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American Photography Open 2021: May Highlights from Our Judges

By David Schonauer   Wednesday June 16, 2021


May brought spring blossoms.

And, as we were expecting, a lot of entries to the American Photography Open 2021 competition. Today we spotlight three that our judges highlighted—a photo of an unhappy little boy in beautiful Kashmir; a stunning shot of the aurora borealis as seen from somewhere north of Anchorage, Alaska; and a lovely visual ode to Teresa Landucci Bandettini, a 16th-century Italian dancer and poet.

Perhaps they will will inspire you to enter the contest: It’s open to photographers at every level using all types of equipment. This year there are even more ways to win. Along with the AP Open 2021 competition, you can enter our partner SanDisk’s” Share Your World” competition. You can also enter our partner Tamron’s new “World Through Your Lens” Landscape/Travel competition. To enter these new competitions, select the “Share Your World” or the “World Through Your Lens” categories and follow the instructions there. You can enter all three competitions as many times as you wish.

The Open Grand Prize winner will receive $5,000, their choice of a Tamron SP 15-30mm F2.8 Di VC USD (for Canon or Nikon DSLR and mirrorless with mfg. adapter; $1,299 value) -or- both Tamron 17-28mm F2.8 Di III RXD and Tamron 28-200mm F2.8-5.6 Di III RXD (for Sony e-mount; $1,628 total value), a SanDisk 1 TB Extreme Pro Portable SSD, a PhotoShelter 2 year Pro account and a 2 hour business consultation with The Photo Closer.

Go here for more information on the prizes, judges, and information on how to enter. Meanwhile, check out the highlighted entries from May.


Debdatta Chakraborty: “A Kashmiri Kid”

“Kashmir is often regarded as the heaven on earth and one of the most beautiful places of India. It is also one of my favorite places of mine for photo tours,” says Kolkata-based photographer Debdatta Chakraborty. Tourism in Kashmir Valley came to a halt in recent months, due to the covid-19 pandemic, but, says Chakraborty, “when normalcy returned a bit, at the first instance possible, I went there.” In February, he was in the small town of Anantnag, where he spotted some children playing by the roadside. “As I got closer to them, one of the kids perhaps got a little bit intimidated by my gadgets and ran away. I could manage a few frames before he ran for cover.” The result was the shot above, which Chakraborty made with a Nikon D750 and Nikkor 16-35mm f/4 lens.

Chakraborty, who calls himself a student of photography (“as I am still learning”), has been taking pictures since he was a child himself. “My father's Agfa camera was the first that brought my interest in the field of photography. The very basic idea of capturing a moment of time on a film captured my imagination,” he says. “After that I was a trekker in the Himalayas, and at that time documenting some expeditions brought me closer to the subject.”

See more of Debdatta Chakraborty’s work at Instagram.
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Kyle Kermoade: “Aurora”

In March, Kyle Kermoade was visiting Anchorage, Alaska, for business, and seeing the northern lights was on his to-do list. A serious photo enthusiast, Kermoade had done his research in preparation for photographing the aurora, during which he “quickly realized that a number of factors had to come together for it to work out." Luckily, everything came together for him. The photo above was taken on March 19 at around 12:30 am, from a spot about 40 miles northeast of Anchorage, on the frozen riverbed of the Knik River.

“This was one of my first times with night photography and astrophotography, so I did a lot of studying into the proper techniques and settings to use in this environment, but once out in the field I was met with the challenges of trying to focus in the dark, keeping my travel tripod still enough for long exposures, and working with the camera with gloves on, as it was about 0°F,” Kermoade says. He made the picture with a Sony a7 II full-frame mirrorless camera and a Tamron 20mm f/2.8 lens, with a 13-second exposure at ISO 1000.

“Photography has always interested me and I became more serious about it with the birth of my daughter 11 years ago, trying to capture those special moments and milestones,” Kermoade says. “Currently my biggest interest is shooting action photographs of my daughter and others skateboarding.”


Nicoletta Cerasomma: “Metamorphosis”

Nicoletta Cerasomma, who is based in Lucca, Italy, made this image “to focus on a feminine figure that identifies the role women have in Italian history.” That figure is Teresa Landucci Bandettini, a 16-century dancer and poet who, notes Cerasomma, was “capable of translating the most important masterpieces from Latin at the age of 13. She studied Ovid's Metamorphoses, in which are told the most popular and important myths of Roman and Greek cultures.”

The notion for the image came to her, Cerasomma says, when she saw a “beautiful gold ginkgo tree” in a Lucca square. “I immediately wanted to use its leaf in a way to represent my personal vision of Ovid’s Metamorphoses,” she adds. “In Bandettini’s works, there is always a strong aura, which I endeavored to collect with open arms to ensure that my diptychs embody it. What I want to represent is her story, to help the public seek the mystery beyond the appearance, in the place between real and surreal.”

See more of Nicoletta Cerasomma’s work at Instagram.

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