I recently entered the spring Idaho Birding Photo Competition, sponsored by Idaho Camera. Out of 94 entries, my burrowing owl image, below, took an Honorable Mention. I am quite proud of my image and the comments by the judges.
Judges Comments: "This is the kind of image I would see in National Geographic. The first thing that strikes me is the eyes of the owl that captures the viewer and holds them. It is an intense stare and you get a connection to the owl because of this. I like the way the creator of this image simplified the background through shallow depth of field, the background is completely indistinct and just becomes a lovely green backdrop to this image. I like the rim light that really make the bird stand out from the background, and the fact there is enough shadow detail for those eyes to grab you. I think the only thing I find myself wanting is a little more intensity in the eyes...not too much. That might be accomplished through a low-power fill in flash or perhaps some mild post-process. All in all, a great image."
I really enjoyed getting the judges' comments on my own image, as well as the others, as they help me improve as a photographer.
I knew when I saw the winning image that it would probably take first, and I agree with the judges' 1st. place pick. Personally, I would have liked to see a little bit more light on the eyes, though. See it here.