky was done well, smoothing out these areas. The composition is also well balanced for this scene and leads the eye perfectly around the image.
2nd Prize | Anne Hrabar | 86
- Emil - Beautiful image. The light is fantastic, composition is great. Unfortunately it is a much copied composition (with the same balance of the Sentinel against these grass clumps), even if 'found'. This doesn't detract from the fact that it is a good photo though.
- Kyle - Love the light in this image. Really well captured and edited. The foreground colours and lighting were some of my favourite in the entire competition. My only comment would be that the sky is quite flat and muddied on the right (yellowish tinge).
- Jon - The photographer has proven in this image that you do not need a bright and saturated sunrise or sunset to capture an epic scene. The use of light in this image, dancing through the lower valleys, captivates the eye’s attention. The contrast in this image is excellent. The framing is very well thought out with visual interest in the foreground and the strong diagonal leading to the left hand side of the image. The image is full of interesting lines the push and pull the eye to different places around the photograph. A really great photograph!
3rd Prize | Rob Smith | 85.7
- Emil - Fantastic capture with great balance between the various elements. Perhaps a touch too much sky.
- Kyle - I loved the layers in this image. The contrast in the foreground between the dark shadows and light mist/fog really works well. The colour in the sky was also really great, holding the sky without any clouds. The use of colour to do this I found really affective in this image and shows you don’t always need clouds in the sky to get a great image.
- Jon - The photographer made good use of some very unique weather. And excellent composition noticing the scene as a panoramic. While I think the overall balance of colour is great in the image, I do feel the foreground exposure and saturation could have been increased slightly to improve the dynamic range of the scene.
4th | Bertus Hanekom | 85.5
- Emil - Great storm shot. It does seem a bit distant though with to much empty space to the left and above the storm. It ends up dimishing the visual power of the clouds over the dry landscape.
- Kyle - Great capture. Balancing all the lighting and compositional elements in an image like this is not easy and you did it well. The colour balance is also really nice with the reds and greens in the foreground contrasting nicely with the grey/blues and yellows in the sky. My only negative would be the blown-out highlights on the horizon (middle-right of image), but in the scale of this image it is a minor point.
5th | Bertus Hanekom | 85
- Emil - Stunning image. Full of 'wow' factor. I might suggest a smidgeon less foreground with a tilt for a touch more cloud that seems a tad tight tight at the top. That's being finicky though. Great shot.
6th | Bertus Hanekom | 84
- Emil - Great lightening strike image. Compositionally I would have preferred the strike on the left with the windmill on the right (not that you can arrange that)
- Jon - Some might call this image luck, but the photographer clearly knows how to identify a compelling composition and then wait for the right conditions and execute the shot with the correct settings. A masterclass in patience matched with great photographic knowledge. Well done!
- Kyle - An image that will never be repeated. Well done on this capture. Lightning is not easy to capture well and you did a great job with this photo. The composition is spot on and the editing is done well.
7th | Tim Wecke | 83.7
- Emil - Wonderful detail and colour. The image does seem to be visually right heavy. Perhaps cropping on the left to a 4:3 ratio (or even 5:6) would improve this as it creates a stronger sense of compositional balance between the proteas and the orange and pinks in the sky,
- Kyle - Great image. The featureless hills around the western cape can be really difficult to compose and you did a great job of it with the layers of hills and valley lines. Also finding a great foreground of proteas and vivid greens, combined with great cloud and sky colour really complete this image and takes it from a good image to a great image. My only comment would be the middle of the image in the foreground is quite bright and pulls my eye away from the proteas quickly instead of leading it up through the image slowly. Perhaps darkening this area may help make the flow of the image slightly better (this is a minor point).
8th | Gerald Knight | 82.7
- Emil - Great shot of the MW. Composition leans to the right, making the left slightly dead . I like that the tree is not overlit.
- Kyle - Really nice image. I love the balance compositionally of the milky way and the tree. The light painting direction with the shadow leading to the milky way also works really well in this photo. My only comments would be a slight crop of the image, getting rid of some of the empty area on the left. This may help keep the viewers eye placed more centrally for a longer time. Secondly, the white balance could be balanced a bit more to the cooler tones as the image is quite warm (this is a personal preference and did not enter into my marking).
9th (1) | Amy Kruger Greyvenstein | 81.3
- Emil - Lovely sombre mood to the image. I like the visual lines as well. Would also work as a black and white.
- Kyle - Compositionally this was one of my favourite photos out of the whole competition. With so many seascapes entered this photo really stood out for me. I could clearly see your thought process in the composition, leading the eye easily along the rocks towards the gap in the sky. Unfortunately, the light seemed a little flat when you captured this image and the water seems a little muddied/rough with the exposure time selected. I really hope you go back to this spot and capture this again with some beautiful colour in the sky, lighting up the detail in those foreground rocks.
9th (2) | Anne Hrabar | 81.3
- Emil - Beautiful light and composition . Some extra contrast below the cloud line could help a little.
9th (3) | Cathy Birkett | 81.3
- Emil - I really like the movement of the waves in the foreground and the simultaneous contrast in the colour is awesome. There is a lot of space in the sky though and the near centreline horizon kills what should be a dynamic composition,
10th | Jean Goldstone | 80
- Emil - Lovely quiet feel to the waves moving in. It could potentially use a little more contrast, although with a movement shot like this that is a very personal preference.