Picture This Winners for July 2010

– Posted in: Garden Photography

The results for July’s Picture This contest are in. Our judge, Rich Pomerantz, has made his picks.

Drumroll, please!!

“I was very impressed by the quality of the entries this month. A few taught me new ways of seeing things through the eyes and lenses of others.  I looked at all of the entries in the gallery, first noting the impact each image had on me,  creating a group of selects. After my first pass I reviewed them all again to see if my initial impressions were still valid after looking at the group as a whole. This is an important step, as many photographs reveal their strength only upon revisiting them, so after a few passes I had my list of contenders.

Next I studied each of the selects to see if they held up under scrutiny. After the initial impact my concern turns to fundamentals like attention to lighting and composition. However if the image continues to resonate with me emotionally I am willing to overlook certain flaws; this is after all, what great artists do when they break the rules. I will say also that my top selections were very close in my ranking; in fact they kept switching places until my final edit of this post!


The photo from Digging was one of those that I initially passed by quickly. It just did not have much impact due to the general monochromatic green and the distance between the viewer and the chairs, but upon second look I realized that it was an effective image of the serene, relaxing landscape in softening summer light at Chanticleer, with its primary flaw being that it is far to the chairs which are simply too small to have the desired effect. I just am not a fan of lots of lawn in an image without a reason for it.

Sequoia Gardens

This wisteria arbor image by Sequoia Gardens uses one of my favorite techniques, focusing on a strong element in the foreground to catch the eye and then using a leading line to pull the view through the frame. The bare patch predominant on the left side of the frame hurts the image, but overall it is a good effort at showing the design sense and planting ideas of this garden.

Robur DAmour

Robur d’Amour’s photo caught me up short at first. I thought “here’s some wise guy telling me his intent is to quit mowing in the middle to go inside for a drink”. On my second look I realized how smart this picture is. First, the lighting is gorgeous, absolutely perfect in fact. Compositionally there is nothing extraneous or unnecessary in the image at all, nothing out of place. It’s a simple yet perfect composition. And the push-rotary mower left in the path makes a strong statement that is congruous with the wildflower-meadow-as-garden, that it is intentional, which is one of the primary reasons for making a garden, after all.

French Gardening

The neatness and forethought that went into the garden photographed by French Gardening is evident in her image. I only wish she had entered the other image she talked about on her site; it was a much stronger and more beautiful composition!

Mr McGregors Daughter

The first honorable mention goes to Mr. McGregor’s Daughter. The beautiful, moody lighting of the miscanthus is just right, and also illustrates one of the primary reasons gardeners plant tall grasses: to catch the low light of early morning and late afternoon.

Heathers Garden

The next honorable mention is for Heather’s Garden’s entry, a lovely, quiet view of a Japanese garden through a foreground pine tree over an inviting bench. Even the white sky (usually a deadly sin for me) is nicely used as negative space to silhouette some of the branches. It’s a well balanced composition, and uses the reflections in the water well. The road in the background started to bother me though, keeping it from an award, but just barely.

Qui Mal Y Pense picture_this_silver

The Silver Medal this month goes to Qui Mal y Pense’s perfectly composed image of a Wiltshire formal garden. Utilizing the lines and bones of the garden, the photographer framed them within the softening new foliage in the central foreground and top, and the receding water towards the back. The formal intent of this garden is unmistakable, not a leaf is out of place, all is in focus due to a small aperture (appropriate for depicting a large formal landscape) and by using the angle to frame the image together with the placement of the lighter foliage the photographer leads the viewer’s eye into and around the entire frame effortlessly.

Town Mouse and Country Mouse picture_this_gold

My pick for the Gold Medal this month is by Town Mouse of Town Mouse and Country Mouse: an intriguing and lyrical photo through a foreground of festuca and punctuated by whimsical purple coyote mint blooms to an inviting hammock nestled in a corner of the garden. The gardener’s intent appears to be to invite the visitor and the viewer into a world of whimsy and fantasy, appropriately thrown just a little bit out of focus with the correct choice of aperture setting, which is emphasized by the sharply focused curves of the grass and the flowers in the front. Well done!”

A big thank you to our judge this month, Rich Pomerantz for being so generous with his time and expertise. To all of you who participated, thank you. You submitted some  first rate photos. And for those of you who are sitting on the sidelines and really want to participate but are a bit hesitant and just need a little push….well, here’s the push. Give it a try next month!

To see a gallery of all the photo entries for this month, click here. To check out all past Picture This contests, click here.

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at www.fransorin.com.

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Fran Sorin
10 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Jack Holloway July 28, 2010, 4:39 am

Thanks to Rich for his informative and detailed comments, and to GGW for hosting the competition! Congatulations to the four winners!It was a rather off-beat topic and I like the fact that it did not lend itself to the ‘pretty picture’ treatment. And now I can share my personal favourite with you – Robur d’Amour’s photo and the story behind it to my mind both captured the topic beautifully.

Pam/Digging July 28, 2010, 8:13 am

Thanks for the feedback, Rich, and congratulations to Town Mouse (great photo!) and the other winners. I was happy to see two images from Buffa10 make the top contenders.

Heather's Garden July 28, 2010, 9:36 am

Congratulations to the winners! Thank you, Rich, for your kind words about my photo. The road bothered me too. In fact even one of the politicians making a speech at the re-dedication of the garden mentioned what an eyesore it was and his hope to get it moved. Alas, not in time for our trip to Buffalo.

Rich Pomerantz July 28, 2010, 2:08 pm

It was a blast to be part of this. Thank you all for really giving it some serious effort. It showed!

Town Mouse July 28, 2010, 3:50 pm

Thanks so much, Rich! That was a great topic, and I had a lot of fun making pictures and looking at everyone else’s picture.

(Sorry I couldn’t make it to Buffa10. Maybe if the meetup moved a little further southwest next time?)

healingmagichands July 29, 2010, 6:51 am

Thanks for judging us Rich. It was an interesting assignment, and it was very enlightening to read your comments.

Congratulations to the winners, of course.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter July 29, 2010, 12:18 pm

Congratulations to Town Mouse, I really liked this one. Thanks, Rich for taking the care to judge these images. They were all wonderful in different ways.

Jim/ArtofGardening July 29, 2010, 7:01 pm

Two of these images were taken in Buffalo — the Japanese Garden and the miscanthus in the low light of afternoon. Hey — we should do a Bufa10 photo contest! Congrats to the winners…

Debra Lee Baldwin August 2, 2010, 9:31 pm

Congratulations to the winner! Just goes to show how subjective art can be: When I saw the lawn mower photo, I almost stopped breathing. So lovely, such mood, great story, stunning lines and light. Sums up summer…for me.

Angie Loomis August 6, 2010, 4:49 pm

Congratulations to the Gold and Silver winners. Everybody’s pictures are great! I love the push mower one!

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