I’m never too sure when a photo is best as monochrome or colour. Some people are able to instantly take stock of a scene and recognise that it calls for monochrome – and set their cameras accordingly. Most of us, I suspect, prefer to shoot in colour and experiment with monochrome in post-production. That way we don’t burn our boats at the outset. But there is potentially another approach. If you have an electronic viewfinder/ LCD screen and set your camera to record JPEG and RAW files, your camera may let you choose to make a black and white JPEG, whilst also recording a colour RAW file. Then you won’t have to imagine what the scene looks like in black and white – that’s what you’ll see on your EVF or LCD. But you will still have the colour-image fallback. This will give you the best of both worlds!

Whichever way this Wednesday’s images were produced, there were plenty of good ones for our judge, Paul Graber, to consider. It was Paul’s second visit to Photocraft. He introduced himself as a monochrome enthusiast whose favourite genres are landscape and birds (the latter of course usually better in colour!). 

The most important question to ask of our entries, he told us, was ‘Why is it monochrome?’. In other words, had we chosen to convert to monochrome for good reasons, such as, to get rid of distractions or to add drama, or simply because we were desperate to put something into the competition? 

Paul especially (mostly) appreciated our penchant for humorous titles. He enjoyed images with a good range of tonality; interesting skies; a lack of clutter; no unnecessary distractions; and, in the case of portraits, connection with the subject’s personality. He least appreciated ‘soot and whitewash’ images – black and white with no intermediate tones. 

I learned a new bit of photographer’s jargon from the judge – JCB. But I’ll demystify that at the end of this blog post…

Tonight’s star entries were:


Overall winner: Alan Marchant – Pot Children

The judge said: ‘The photographer captured this boy extremely well. It’s sharp and he’s looking at you and there’s some personality coming across. There’s the beginning of a story being told here, with the little girl (the top of her head) adding information to the picture. The square format works well.’

Other Level 10: Martin Wilkins – Pub Cat


Overall winner: Graham Simms – My style

The judge said: ‘I love the humorous title. There is certainly some stylegoing on in the photography here. There is some lovely light falling on the stile and making it very much the centre of attention. There’s loads of detail in the sky. It’s a good example of monochrome lending an enormous sense of drama. The picture has got dynamism, lovely light and a good diagonal created by the fence. And it’s been superbly well-processed.’

Other Level 10: Dave Stoneleigh – Rushing Waters

Congratulations to all these very fine entries!

And finally, to put you out of your suspense, if you didn’t already know the meaning of JCB: apparently it means ‘Joe Cornish Boulder’ – a reference to the tendency, on the part of acclaimed photographer, Joe Cornish, to include a boulder in his landscape photography as foreground interest!

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