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Unusual view of Brooklyn Bridge wins 2018 Photo Competition

Monday 19 March 2018 9:56am

Melissa-Keogh-bridge-image
The winning image in this year's Otago Bulletin Board Photo Competition was taken by Wellington campus' Melissa Keogh during a trip to New York.

A stunning photo taken from an unusual angle on New York’s Brooklyn Bridge is the winner of the 2018 Otago Bulletin Board Photo Competition.

Melissa Keogh, the Finance Administrator at the University’s Wellington campus Central Services, took the photo during a two-day stop-over in New York – staying in Brooklyn with the sole aim of taking photos of the bridge.

The angle and symmetry captured in the photo caught her eye as she walked across the bridge the first time.

“I then went back and waited patiently to try and get a photo without other people in it – nearly impossible given roughly 7,000 people cross the bridge daily!”

She says was struck by the symmetry of the cables leading to the flag in the middle of the bridge and the contrast between the brick in the foreground and the new high-rise buildings of the Manhattan skyline in the background.

"A lot of my friends and family have said I have a good eye for photography so maybe winning this competition will encourage me to pursue it further."

The judges of the annual photo competition were unanimous in choosing the photo as the winner.

The guest judge, Otago Museum Director Dr Ian Griffin, says he loved the winning entry – calling it an “astonishingly good image of the Brooklyn Bridge from a very unusual angle.”

He was similarly impressed with the contest’s second place photo – an image of the illumination of Leifeng Pagoda and the forested parks on the hillsides around West Lake, Hangzhou in China taken by Geology Lecturer Marco Brenna, saying it was “truly remarkable”.

Third place went to Christchurch campus Postdoctoral Fellow Aaron Stevens for his beautiful photos of a Vietnamese grandmother preparing fried rice paper.

The annual competition, now in its sixth year, attracted a record 199 entries this year from staff and postgraduate students.

The top three photographers come from three of Otago’s campuses – Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington – while in the top 12 there was a wonderful mix of academic and professional staff and postgraduate students.

Dr Griffin says he was delighted to be asked to be a judge and impressed at the quality of the entries.

“There are some amazingly talented photographers at the University.”

For Ms Keogh, an enthusiastic self-taught photographer, winning the competition is a boost to her confidence as a photographer.

“I was already pleased that my photo had made it into the top 12, so knowing it was selected as the winner by the judges is elating.

“A lot of my friends and family have said I have a good eye for photography so maybe winning this competition will encourage me to pursue it further.”

The photos will be turned into the Otago Bulletin Board Digital Calendar for 2019 and displayed in the Staff Club in the coming weeks.

Bulletin Board Photo Competition winners and notable entries

First place: Melissa Keogh, Finance Administrator, Central Services, Wellington campus

melissa keogh smallPhoto: Melissa Keogh

“This photo was taken while I was in New York for a two-day stop over. I purposely stayed in accommodation near Brooklyn because I knew I wanted to take photos of the bridge. It is one of my favourite photos, with the symmetry of the cables leading to the flag in the middle of the bridge and the contrast between the brick in the foreground and the new high rise buildings of the Manhattan skyline in the background. The angle and symmetry caught my eye as I walked along the bridge the first time. I then went back and waited patiently to try and get a photo without other people in it – nearly impossible given roughly 7,000 people cross the bridge daily!

“I have always enjoyed photography and bought a DSLR camera before travelling in 2013. I am self-taught but like to think I have a skill for capturing photos that perhaps other people wouldn’t have noticed. I have set up an Instagram account (@travel.photography.nz) to share my photos, most are inspired from my travels around South and North America, the UK and Europe.”

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Second place: Marco Brenna, Lecturer, Department of Geology

marco brenna lights smallPhoto: Marco Brenna

“It is not fireworks, but the illumination of Leifeng Pagoda and the forested parks on the hillsides around West Lake, Hangzhou (China) that generate the movement out of the darkness of night. I took this picture while strolling along the lake shores exploring the evening for lights and colours and practising with long exposure times.

