Winners Photo Contest: The Best of 2020

The winner of the photo contest The Best Of 2020 has been chosen! All beautiful submissions have made it tough on the jury to pick a winner, but there was one picture that stood out.

Best of 2020

Discover Winning Photo

About the Winner

Photographer: Ivor Baak - The Netherlands

Photo: Paard van Marken - Ivors Fotografie

Camera info: ISO100 F/10 330 seconds shutter time on a Nikon D7200 with a 18-55 plus a 3 stops ND filter.

About the Winning photo

On Thursday night on the 5th of November I came home after work and, with just one more day until the weekend, I planned on getting up early the next day. I wanted to take photos of the sunrise. According to the weather forecast there might be some overcast, little to no wind, and some color in the sky. I didn't feel like going to my usual spots, so I decided to go to the Paard van Marken (historical lighthouse in the Dutch peninsula of Marken).

Ever since last spring Paard van Marken has been on my photography wish list. However, during that time the sun wasn't in the right position for the photo I wanted to take. At the end of the year the sun rises right behind the lighthouse.

On Friday morning I got up at 5am to go to Marken, which is about a 90 minute drive from my home. After parking the car it's still about 2.5 kilometers to the lighthouse, for which I took my bicycle.

On arrival I expected it to be as busy as usual, but to my surprise I was the only one there. I set up my gear and took a few test shots, during which the sun slowly rose. The water was still, there was no wind. It was just a little more cloudy than I had hoped for.

Then the moment of truth: color appears in the sky, the camera is ready to go and I start capturing the colors, which always disappear quicker than anticipated. Thanks to good preparations my camera settings and composition was already in place. Then it's just pressing the button and waiting.

Seeing the results on the viewfinder after 330 seconds, my photo was exactly like I planned. That always puts a smile on my face. (Luckily, the clouds didn't ruin the photo, it actually gives it a little something special). It's the reward for my time, planning and efforts all put into one single photo. I thoroughly enjoyed one of the most beautiful sunrises I've ever seen in such a peaceful way. That's something I tend to forget sometimes: landscape photography is about enjoying what the world has to offer and how wonderful nature can be. This is why landscapes are my favorite photography subjects.


Ivor about photography

Photography is a hobby I use to recharge my batteries after a busy week. It thrills me to get up early in the morning and photograph landscapes and go home with a good photo. It allows me to enjoy the world and how beautiful it can be. I love exploring new places and with some good tunes on I drive through the country looking for them. Once in a while I take a photo which I like to print. Because whenever I look at it, it takes me back to that day and it reminds me of how I created it. It's something I'm proud of and I love sharing that with other people. And what is a better way of doing that then printing my photos and let it speak for itself.

Ivor's 5 tips on landscape photography

1.         Being prepared is half the work

Use apps to find out the position of the sun on certain times, check the weather and look for good places to take photos. Sometimes, as a landscape photographer you are also a weather man. Make sure you know which weather conditions create mist, frost etc. If in doubt: go anyway! If the conditions are not optimal, but is there still a chance that it might be good? Go anyway! It's part of the job to come home empty-handed sometimes. Nothing is as unpredictable as the weather. 

In my experience waiting for another 30 minutes at sunset can mean surprising changes to the sky. So make sure you're not already in your car driving home when that happens.


2.         Know your camera!

As a landscape photographer I often work with filters. This makes it nearly impossible to use the Automatic camera settings. Take matters into your own hands and manually choose the right settings on your camera. That gets you better results, and in some situations makes taking an otherwise impossible photo ... possible!


3.         Use a graduated gray filter! 

With landscapes, there's often a transition between the sky and the foreground. That makes it hard, if not impossible, to get the lighting settings right. With a graduated gray filter you compensate the difference between the two, which ups the quality of your photo. It also allows you to experiment with longer shutter speeds.

 

4.         Use a tripod!

Because with landscape photography you often need higher aperture numbers, and maybe also an ND-filter, I wouldn't recommend photographing without a tripod. Make sure your tripod is sturdy, don't just pick the cheapest one you can find. Especially when you have all of you beloved gear mounted on it ...

 

5.         Keep trying!

Sometimes you don't get the desired results. Try again until you succeed.  Also, as a landscape photographer you're always dependent on factors you don't have control over. So, don't worry too much over these. Whenever it does work out, you'll appreciate it even more.

Xpert jury member Olivier Groot about the winning photo:

Scores 1-5 points

Technique

Edit

THEMe

PERSOnal taste

Total

5 1

4 1

5

19

Tip: the light on the horizon is disproportionate, too bright and too saturated. Just a little bit less and it would've been perfect, as far as I'm concerned! The skewed horizon creates a small distraction from the otherwise wonderfully quiet image. a slightly tighter crop without the fence would have been great! Top: Strong composition, also meets the theme 'Loneliness' nicely. This photo fits perfectly on many people's walls!

Xpozer Team Picks!

The Xpozer team has chosen two winners from all submissions in the field of technology and creativity. These winners will win the beautiful Xpozer prize package!

The Best of 2020 Skills Winner:

Julia Tyagushova

Russia

Photo

The photo was taken on a rocky seashore, where underwater rocks can be seen through the clear water to complement the composition of the image.
I photographed in the evening, at sunset, this is my favorite time of day for shooting.
On the set, I was assisted by an assistant who used a reflective panel of Golden color to reflect the contour light.
I used a Canon 5D Mark II camera with 50mm and 85mm lenses.
Initially, it was a fashion shoot for the salon of wedding dresses, but in the process of shooting, I saw something romantic and mythical in the image of the model and she turned into Poseidon's bride in my imagination.
I did post-processing of the photo in Adobe Photoshop. In it, I made a retouch and a small color correction of the image.

 Julia Tyagushova is a popular Moscow Fashion & Fine Art photographer.
Do you want to see more of her work? Check out her website or Instagram!

The Best of 2020 Creative Winner:

Ger Sauer

The Netherlands


I have been photographing with great pleasure for 55 years, but at one point you have photographed everything. About two years ago I came into contact with conceptual photography. This means that you create your own world with multiple images or parts of images. This has given me new inspiration. The photo submitted is therefore also a composite photo consisting of seven images. I photographed all images myself and merged them in Photoshop. It's a lot of fun working on this, because you can basically reuse all the photos you've ever taken. And another advantage is: you don't have to go out, you already have everything at home. Ideal for long winter evenings or a "lockdown".

Top 25

This was the top 25 of the competition. See if you are there and read the feedback from Olivier Groot on all photos!

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