A gentle reminder – just one week left to enter the August competition!

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Entry details here.

I’ve decided to throw in a sweetener too – the winner will also get a copy of my Photoshop Workflow DVD.

Remember, the more entries, the bigger the prize pot! MT

A gentle reminder – two weeks left for the August competition!

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Entry details here.

Remember, the more entries, the bigger the prize pot! MT

A gentle reminder – three weeks left for the August competition!

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Entry details here.

Remember, the more entries, the bigger the prize pot! MT

August 2012 Competition announcement: Compact Challenge

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Under construction. Ricoh CX4

Due to the fantastic response to the last competition – over 120 entries – I’ve decided to run another one for August 2012. The theme will be: Compact Challenge.

What this means is that all images must be taken with a small-sensor, non-interchangeable lens camera; I’ll permit anything up to a Sony RX100, but the Canon G1x, Fuji X100/ XPro, Leica X1/X2, Sigma DP1/2, Sony NEX, Samsung NX, Nikon 1, M4/3 cameras and other CSCs with interchangeable lenses are not allowed.

The challenge? To capture the most amazing image with your compact; there’s no theme. Entries will be judged on the usual photographic criteria (composition, lighting, timing, technical quality) with one additional twist: bonus points for the ability to transcend the limitations of the camera, i.e. create a composition so strong or angle so unique that on first glance, it wasn’t obviously shot with a compact. By that token, filters, special effects, apps etc are not allowed either – though regular Photoshop processing is fine. The shot should be about the composition and execution, not postprocessing.

The entry fee remains just US$5, payable via paypal to mingthein2(at)gmail.com. As with the previous competition, the more entries we get, the bigger the prize pot: 70% of this will be paid out in prize money – 50% to the winner, and 20% to an honourable mention.

The basic principles:
– It will be 100% merit based. I will be judging.
– There will be a cash award for the winner and runner up!
– The prizes will be supported by a small entry fee of US$5 – the more people who enter, the bigger the award pot becomes. So share it with your friends!
– You will learn something: the final 10 images will be given a detailed critique on the site.
– Unlike just about every other competition out there, I won’t keep the rights to your images; all you need to agree to is allow me to publish the image here if you win, or if you make the final 10.
– There are no restrictions on equipment or date the picture was shot.
– You do of course need to have shot the photo, and own the rights to the image.
– Images must be in the theme of the competition.
– No restrictions on entries for amateurs/ professionals; I’m only looking at the quality of your image.
– Color or black and white are equally acceptable.

This is designed to be a competition by photographers, for photographers.

Closing date: Midnight GMT, 31 August, 2012.

How to enter:
- Each participant is allowed to enter one image per $5 entry fee, multiple entires are permitted.
– Images must be in jpeg format, 1500 pixels wide on the long side. Please do not send in full size images!
– Name your images with your name – “firstname lastname.jpg” is perfect
– Watermarks are fine but must not obscure the subject (obviously)!
– Send an email with “August 2012″ [space] plus your name in the subject line to mingthein2(at)gmail.com. The body of the email should contain your paypal address (payment is required for participation), name, your image and its title.
– Send your entry fee of US$5 via Paypal gift to mingthein2@gmail.com
– I will confirm receipt of both to the email address the image came from.
– Judging will take place in the first week of September, with results to come thereafter.
– Multiple entries are permitted, but each entry must have a separate entry fee.

The fine print:
– First place takes 50% of the total entry fees received.
– The runner up takes 20% of the total entry fees received.
– The balance of 30% will go towards running and supporting this site.
– You must own the rights to the image submitted.
– Rights for all images submitted remain property of the photographer, but in order to be eligible to win, the photographer must grant mingthein.com the rights to publish the image either as part of the results announcement or critique.
– No time limit to when the images may have been taken.
– The judges’ decision is final.
– EXIF data must be left intact so the camera type used can be verified – cameras with interchangeable lenses, SLRs and large sensor compacts (APS-C and above, fixed lens or not) are not permitted. We reserve the right to reject entries if they do not comply with the requirements.
– Photoshop allowed, but digital editing is limited to adjustments to color/ contrast/ dodge & burn/ sharpening/ minor retouching including spot removal etc. Changes of substantial portions of the image in order to alter the overall impression of the photograph are not allowed, and if detected are subject to disqualification.
– Your email address and other personal data will remain confidential and not be shared with any third party.

- Entries are welcome from any country, it’s an international competition!

Remember: the prize grows directly proportional to number of entries, so share this with your other photography friends and on Facebook!

