Very cool to see the hundreds upon hundred of comments firing through the contest!
I hope you all are having a blast! Looking at the camaraderie, I'm sure that a lot of you will keep hanging out after its all over.
Many of you have asked what kind of bird is featured in the photo. Here's the story. For the past couple of years when the autumn leaves are in full color, I've tried to take a day to ride my motorcycle through this chunk of Pennsylvania. The cycle makes it easy to pull over and whip out the camera.
This part of the state is hilly and old (old for the U.S., at least). Even though we're considered suburbs of Philadelphia, we still have some remote dirt roads. I was coming down one of these toward French Creek, when I saw a whole mess of large black birds in the tree tops. They were bigger than crows. When I lived in Buffalo, I used to see ravens, so that was my first thought. However, I'd never seen them so far south.
As I got closer, I realized they were vultures without bare heads. Juveniles? I really don't know. They were congregating over the carcass of a road-killed deer. (I took pictures of that too, but will spare you.) Many of them took off before I could get close ups, but they began circling right over my head. In this shot, I isolated the bird with Photoshop and blurred the background (well, foreground actually) while sharpening the silhouette of the vulture.
Anyway, thanks again for a stellar turnout! I'm deep in scoring right now. At this point, I expect to be posting the results on Wednesday.
Because of the longer delay to allow everyone to get through the entries, I'll return to normal Clarity of Night content on Monday rather than wait until after the results are posted.
Also, I'm going to do something a bit different after this contest. Rather than comment about what I liked most about each entry, for all entries not in the Forties Club*, I will tell you which scoring category was your best and which might need more attention. As a reminder, the scoring categories are: pacing, entertainment value, technical use of language, storytelling, and voice. In a way, the categories represent an expanding scope of review. Technical scoring looks within the sentences themselves. Pacing describes how well the sentences build on each other. Storytelling considers the flow of paragraphs and what you chose to portray to give your story life. Entertainment scores the idea itself, and voice reflects whether your writing has a clear, overall identity. Entries in the Forties Club were proficient in all of these areas.
Keep reading and getting those Readers' Choice votes in!
*The Forties Club members have scored at least 40 out of 45 possible points.