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Internal Competition, Round of 2021/22 Season.
By Robert D Wilkinson
Posted on 6/1/2021 11:00 PM

For our opening Round of the new Season, we were still restricted to meeting through technology, and sharing digital images only.  Here’s hoping that by September, we can be back together in the Hall looking at prints as well.   This Round was "Open" meaning there was no set theme. 

Our judge was Paul Burwood, LRPS CPAGB BPE2*, which looks a bit like a Blockchain code, but which Paul deciphered at the request of our Chair in his introduction.  I refer you to the recording of the event if you really need to know what it all stands for. 

Paul started by praising the overall high standard and variety of the 55 images that members had submitted.  Qualities he looks for in an image are creativity, and how it conveys emotion and  impact.   The technical approach used in creating the image , he said, was less important than the effect the image had on the viewer and its success in telling a story. 

Providing an impressively thorough review of each image, given the time available, Paul provided some practical tips to improving the chances of attaining a good score in a competition:

  • Use titles or captions that help to make it clear what story the image is trying to convey, or which direct the viewer to the main subject
  • Look out for and eliminate dust spots and other blemishes
  • Where images have dark edges and are to be displayed against a dark background, use a fine “key line” to indicate the edge of the frame
  • Avoid distractions in the background, by toning down patches of bright colour, by paying attention to the edges and corners of the frame
  • Ensure that horizons and verticals are properly straight and use processing tools to correct distortions such as converging vertical lines in architectural shots

For many of our images, Paul made suggestions about cropping:  for example, to reduce areas of little pictorial interest, to remove distracting elements, and to place the horizon in a more interesting place.  Where leading lines led to or from the corners of an image, that would be a good point to crop in to. He was relaxed about cropping resulting in non-standard aspect ratios, and encouraged us to experiment with different sizes and shapes, particularly the “letterbox” format for landscapes.   

Paul identified where photographers appeared to be following some of the familiar “rules”, such as use of leading lines and the rule of thirds, whilst pointing out that it was sometimes breaking the rules that created more impact.  He suggested that a compositional guideline of including three main objects in an image worked well, and highlighted this in some of our pictures.

Members were praised for taking the decision to convert to Black and White where it suited the mood or the subject of the image.  He suggested that some of the architectural shots in particular benefit from monochrome treatment. Where we used colour, Paul seemed to favour the use of natural colours rather than the “overcooked” effects brought about by a lot of processing.  Another effect he did not seem to enjoy was where an image looked as if it had been given “HDR” treatment. 

Paul enjoyed submissions that used unusual viewpoints, “looking up” and “looking down” and one or two that made use of “negative space” to emphasise the subject. 

A number of images were “held back” for further review and these achieved the highest marks on a scale up to 20.  Of these, maximum scores were recorded by:

  • Hilary Barton for “Nuthatch”
  • Nick Bowman, for “Canary Wharf Kaleidoscope”
  • Keith Cavanagh for both of his submissions:  “Singing Sands in Scotland” and “Rockpool Radiance”

Their images are included here. 

You can see all the entries in the newest Gallery on our website.

We are planning to provide an opportunity for members to share comments on their own and each other’s entries, as we did last Season.  As soon as we have set up that platform, we’ll let you know. 

The second Round will be held on 7th September 2021.  The theme is “Abandonment.”   A guideline for the theme is already on the Competitions Page of the Society’s Website.    

Please keep an eye on the website for more information closer to the date, in particular as to whether we will be able to meet together and share prints as well as digital images.   

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