Good luck, and may the best image win! Looking forward to seeing all of your entries – let’s see if we can break 200 this time! MT

“And the winner is…” – July 2012 competition results!

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In the end, I received 120 entries in total – thank you to everybody who supported the competition; it’s paved the way for future ones – look out for the August challenge starting soon. This means the total pot is USD$600 – $300 for the winner and $120 for the honourable mention.

The overall standard was good to high; of those, there were about 30 which stood out, requiring some significant contemplation to boil down to ten, and ultimately, a winner.

The first competition was set with a deliberately broad theme to allow as many interpretations of the subject as possible; common themes were portraits, street, babies, and humans in nature. There was hope and happiness, there was abstraction and dehumanisation, there was despair, and occasionally, hope in despair. The winner wasn’t the one with the sharpest picture, but the one with the sharpest idea – the most creative interpretation of the theme, and the best execution of that – so that the subject would be immediately obvious to the viewer. Breaking this down into specific criteria, the image had to make either an emotional connection with the viewer – if a close shot – or juxtapose the subject into a context which elicited a response in the observer. Needless to say, the subject had to be obvious to the viewer – either separated by color, light or texture; if we had to look too hard to find the human element, it’s probably unlikely that the photograph managed to keep to the theme. Finally, judgement was given to technical composition and execution – were there distracting things entering the edges of the frame? How as the image processed? Was it in focus? Etc.

With that, here are the top 10, in no particular order:

Alvan Yap – A mother’s pride
Alvan Yap
A positively strong image with a clear relationship between subjects; emotions transfer from mother to daughter to viewer, as though she’s being encouraged to be less shy towards the camera. Overall good frame balance, though the upper portion feels somewhat truncated and the left/right sides of the image are a little too prominent for my liking; it’s as though the subjects are sticking to the frame. I would probably have burned out the odd looking cylindrical/ conical objects in the background of the house. Overall Excellent tones and processing.

Ben Hopkins – Ni Dios
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Nice use of motion to isolate the subject; although there’s a good balance of elements in the frame, the image feels a little top-heavy because of the lintel; framing higher to allow a little less foreground and a little more headroom would have helped this. I find the processing to lighten the sleeping figure somewhat overdone; there’s a bit of a halo visible around him, and the whole area just seems a bit too bright. THe dog is a nice touch though – mirroring of the primary subject. Finally, although the verticals are straight, the horizontals are not – but too close to being straight to ignore, which results in a slightly uncomfortable feeling when looking at the top right portion of the image.

Rafael Macia – Broadway Bus
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This strange man is a reminder to us that the human element is unpredictable, strange, but at the same time, perhaps not so different from ourselves – wearing a pair of goggles isn’t that far off eyeglasses, for instance. To some, carrying little black boxes around and aiming them at various things is probably even stranger; who’s to judge. Nice use of natural frames to isolate the subject – the bus window, and especially the little corner of the building that snakes around his head. I find the bright portion of floor at center-right to be somewhat distracting and empty, but it’s mostly balanced to center left. Inclusion of the text at bottom left was a nice touch, too.

Travis Rhodes – untitled
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This shot captures a nice innocent moment between two children – siblings, perhaps? The moment is very well timed and perfectly catches the expression of surprise of the girl on the right. Although the subjects are separated by depth of field, and to a lesser extent lighting, there’s something slightly bothersome about the background chaos; a little less depth of field would have improved this image – just enough to give context, but not so much as to allow secondary elements to be distracting.

Dee Dee Yelverton – True Love
Dee Dee Yelverton
Lovely emotion, lighting and execution; excellent use of texture, too. The image also has good balance, and a little quirkiness that plays to the theme of the competition. There are two things that could use improvement here – firstly, I don’t care much for the superimposed text; I feel it ruins a perfectly strong image. Secondly, the cut off watch at bottom right is distracting because it’s the only hard, non-organic shape that intersects the edge of the frame.

Lynne Shaheen – Pure concentration
Lynne Shaheen
Here, the human element sits in isolation – total concentration is an apt title. The subject’s difficult pose is isolated nicely by depth of field; however the bokeh also serves to provide psychological reinforcement for the title, as though the gymnast is completely focusing on the next pole only – and blurring out his environment. Overall though, the subject is vertical – but the frame is horizontal; this has resulted in a lot of empty space on left and right that don’t particularly add anything to the shot, as well as a cut off hand at the top edge. It’s important when shooting action to remember that there are other useable focus points apart from the center one, and that the camera can be rotated. Finally, lighting manages to be both somewhat flat and in the wrong place – the gymnast’s legs are well highlighted, but his face and bulk of upper body are in shadow and not so well defined.

