Friday, 17 March 2017 10:49am
The winning photo of a beach in Zanzibar, taken by PhD candidate Rachel Tan.
The mesmerising view of a beach in Zanzibar was irresistible to PhD candidate and amateur photographer Rachel Tan, and proved equally irresistible to the judges of the 2017 Bulletin Board Photo Competition.
Ms Tan, a PhD candidate in HEDC, has won the fifth annual competition with a photo taken during a trip to interview academics at the State University of Zanzibar for her research on the impact of globalisation on an emerging university in a developing country.
She says she was mesmerised by the “full life view” including the backdrop of the dusky sky, the blue sea and the green grass.
“Then the tree drew my attention so I placed it in the centre of the frame, emphasising the lively surroundings. The floating restaurant, the sailing boats, and people enjoying recreational activities reminded me to take a break and enjoy life at times.”
Originally from Malaysia, Ms Tan says she started photography after arriving in Dunedin three years ago.
Winning the 2017 Photo Competition has “added colour” to her PhD journey.
“As a third-generation of Chinese from Malaysia, studying in New Zealand, taking a picture of Zanzibar and winning this contest gives me a very rich international experience at Otago.”
Judging was tight, however, with an atmospheric photo of two wrecks in a ship graveyard near Bluff by Raelene Inglis coming in a close second, followed by Yifang Parker’s photo of a bumble bee with its tongue out, which came third.
One of the judges, Professional Photographer Sharron Bennett says that when it came to decision time, the photo of the Zanzibar beach kept drawing them back.
“It is like an impressionist painting: The eye is led around the textured image following the soft light and the playful boats and activities. It was a surprising image that kept drawing us in. The second place image is also a stunning shot, beautifully composed and exposed with low light enhancing the texture of the boats.”
This year’s competition attracted 168 photos from 67 people. As usual the entries came from across all of the University’s campuses and from a fantastic mix of general and academic staff and postgraduate students.
“Each year we see more strong images, which makes judging to select the top 12 challenging,” Ms Bennett says. “It is exciting to see the photography talent that is hidden across the University.”
The top 12 images can be viewed below, and will be turned into a digital calendar which will be released month by month beginning in January 2018.
Bulletin Board Photo Competition winners and notable entries
First place: Rachel Tan, PhD Candidate, Higher Education Development Centre
“This photo was taken during a research trip to Zanzibar. I was mesmerised by the full life view including the backdrop of the dusky sky, the blue sea and the green grass. Then the tree drew my attention so I placed it in the centre of the frame, emphasising the lively surroundings. The floating restaurant, the sailing boats, and people enjoying recreational activities reminded me to take a break and enjoy life at times.
“I started photography after arriving in Dunedin three years ago. My interests are generally about daily life, portraits, events and sceneries. My aim is to document my experiences for my blog, give pictures to friends as mementoes, and create photo books for memories.”
Second place: Raelene Inglis, Strategic Information and Research Analyst, Health Sciences Divisional Office
“This photo was taken at Greenpoint Reserve, near Bluff. After a short walk to the coast, I found the ship graveyard with several old wrecks. I liked these two as they reminded me of two old ladies leaning on each other for support.
“I particularly enjoy heading out early in the morning as I think the colour of the light at that time of day and the low angle of the sun adds something extra to a photo. I have always taken photos but my interest in photography has increased markedly over the last three years. It seems the more I learn about light and composition, the more enthusiastic I become.”
Third place: Yifang Parker, Administration Assistant, Department of Pathology, Christchurch campus
“This photo was taken in the garden using a special macro lens which lets you get really close to the subject. To take away the distracting background, we hung a black t-shirt behind the scene. It was awesome to see that even the pollen on the Bumblebee was captured, but what we really loved was that it poked its tongue out just at the right moment!
“My husband, Graham, and I love to travel, and we will tend to pack more camera gear than anything else. Neither Graham nor I are professionally trained photographers, we have just been doing it as a hobby and teaching ourselves. We tend to work as a team and experiment with different styles and creative ideas, and we really love what we are doing.”
Ario Smith, Marketing Officer, Health Sciences Divisional Office
“I hadn't known about #thatwanakatree when I was there in July, but it explains why dozens of photographers – and selfie sticks – were jostling for a good shot. Later I googled the tree (a willow, originally planted as a fence post), and learned about the hashtag. It started as a kind-of in-joke, but with the rise of photo sharing has become a must-do for any visitor with Instagram. For this shot, I walked into the lake to ensure no selfie sticks or yoga poses made it into the frame.
“I like the slow pace of long-exposure landscape photography. I enjoy discovering new places and taking my time when I get there.”
Emma Spencer, PhD candidate, Centre for Free Radical research, Department of Pathology, Christchurch campus
“I took this photo when I lived for a short time in Kyiv, Ukraine, last year. It was taken at sunset on 28 May 2016 (the last Saturday of May) when the Ukrainians celebrate ‘Kyiv Day’ - an occasion that is celebrated with even more gusto and pride since the Maiden Revolution of 2014. This statue is called Motherland monument or Rodina Mat, and from anywhere in Kyiv you can see her, standing tall and watching over Ukraine from Volodymyrsky Hill. There is a museum and a sort of 'library' at the base of the monument, where I would spend time writing up my PhD thesis or just reading, much like the people in this photo.
