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  • Writer's pictureNani Bhalla

Best in Show

A once in a lifetime pattern
Melting Ice

Winning Best in Show! Wow!

The image posted here recently won this award at the Ethel Sergeant Clark Smith Gallery in Wayne PA. This was a jurored show, and was judged by Byron Wolfe, a well published photographer with photographic art pieces in permanent collections, is a Professor at Temple University (

This was the first time I have ever submitted a piece of mine to a gallery or to a show; I thought it was time that if I was going to take my art seriously, then I had to put it out there in the public domain to be reviewed, critiqued, judged (and maybe after all that, purchased!). Mind you this is a tough decision, to have your work judged by others - the feelings of "what will they think? Is it good enough to be in an exhibition? Is it really worth the effort that I make, to make an image happen?" These and many other self doubting questions went through my mind. But it was my wife who convinced me to move forward. Frankly, if you don't put it out there, how will you ever know. How will you ever know?

So now let us fast forward to the evening of the awards. Here I was with my wife, in a gallery filled with people, along with other photographic artists, and of course, Byron. There were 6 honorable mentions, 3 placed finishes and a Best in Show. So Byron starts announcing the names, the honorable mentions are done - and my name is not called. He goes thru the 3 placed finishers, and my name is not called. Well "we are done here" was my immediate thought. The exhibit had great quality work on display, and with each honorable mention and award, Byron explained his process for his decision. It was the first time I had actually heard another artist explain his or her interpretation of another's work. This in itself was a learning experience and it was interesting to listen to his thought process. So since my name had not been called by this time, I was feeling quite down. I was happy to have been selected for the show, but in those few moments there was so much doubt, so much emotional uneasiness. Now note, this is a regional show; so if I was unable to get through this stage, how could I aspire to go further. And just as all these thoughts and emotions are crowding my brain, Byron announces my name for Best in Show. And frankly, I am shocked. And in a flash, all those thoughts and emotions have vacated my head, and I am at peace. Though to all gathered this was an award, to me it was so much more: It was encouragement to move forward. It was encouragement to continue to spend the time and energy to continue to improve. It was encouragement to continue to push.

An image takes a lot to happen. This image; this image that one this award was days in the making. Cold winter, snow and ice. I continued to watch this ice pattern developing. I waited; I looked at temperature charts, wondering if it was going to turn too warm one day and it would all be gone. And when the time was right, I got up at 3:30 AM to gather my equipment (a list I had dreamed of over a couple of nights). I stood over the scene from 5AM until 8AM, waiting for the right light, using various filters, using long exposures, and exposing multiple frames from various angles. the temperature was in the 20s, and frankly I cannot operate a camera with gloves (even those purposed for these types of shoots), so bare hands it was. Early morning shoots are challenging - the light changes pretty quickly, so the exposure timings and the changing scene are challenges that evolve from minute to minute. And then the time in post processing. I am of the belief that post processing should be kept to a minimum; be true to the image and get it "right in camera."

So the image is posted above and on the site; and now you know some of the story behind it. This actually is a cropped version of the original that was displayed. The displayed image was a dye sublimated print on metal; and yes, it did sell. This remains a limited edition with only 35 pieces that will be sold, regardless of size or type of production. Two down and 33 to go :)

So I push forward; I continue on this artistic journey; and with this I encourage all of you to push forward in your journey. Thank you for visiting and reading.

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