Compound Eye

Compound Eye

The many facets of science photography

I don't understand photography competition judging


Really, I don't.

Four-spotted Orbweaver, by John H. Brackenbury

This spectacular spider image, captured by John Brackenbury, is a highly commended entry in the "Hidden Wildlife" category of the British Wildlife Photography Awards. As it should be. It is a striking composition. It is original. It is beautiful. And it is technically challenging to create. Properly lighting a small, backlit subject sitting that close to a wide-angle lens requires a masterful knowledge of exposure and strobe.

If Brackenbury's orb-weaver is a runner-up, certainly the winning entry must be incredible. But no. Not in my opinion:

Scorpion Fly on a Leaf, by Leslie Holburn

The winning scorpionfly is a fine image. It is properly exposed and focused. It is better, in fact, than any scorpionfly photo I've ever taken.

But I would not have picked this over the orb weaver. There's nothing novel or technically challenging here. The composition is standard bug-on-a-leaf. The light is ambient. The backdrop is distracting and not particularly thought out. Dozens of similarly composed, and similarly competent, images are uploaded to flickr every day.

Maybe I'm missing something. What about the scorpionfly merits a higher ranking than the orb spider?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

Give a Gift &
Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription
as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now! >


Email this Article