Thu, Jul 20, 2006 - Page 15 News List

National Geographic photo competition let a few bloopers through

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

National Geographic (NG) boasts some of the best photographers in the world. In May this year, NG Taiwan launched a competition to find contenders for the prestigious National Geographic Photography Contest, the results of which will be announced in September. The photographers who will be representing Taiwan at this event were announced yesterday at the Eslite flagship store in Taipei's East District.

The photographers competed in three categories: natural world, travel/culture and people. The Taiwan section of the competition had an additional category, images of Taiwan. These photos sadly will not be competing overseas in the international competition, for there were many lively images that might show off the country's vibrant culture.

NG Taiwan said it received 544, 688 and 609 entries respectively in the three international categories, and a total of 1,312 entries in the images of Taiwan category. The average age of the winning photographers was a relatively old 35. Unfortunately, there was more to bewilder than to excite the viewer among the winners in the international categories, and one cannot but wonder how a photo such as Wooly Sheep, third place winner in the nature category, or Abstraction, which garnered second place in the travel/culture category, ever managed to win in a nationwide competition. Both are bland in the extreme, and can be considered nothing more than reasonably composed holiday snaps. Third place in the people category, a shot taken by a photojournalist for the United Daily News, is interesting enough, but comes off as a reprise of the album art of Nirvana's In Utero.

Not so much time should be dwelt on the inadequacies of some winning entries, perhaps, but one cannot help wonder if this is the best that Taiwan can do. Certainly there were a number of fine photos among the winning entries as well, most notably The Monk, which won the Taiwan category of the competition. In the international competition, Camel which won the nature category and Man Without Arms in the people category, were also outstanding shots, and one cannot help but wonder, given the selection of winning entries, how many other good photos have ended up, so to speak, on the cutting room floor. As a result, there is much to look forward to, for the best photos from the competition will go on an islandwide tour in September and be published in book form in November this year.

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