2012 Photo of the Year Winner is...

Dec 10, 2012
by Karl Burkat  
 
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Congratulations to Toby Cowley from Whistler, BC. for winning the 2012 Rocky Mountain Photo of the Year Powered by SRAM. After 357,309 votes (over 75,000 more than last year!), it came down to the wire as this photo edged out Jens Staudt's photo by less than 1% (50.7% - 49.3%). Toby wins himself a 2013 Rocky Mountain Altitude 790 MSL complete with the newest SRAM XX1 components and a check for $7500. Congrats!

Aiken scrubbing out of the fog on the North Shore. Toby Cowley facebook.com tobycowleyphoto

Thanks to Rocky Mountain Bikes and SRAM for making this contest possible.

212 Comments

  • + 184
 Yes, the one i was hoping for the whole time!!! Such a sick shot!!!!! Totally Deserved it
  • + 70
 Well deserved for sure, but for whatever reason I was partial to the other shot. Regardless, congrats to Toby!
  • - 1
 It was great to see the 2 best photos make it to the final! Congrats to the winner. I only hope PB can swing a swag bag for the runner up.
  • + 85
 I'm not a big fan of this photo compared to some other ones there were in the line up, but a good shot none the less.
  • + 7
 Hooo man, tight race indeed. The shot of Fairclough was pretty sick, whipping it out and all. This one is pretty epic though, great shot. Congrats on the win. Wish I could take photos like that! haha
  • + 47
 jitenshakun- the 2 best photos? that's quite the stretch.... hahaha, oh man... bring on the negs but it's the truth that the best photos never made it to the final round.

Although this shot is insanely tight, it isn't the best in my personal opinion.
  • - 51
 Yes! Thank god. I think all our comments on how much better quality this photo has vs. The whip in Whistler, changed people's minds!
  • + 3
 Congratulations to Toby Cowely!!
  • - 29
 is it just me or does it look like the rider has been photoshoped into it, he is way more lit up than the rest, just saying?
  • + 20
 it's just you
  • + 0
 but I was hoping for the second place photo to win
  • + 1
 BTW part of my reasoning for this is because foggy NS shots have been done for years which makes it nothing special, along with whip shots... this year was a disappointment in the least offensive way possible, haha.
  • + 34
 Congrats Toby, good job!

This is my opinion only so neg prop me if you want, but this is all just in the interest of debate, no disrespect or offense meant.

This picture and it's composition is perfect. Very natural and clean/simple with proper lighting for the mood. However, versus the whip photo, this photo has a much more depressing and mellow-dramatic mood to it. The other photo had crowds of people cheering and had many, many elements going on which added to the intensity of the photo. It was bright, colorful, and an extremely hard shot to pull off. You have about 1 second to get the angle, the people, the lighting, the moment right. This photo, the rider could of redone the run. It's not like Fairclough could of redo the run just for the photographer. It was just a plain raw, in the moment, shot which I believe should of won. But in the end, it's hard to really decide just like how the votes turned out, only a 1% difference. Both the photos, including this one are still top shots no matter what and deserve to win. I just believe that although somewhat more "generic" the whip photo won in regards to: Energy, Mood, Intensity, Composition, Color Vibrancy, Detail, and Difficulty. While this photo won in: Composition, Lighting, Scenery/Environment, and Detail.

Just bunch of random shit. Don't read. Wink
  • + 4
 Congrats on POY.. I was hoping this one would win and it did.
  • + 7
 It was far better comp than last year.
I want to congrats all the photographers and riders in the pictures tup
no one is a looser !
  • + 2
 Congratulations!!!!
  • - 10
 as the pre election heat is over... why are people freaking on the composition of that pic? What else than the simpliest most fundemantal rule of the thirds makes this so perfect? How about things like: center of weight of the pic? distribution of elements? nr of planes? foreground/background (white shirt on white bkg)? where's the story (he looks into the cam)? For me there is nothing else in the composition of that pic and therefore I find it quite banal, it can be achieved with cropping. Great compositions are uncroppable, mainly because they include something else than ONE subject - just like the whip pic which has a really nice layout of different things that are arranged in lines, and there are many planes. It is also way harder to shoot the second pic as you can't just ask the rider countless times to do the same. There's some story as well on the second one. Other pictures from Tobys album incl som PODs have way more to say - but this is not his fault.

