Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I wuz robbed!

Okay, not really.

Let's try again:  I wuz screwed!

Well, not really. It was the judges' decision. Three of them. They had 32,000 entries, and somehow, somehow, SOMEHOW did not choose my photo. Nincompoops.

What do they know?!? Are they blind?!? They're not even %$!@&*# professional photographers!

{Ed.'s note: Neither are you, Brian.}


Every year, the BBC show Countryfile has a photo competition. It seeks viewers' photos for a calendar, sales of which raise money for the BBC's Children in Need charity. They get tens of thousands of submissions every year, sometimes more than 50,000. Judges select their top twelve photos, and then the public votes on its favorite. The winner gets £1,000 for photography equipment. The judges' favorite gets £500.

Countryfile is a BBC workhorse. On the air since July 1988, it now broadcasts 52 weeks per year in an hour-long prime time Sunday slot on BBC1. The show focuses on rural, agricultural, and environmental issues. Each week the show travels to a different part of the British countryside, ranging all over the island. Weekly segments may focus on wildlife, farming, local crafts, county fairs, disease outbreaks, nature walks, or any of a variety of similar topics. For my American readers, the show reminds me a bit of CBS's Sunday Morning show.

This year's photo competition theme was "Animal Magic." Exactly what that meant wasn't specified, of course, giving wide latitude to both the competitors and the judges. The animals photographed had to be either wild or agricultural (not pets), and photographed in the U.K. Photographers had to be amateurs. Submissions were required to be physical photos, not electronic, and competitors could submit a maximum of three. A panel of past winners and finalists winnowed the field from 32,000 to 3,000. Then the final three judges -- a U.K. comedian (and birdwatcher); a veterinarian; and one Countryfile's longtime hosts -- chose their favorite twelve.

What do this year's finalist photos look like? Here's a sampling. Note that the contest photos posted online are of low image quality (presumably deliberate to prevent anyone capitalizing on the photos before the calendar is released), so these images don't do them justice.

Countryfile Photographic Competition 2014--"Ruffled Feathers"
"Ruffled Feathers"
Countryfile Photographic Competition 2014--"Harvest Mouse"
"Harvest Mouse"
Countryfile Photographic Competition 2014--"Fox Love"
"Fox Love"
Countryfile Photographic Competition 2014--"Swan Sweethearts"
"Swan Sweethearts"
Countryfile Photographic Competition 2014--"Piglets on Parade"
"Piglets on Parade"
Countryfile Photographic Competition 2014--"Curious Cattle"
"Curious Cattle"
Any of the above photos is a worthy winner. They're outstanding. Do you have a favorite? I think mine is "Curious Cattle," but my opinion shifts every time I look at them.

Among the other six photos, I think a couple are real clunkers. I'm not showing them, though you can easily find them online. However, I'm certainly not a real photographer. I barely qualify as an amateur. I'm best termed a "beginner." You can decide for yourself. What were the judges thinking? Congrats to all the finalists!

What photo did I submit? A puffin masterpiece, amiright? Taken on the island of Lunga, among the Treshnish Isles off the west coast of the Isle of Mull. Hard to believe the good people of the United Kingdom won't have the opportunity to gaze at this photo every day next July, or March, or October, or whenever.

Puffin stretch, Lunga, Treshnish Isles, Scotland
My puffin masterpiece from Lunga in the Treshnish Isles. "Look ma, no legs!"
Voting for the competition ends this coming Sunday. The winner will be revealed in October. For those of you in the U.K., cast a vote now for your favorite:

UPDATE: To see the winners, take a look here:

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