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Taken from the top

The autumn round winners are revealed. Engineering is a science but good engineering is an art, ' says Ray Anderson, winner of the autumn round of NCE/Practical Photography Engineering Image 2005.

Anderson is a chartered civil engineer and a fellow of the Institution of Structural Engineers. That photography and engineering are his passions is something the competition judges picked up on. All agreed that the sharp perspective and warm tones of the swirling timber clad staircase in Anderson's picture of the Millennium centre, Cardiff, made it a sure winner.

The judging panel includes Royal Photographic Society past president Roger Reynolds, Practical Photography editor Andrew James, ICE director general Tom Foulkes, NCE editor Antony Oliver, construction photographer Grant Smith and Sunday Times picture editor Ray Wells.

Seen through a camera lens the staircase 'could have been just a structure that gets you up and down the building', says Reynolds. But Anderson has lent it drama. 'Here you see the detail and texture of the wood grain, and reflections off the handrail, ' says Reynolds. The staircase 'fills the frame and grabs you immediately, allowing you to slowly work your way down to the ground'.

Anderson was also the summer round winner, although the subject - Newport's Usk Bridge - was very different.

The second prize autumn round winner is Richard Cole's haunting image of the Tamar Bridge skimming over houses.

Cole was commended for the way he intensified the street lighting to add drama, but kept a long exposure to ensure the detail in the steel structure was conveyed. Practical Photography editor James also read deeper into the image: 'He's making a statement about the structure - imagine what it's like living under that bridge.' Paul Kirkwood's photograph of workers fi xing steel reinforcement for a wind turbine foundation in Cambridgeshire won third prize. The photograph was commended for capturing construction in action and, more importantly, achieving a closeness to the characters on site without compromising the composition of the shot.

'Even the shirt hung on the reinforcement is playing a part in the composition, ' says Reynolds.

James agrees, adding that on closer inspection 'you find yourself looking at each person trying to understand what they're doing and thinking, and then going back to have another look'.

This was the last round of Engineering Image 2005, but the competition will be back again next spring. The overall 2005 winner, from the spring, summer and autumn rounds, will be announced in January.

Autumn round winner Ray Anderson: 'This is a structure which doesn't shout about its engineering. Staircases normally span like simple beams between landings, but here there are huge torsional forces.' Photographed in October. Camera settings: f8, 0.25 seconds.

Second prize Richard Cole: 'Tamar Bridge forms a vital link between Devon and Cornwall. Built in 1961, it set the standard for suspension bridges and is a reminder of Britain's great industrial heritage.' Photographed in October. Camera settings: f16, 10 seconds.

Third prize Paul Kirkwood: 'Morrison is building the foundations for the base unit of a wind turbine which will form part of a farm generating 158MW of electricity. The turbine is located on a Cambridgeshire farm where the owners have formed a joint venture with Scottish Power.' Photographed in August.

Runners up David Hunter's photograph shows an engineer checking the position of jacks used to lift up the deck of a bridge along the M60.

Tighter cropping around the engineer would have made it a winner, say the judges.

Close contenders Miles Willis' photograph of the curvy Greater London Authority headquarters and prominent handrail down to the Thames was commended for its composition and content. But the judges felt the foreground needed more light to balance the image.

Richard Cole's shadow on the Tamar Bridge had all the ingredients of a winning shot, but the judges felt better framing would made the image more dramatic.

Tim Shaw's photograph of the futuristic Edinburgh airport control tower beautifully captured the main structure against a fiery sunset. But the foreground composition clipping the construction activity let the picture down, say the judges.

David Hunter's photograph shows lots of interesting activity as a 100t beam is lowered onto its supports.

Judges felt that, although it was well composed, the shot would have worked better from a different angle or if it focussed on an individual.

Which is your favourite photograph- A new Readers' Choice award sponsored by Hewlett-Packard is being announced at Civils this week.

The winner of this award will receive an HP Designjet 30 printer worth £500.

See NCE next week for details on how to vote.

Winners from each round will receive £250, with £100 and £50 awarded to second and third placed entrants. The overall winner's photo will be published in NCE and Practical Photography and he or she will receive a Nikon D70 digital SLR camera worth £1,000.

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