Most competition judges have an oft-repeated mantra. Eddie Hyde came clean right at the start about his: the best images are the simplest ones, pictures that are no more complicated than they need be. As we soon realised, this is what drove his judging. During the course of the evening he gave so much good advice that we didn’t notice we were running out of time. Heavy vignettes seemed to be very popular with entrants this time – just a bit too heavy in most cases: less sometimes is more!
The Level 1 winnerwas Kevin Brookes, with his ‘Barn Owl’ image. The judge felt this was ‘beautifully simple, very strong and very striking’. He loved the fact that it was ‘lovely and sharp’ and had ‘fantastic catch lights in the eyes’.
Kevin Brookes said this about his winning entry:
I took this photograph during a visit to a falconry centre about five years ago, since when it has sat in my computer. Despite several revisits I could never quite get the picture that I felt was there. Having not entered a monochrome competition since last March, and feeling a little left out, I decided to experiment converting the Barn Owl into a B&W picture.
The original photo was shot with a Canon 400D with kit lens, exposure: f6.7 at 1/180sec; ISO 400.
The conversion to B&W was carried out in Photoshop Elements. It was heavily cropped and there was some tinkering with the lighting controls, (I cannot remember what, simply played with sliders until I was happy with the result). It was just an experiment. Submitted in hope.
On the night It was eventually up against three very good landscapes, and I was stunned when it was given top spot. I am now going through my collection with renewed enthusiasm to see if I have any more pictures worth ‘experimenting’ with.
I don’t have any particular favourite subjects but I am drawn toward landscapes and animals, (providing they stay in frame long enough).
The Level 2 winner was Graham Simms, with his ‘Lakeland Fence’ image. The judge especially liked the ‘lovely moody sky… acting as a frame to the fence’. He felt this was a ‘nice and simple’ image – a ‘very effective piece of landscape photography’.
Graham Simms said this about his winning entry:
I liked the graphics of the fence jutting into the lake, particularly with the side lighting. It was in November at about midday; the sun was not particularly high. I was set up in the lake, in about 2 feet of water, to get the perspective I was after.
It was taken on a Nikon D7500 with a 16-80 at 20mm, f/16, ISO 100 and 6.0 secs, with a little stopper (6 stops) to remove any distraction of small waves on the surface and to get some movement in the clouds.
The image was post processed in LR to crop (cropped about 25% from the left. The right not cropped) and I put a gradient on the top half to darken the clouds and hill. It was than ‘refined’ using Silver Efex 2 to bring out the detail in the fence rails and dry stone wall by sharpening using control points.
I don’t really have a favourite subject but tend to stick to landscapes as you are less likely to offend people, which is my worry with street photography, which I would like to do much more of.