A healthy submission to this our 2nd PDI competition of the season comprising 10 at Standard Class and 40 at Advanced. It was good to welcome back Marie-Ange Bouchard ARPS CPAGB, a highly respected judge on the SPA circuit from Tandridge Photographic Society.

Marie-Ange was helpfully constructive with her comments on the Standard CIass entries but -ramped up the critical pressure on the Advanced on the assumption they knew what they are doing Hmm… Her comments were pretty fair I felt, although it’s true to say that there is a subjective aspect to appreciating pictures that no judge can compensate for. Images that worked for me didn’t work so well for her and vice versa but we all respond differently don’t we?

Impossible obviously to summarise everything she said so I will just comment on a few of her recurring themes.

With several pictures she said the subjects lacked ‘engagement’, something she saw as important in photos of people. A few weeks ago, I found a copy of Exposures, a marvellous collection of black and white portraits by Jane Bown. Jane took portraits of famous people for The Observer over 6 decades and had an ability to capture the essence of a personality in a single shot. The book contains 113 portraits and I thought it would be interesting to count the number where the subject showed ‘engagement’ – either by looking directly at the camera/photographer, or engaging in some other way with someone else in the picture. 45 were engaged by this definition, just 40% of the total. So  overt engagement is not an essential requirement of all successful portrait photography.

Marie-Ange urged us to be on ‘Border Patrol’ when editing our photos. In other words, to take care to look around the edges of our pictures and check that we haven’t left any floating distracting bits that need to be cloned out. Good advice that lost marks on otherwise excellent pictures.

Still on the subject of borders, she commented throughout the evening on the use of key lines in PDIs so I’m going to offer some thoughts on these.

The first decision you need to make is whether to add a key line at all. This is a question of personal taste. If the picture is light around the outside, you may not need one. If it is dark around the edge, a key line will help separate it from the black background, if that’s what you want.

A key line is part of the ‘body language’ of an image so don’t underestimate how helpful it can be in getting your message across. You may want a dark image to drift off into the darkness of the black space of the background without defining itself. A warning though, judges on the whole seem to prefer the idea that you know where your image ends so that this should be made quite clear. In other words all images have to be encapsulated and self-containing. I don’t think this has to be true for every image; it depends on what you are trying to convey.

Simple key lines are easy to add in Photoshop. Make sure you resize your image to PDI size BEFORE you add a key line. Then you can be sure that say a 1 pixel line is truly 1 pixel in width. Select the whole image (keyboard shortcut Ctrl A). Go to drop down menu Edit/Stroke. In the dialogue box, enter the width of the line in pixels, then select Location/Inner to place the stroke on the inside of the border. Then select the colour you want. This can be sampled from the image if you like using the Eyedropper tool, or choose another foreground colour by clicking on the colour patch and use the Color Picker. Click OK and the line will appear.

A pure white key line can be a bit of a distraction, particularly if it is thick, so beware of that. Taking the edge off of the tone can help, or using a tint complementing a colour from the picture. Or you may consider using a bold brightly coloured line as a creative element in the picture.

A brilliant example of this is Kevin’s winning image in the Standard Class Anticipation. This was another example of Kevin’s wit and clever imagination. Marie-Ange said that this was the first time she’d had to judge a picture containing a bra. Including only part of the brand name reminded me of ‘Sch… you know who’.

Congratulations to him for that and for Plucking Up Courage awarded 9.5.

Well done too for the two 9s in this Class.

Barbara for Fallen Leaves

And Geoff N for Water Lily Kew

There were two 10s awarded in the Advanced Class, the 10+ for Portrait by David A

And the other to Mandy for Robin feeding fledgling.

There were two 9.5s in this Class, one by Rosh Pelican with fish

and the other by Brian with No. You go in first!

Finally, there were three 9s. The Tulip Stairs by Chris

A flying Leap by Mandy

And Moth orchid (infrared) by David P.

A very entertaining and instructive evening and we will look forward to seeing Marie-Ange at the club again soon.

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