Congratulations to Ilan Wittenberg on winning the Gold medal for ‘NO VACANCY‘ in the Scapes category of the 2022 North Shore National Salon of photography. 2,172 images were judged in six categories and the 18 award winning prints together with the top 130 images are currently on display at the Takapuna public library until August 7th.

Heading to Auckland, I left Wellington really early at the end of the New Zealand Art Show back in June. It was dark and wet, with very little traffic when I passed through the sleepy town of Levin at about 06:57 AM. Thinking about my life, the eight hour, 650km journey ahead, and the $120 speeding ticket I got driving there, I noticed something red at the corner of my eye. I kept driving for another 30 seconds and then said to myself something to the effect ‘What the flip, I can’t just drive past this opportunity’…I stopped the car, did a U turn, and returned to the scene. Searched for my tripod at the back of my cramped rental vehicle and set up my camera on Bracketing mode. I took five shots of every scene, each with a different exposure, from 4 to 0.4 seconds long. I was trying different angles to see which perspective is most effective. I then risked my life and set up my tripod on the median line to take some vertical snaps from a closer distance when two trucks came flying. capturing a total of 72 photos I was content that I have enough material to work on. Three minutes after leaving Levin heavy rain came pouring down from the sky. The final image is a composite of six photos, each taken with a different exposure to maximize balance, harmony and visual impact.

Here are some of the judges’ comments:
“OH MY GOODNESS! What a unique original image… They’ve done it in such an awesome way. The clarity is fantastic. The thing that is most clear about this image is that at 6:57AM there was No Vacancy at that motel. It’s beautiful, it’s so graphic, it’s strong and it’s bold.”
“There is something very cinematic about it. It reminds me of a Kevin Tarantino movie. Something really sinister is going to happen in this place…”
“I love the sterility of it, I love the simplicity of it. Such a powerful and strong image. And then, to have that power pole, to come out, and be just in that perfect spot… this photographer is so incredibly lucky, or very talented… Great image, well seen, well captured, well presented.”

Click here to see more of Ilan’s award winning images.

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