As the season speeds towards a conclusion, we held our 2nd Monochrome PDI competition on Wednesday 9th March and welcomed a judge new to Photocraft in Steve Peel.
Steve had been sent the 45 entries – 11 in Standard and 34 in Advanced – the day before and had made relevant notes based on his viewing of these at home but, as has been the case before, once the images came up on the new projector screen, he had to rethink a few.
As we have heard from many previous judges, key features for a successful monochrome image (or conversion from colour in post-processing) are contrast and a good range of tones from full black to full white, retaining details where possible.
Steve emphasised the need to avoid leaving an image with that overall mid-grey look that leaves it looking too flat and lifeless. There were a few images during the evening that aimed to provide symmetry and here, Steve pointed out the need to take care to get this right in the shot or in the crop.
We had many portraits and street images in our entries and in those, Steve was looking for clear separation between the key subject(s) or feature(s). In his view, there were some that did not quite get there and he suggested that the editing could be controlled in such a way so as to draw the viewer into the key areas of an image. In the same vein, some engagement with the subject will add to the dynamism of an image, especially portraits.
We also need to make sure our images do not look over-processed and avoid artifacts.
Key lines are seen in many of the PDI entries and here, with a couple that did not seem to be on all four sides, Steve said that it is important to take that final check of your finished work before submitting it.
One of Steve’s key “bugs” was in relation to the title given to the work. He felt that there were some where what he was looking at was not what was expected based on the title. His advice was to make sure your image and title tie together as the title can be taken as part of your finished, presented work and a key part of the photographer’s input. It should not cause any distraction or confusion to the viewer.
Finally, as we closed in on the end of the evening. Steve said he enjoyed many of the images and the textures that can be brought out in monochrome. We had good examples with a sheen on water, detailed clothes and creases and good relfections.
To our top scorers on the night and in our Standard Group, we had five images held back. Our 10+ winner was Kevin B with “STREET CLOWN”
A great example of getting the tones right and having that engagement Steve has referenced in the evening. Congratulations to Kevin!
Others held back were:
This has a very appealing texture and a good range of tones. A well-deserved 10 for Barbara! Great work!
For Steve, this was all about the man making the cigar. It got a 9.50 and one wonders if Steve would have given it the full 10 as he saw it as an example of where the title could have been about the Cigar Maker, thus making us look at the man and see him as the main subject he undoubtedly is. Still, a great image and score for Vince.
Steve gave this a 9 – well done again Vince! Here, our judge was talking about the separation referred to above, e.g. the bottle in the man’s right hand and the brolly behind. I can only imagine it is hard enough to capture such great street images without stopping to think about when or if he moves his hand.
Well done Barbara for a 9 and a second top score. Steve really liked the overall impact of this one, especially how the frothing white water in the middle is framed by the wet rocks surrounding it.
Over in the Advanced Class, we had six held back and our overall winner was David H:
You know your winner when the judge just says “I’m holding that one” and nothing else! Steve praised the character and overall appeal of the farmer. Congratulations David H!
Two other 10s were awarded:
A great example of filling the frame and the title doing its job perfectly for Steve. “This image flows just like the title says” he said. Congrats Martin.
An excellent shot, full of action. Well done Mandy.
Our other held back images were:
A very well-framed shot and each feature is placed so well within it. Congrats again to Martin F.
An example of symmetry and great use of reflections. Well done Philip.
Another well framed image and all of it works well together. Congrats to Mandy once again!
To end; Steve made mention of many images losing their impact on the “big screen” once projected and compared to what he had seen on his own laptop. By the same token, some “came to life” when seen bigger. I would love to know what you think, especially those watching via Zoom. From where I sat, more looked like they had lost something rather than the other way round and I had examples with my own entries that were in both camps. It is tricky and perhaps we need to start with the set SPA Test Image to make sure we have our set-up right from the start of the evening. In the meantime, many thanks for reading.