2016 12 - Competition 3

11th December 2016
Retford & District Photographic Society - Press Release - Joy Allison
8th December 2016
Images by Alan Dibbo, Joyce Bell, Dik Allison, Andrew Paul, Alan Burkwood and Spike Walker

Up Close in Competition

There was a strong attendance of members eager to see what our judge, Peter Yeo, made of the many entries for the third competition of the year. The topic, 'Up Close', had caused members to think hard about their subjects, and this was reflected in the images we saw. When we set the topic many had thought it would simply mean ‘macro’, but when it came to it everyone discovered a wide variety of interpretations.

Peter began by looking at the 31 randomly ordered colour prints. As it turned out, he began with the bar set high as the first image featuring John Heath’s a Honey Bee, was one of his eventual winners. He was concerned in all cases with the image being ‘razor sharp’ where it needed to be. A point he made was that there is a particular skill in achieving this when working very close to the subject. The the depth of field falls off rapidly resulting in the areas only slightly distant from the point of focus becoming soft or fuzzy. A number of entries in the print classes fell into this trap. We heard that getting a little further away and zooming in can be helpful.

There are only so many comments a judge can make when images are constrained by a topic and there is a particular skill in providing the audience with an entertaining evening while also judging the entries. Peter has mastered the art, giving asides about what might have been, his own experiences of similar subjects and the humour in the picture resulting in an enjoyable meeting.

In the colour class Peter picked up on the pleasing tonal ranges in some of the images and in the case of insects - and there were plenty - if the creature had been pictured on its food plant. Having the proboscis in the picture confirmed this. He learned something himself when he asked how we could tell a bloom was, as captioned, ‘Ready for Pollination’. Two members were able to provide the answer in the interval.
Another feature of insects is their compound eyes, and at the magnification we saw it was noticeable that some had managed to capture the whole eye sharp while others had made a poorer choice of settings. Comments on the causes and possible remedies of such shortcomings are a real help to the less experienced members in improving their work.

There are many rules for outside competitions surrounding images featuring natural subjects which include how they are named and what, if any, computer processing is allowed. We try to encourage people to enter and so do not enforce the rigid naming rules, but Peter did feel it was disappointing when a generic name such as 'butterfly' was used in preference to finding out what 'make and model' it was.

A technique called ‘vignetting’, where the corners of the image can be darkened to draw the eye to the central part of a photo, is something which often comes in for criticism if it is badly handled. It was nice tonight to hear several of the authors commended for good use of the technique to the advantage of their prints.

Peter arrived early to look through the prints, while our new on line system had allowed him to view the digital images at home in advance. As each print was displayed he studied it, commented on the good and bad features, picked out points of interest and then gave his mark out of 20. He reserved the best of the images for further consideration viewed together. In all he held back 11.

With all the prints displayed in front of him Peter was quickly able to allocate the higher marks, but found himself unable to choose between the final four, which were declared joint winners. These were the first image shown, John Heath’s ‘Honey Bee’; Alan Dibbo’s ‘Tulip’ – an unusual shot of the flower which Peter had remarked was not only superbly photographed, but superbly printed; Joyce Bell’s ‘Amaryllis Bloom’ – strangely taken in a similar style to Alan’s, and Paul Lancaster’s ‘Reloading’ which was an entirely different type of image showing a still life composition with a shotgun and cartridge.

The next class was for monochrome images and followed a similar pattern. If anything there was even more diversity in the subjects which ranged from highly magnified close up shots of the detail in a torch and a carving to a Vulcan bomber at close quarters.

Our club is strong in nature photography but judges can be critical of natural subjects presented as black and white. Peter felt showing colourful subjects in this class was a waste of their potential and marked them down. He was happy to see a heron exhibited as the bird itself is black and grey.

There were 19 entries in this class and from these 7 were held back for the final judging. Again Peter was efficient in marking these and this time one winner emerged in Andrew Paul with his ‘Carving Detail’, which Peter had described as well-handled and very sharp.

The third and final class of the night was for digital images viewed projected on screen. Peter had previewed them before the meeting had remarked on the excellent quality overall. A perennial problem is whites in the picture being overexposed and on this occasion very few had fallen into this trap.

In this class the interpretation of the topic was stretched to its extremes with an entry showing the craters of the moon and two others taken through a microscope. One of these, featuring a ‘Northern Rat Flea Male’, gave Spike Walker 20 points with his first competitive entry with us. Joint winner with Spike was our President, Alan Burkwood, who is having a very good season. He entered two images in the class and both were awarded the coveted 20 points. They were a group of fungi entitled ‘Glistening Ink Cap’ and ‘Heavy Metal’ - a close up of a steam engine part.

Dik Allison RDPS Colour Finalists 5th Dec
Alan Dibbo RDPS Tulip
Joyce Bell RDPS Amaryllis Bloom
Dik Allison RDPS Mono Finalists 5th Dec
Andrew Paul RDPS Carving Detail
Spike Walker RDPS Northern Rat Flea Male
Alan Burkwood RDPS Heavy Metal
Alan Burkwood RDPS Glistening Ink Cap