Ferry Zievinger – Bench sharing
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This interesting split frame manages to do two interesting things – humanize an animal, and animalize a human. I find this juxtaposition interesting, and here, well executed; whilst there’s symmetry to the frame, the precise balance has been adjusted to take into account the different shapes of animal and man. My one criticism of this image isn’t to do with the framing, composition or execution; it’s the processing. There’s so much textural variation here, it’s a shame that it isn’t more obvious; the top third of the frame is actually quite flat. And a little strategic dodge and burn around the face and t-shirt of the man would have helped tonally balance out the bright white portion of the dog.

Kristian Dowling – untitled
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A beautiful, tender moment captured between mother and daughter. The windblown hair, to me, adds a dynamic, transient feeling to the overall image; suggesting that perhaps such instants are fleeting and to be appreciated (and clearly, captured). It’s a great moment, but the execution has opportunities for improvement – firstly, left-right balance of this image a bit off; the heads of the subjects blend into the trees, and the white sky feels empty. Secondly, the overall image is somewhat flat, especially in the facial tones; yet there’s a clear halo behind the arms of the mother where the subjects were lightened.

Robert Yong Lee – Intersections
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This image takes a very different interpretation of the topic – an abstract, almost painterly scene has an empty spot that’s filled conveniently by a generic human shape – very much making it the human element of the scene, and nothing more. I like the use of large depth of field and texture here; amplified further by the highly directional light source, emphasizing textures in the frame. Overall, it’s balanced; the window frame at left could perhaps have been dodged a little to separate it out from the shadow of the lamp post and visually balance the lighter right side, though. Similarly with the shadowed pavement.

Arthur Wang – Working men: a city street
Working Men Chaotic City
Last, but not least – the utter chaos in the scene comes through well in the image; I almost feel like the atmospheric dust is amplified or reinforced by the slightly low contrast processing (though a little more contrast might have been nice). Here, the human element is everywhere but in the top left corner – and the slant of the frame doesn’t help this at all; in fact, it causes the two people in the foreground to be a little cut off. Yet somehow, the frame works as a whole – these technical imperfections seem to reinforce the business and chaotic nature of the actual location. There are two distracting edge elements, though – the handlebars of the bicycle intersecting the shadow of the car at bottom center, and the large gray object on the right edge. Framing left and down a little would have solved both of these problems.

In the end, the image that drew my eye back to it time and again was Broadway Bus – congratulations to Rafael Macia! The image has soul, grit and emotion – those very human characteristics. You win the first prize of US$300. The honourable mention (and $120) goes to Robert Yong Lee for intersections – I love the abstract, painterly quality of the image, and the creative interpretation of the theme; however, the shadow casts a certain detachment to proceedings which doesn’t quite lend the same impact as a non-abstracted person in the scene would.  I think this was a very close fight between the finalists, and everybody should be proud of their work. I’ll be in touch with both winners via email to sort out remittances.

Get ready for the next competition announcement, in a couple of hours. MT

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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards. All rights reserved

July 2012 Photo contest is now closed.

A big thank you to all of the entrants – over 100 of them – there’s some really excellent work in here, and it’s going to be a tough job to pick a winner. Stay tuned over the next week or so for the results announcement and critique of the top 10.

If you missed it, don’t worry, I’ll definitely be running another one for August :) MT

One day left to enter the competition…

A huge thank you to all of the entries so far – I honestly didn’t expect to get this many (85). Let’s try for a hundred! There’s still a day left, so please get your entries in by midnight GMT tonight. MT

Details on how to enter here.

Final call for entries – the inaugural Mingthein.com photo contest closes tomorrow at midnight!

If you haven’t done so already (and thank you to everybody who has) – today is your last chance to get your entry in for the inaugural Mingthein.com photography contest!

The theme is ‘The Human Element'; $5 gets you a chance to win the pot. Remember, the more people who enter, the bigger the prize pot!

Full details here. Thanks for playing! MT

Just two more weeks for entries…

…for the inaugural Mingthein.com photography contest! Remember, the more entries we get, the bigger the prize pot – and it’s 100% meritocratic, open to anybody, anywhere, and you retain all rights to your images.

Full details and how to enter, here. MT

A gentle reminder: three weeks to go until the first Mingthein.com photography contest closes!

If you haven’t started shooting, now’s the time to do so. Remember, the more people who enter, the larger the pot…

Full details here.

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