2017 12 - Competition 3 - Past Its Best

07th January 2018
Retford & District Photographic Society - Press Release - Joy Allison
7th December 2017
Themed Competition

Many Retford members enjoy our internal competitions when they submit their images for the opinion of an external judge. Last year, after some discussion, it was agreed that we would have only one of our single image competitions with a theme, though some had argued strongly that we should have two. Some members feel that having a theme pushes people to extend their skills by working in styles they are not naturally drawn to. The view was also advanced that having a theme results in poorer quality images precisely because people are working outside their comfort zone. While stretching ourselves may be good for our development as photographers, the latter view was rather a taste of things to come as the judge considering our efforts in our third competition of the year pulled no punches.

We welcomed Bill Hall, a member of Rolls Royce Camera Club – one of the best in the country and indeed the world. He admitted to suffering from ‘man ‘flu’, but this was clearly not entirely to blame for his view of a good number of our efforts. All images are judged out of 20, and many judges mark almost entirely from 16 upwards so that competitors are unused to receiving lower marks than this. Bill has been before and we should have remembered that he believes in spreading out the marks to give more differentiation between those who are at the better end of the scale and those who have more work to do. This he did, bringing out a rather painful score of 11 on a couple of occasion.
The truth to take away from the evening was that even when there is a theme, the usual rules apply. Photographers need to think about isolating their subject from the background and making it prominent in the image. Our theme of ‘Past its Best’ did not, perhaps, lend itself to attractive images overall, but even with this as the guideline some clearly did a better job than others of producing an image with impact.

Bill commented on ‘ 5’6” images ‘ – i.e. images taken by simply lifting the camera to the eye and clicking. Taking the time to walk around and choose the best vantage point to achieve an uncluttered background, thinking about a higher or lower shooting position and getting the technical issues of depth of field and focus right apply whatever the circumstances and paying heed to them will improve any image. The light is a factor which makes or breaks photographs. Out of doors the photographer is less in control than with a studio or indoor shot, but it is still possible to boost the subject by use of fill in flash. If the day is dull and lifeless – a description Bill applied to some images – maybe it is better to try again another day. If this is impossible then maybe consign that idea to history and try with another subject on a better day.

Some of the improvements can be brought about in postproduction or, indeed, before the shot is ever taken. Simply clearing debris which spoils the shot, removing obscuring features if this can be safely and legally done and looking around the image frame to see if there is anything there which could be excluded to the benefit of the result are things we should all be doing. If something slips through it may be possible to crop it out or clone it out later. Various images received comments along these lines. Bill’s mantra for the night seemed to be ‘lack of photographer input’.

On the positive side, he did find some shots to his liking. In the first class, for colour prints, he held back 6 prints for further consideration together at the end. From these he awarded three a score of 17 and his top three received 18, 19 and 20 respectively. Congratulations to Harold Gay, who won with his ‘Old Truck Ryolite’. This will have been some consolation after a rather lower mark for his other entry in the class.

The Monochrome class was smaller with 17 entries compared to 30 for the colour class. Only four of these were held back. Joyce Bell is to be particularly congratulated on winning with ‘Old Shack in the Woods’ but also scoring 16 with her ‘Forgotten Corner’. Joyce is becoming one of our more accomplished monochrome photographers.

The 29 digital entries produced 4 held back with George Hodgson emerging triumphant with his view of ‘Industrial Demise’.

The full results were:
Colour Prints
First: Harold Gay with Old Truck Ryolite*
Second: Alan Dibbo with A Few Digits Missing
Third: Barry Inman with Left to Nature

Monochrome Prints
First: Joyce Bell with The Old Shack in the Woods*
Second: Des Lloyd with Gone Fishing
Third: Pat Oaks with Old News

Digitally Projected Images
First: George Hodgson with Industrial Demise*
Second: Ben Searson with One Careful Owner
Third: Neil Brownley with Past its Best