Photo & People

The Winning Eye

How can your photograph stand out against thousands of others during a national competition? We examine a selection of winning photos from the Singapore leg of the Canon PhotoMarathon 2015, as well as the equipment used to capture them, to reveal the magic behind these breathtaking images.

Every year, thousands of photographers across Asia eagerly await the largest photography competition in the region. The Canon PhotoMarathon is an on-the-spot, full-day competition where shutterbugs must shoot in response to three themes that are revealed through the day. Participants are given three hours for each theme and submit their images. Their photos are judged by the creativity of interpretation as well as composition, use of light, colour, and shadow.

Aside from arming yourself with the best gear you can get your hands on plus getting lots of practice, what else can an aspiring participant do to prepare? Study the winning photographs of course!

Let's take a look at some photographs from the Singapore winners.

First up we have Cheong Jun Hong, who won Best in Show in the Student Category.

Cheong Jun Hong

The 19 year-old Singapore Polytechnic student took part with the philosophy of "the lighter one travels, the better your photos will be", therefore opting for a lightweight but versatile combination of a Canon EOS 6D, and a Canon EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens. "I chose the EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens because of its versatility, focal length, and image stabiliser," Jun Hong tells us.

EOS 6D/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 105mm/ f/8

For his Street submission, Jun Hong decided to pair an everyday road with an unusual angle and subject. Using a unique vantage point from a building, he waited for something else other than cars to appear. "Cars are too boring," he says, telling us that "bicycles are always good" for an interesting shot.

Jun Hong's 50-50 shot, which also won 2nd Place in the Student Category, is a strong photo with an almost perfectly symmetrical composition. He decided against the more common idea of using reflections, and thought out of the box by making architecture as his main subject. The contrast of the colourful buildings against a stark white sky certainly brought out the theme well.

EOS 6D/ EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM/ FL: 102mm/ f/8

His Defy Your Imagination entry saw him pushing the limits on where his camera and imagination could take him. Inspired by the movie Inception, Jun Hong decided to experiment with his Canon EOS 6D's multiple exposure function for the first time. His next best option would have been to use a mirror to achieve his intended effect. He credits the excellent image stabiliser on his Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens for a sharp image, despite handling his camera in an unstable position.

Next up, we speak to Lim Kiat Guan, who won Best of Theme in the Open Category for his 50-50 entry.

Lim Kiat Guan

Kiat Guan's camera bag was noticeably larger than our previous participant's, with a good selection of lenses that excel in different areas. Along with his Canon EOS 7D, Kiat Guan brought along a Canon EF-S15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, Canon EF-S10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM , Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, and Canon EF50mm /f1.8 STM as his lenses. "My favourite was the Canon EF-S 15-85mm lens as it’s the best walkabout lens in my opinion!" he tells us.

EOS 7D/ EF-S10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM/ FL: 18mm/Manual mode(f/5.6, 1/4000)/ ISO 200

This shutterbug's winning shot is magical and innovative. Kiat Guan was inspired by the Merlion's dual nature as half-fish and half-lion, and decided to play this up visually using mirrors. Juxtaposing the Merlion against other architectural landmarks, fellow photographers as well as tourists created a beautiful kaleidoscopic effect.

Finally Cebeste Ng, also from Singapore Polytechnic, won 2nd Place in the Student Category for his Defy Your Imagination shot.

This young photographer opted for a minimalist approach, carrying only his Canon EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens with a Canon EOS 6D DSLR camera. Other essentials included a tripod, water bottle, and umbrella. (Snapshot Tip: Use your umbrella as an impromptu reflector!)

His mesmerising shot is a seamless blend of man and the man-made skyline, which definitely does defy most imaginations. Cebeste achieved this by using the multiple exposure function in his camera. "I picked up this technique by watching YouTube tutorials and practising it!" he tells us.

It's easy to see that an adventurous mind is important in creating a great photograph. All three photographers pushed the boundaries of what their photographs could achieve through innovative use of equipment and in-camera features. They weren't afraid of experimenting with new techniques and were hungry to compose their photos in distinctive ways.

The conclusion? Be ambitious!

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