There has been one very enjoyable and consistent element throughout these online club evenings which is that when we are left to our devices and hold an in house “Club Night”, the level of engagement and interaction between members has been excellent!

Our “Ask the Judge” evening on Wednesday 27th May was no exception with 11 members having their work viewed and appraised by our very own Senior SPA Judge, Martin F.

As Martin had explained in the last club email, he saw the evening as an opportunity for members to share a bit about themselves and their photography and I think we can safely say that he hit the target with conversations that we all enjoyed.

Opening the evening was Martin W and he told us that his main passion is street photography, especially around London. Unsurprisingly, this was not possible at the moment and so Martin admitted it can be hard to be motivated but once we are all able to get out and about, he will be back!

David P made an impact with a great monochrome and two other very different images and quietly told us that he had been a biologist! Who knew? He also informed the crowd that he was not a fan of landscape photography – but he is clearly good with his creative view, whatever the subject in front of his lens.

Alfred also showed three quite different images and made it clear that it is monochrome that he enjoys the most. He also kept the lenses used down to just the wide-angle and the zoom, so offering the viewer different aspects from what the human eye is used to seeing – oh, he doesn’t put cows into his work either! Martin F had high praise for Alfred’s work as we shall see later.

Dave S then gave Martin F a surprise by choosing images atypical to his usual style. It was interesting to listen in to the conversation and gain some further insight into the judge’s eye for what works as Martin gave his thoughts on one of Dave’s photographs – this having been taken using the inbuilt “blur” effect on his Olympus. Many would like the creative effect but was it overdone? An interesting question.

Alan M took us to many places with his choices and all three warranted a view. The most striking we can see later but I think it was interesting to hear Alan ask to know what he could do to enhance one of his photographs. We all want to know what we can do to make the picture better but it can be hard to ask directly.

Chris R was an advocate of the “technical” aspects and like others before him offered three totally different styles, one of which we can enjoy below. His editing work did raise a comment from Martin and again, it was insightful knowing that there are times when editing could be deemed as “too much”.

Finally, in part one, we ran through my three. The one I chose to have critiqued was based on it being an image that many of my friends and family have said they like. “Good” you might think…but does that make it the right kind for the judge’s eye? Apparently not it seems…some issues over the placement of the eye of the subject and not enough at the top of the image. I found those points made me look again and maybe a crop is in order…

After the break, we gave the remainder of the evening over to those “newer” members, all of them extremely accomplished photographers in their own right but effectively getting underway in the camera club environment.

Anita took centre stage to commence this part of the evening and who could not have been swept along by her sheer passion and exuberance! Her description of how she felt on top Mount Etna at sunset was marvellous and her second image was a great example of taking on board the comments from the judge in a competition environment – the changes making this one that we can enjoy below.

DJ had two portrait images but they were quite different and he gave us a fascinating insight into the impact of how his first one makes him feel. Another perfect example of what a single photograph can do. DJ also acknowledged that the title one gives the image can inhibit as well as add to the impact and there was some good commentary on this aspect. Some judges get it, others don’t but the author can use the power of the words to create something that adds to the impact of the picture or conversely cause confusion if the title is not “seen” within the photograph.

Angela had been very patient and explained that she was building up her portrait work. She gave us two wonderful monochrome images that Martin clearly enjoyed and there was a very positive feel to Martin and his encouragement of Angela to pursue this style – she has it!

To end, we had Gill M. Now, Gill has a camera but, like many others, it is the phone that gets used first when it comes to taking the picture. Her work was visually exciting and indeed Martin paid her a great compliment in describing her opening image as “one from a travel brochure”. You could almost hear Gill working out if that was good or bad to hear. Gill, it is very good! Indeed, Martin made it clear that Gill has that elusive “creative eye”.

It was very good of Martin to undertake the evening and we are most grateful for his time and thoughts – everyone again left with something to think about. And whilst we were not in a competitive environment, it was right to have Martin share his personal favourites from the evening. And so we have his commendations, being the following:

CHRIS R – OXFORD BY BIKE – Chris waited for something to come into the frame and the cyclists arrived right on cue! The black and white conversion also adds to this image.

ALAN M – IT’S A LONELY LIFE – Alan saw this lone figure looking out of the window whilst down below there was a street fair taking place. The colours here also give this image a real punch.

ANITA G – ICELAND – Anita had enjoyed a trek over the ice and couldn’t resist capturing this moment, despite the “rules” saying not to get your cameras out. It’s a great capture of the light with the figures and shadows perfectly placed.

ANGELA J – GOLD TONE – Angela attended a local festival and approached this chap to ask to take his picture. There is real strength in the image and the expression on the face, with the instrument giving us the title of the photograph.

And finally, Martin’s overall favourite from the work seen is:


There are many things to observe in this image; the fact that all the people are oblivious to them being the subjects of anything but the photos being taken by the phones; the great poses of the family on the right; the refections in the water and the flat, clean lighting where you might expect harsh sunlight given the seaside setting.

Martin F offered his opinion that this image is very reminiscent of that great photographer of everyday British life, Martin Parr. Alfred was quite rightly flattered and sent me the following two images taken by Martin Parr – spot the similarities!!

Copyright for the above two photographs: Martin Parr

So thank you to all the above that put their work under the spotlight and thanks again to Martin F for giving us his respected views and for drawing out many interesting insights into what makes us photographers.

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