Success In The 3 Way

23rd March 2015
Success in the 3 way competition for Retford - Words by Joy Allison

The annual three way battle between Retford, Axholme and Doncaster TTL clubs attracted around sixty keen photographers. President Alan Burkwood welcomed guests from both clubs and introduced judge Ralph Bennett, the longest serving member of Newark Photographic Club. Alan reported Retford had achieved an excellent eleventh from a field of twenty eight clubs in a knock out competition covering the north of England at Sheffield at the weekend. Russell Nye and Geoff Stoddart were congratulated on achieving the best marks for us.

Each club had submitted nine prints and nine digital images for the battle and Ralph began by judging the prints. He commented on the high quality overall. He claimed not to be a judge who marks between 15 and 20, which he considers gives competitors a false impression of their abilities and declared himself happy to give 8 or below if he feels it is merited, but would always justify it. That said, he reassured the audience that we would not be seeing any marks that low on this occasion, and true to his word, his lowest mark was 14.
The prints spanned a wide range of subjects. There was a good range of subjects including a strong representation of the animal world, landscapes, portraits and night shots.

Over the season our images are judged by a number of different people and it is interesting to hear how each perceives the same image. They can get very different scores under different judges. Ralph echoed other judges this season in enjoying night time images taken while there is still light in the sky, giving an attractive blue glow against which the scene stands out. He looked for areas where the photographer had handled the challenges of the lighting well and retained detail in both in the very lightest and very darkest areas of the image.

Interestingly Ralph compared sports and landscape photography. The former clearly is all about capturing fast moving action, but Ralph suggested that for a great landscape the photographer may have to wait with great patience then react quickly to rapidly changing conditions when the right, dramatic lighting strikes the right part of the view. A previous judge commented that landscape photography is not about the land, but the light falling on the land and the best shots prove this to be very true.

Ralph was very interested in backgrounds, liking diffuse colours in the nature shots, but was also keen that the other elements of the image such as the tree, shrub or perch a bird appeared on should befit the main subject. He addressed the technical issues, pondering where the author had focussed, whether he had used autofocus and the impact this had on the sharpness in certain areas of the image. He suggested that some people want detail throughout the image, but felt himself that this is not always necessary. In common with many judges he likes to see catch lights in eyes and had mixed feelings about borders and vignettes used to frame an image. He also picked up on undue use of saturation to intensify colours.

Ralph held back seven images for further consideration, four of which were Retford's. He reduced these to three, which were all nature shots and finally awarded 20 points to two images from Retford - Alan Townsend's Harvest Mouse and Des Lloyd's Jay, entitled 'In the Pink'.

Following a very quick change of the set-up, the digital images judged. This very varied set of images was previewed, with beach scenes, low light shots, droplets, reflections and aircraft adding to the mix. Each was then considered in depth. In competitions both colour and monochrome images are eligible in one class. The monochrome images shown this evening were mostly in the high contrast, gritty style, which Ralph did not particularly like, especially for landscapes. He noticed a couple of images were clearly composites with elements added or several images combined to produce the whole. He made suggestions on how this might have been done more subtly. Finally a different and effective result prompted Ralph to advise getting our cameras out in the.

Six of the digital images were held back, several of which were low light views of dawn or sunrise. From these an Axholme's entry entitled 'Eastbourne Pier' and Retford's Russell Nye's 'Fishing for Sardine at Dawn' were awarded 20 points.

When the results were added up Retford had won both sections of the battle and as a result emerged winners of the whole evening. Following a discouraging season last year, when Retford had done poorly in competitions, this season has been an exceptionally successful with tonight’s result being the best for some fifteen years. The results were
Prints. DPI. Total
Retford. 163 158 321
TTL. 155 149 304
Axholme. 157 147 294

There will be a chance for the public to enjoy the best images which have been shown during the season alongside images from members who choose not to compete at the Society's annual one day exhibition at Retford Town Hall on Saturday May 9th between 10am and 4pm. In addition to the prints there will digital presentations and a chance to chat with members about their work and the activities of the Society. Make a note of the date. We hope to see you there.