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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Glowstick movement

Marbles macro

Hood and bokeh

Bubbles and Sydney

Balloon portrait

Each year, Canon holds a photography competition called Photo5, with a range of briefs.

Participants receive a box of inspiration, sometimes including props for each category. Then, they have a few weeks to deliver a finished photograph and upload it to the competition.

As part of the Digital Playground at Vivid Sydney, Canon held a live version of the Photo5 competition. Photographers had four hours in which to conceptualise and take their images, then print them off for judging.

Winners of each brief got to take home a Canon EOS 6D premium kit with EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens and a Pixma Pro-10 printer. Here are the five winning photographs, with the captions provided by each photographer.

The first brief was "Glowstick and movement of light". I didn't have a tripod with me, and only the one lens — a 50 f/1.4 — so I had to think what light movement I could get. I figured it would have to be subtle, since I couldn't handhold the camera still for very long.

I convinced a friend to hold up the glowstick, Statue of Liberty style, in the middle of a crowd of walking people. I dragged the shutter (1/15, f/1.4, ISO 800) to get some motion blur. Unintentionally, the red on the right ended up looking like an alien face — a happy little accident.

I was pretty excited to see what the photo would look like in print, and happy to see the end result, especially with the white border option. Photos belong in print, not just online or in hard drives, and Fine Art matte paper is the bee's knees, so I'm looking forward to using some with the new printer!

Caption by / Photo by Victor Caringal

I wanted to capture an image that made me happy foremost, and what my late mother would approve of, ahead of making the judges happy. I wanted to have the number of marbles and the inner swirls corresponding to the Opera House sails and their respective directions.

I realised that black and white brought out more contrasts than colour did, along with varying the polarising filter position. This Canon event has given me added enthusiasm to continue further with my TAFE photographic course, which I was considering dropping out of.

When printing, I saw how the image showed better contrasts and concentrated the viewers' vision to the marbles and Opera House, rather than the surrounds. I was impressed when seeing the print, and even more so when the fantastic staff printed an A3 version that I have framed and mounted at home.

Caption by / Photo by Anthony McCulloch

I wanted to capture something that can be interpreted differently by different people. Initially, it was a struggle, but with a bit of luck, we captured the image we wanted. It was cool to see the photo printed. The physical image is definitely very different from what you see on the screen — it makes it tangible and real.

Caption by / Photo by Ehon Chan

Integrating props into the Photo5 Live competition enabled me to look through the lens with a different perspective. Using Sydney Harbour as the backdrop let me look at Sydney's iconic buildings with a new element of creativity. The soft translucency of the bubbles provided a beautiful contrast with the jutting angular design of the Opera House. This gave it the appearance of being contained in a snow globe.

My primary artistic medium is metalsmithing, which is a repetitive and time-consuming process, so working in such an immediate medium as photography was rewarding for me. I have not had any of my photographs printed in large scale, so to say I was proud is an understatement. I am thankful for the Photo5 Live competition to enable me to explore photography in a creative and nurturing environment.

Caption by / Photo by Britlyn Simone

When I arrived down at Circular Quay, it was just easing up after a lot of bad weather all morning, but around the Canon Photo5 Live stand, there was a lot of buzz in the air. There were balloons, teams of people chatting excitedly and mimicking their ideas about the brief, kids and the young at heart running around with their faces painted — it was all happening.

With the brief essentially being "a portrait of someone" and "red balloons must be in shot", I figured most people buzzing around the Canon stand were going to be taking mostly shots of each other, or the kids running around, holding the balloons with something interesting in the background. I definitely wanted to stand out. I had to create something different — I had to plan this idea.

I decided to go for something where the balloons would create a different response than the joy they normally bring. I went looking for the opposite of happy children, I went looking for a grumpy old man. After many "nos" from security guards, street workers, vagabonds and even a priest, I found the perfect subject — a chef on his break. The only thing left to do was compose the shot and tell him not to pose, relax, act natural and just enjoy the break.

It was a great result, probably the opposite of what most others were aiming to capture, but that's what I wanted. To be perfectly honest, my first print came out a bit different to what I had imagined, but after I printed another version, and it accidentally had the white border on it (selected by the previous user), it had come to life. I was just a little bit proud of the print I'd held in my hand, the result of scampering around the streets in the drizzle and wind, balloons flailing everywhere, getting weird looks from strangers, and asking randoms to pose for me holding the balloons. At that moment, it was all worth it.

Caption by / Photo by Ryan James Kenny
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