Still congratulations to the photographer, use that well Wink
  • + 15
 Brace yourselves,WAKI hits again!!!
  • + 7
 @samminett That's what happens when you use this thing called a flash unit Wink
  • - 6
 WAKIdesigns can't ever just say one sentence can he- I don't think I've ever read a whole comment from him (or her). Yawn yawn yawn.

The photo contest this year was awesome- so many good shots- I knew the final would be tight. Props to all the people who made the short list.
  • + 1
 nice work tom, and nice try to everyone else, there was some hard decisions in there!
  • - 8
 boh... Don't like it that much but congrats to the guy who shot this Smile
  • - 5
 no offense to the photographer or rider but there are so many better pictures that deserve photo of the year over this
  • + 1
 The rider is more bright compared to the rest of the picture because the photographer probably used a flash and focused it on the rider.. Congrats on the POY, super sick shot!
  • + 1
 but surley spicy mike the whip shot was done at a race so camera man had a whole set of race runs to get ideal spot and set up sorted. In my opinion all the photos were impressive but i think some of the best went out early on. but congrats to the winner.
  • + 1
 nice one dude, voted all the way through Smile
  • - 5
 The sad thing is, is that this is probably a fake, doctored photo :/
It certainly looks like it
  • + 1
 Wow, when you look closely it does look a little weird now that you mention it...but doubt it. It is definitely photoshopped. But all photos are shopped. It's also probably because of the flash from the photographer and the light behind the rider that makes for a image that looks pretty weird in some spots. Like the rider's eyes look very weird if you zoom up. But that's from the flash and the rider is looking at it.
  • - 2
 Some of the shadows just don't line up right with backlight/flash.
It would be super easy to make this image in some editing software. All you need is a shot of the rider, shot of background, and you can mask it with some lighting effects.
It could be real, but i doubt it.
  • - 2
 Oh the PS Police is here, I'm getting snacks and bewerage, I expect low flying knives anytime.
  • + 2
 After looking, photographer used 2 high power flash lamps, one left and one right (little farther up). Not fake.
  • - 4
 Well last years POY could have been PSd by a 5 yr old, but calling this a fake... Id call it a bad studio setup
  • + 7
 It's so obviously not fake. I mean really guys this is just getting silly. To say that a digital photo is "photoshopped" is totally redundant anyway. But this has not been composited out of multiple images or "faked" in any way. To say a photo which is clearly taken with flash is fake is just a demonstration of ignorance more than anything else.
  • + 5
 Finally some one who knows what he's talking about Salute +1
[Reply]
  • + 45
 Unbelievably stoked right now, can't believe it! So stoked for Tobes. Cheers for voting for us. Mucho appreciated pinkbike. Peace!
  • + 1
 New backround on my computer this second
  • + 3
 When I first saw this one months back I was hoping it would be included in the photo of the year contest, so happy it won! Well done!
  • - 8
 Who pick this picture Micky mouse
  • + 1
 nice one man, voted all the way Smile
[Reply]
  • + 20
 This is a breath taking shot... just makes me wanna pull out my bike and fly... everything a winning shot should do to a rider. Congratulations Toby!
[Reply]
  • + 17
 Good!!! There is more to mountain biking than whip off contests
  • + 5
 i will be completely honest with you i voted for the other photo but i couldn't agree more and this is for photo of the year not all together sickest riding or going the biggest [although this guy looks pretty pinned] it does have to factor in composition so i would say i fully agree with you but on a different note they were both very worthy photos
  • + 3
 yeah... congrats to Mr.Toby
this is a great photo.. great shot.. great riding technique,, i know i am not in that style/position even if i hit the exact trail ... it's wet & roots
[Reply]
  • + 14
 Congrats, awesome photo.

To the pinkbike editor: it's Cheque not Check. Canadian website, Canadian winner, Canadian spelling
  • + 2
 Not just that but the spelling of every English speaking nation bar the US, who speak their own weird Fisher Price version of English.
[Reply]
  • + 9
 Congrats Pinkbike on narrowly voting for the better photo in a photography contest. Not sure if I'd have picked it from the start, but a great shot and a deserving winner nonetheless.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 The comments above definately highlight that personal favourites are just that - different photos appeal to different people dependant on what they see in them (I prefered the moody atmosphere in the winning pic than the fun atmosphere in the second for example - neither is better, just different...).

