Competition 3 - "Working" press release

12th December 2014
Press release written by Joy.

Working Photos

The Society held its third and most challenging competition of the season recently on the theme of ‘Working’. All the submissions expected to portray some ‘working’ in some way. Members were not deterred and judge Allan Rowsell had his work cut out to select between the 110 entries in three categories.

Two large piles of prints awaited Allan’s preliminary look. He began judging with the larger pile – the 43 colour prints. He commented that some members had stretched the interpretation of the theme almost too far while others had it spot on with the depiction of ‘working’ filling the frame. This category produced a wide range of subject taken in many parts of across the world, including street markets in India, at sea in Croatia and in the fields of middle England.

In pointing out the need to clearly depict the specified topic, Allan returned to a consistent theme of this year – cropping. In capturing an image it may not be possible to move in closer to fill the frame with the main subject, but this can be achieved to a very large extent by cropping the final image on the computer. It is particularly important when the competition has a set theme as otherwise outstanding photographs may contain a lot of irrelevant elements in relation to that theme. Allan drew attention during the evening to a number of such images which would have placed and scored highly in natural history or landscape competitions, but which did less well under the rules on the night because they had only a tenuous relationship to the theme. In others, although the theme was there, it was only a tiny part of the image.

Members are particularly good at throwing their backgrounds out of focus when taking natural subjects, but this skill seemed to have deserted many on this occasion as Allan commented several times that the background was busy and confusing, creating a distraction rather than giving emphasis to the main subject. He also drew attention to areas where more separation of the key image from the background and removing / darkening the bright areas of background would improve the result.

Eight images were held back for further consideration, of which four were awarded 18 points for joint third place. Lesley Wilson, John Heath and Russell Nye achieved 19 points for joint second place and the winner was Geoff Stoddart’s outstanding photo of a working Springer Spaniel with 20 points.

The pile of monochrome prints was only slightly smaller. This style presents the photographer with different challenges as it requires careful management of the tones, patterns and contrast in the image as well as the overall light levels and general composition, all within the limits of the topic for the competition.

Again Allan drew attention to the impact of moving in close to ensure the depiction of ‘working’ was large in the frame. Monochrome tends to lend itself to grittier scenes and this category included architecture, industrial landscapes and steam trains.

Allan held back only three prints from this section, awarding Joyce Bell 18 points for ‘On the Footplate’, Liz Tilstone 19 points for ‘Sand Raker’ and Des Lloyd first place with 20 points for ‘Making Steel’.

The 38 Digitally Projected Images (DPIs) were the third class to be judged. Many of Allan’s comments on these were similar to those for the earlier classes. He particularly noted pure white areas where bright light had ‘burned out’. Preventing this while retaining the necessary light in the rest of the image is one of the skills which sets apart the best photographers. Some members had particular challenges in this area, having taken their photos overseas in very strong sunlight and were commended for their good handling of the conditions while others were given constructive critique.

Allan applauded the depiction of movement in the blurring of moving elements of the image against sharp depictions of static elements. This applied equally to machinery and live subjects such as street musicians. He commented on good use of reflections to add impact to images and also on the creative effects which authors had used. One such, John Smith’s image of boats on the shore line, scored very well.

Ten digital images were held back and four of these scored 18 points. Gee White, Cyril Bateman and John Smith plus Ben Searson with two different images scored 19 points. The winning score of 20 points was awarded to Alan Burkwood with ‘The Shunter’