Vote for the Winning Image in the Fstoppers Puerto Rico Photo Contest Challenge

Vote for the Winning Image in the Fstoppers Puerto Rico Photo Contest Challenge

This week we continue our Puerto Rican Photo Challenge. In our second challenge, two photographers explore the elaborate cave systems hidden deep within the central hills of Puerto Rico. In the full article, you can vote which image was the best and later this week we will reveal the winning image.

Since moving Fstoppers to Puerto Rico, we have abandoned all the familiarity that was our home in Charleston, SC and have been on a quest to explore as much of this Caribbean island as possible. This means new locations, new models, and new photography friends. If you watched our first Puerto Rican Photo Challenge, Lee and I visited the waterfalls of Gozalandia in San Sebastian where we challenged each other to the best waterfall landscape photograph. Overwhelmingly, our readers picked my image as their favorite giving me the first win in this head to head competition. 

This week we have mixed things up a bit by pitting two different photographers against each other. As with the last competition, the rules are simple: you can do anything you want to create an image utilizing the secret shooting location. This time we drove out to the middle of Puerto Rico and explored a privately owned cave system found in the Morovis countryside. These caves offered a unique backdrop this photography challenge, but they also exposed some of the more sinister creatures of Puerto Rico which you will see in the soon to be released video.

Below are the two images from our secret photographers. You can vote for your favorite image below and the results will be revealed to the two photographers live on camera. 

Image 1

Image 2

Feel free to leave your comments on these two images and we may read some of them in the final video.

Stay tuned to Fstoppers as we will announce the winner this week. Also subscribe to our Youtube Channel so you can watch the shoot out video immediately when it is released. Thanks to everyone who helped and participated in this video and we look forward to sharing the behind the scenes video on how these two images were created. 

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Daniel Mendiola's picture

Much tougher than the first one

Ryan Mense's picture

My criticism with 1 is the facial expression isn’t doing it for me. It looks like a kid awaiting instruction from another person rather than a more independent presence, and that takes me out of it. My criticism with 2 is the lighting on the man is a little overdone. It’s messing with the depth of the image and he appears floating to me. Overall I chose 2 but they are both nicely done photo designs.

Douglas Turney's picture

Funny I kind of thought the opposite. The facial expression in the first photo looks to me like apprehension of entering the cave. She looks like she is torn between entering and not entering. In the second image, the subject looks like he's holding a pose. I agree they are both nice images, but I voted for 1.

Benton Lam's picture

The facial expression also give me the same feeling of apprehension too.

I was wondering if there could be a crop near where her eyes are looking at, to enhance the feeling of the unknown, but that didn't quite jive with the background.

Cliff Broughton's picture

Definitely more difficult. I sorta like both, equally. Image 1: I like the gold dress/child in the cave, but too much background light. I think I would have liked it better if shot at twilight or shooting *into* the cave.

Image 2: I like it, but it's kinda saying to me that it could be better. Maybe a little more of the left side cropped off, maybe if the subject were holding the flashlight higher. There's something subtle that says its just a little off the mark.

I vote for image 1. But then, that's just my opinion. ;-)

Deleted Account's picture

Both look very staged, rather odd in pose and facial expression.
The Girl, I ask myself why she's there in that dress. Alice in wonderland idea? Then I'd expect a more inquisitive look and stance, she's slipped away from a party to go look in the cave. Lighting a little overdone on the dress too, almost a composite feel going on.

The man. Very static, he's looking like a workman there but just standing as if he's in line at a coffee shop. Bored.
Lighting on him seems better than the girl to me, but I'm left asking, where is that light coming from. His face is too well lit for the cave situation unless there's a source we see.

Pedro Pulido's picture

Photo 1, very staged, unrealistic dress for the location. Plus no subject separation from the background. That rock from the cave is killing all the vibe along with the dress and girls expression.
Photo 2 , love the lighting on the cave and subject, plus realistic outfit, that could be someone really working or exploring in the cave.

Photo 2 is a clear winner

Jose A Feliciano's picture

I like both but prefer the second. I think no.1 should would look better if shot at blue hour, the highlights and the foliage outside of the cave are distracting to me.

Alan Brown's picture

I find it ironic that as much emphasis is placed on facial expression during their critique of others it is lacking here.

For me the girl's expression indicates "what the heck am I doing in the middle of a cave wearing a party dress, I'm watching out for those bats, and BTW - my arm is getting tired holding this lamp....."