Any chance that next year you get a photography expert in to explain different difficulties and elements of composition so that us non-photographers can appreciate the level of difficulty/skill involved to achieve each photo. Also, can we be told how much the picture was edited (perhaps have a link to the original unedited file)? To make it fair perhaps use 2 or 3 so that opinion is mixed? It will just add another element to the competition and allow us to appreciate the photographers craft even more.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I am definatly happy with the result. GREAT RIDER, GREAT PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS, GREAT TRACK! as good as the other photo (and whip) was i thought it wasn't that great taking a picture of a other rider at the whip contest - Crankworx and then using it to win this contest. This photo here though is alot more original and its alot cooler taking a picture of a local/unidentified rider.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 OMG! Voted for this thinking it was the better photo, but would most likely be outvoted by groms and the like just thinking "Yeah! Cool Whip!" and the like Re: the photo of Brendan. Genuinely surprised this won but pleasantly so. The better photo won on the day IMO.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 this year was tough in the voting, there were so many good shots, hell there were PO'ds this year that didn't even get to the final 32 i would've voted for. in the the end, glad this pic won, was one of the pics i voted for from the start. it does make me want to go out and ride and scrub everything possible, so i guess it's a job well done. they were all good pics though
[Reply]
  • + 2
 While the shot is sick indeed, the other one was by far the best as far as the combination of actual photography and radness of the moment/angle. Close win, but I really didn't expect it to be like this.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 YESSS! I was stoked for it to be nominated in, but thought all the kids would vote for some huge whip but this one made it! congrats Toby! you deserved it bud.
  • + 1
 As if they cropped most of the shot out- I know they had to make it from landscape to portrait but it seemed a shame to lose so much of the shot.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Wow, close vote... glad the shot of a "non-pro" came out on top, not that the other shot didn't deserve it, but its nice to feel like anyone thats out there snapping sick photos can come in and take the win
[Reply]
  • + 3
 All that talent must be in the genes on his mother's side!!! Seriously though Tobe, we're really proud of you. Congrats to Aiken as well!
  • + 0
 Thanks! Does he even know yet?? I've been trying to contact him!
  • + 1
 Yes & he's pretty excited as you can imagine! I believe that he should be in an internet service area tonight.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 First time I saw this I thought: "THIS is mountain biking!"
Thing is, I have never personally been on any trail like that in the photo
But the spirit is the same
And the photo is technically sound
I love it!

Now please give us hi-res! My desktop is last years POY is shrunk down from 3000x2000 to my screen at 1980x1200: this current 1600x1000 will not cut it!
And the velociraptor comment was wayyyy better!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I think that this one must be the winner because the angle used and background are awsome and the other pic (I think) was a jump like one other. Congrats to Toby!
[Reply]
  • + 4
 Frown wanted the other one but this is still a amazing shot great job!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 My fav was this one www.pinkbike.com/photo/8376203

But ok, the chosen POY is very nice too.

Congrats to Toby Cowley. Cheers from Brazil.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Iconic image...well done on the PB community for recognising a stunning image. It totally deserves the top prize...well done Toby for a technically brilliant image and Aiken for ripping it.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 This has been my background since it was pod. Woo my opinion on a photograph is similar to those of other internet using mountain bike fans!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 who the hell decided?? this pic isn't for the 1rst place, no offense to the photographer or rider but there are so many better pictures that deserve photo of the year over this.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I enjoyed the other one. But this one definatley deserves the win. more work put into this photo
  • + 1
 I think the other one was better
[Reply]
  • + 3
 is a SHIT of photo pink bike don't know the real photos!!!!
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Glad to see the north shore win!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 great shot, not only makes me want to get out and ride my bike but it also reminds me of how a good day of biking feels. congrats.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Hell ya he deserves this, other one put up a fight, but could not compare to this composition, and just the feeling you get that he's just flying through there!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I bet the guy who lost by less than a percent, wish he'd signed up for a few dozen pinkbike accounts and voted
  • + 31
 he would have had to make 3573 accounts
  • + 1
 2500 to be more precise, either way too much, hahahahahahahaha
  • + 2
 How did you come up with 2500?
  • + 1
 0,7 percent of the total votes, nerdy? hahahahahahahaha
  • + 1
 lost by .7% so 357309x.007 would be 2500ish.... either that or I suck at math
  • + 1
 the math owned me Frown
  • + 1
 50.7% to 49.3% is a difference of 1.4%.
1.4% of 357,309 is a difference of 5002 votes.......and change.
  • + 1
 The winner had 50.7% of the votes, second place got 49.3% of the votes.

