2017 11 - Competition 2 - Open

25th November 2017
Retford & District Photographic Society - Press Release - Joy Allison
6th November 2017
Second Open Competition

Martin Crump returned to us to judge our second competition of the season. As there was no required theme for this event, there was a wide variety of images. Stuart commented on the strength and diversity of the work presented for him to assess and he soon noticed that we have a particular strength in natural history.

Competitions are divided into three classes – colour prints, monochrome prints and digital images, known as DPIs. Over 60 prints were judged during the first half of the evening, leading Martin commented that we are unusual in producing more print than digital images, of which there were 26.

All judges train for their work and there is general agreement on what makes a good image, but each feels more or less strongly about the elements of style and execution of the work which steers their marking. Martin clearly favours simplicity. He particularly liked work with uncluttered backgrounds which set off the principal subject of the image. As he assessed the entries he commented on how the authors might improve their work and frequently offered tips on how to remove distractions in the background. This can be achieved in camera through lens choice and settings as well as choice of shooting position. It may also be improved in processing by cropping or by darkening distracting areas. Martin had a preference for cropping off areas which he felt did not add to the image and suggested quite a few would be improved by being cropped to a square format.

A consistent theme of Martin’s comments was to get the first image then to look at it and at the scene before you to see if there was a better alternative angle. He suggested taking a number of different views while the opportunity presents itself. Unlike some judges, he did comment that access issues may have constrained the angle chosen by the author, but in general he felt that many of the entries would have been improved by reducing the number of elements in the image.

Martin spoke about the design of the image, pointing out that this occurs at both the capture and processing stages. He picked out elements which attracted him. Ensuring the horizon is off centre, considering what to include and what to exclude, looking for interesting angles, good lead in lines, portrait orientated images in the landscape and different subject matter were all commended. He was impressed with the one Infra-Red image of the night and with night photography images, which he suggested members all try. This was an interesting observation following on from our recent light painting evening as Martin stressed the need to be able to work the camera in the dark, which some of us had discovered was a challenge.

One image showing Jodrell Bank was praised, but Martin felt this was an example where the two primary elements – the radio telescope and a beautiful tree – competed for attention to the detriment of both. Church interiors attracted similar comments as Martin suggested that the carvings they showed were strong enough in their detail to stand alone.

An interesting image of a sculpture prompted Martin to comment on photographing others’ art. This is sometimes quoted as a reason to down mark images of art works, but Martin considered that careful treatment of the image could create a successful interpretation which was more than just a record of the original. In this case the sculpture was covered in rain drops which brought a new dimension to the result.

Martin worked through the selection of works before him, marking each out of 20. He held back the strongest for marking at the end and at after scoring the body of each class returned to these to arrive at the winning entries. In each class he had six images to decide between. He commented that there is normally a variety of images in the final selection, but there were six natural history subjects in the colour class. After careful consideration the top score was awarded to Simon Carr with his amusing close up of a gannett. Simon also did well in the monochrome class, coming joint second with John Heath to Des Lloyd with his night shot of the famous Lancaster plane ‘Just Jane’.

Martin found himself unable to decide between the final two images in the digital class and he awarded top marks to Harold Gay’s Sand Yachts and Mike Vickers’ Wild Glasswing Butterfly.