“I have no training or special interests in photography, and I actually took this with my iPhone! But the significance of the day, combined with the remaining day's sun still breaking through the sky behind her, gave a real sense of peace, and made it easy to capture this beautiful moment.”
Fiona McDonald, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Faculty of Dentistry
“This is a photograph of Harbour Terrace looking southwards that I took on a sub-zero Saturday morning in July last year during my walk to the Otago Farmers Market. I had been reading about low angle photography earlier that week, and I was looking out for a way to use it to show a view that was familiar to me from an entirely different perspective. The view at ground level through the frozen grass down the street was just what I’d been looking for. It was so cold in that spot, though, that I only managed to take that single shot before my hands went numb, and I had to put my gloves back on.
“I’ve been taking photographs for about five years now. I’m self-taught and I’m always trying to increase my knowledge and improve my skills.”
Jan Littleton, Laboratory Technician, Department of Zoology
“When I look out of my lab prep room window, across the road is the Physiotherapy building. I've often been intrigued by the layered reflections of our old Zoology Marples Building in the windows of the newer Physiotherapy building, best seen with morning sunlight on our building. After I took this photo I was totally surprised to see the many layers of reflected hills in the background – I'm guessing that they're either the town belt or the Flagstaff skyline. If you look carefully you'll find me in the photo too!
“I enjoy taking photos but I'm very much a point and shoot photographer with my little Panasonic Lumix camera, always hopeful that I'll take a few interesting photos every now and then!”
Jonathan Barnsley, PhD Candidate, Department of Chemistry
“Photography for me is an adventure. I was at the Dunedin Botanic Garden and looking for insects to photograph. I'd found some really interesting things, including a jumping spider which appeared to be parasitic, but hadn't had much luck getting a suitable frame. The velvety two-tone colour of this flower caught my eye, and away I went on a flower-themed tangent!
“On the technical side, the photo was taken using extension tubes, a standard macro lens and diffused flash lighting. Being relatively new to photography, just about every style or subject matter is interesting to me. Macro photography is what I spend most time doing, and the ability to peer at things I couldn't otherwise see is breath-taking. There is a lot of beauty in the world, and it doesn't take long to stop and admire it.”
Maja Graso, Senior Lecturer, Department of Management
“Prior to coming to the University of Otago in June of 2016, I spent several years working in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. During our time there, my partner and I soaked in the Arab culture and we travelled as much as we could. This photo was taken in the Liwa region, close to the Rub’ al Khali Desert, where prized racing camels were taken out for a run. We were watching them from a distance when their Emirati owner drove up to us in his SUV, rolled down the window, asked us if we liked his camels, and offered to take us for a drive to see them up close. We watched his jockeys running the camels as he explained how proud he was that one of the camels had just won a prized competition in Doha.
“My interest in photography was natural extension of my love for travel. Although I like to experiment with different techniques, I especially enjoy working with slow exposure and capturing raw, extended moments in time.”
Marco Brenna, Lecturer, Department of Geology
“Red Mountain in the Mount Aspiring National Park is an uplifted portion of mantle. Mantle rock is rich in iron, which oxidises when in contact with the atmosphere, giving the mountain its name and colour. Imaged here is a detail of a calcareous spring at Red Mountain, with the white encrustations consisting of carbonate precipitated from the spring water to cover orange and red mantle peridotite rocks.
“I have been passionate about photography at an amateur level since the pre-digital era, trying to make the most of nature's shapes and colours and striving to look for what others don't see.”
Mauro Farella, Professor of Orthodontics, Faculty of Dentistry
“This shot was taken at the Aquarium of Genoa, which is the largest Aquarium in Italy and the second largest in Europe. The little girl in the photograph was running all around the walls of the tank, chasing the dolphin by sliding her hands on the glass wall. At the time of the shot, she was whispering some words to the dolphin, which I could not really catch. I like to imagine though that she was saying: “I am a little Mermaid, let’s swim together, we will have a lot of fun.”
“My passion for photography is long-standing, but I did not receive any formal training in photography being self-taught. Last year, I bought a new camera (Nikon 7200), which I used to take this shot (ISO 400, f/4.5, 1/800). I really enjoy taking shots in New Zealand and around the world, with a special interest for portraits, especially of my children.”
Pat Wongpan, PhD candidate, Department of Physics
“This photo was taken during the evening in December 2015 when Professor Pat Langhorne and I were researching land-fast sea ice at Davis Station, Antarctica with our Australian collaborators. I named this photo ‘Perseverance’ because a waddle of Adélie penguins were belly sliding back to feed their partners who were hatching eggs at a penguin colony on far-away Hawker Island. They reminded us to never give up with the research we were doing. I took this photo with a telephoto lens to bring the penguins closer against the vast expanse of white.
“I am interested in wildlife photography because it is a medium that connects people with nature. It reminds us of who we really are. In my spare time, I enjoy learning about photography by taking photos of the beautiful flora and fauna (especially ducklings) in the Dunedin Botanic Garden.”