50.7 - 49.3 = 1.4

The difference was 1.4 percentage points. If there were 357309 votes, then each percentage point is worth 3573.09 votes. 1.4 X 3573.09 = 5002.3 votes.

So either second place needed to create 5003 accounts, OR get 2502 pinkbikers to change their mind about voting for Toby OR a combination of the two. Note that both these numbers are higher than the math indicated to eliminate a draw.

If my maths in wrong at least it looks convincing Smile
  • + 2
 Your math looks right, except all of you are forgetting something. 357,309 is TOTAL number of cumulative votes in the entire competition. 357,309 people did not vote in the final round. A fraction of that many did, because each person can vote up to 31 times (unless if they miss a round) so the difference is actually much smaller. There is no way calculate the exact difference from the information we have unless PB released the real tally. Please correct me if I am mistaken.
  • + 1
 that's true tadinski, i was just wondering how small was the difference Smile
  • + 1
 Oh, I thought 357,309 is how many voted for the last round. Than you are right, one cannot work out the number of votes.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 Yea Toby!!! Well deserved win sir!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I would guess that 50.7% will agree with the decision and 49.3% will not. Congratulation to all participants
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I think we all think we look like this when we ride through the woods. I thought this photo was super rad deserved more recognition when I first saw it as a POD.
  • + 1
 I think we all WISH we looked like this when riding through the woods.
  • + 1
 I think most of us do think, that we look like that. :-)
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Sooo sick, every photo was dope but this one particularly was crazy good!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Great photo of some great riding in the greatest place in the world to ride a mountain bike = POY on Pink Bike!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Kinda sad. I did like the other finalist way better.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 the other one was ten times better
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Yes!! Thank god! Even though there were some better photos which should have made it further, at least a very good photo still won!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 i´m not a mathematician, but it looks like 50.7% - 49.3% is more than 1%
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Brendog should have won...
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Not my favorite picture of the competition but the best in the final....Anyway, congratulations to ALL the riders and Photographers, YOU ALL ROCK!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 And the winner is.....the same photo on the first page 2013 pinkbike calendar....lol
[Reply]
  • + 2
 congrats but personly i think the whip should have won
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Well deserved photo of the year!!! Congrats to the photographer and shredder!!!!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Sick shot for sure... But the one from brendog is killing it!
[Reply]
  • + 3
 yeeeaaahh man congrats!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Hell ya Toby! Nice work, love this shot
[Reply]
  • + 3
 well deserved
  • + 3
 agreed, fantastic photo
[Reply]
  • - 1
 gonna have to say not impressed... I hate being negative but if this is photo of the year it makes mountain biking look like it hasnt progressed in 10 years.. congrats to you though Toby!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 it was a tough decision for most i am sure. Both great shots, coming from a photography aspect though this is an awesome shot. Totally captured the point. Strong work.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Yeah, Toby! First round is on you, buddy.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Its picturesque but i don't like the picture. Personal opinion that im probably going to get bashed for. oh well. merica.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Superb picture,congratulations,as for the others,they were pretty good as well !
[Reply]
  • + 2
 My personal fav was the Danny Mac pic.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Congrats! Cool photo, good composition and lighting, not to mention riding!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 have actually had this as my desktop since i first saw it Smile great shot, propa job!!!
  • - 1
 It's crap compared to some of the other pictures that was entered
[Reply]
  • + 1
 ahhhhhhhh yeah, the one i wanted!!! this pic is so sick!! i love it, goood job guy, your a major league BAMF!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Both of those were sick photos and deserved to win congratulations on winning photo of the year
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Congrats brother!!! Was stoked to see the two BC'rs make it to the finals! Right on Great shot
[Reply]
  • + 2
 the picture of darren should have won
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Congratulations Toby Cowley - LOVE your photo! WELL DONE!!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 congrats, one of the best shots in the contest. congrats also to Jens für #2!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Stoked for you Toby, enjoy that new rig!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I like it, I like it a lot.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 It's in whistler no suprise there