Gotta love it though - I think it's great that Lee & Patrick don't try to come across as being perfect and their flaws, however small give hope to the rest of us with human failings.

Jeff Walsh's picture

2, the highlights in 1 are too harsh for me.

Kirk Schwarz's picture

Dude, I love the concept from both, but the execution doesn't hit it for me... not that I could have done better... or equal... or anything..... but that's not what shouting on the internet is all about, right?!

Shot 1 instantly kills me, because it's a girl with a bright light, stood infant of an insanely bright background. If it weren't for the fact the background is so blown out, it would work a lot better. In fact, the left side of body has been darkened as per shadow falloff... but there's still a rim light, kinda takes me out. Move a couple of feet into the cave and turn 180 degrees and I'd probably be loving it.

Shot 2, kind the opposite! It's a dark cave, but it looks so well lit. The guy looks like he's ben photoshopped in, and the light is insanely even. The texture on the feet and lower trousers is really nice, but the torso is so light that the lighting looks flat, throw some darks in there and dodge and burn the left hand side to merge into the shadows a bit and Boom Shanka!! Also, he just looks a bit confused, like he ran out of oil, and now he's just got to stay stood still in an empty cave for all eternity... maybe a fake step, or some walking, or sitting down, anything to add a bit more into it.

Still, both decent shots that a lot of people here (and on the internet in general) would struggle to beat.

LUIS REYES's picture

I think the concept of photo #1 is interesting, but the execution leaves a bit to be desired. The location has many distracting elements and the lighting from the lamp competes with the brightness of the background.
Image #2 on the other hand looks more polished, the location is simple and not distracting, and the lighting is much much better at creating a mood for the photo.

Josh Sanders's picture

I think they're both pretty decent. 2 is probably the more technically sound image and is well lit. I just don't find the subject that interesting. I chose 1. I usually don't love the blown sky highlights look, I think it works well in this case. The lantern actually brings it all together for me--like the girl is bottling that bright sky and taking it into the cave with her. It's definitely a little fantasy-esque, but I appreciate the creativity in placing the girl in the gold dress into this scene.

Benton Lam's picture

I think both are technically well executed, way better than what I could muster.

I might even say #1 is over-processed, but the apprehensive look (at least to me), the dress, and the setting to me felt more interesting than #2.

Eric Fenton's picture

Number 1 is stunning but also resonates in my soul... you see, my mother lived in a cave/hole in the ground, through out her earliest years. When I look at this I imagine my mother coming home from one of her Wiccan Blood Moon ritual socials, wearing her prettiest dress... sorry, it’s hitting me on all levels. #wicciwooIdaho

Kim Zahnow's picture

Photo 1 is clearly the better photo. Capturing the natural light outside the cave, inside dramatic light with detail, the girls eyes, and the lantern. Best photo of all time. Clearly this photographer is a lighting master.

Patrick Hall's picture

HA, sounds like you know who the mystery photographer coming soon!

Arden Ballard's picture

Patrick, how’d you get the beam from the flashlight in Post?

Patrick Hall's picture

I just setup a strobe light in the studio and blacked out the scene so the light was firing towards the camera in complete darkness. Then took a few frames with the smoke backlit. In Photoshop I just positioned the strobe head and smoke where I wanted it and set the blend mode to overlay or lighten. I then removed some of the smoke and intensity by masking out the sides of the frame and playing with the opacity. It was a pretty easy edit once I had the overall base image looking correct.

Chris Klugh's picture

I think there's a lot of potential to re-edit the little girl. Imagine composing smoke coming from her front as the smoke is leaving the cave on the floor. That could give an eerie perceptive as we don't see where the smoke is coming from, but the little girl does.

Jorge Ruiz de Somocurcio's picture

First picture blown sky, harsh outside and boring ground blows the image. The kids expression could also be better.
In the second the whole vibe is good, but obviously the pose and expression could be telling more of a story.

Vote for the second, specially after watching the conditions and preparation each of the guys had.

Sami Z's picture

I love these shoot out series, super fun to watch. Both photos are amazing obviously but #2 does edge over #1. The mood and lighting are just much better. I am not in love with #1's center composition and harsh backlight although you can tell Josh did his best in that regard, and too many distracting elements on the cave floor. It would have been better if he moved further into the cave. Both photos, however, are a bit lacking in terms of expressions from both of the subjects – both seem a bit disinterested. But honestly, both are amazing photographers and skilled in photoshop.