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2009 Canadian Wildlife Photography of the Year Contest Canada Post Logo

Lothlaurien entered the annual wildlife Photography contest, where winning photographs will be featured on an actual Canadian Stamps. How cool is that?

What Lothlaurien Stamps Would Have Looked Like

I didn't win this year but... since the non-winning entries have been taken down, I can now publish my photos here.
I thought it would be fun to put together mock-ups of what my images would have looked like on stamps.
Looking our dreams in the eye is what makes digital imaging fun.
[Note: if you click on the highlighted animal name you can see the original photograph.]


I'm absolutely certain that I will continue to take as many photographs as possible, and I may even have some good entries for the 2010 contest.
Because after all, I'd still like to see one of my photographs on a stamp.

Unentered Gold

Its funny how things work out. The two photographs I was absolutely certain that I would enter in the contest were both cut from my selection list. There are four categories that adults may enter, but each photographer is limited to entering a maximum of ten images.

Portrait of a chipmunk with a bulging cheek

The most difficult image to cull from my final selections was this chipmunk portrait. It is quite possibly my personal favorite among the wildlife photographs I've taken over the years for the simple reason that every time I look at it I laugh. As well, the image is crisp and clear, and the chipmunk's expression is priceless. Since I snapped the shot when he was standing inches away from me every hair is defined.

But my family pointed out that at first glance it looks like something is terribly wrong with this little guy. So as much as I love this shot, it probably wouldn't be a good choice for a stamp. Ce'est la vie.

But I love this portrait anyway. The crumbs on his nose... those little chipmunk fingers!

The other photo I was sure was going to be "the one" was a young robin trying to enjoy the bumper crop of mountain ash berries in my in-laws' back yard. Because the berries weigh down the ends of the branches, it can be quite a trick for the birds to balance on the end in order to capture the bright orange berries they crave. The really young robins don't even try to perform these tricky manouvers, they make due with the “seconds” that drop to the ground.

Among the hundreds of photographs I took, I was exceptionally pleased with this photo of a young robin just mastering the art of berry picking. He was just managing to hang on but it required a bit of flapping.

Here are the classic “Before” and “After” pictures.

original photograph with no alterations picture perfect magic photo: cropped, colour corrected, branch behind beak removed, dead leaves rejuvenated

I was convinced this photo was a guaranteed winner when viewed on the digital camera screen, but when blown up on the computer screen there is this unfortunate branch. Running directly behind the robin's beak where he has just snagged a berry, this branch is a major distraction, marring the composition so badly that it essentially disqualified itself. So I didn't submit it at all. For a digital imaging artist it was actually an easy fix, but the only alterations allowable for the contest were colour corrections and cropping.

Digital photography is very different from film photography. A big advantage of digital photography is the ability to take thousands of photographs and then delete the ones you don't want. This can be especially valuable when you're just learning.

One important thing I've learned is that it is best to reserve judgement on the photographs you've taken until after viewing on a computer screen. If your memory card has room I recommend not deleting any images until you have seen them on a screen larger than your camera's. Because sometimes the photo on your camera's digital screen that you think is the cats' pyjamas actually turns out to be the dog's breakfast when you can get a good look at the details. And sometimes an unassuming photo that doesn't seem to be anything special when viewed on your little digital screen may surprise you with a wealth of information you couldn't see when viewing it in the small format.