  • + 4
 It was actually taken on the north shore bud, Vancouver.
  • + 2
 Funny how people who aren't from Van don't realize that less than an hour in any direction has completely different climate, different amounts of rain fall and therefore completely different terrain. Those wet roots bring back scary childhood memories.. lol Wicked riding dude and killer shot to capture it.
  • + 1
 Cheers bud! Appreciate the words.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 This is a damn sexy photo. Well deserved.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 congrats 5 stars foto Toby
[Reply]
  • - 1
 Boooo!!! I take better shots with my 1997 cell phone. " Dah I ride a big boy bike off two foot jumps give me ten million dollars!" you'
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I'd like to see you do better owl-58
  • + 1
 i don't have to, just saying there was a lot better pictures to pick from the other entry's Camera Facepalm
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Aun que vote por la otra fotografia, felicitaciones de igual manera.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Certainly a winner...congrats!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Yeah Tobes so happy for you! Love your work!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Soo Sick! This picture gets me soo stoked!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Amazing shot! Congrats, Toby! Well deserved!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 YES! SO STOKED!
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Congrats Guys!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 This photo is so rad. I dont even know what else to say.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 what did the other pic look like?
[Reply]
  • + 1
 So many great photos this year! Thank you all and Congrats TC!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 You know.. It did say $7500 CASH before.... hmm
[Reply]
  • + 1
 HYFR that shot is so sick!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 I voted for the other one, but I am actually not disappointed...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Awesome shot - it got my vote!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Congrats.....a;so to my self i always voted for this one as well.....
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Great shot always have liked this photo.gratz
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Amazing photo, congratulations!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Stoked that this shot won. Just curious, what trail is this on?
  • + 2
 It's up on cypress. I thought it was called old man dh, but I know I'm wrong now and can't find the actual name. It ends up at the first viewpoint, where stupid grouse drops in from.
  • + 1
 not mystery is it?
  • + 1
 Ya could be mystery dh.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Congratulations!! great Photo!!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 both finalists were from Canada so everybody wins.
  • + 2
 the pic yes - but Jens is from Germany Smile still happy für him that he made it to the finals and lost just so close...
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Excellent choice. Lucky SOB!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 all the hard work pays off!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Hoped this one won the whole time! Great shot! Keep it up Toby!
[Reply]
  • - 1
 holy shit, now i'm sure that more than 50% of pinkbike's users don't know how a sick photo is... very bad result!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 Thank god that is the one I wanted to win. It is such a sick shot.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 well deserving an epic photo Smile
[Reply]
  • + 1
 So how do I enter? Smile
[Reply]
  • + 1
 lets get the beerr
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Nice work Tobes!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 such a sick shot
[Reply]
  • + 1
 kickin man.. congrats
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Congratulations Toby
[Reply]
  • + 1
 congrats. sick pic man!
[Reply]
  • + 0
 just disagree Brendogs was 10000000 times better than this
  • + 3
 About 500 people all had almost the exact same photo of Brendan. I'm a fan of Dog as well, but this image is simply more original, had more work put into it etc.
  • + 1
 original? i've seen tons of pics like that, you can say a lot of things about this picture, but not" original"
  • + 2
 Vs about 500 of the EXACT SAME SHOT of the same person, at the same time... I'd say original comparatively, yes.
  • + 1
 Oh well but he took a plane from Europe to take the shot... There is too much analysing, too much strive for making justice basing on God knows how many arguments incl. photography, demographics, politics, PROness for the sake of choice between two pictures of a bloke on a bike. As you push the issue hard enough for long enough period of time, the shit will finaly come out, and we stop to forget about good initial feelings and what are we actualy doing Smile
[Reply]
  • - 3
 This photo is shit.....
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