“Photography has long been something I enjoy, particularly of nature and landscapes, trying to immortalise feelings rather than just scenes. Recently I’ve been exploring the use of long exposures to generate effects not visible to the naked eye. I also started appreciating the role that people can have in adding an extra dimension to the shapes and colours of the world.”

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Third place: Aaron Stevens, Postdoctoral fellow, Gene Structure and Function Lab, Department of Pathology, Christchurch campus

aaron stevens smallPhoto: Aaron Stevens

“This photograph was taken while travelling in Vietnam. This local family welcomed us in for lunch and taught us how to make rice paper, which is their source of income. This lady was the grandmother of the family and was preparing fried rice paper for us to try. What spurred me to take the photo was her eyes and her smile, and my favourite aspect is her spontaneous laugh. We couldn’t speak a word of each other’s language and she clearly found it amusing that I wanted to take her photo. I got lucky with the composition, but I tried to emphasise the experienced movements of her fanning the coals and flipping the rice paper with a slower shutter speed.

“I have been interested in photography for about eight years, I mostly photograph landscapes and tend to avoid photographing people.”

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Wendy Adam, Marketing and Communications Co-Ordinator, Division of Humanities

wendy adam smallPhoto: Wendy Adam

“I recently decided that I needed to get more familiar with my DSLR camera, and enrolled for an OUSA photography course, where our tutor encouraged us to look at our environment in a different way. There are so many photos taken of the iconic University Clocktower, but I wanted to try and capture it from a different perspective. I found that by holding my camera up high close to the striking red Bud sculpture I could, after many disastrous attempts, get a nicely framed in-focus image of the Clocktower.

“I’ve always loved images and photos. My father was an enthusiastic amateur photographer with his own darkroom. Working in marketing gives me great opportunities to work with and use images in many different ways. Early on in my University career I learnt a lot from Peter Scott, University Graphic Designer, who coached me in some invaluable aspects like 'the rule of thirds' and 'the importance of white space'. I think this really helped develop an eye for images, and I am increasingly enjoying taking my own photos.”

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Marco Brenna, Lecturer, Department of Geology

marco brenna flags smallPhoto: Marco Brenna

“Prayer flags flap in the winter wind in a pavilion overlooking the Wudangzhao Monastery, Inner Mongolia (China), where people practise a lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Two visitors with colourful clothes matching their surroundings look intently trying to decipher the writing on the flags. The colours, lighting and mood were just too good to pass the opportunity to shoot the scene.

“Photography has long been something I enjoy, particularly of nature and landscapes, trying to immortalise feelings rather than just scenes. Recently I’ve been exploring the use of long exposures to generate effects not visible to the naked eye. I also started appreciating the role that people can have in adding an extra dimension to the shapes and colours of the world.”

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Prajesh Chhanabhai, Schools Liaison Officer, External Engagement

Prajesh Chhanabhai smallPhoto: Prajesh Chhanabhai

“The Te Rewa Rewa bridge in New Plymouth has always caught my eye, it is a fabulous structure that complements the natural beauty of the region. The curves on this bridge allow for some pretty interesting angles when it comes to photography. For this photo the curves, the straight lines and the sky in the background just caught my eye and seemed to line up perfectly for that shot.

“I've always had an interest in taking photos, just the ability to capture something that the eye sees and store it as a memory of that particular moment in time is pretty special. Photography also allows me to look at things from a different angle, which makes for interesting results.”

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Philip Hill, McAuley Professor of International Health, Division of Health Sciences

Philip Hill smallPhoto: Philip Hill

“I was visiting a project that I collaborate on in The Gambia and we were just heading back to the coast after a visit ‘up river’ to Basse (about 350km inland) last year. We were driving through the middle of the town and saw these school girls walking along. I asked my colleague what was going on and he said that it was high school graduation day. So I asked if we could stop and got out and asked the girls if I could take their photo as I felt that it could a nice shot and it appealed on several fronts – it was unusual, the contrast with the derelict nature of the town was great, and there was a feeling of something special – young women so proudly graduating from a West African high school, offering a glimpse of an exciting future. And of course they looked cool! They were very obliging and I was so pleased that it came out so well. My colleague knew the school they were at and we arranged for them to be sent the photo.

