2016 03 - Digital Portfolio Competition

09th March 2016
Retford & District Photographic Society - Press Release - Joy Allison
9th March 2016
Images by Jasmine Wang and Geoff Stoddart

Digital Portfolio Competition

David Gibbins paid another visit to Retford to judge our digital (DPI) portfolio competition – a class he finds interesting class to judge as each club has a slightly different set of rules to determine the versatility and skill in depth of their members across the photographic range.

Retford asks each person to submit five images, with no more than two of any genre, plus a composite showing all five images together. Even this could be subject to interpretation as one recent judge felt that coastal scenes should be deemed seascapes. We take a more flexible view and class them as landscapes.

There were twelve entries, exhibiting a very wide range of subjects and incorporating both colour and monochrome. The judging began with a quick overview to give everyone an idea of what was in store. There were some very strong images on display and the overall impression was that the standard within the club has clearly improved in recent years.

Dave was a thorough judge who had taken the time to study what we had asked him to do for us and who commented constructively on each image he viewed. He understood that for this class he was not being asked to judge the five images as a cohesive whole, rather to mark the sets to establish the best photography skills across the range shown.

The first set clearly impressed him. A monochrome portrait of a father gazing at his baby, Dave thought was enhanced by the excellent rendition of the child's eyes while the father's were hidden. Next came a female red poll on a branch of blossom. Dave commented although some dismiss 'birds on sticks' he felt it was extremely well done and that the colours of the background were very harmonious, having been thrown well out of focus.
A seascape from Scarborough, although not readily identifiable as from the town, followed and the foreground boulder which caught some lovely light impressed Dave, who said it gave great interest against a glorious sky.

Of a short eared owl in flight across a field of reeds Dave remarked on a slightly distracting leaf. He confirmed that the rules of natural history photography prohibit changing elements of the captured scene. The photographer could not clone it out, but despite this minor criticism he felt the bird had been beautifully captured in a pleasing shape against a background which created a harmonious colour range working well with the owl. The final image of the set was a fairly traditional, but excellently executed winter scene at Twistleton Scar including limestone pavement and a rugged tree set against a moody sky and hills beyond.

Dave clearly liked this set and remarked that each image was equally strong and of great quality. Each would be a strong contender in a class where they were judged individually against other images of their type. He held it back for the final judging. The bar had clearly been set high for the sets which followed.

The next set included two reflection shots featuring statues, an unusual monochrome image and a pattern shot of the underside of a leaf which worked really well. Dave felt these all worked well together, but the fifth shot, a red car, did not have the same strength. A shot of a red and white umbrella through a rain soaked window was well received both for the simplicity of its composition and the technical success of the execution.

Three images from another photographer attracted favourable comments as well as some suggestions, which Dave felt would make a strong image stronger. He particularly liked the feeling of a steam train in a snowy landscape. Unfortunately he felt the remaining two images were less strong but the set still achieved a good mark.

A number of images were singled out for particular praise. Dave loved the way one member had captured a shag in the Farne Islands with the sun bringing out the subtle colours in its plumage. In the same set he admired the way a red deer stag had been photographed in bracken creating a harmonious feel through the colours.

A beautiful image of a kingfisher with its catch prompted Dave to say that in his judging visits to other clubs he has encountered every possible shot of kingfishers in any number of ways diving into or emerging from water, but he still liked this image of the bird at rest. He enjoyed this author’s landscapes, and the image of a hare prompted him to remark that we have some very strong nature photographers in Retford. The set was held back.

A set towards the end of the class included three monochrome images. The first, of Cleethorpes Pier, capitalised on the strong lines created by railings and their shadows. The next image in this set Dave 'absolutely loved'. It was a simple monochrome shot of a woman and a girl a woman on stairs, both facing away from the camera, but the girl in particular was animated by the position of her hand. He felt this was a superb individual image and it was followed by another which he singled out for particular praise. The shot showed a leather worker in his workshop where the lighting conditions had clearly been challenging but had been handled skilfully. Great detail had been captured in this excellent image. The fourth and fifth images in the set were also excellent of their type and they were also held back.

There were some good architectural shots during the evening. The one receiving most praise was a monochrome image of modern buildings in Lisboa Harbour. The lack of colour enhanced the drama of the design.

At the end of the evening Dave had three sets to review. It did not take him long to award 20 points to the first set by Geoff Stoddart, 19 points to Jasmine Wang and 18 points to Des Lloyd.

By Geoff Stoddart RDPS ‘Justin and Freddie’, ‘Female Red Poll’, ‘Scarborough Sunset Shore’, ‘Short Eared Owl’, ‘Twistleton Scar’
By Jasmine Wang RDPS ‘Girl and Woman in Liverpool Art Gallery’ and ‘Leathersmith in Victorian Village’