This was the third of our four open print competitions this season. Our judge this evening was Sheena Rogers of Dorking Camera Club.

She said that it mattered that our intentions for how the picture should be read have to be clear. If we are not sure ourselves what they are, how can the viewer decipher them, and any uncertainty we may have about why we took the picture will be evident in our composition.

Details that distract from our message need to be toned down or removed so that the viewer is clear what we want them to look at. Also, if the most attractive feature of a picture is its subtle tones and colours, be careful not to shatter the effect by including a jarring slab of rock in it. A careful harmonising of foreground and background makes it obvious what you want the viewer to take from the picture.

A focal point in a picture helps, although that’s not to say that you cannot invite the viewer to ‘romp around’ the picture space instead. However, be careful not to make it too busy as ‘peoples’ tolerance level for busyness can be quite low’.

Although she is new to us, Sheena’s sensitive and perceptive comments on our pictures must have ensured that it won’t be long before we invite her back again.

Congratulations to Joy in Level 1 for her winning shot of a squirrel eating a Yew berry A Nice Little Treat. This ticked all the boxes for a wildlife shot – looking bright-eyed and alive and doing something interesting, with no distractions in the background.

There were three 10s awarded at Level 2, the 10+ going to Dave S. for Shen-Mai. Sheena admitted she had no idea how this had been done or what the scale of this ‘Chinese’ monochrome landscape was but she absolutely loved it.

Mark’s Beached Iceberg’  was a visually stunning image of a hunk of ice on a beach – a natural sculptural marvel backlit by a low sun.

In contrast, Brian’s coastal shot The smooth sea at Portland  was a soft and subtle blend of colour, shape and texture.

Mark’s weekly instructions on the location of the Fire Exits and to muster on the church steps if a fire alarm sounds was put to the test halfway through the evening. Much to our discredit, an orderly evacuation of the hall did not happen. One or two people left but, as it was raining, most stayed put and just sniffed the air for smoke. Anne managed to find some instructions on how to turn it off. Someone said they didn’t think it sounded like the fire alarm – it put me in mind of the classic fire alarm scene from Fawlty Towers.

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