“Photography is my main hobby. I like scenery and portraiture – without any fancy set up or manipulation of either types of picture. I’m not that comfortable approaching people for their photo in the street, but this one was straightforward.”

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Imran Khan, PhD candidate, Centre for Sustainability

Imran Khan smallPhoto: Imran Khan

“I took this photo last year at the Lower Antelope Canyon, when I was travelling around Arizona, USA with my younger sister and her husband. I went to Arizona to attend the IEEE sustainability conference to present my research. The photo was captured at 9:29am and 35m below the earth’s surface. I found the view in the canyon was continuously changing in relation to the position of the sun in the sky. The reflection of this natural light across the canyon’s wall creates an incredible show of light, shadow, and colour. All of a sudden, I discovered this view. I felt like I was looking at the mountains through my window, although in reality these were the curved stone walls of the canyon. The dazzling view did not last long as it was changing one minute to another.

“I love to travel, and photography is a part of this process. I am an amateur photographer. I am always interested to capture something different or exceptional in its own category.”

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Michelle Norman, Undergraduate Support Administrator, School of Pharmacy

Michelle Norman smallPhoto: Michelle Norman

“I moved to Dunedin last year, having lived in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates for the past eight years and experiencing four seasons again has been a nice (albeit it cold) novelty. The day this photo was taken was the first proper ‘snow’ day in Dunedin which caused havoc for everybody. The School of Pharmacy is fortunate enough to have a tea room with a balcony and I couldn’t resist going out to admire the view. What struck me the most was how still it was and the contrast of colours against the white with the church, houses, cars and the Town Belt. There were a few people milling around and I saw this lone car at the traffic lights and I quickly took a picture on my iPhone to capture the moment.

“I love taking pictures and have taken a beginners’ photography course which gave a good grounding for understanding the basics of photography and the settings of my camera. I don’t discriminate in what photos I take; everything is a subject (though I do mostly take pictures of architecture and landscapes).”

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Melissa Purnell, Mental Health Research Interviewer - The Dunedin Study, Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Research Unit

Melissa Purnell smallPhoto: Melissa Purnell

“There are so many beautiful scenic places around Dunedin to visit and one of my aims over the last couple of years has been to go and explore areas I had never been to and take my camera along for the ride. I took a drive one day to check out Murdering Beach (Whareakeake) at Hayward Point which has quite a dark history. It was on the steep climb back up from the beach that I drove into some clouds, and emerged alongside this view. It felt so ethereal and peaceful. I really appreciated the rolling hills, the mix of the white and green colours, the interesting shape of the main tree and how it dwarfs the sheep underneath.

“I have had an interest in photography for many years now, mainly focusing on wildlife, landscapes, and the night sky. Increasingly I'm becoming interested in street photography and human impact type shots that tell a story. When I get the chance I love nothing more than grabbing my camera, going out and capturing images of the world around us.”

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Roan Vasdev, PhD candidate, Department of Chemistry

Roan Vasdev smallPhoto: Roan Vasdev

“This photo was taken at Trotters Gorge, on the first river crossing on one of the walking tracks leading out of the camping ground. Being fairly new to photography, I have quickly developed a love for long exposures, especially of water. For this particular photo, I wanted to get a low perspective and I felt the silkiness of the water would contrast the sharp edges of the rocks and leaves.”

“I have always enjoyed taking photos but only properly got into photography last year. I enjoy the challenges associated with finding that perfect composition, and how the tiniest changes can make a huge difference in how a photo turns out.”

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Dody Wibowo, PhD candidate, National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies

Dody Wibowo smallPhoto: Dody Wibowo

“This photo was taken on the second floor of the Central Library during the 2017 summer break. I love the unique shape of the roof and the interior design of the building. When I saw the circle painting (which is in the middle of my photo), I had the idea to put the painting as my vanishing point and all other elements in the building going toward the painting.

“For me, photography is a way to tell stories to other people. I love taking architectural photos, photos of people's activities, and nature photos. With this photo, I am trying to say that at the University of Otago, the Central Library is not just a place to keep books, it is also a celebration of architectural art.”

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