Jun 10, 2009
The Wikimedia Commons Picture of the Year 2008 Competition Results
10 – Le Grand Foyer
At number ten, the Grand Foyer of the Paris Opera. A superb composition that captures the grandeur of the place. It was designed as part of the reconstruction of the French capitol by Emperor Napoleon the Third, and over twelve thousand square meters of land was cleared to make way for it. Before it was built, however, there were one or two things getting in its way. The first and primary problem was that the land that it was to be built on was extremely swampy and it took over eight months of continuous pumping to make the ground dry enough to build on. This entry at number ten on the list is an almost perfect interior shot, the lighting is spot on and the sheer decadence of the Grand Foyer is wonderfully captured.
9 – The Snipe Fly
As the age of digital camera progresses, macrophotography is becoming increasingly popular. This candid shot of a Snipe Fly is captured with droplets of water standing on the hairs on its back. Impossible to catch with the human eye, this level of detail takes us in to the world of insects as never before. Caught almost like an insect in amber, this is a timeless reminder that things always look different from another perspective. This absolute scotches the general say so that copyright free photographs on the internet are usually of a lesser standard than those protected by their owners.
8 (joint) – Migrant Mother
This picture is almost heartbreaking in its simplicity. Although taken in the great depression of the nineteen thirties it was released in to the public domain in 2008 and so qualified for the competition. It shows Florence Thompson and her children and shows the poverty endured way back then but also the resilience of the people it affected. The look on Thompson’s careworn face is enigmatic. What she is thinking here was never recorded but the combination of pride amid destitution remains as powerful today as when the picture was taken.
8 (joint) – Animated Gif of a Cicada
4chan has animated gifs of a certain kind but the ones on Wikimedia are of a completely different ilk aka education. This amazing gif shows the transformation of the cicada from its pupa to the adult form. Although the whole process took over two hours there is a gap in the middle of about thirty minutes while the cicada took a rest from the strenuous activity of becoming an adult. Other than that gap the shots are at intervals of thirty seconds and this builds up beautifully in to a record of one insect’s emergence.
8 (joint) – Green Turtle
You have to admit this stunning shot has a wow factor – and a half. At number seven on the chart you might even scratch your head and wonder why it only got to this position but the best is yet to come. The Green Turtle or to give it its scientific name, Chelonia mydas is found throughout subtropical and tropical oceans. It has two separate populations that are genetically distinct. One of the features of this species is that unlike many other turtles that spend all of their adult life in the ocean (except when laying eggs) this one likes to drag itself up on to a sandy beach for a good spot of sun bathing.
7 – Anime Girl
Er, yes. Well. Quite. This may come as something of a surprise but you have to remember that this competition was for pictures and that includes things other than photographs. This young lady is a hybrid of anime and manga traditions and is the personification of the ‘ecchi’ tradition of Japanese art. Ecchi means lewd or naughty and this lady errs to the latter more than the former. In terms of anime and manga the term is culturally translatable to poster girl. Naughty but nice.
6 – Paris at Dusk
This amazing shot was taken from the top of Montparnasse and captures the sheer spirit and vibrancy of Paris in the early evening. It is actually eight photographs that are seamlessly joined together. Add a little post-processing and you get this wonderful image.
5 – Hong Kong Night Skyline
This picture gives a real impression of the sheer magnitude of the humanity that inhabits Hong Kong as thousand of lights resonate in to the dark of the night. If you wanted to recreate this shot then you would have to go to the top of Victoria Peak. It is a 46 segment HDR panorama of the city and is a dizzying, glorious image of a city in the evening.
4 – Crepuscular Rays
The photo that the song ‘Morning has broken’ was obviously written for, this gorgeous picture was taken in Golden Gate Park in the wonderful city of San Francisco. You can see that in the middle left of the image there is a second set of rays that are coming up from the rays. The source of these rays is in fact the reflection of the sun. This is the sort of photo that most people would say was the best of their life and happily put the camera away, safe in the knowledge that they will never better it.
3 – Steam Locomotives
The secret place where locomotives go to sleep at night, this roundhouse was the home of the steam locos of Illinois. Owned by the Chicago and North Western Railways, this has the feel to me of an elephant house in a zoo. Gigantic creatures at rest while the night away waiting for the dawn and a new day. Quite simply stunning.
2 – Fire Breathing
The camera never lies, so have a guess which country of the east this photo was taken in. Well, wrong, it was actually taken in, er, Belgium, of the visiting Jaipur Maharaja Brass Band and this gentleman certainly does seem to have some brass. The word that sprang to my mind when I first saw this picture was audacious. The colors are beautifully captured and the capture makes the viewer want to lean back to avoid the heat of the flame.
1 – Horses on Bianditz Mountain
And the winner is….. A pair of horses (well, a trio if you count the white one sneaking up on the middle left of the picture). This deceptively simple shot takes in both the beauty of the horses and their natural surroundings in the Spanish countryside. The specific area is Navarra (Navarre in English) and the Aika Mountains are in the background of the picture. The Basque region of the north of Spain is at the forefront of renewable energy technology in Europe and hopes by 2010 to have 100% renewable energy generation. This picture captures fully the beauty and splendor of this remarkable part of Europe, still pristine.
ps:Wikimedia Commons is one of the repositories of copyright free pictures on the internet that belies the common belief that these images are necessarily second rate. Each year the competition to find the best image of Wikimedia Commons contributors shows the online world that copyright-free pictures can be enthralling, engaging and memorable. Here, in reverse order, are the top 10 for 2008.