For the first time ever at Photocraft we had a new category of competition entry – advisory class. This was so that members who are not competitive or new members who are fresh to camera clubs can enter images (anonymously, if they wish) to receive positive, impartial feedback from the judge and advice on how to improve their photography without receiving a score.
Our judge, John Nathan, is an amateur photographer and retired GP, who has been a member of the Royal Photographic Society for over thirty years and a judge for the SPA since 2011. As always, it was refreshing to get the judge’s good and honest views on our images. John said that he looked for three things: i) impact – his gut feeling about the image; ii) composition – the way the image was put together; & iii) technical factors. He felt there were some striking images in the competition. He used a good range of marks with 7 as the lowest score.
John confessed that even he sometimes gets awarded a 5 in his club’s competitions. His message for anyone disappointed by a low score was to try to get over your emotional reactions towards the score and hear the advice the judge is giving as to how the image might be improved. Of course, that’s easier said than done if it’s one of your favourite pictures and it’s true that judge’s opinions can differ!
We much appreciated John’s well-considered and succinct judging and look forward to when we can meet him in person again, rather than just on Zoom.
We had 42 entries tonight: 3 in advisory class; 6 in standard class; & 33 in advanced class.
Images in the advisory class were not marked, so I’m just giving one example that stood out for the judge: ‘Muted’ by Angela J. He felt this was a lovely artistic picture with high impact. There was detail in all the whites and a pleasing catchlight in the eye. and he especially liked the curves – this was good art! Entrants in the advisory class can choose to remain anonymous, but Angela was happy to identify herself as the photographer. She told me afterwards: ‘I’m so used to cropping everything but his critique made me think more about the overall image impact and is definitely going to help me improve and maybe consider the impact of a crop overall’.
The winner in Standard Class was Barbara A, with her picture, ‘Thistle Attraction’. The judge felt this was a lovely picture. It was sharp throughout, on a diagonal, and well-lit. The background was well out-of-focus, so that it didn’t distract at all. He said it was an excellent image, that he would have loved to have taken himself!
Also attracting a score of 10 was ‘Fifty Shades of Wood’, again by Barbara A. The judge liked the image very much, though he thought it might be a little over-saturated, and felt he could feel the richness of the wood. He loved the way it had been taken on the diagonal and the inclusion of the knot.
The winner in Advanced Class was Philip R, with his picture, ‘Heart of the Flower’. The judge felt this was a lovely image and a ‘demonstration of art’. There was detail visible in all the whites, with none of it burnt out. No part of the image dominated him or took him away from the rest of it and virtually the whole of the image was sharp, save a slight softness in the bottom righthand corner.
Also attracting a score of 10 was ‘Springtime in the Pond’, by Mandy B. The judge felt this was a very peaceful, well-balanced image. He loved the use of complementary colours (even extending to the keyline) and the placement of the frog.
Another entry attracting a score of 10 was ‘Common Hawker Male’, by David P. The judge felt this was a brilliant and simple image. The body of the dragonfly was sharp throughout and there was nothing to distract behind it. He noted that it was very difficult to get a picture of a dragonfly in flight (as those of us know, who have ever tried!) and that this was a highly-effective impactful picture.
Yet another entry attracting a score of 10 was ‘Tulip Stairs, Greenwich’, again by Philip R. The judge said he loved this very strong image, for its absolute symmetry or ‘helix’ shape. He felt it was all about shapes, with the stairs going all the way round the edge, different in size and amounts. The image was off-centre, which added to its impact.