Friday, 23 March 2018

Match-an-Image Competition at Cheam 21st March 2018

To call a Match-an-Image competition a ‘Bun fight’ is a bit of an understatement. Gone was the button-lipped silence of our normal club competitions: instead the poor judge, Steve Lawrenson ARPS APAGB of Reigate Photographic Society, had to withstand a constant barrage of heckling abuse from the audience, two thirds of whom understandably disagreed with his adjudications. But it felt great to let rip like this and subject a judge to the kind of emotional torment they often put us through, and, give him his due, Steve took it all in very good spirit, pretending sometimes to be swayed by one team or another, then changing his mind again.

The occasion was a three-way Match-an-Image competition at Cheam Camera Club where we pitted ourselves against the host club and Carshalton Camera Club. Each club took turns to lead with an image and the other two had to display one within 30 seconds that matched it in some way. The lead club scored a point automatically, then a point for a successful ‘match’ in the judges opinion. A further point was awarded to the best image projected, providing the judge had declared it a match.

We started off good, scoring the maximum available two points in 6 out of the first 10 rounds. By round 26 and the tea break, we were 3 points ahead of our nearest rival. By the end of the evening and after a gruelling 51 rounds, we slipped back a little. Nevertheless PhotoCraft won the contest with 63 points, a point ahead of each of our rivals. Getting good at this aren’t we?

So congratulations everyone as this was very much a team effort. Thanks to the many of you who offered your pictures to use. We had plenty to make our final selection from. The selection was made by Mandy, Dave S and myself who tried to get the best balance of subject matter, matching difficulty and image quality to optimise our chances of winning. We included at least one picture from everyone who sent some when choosing the 60 required. Only 51 were actually used, so if you didn’t see any of your own, they would have been among the 9 that didn’t see the light of day.

Mark managed to get this shot of PhotoCraft members returning to their seats after a punch-up with the Carshalton supporters sitting next to us (a couple of bloodied noses but no bones broken :x)...

An impressive 20+ of you turned up to add your voices to the ruckus. Thank you for your support on an evening I’m sure was enjoyed by everybody. Thanks also to Mark for masterminding the event and for his sterling performance at the laptop on the night, and to Brian G for kindly lending us his projector screen.

Friday, 9 March 2018

7 March | Monochrome PDI Competition

Most competition judges have an oft-repeated mantra. Eddie Hyde came clean right at the start about his: the best images are the simplest ones, pictures that are no more complicated than they need be. As we soon realised, this is what drove his judging. During the course of the evening he gave so much good advice that we didn’t notice we were running out of time. Heavy vignettes seemed to be very popular with entrants this time – just a bit too heavy in most cases: less sometimes is more! 

The Level 1 winner was Kevin Brookes, with his ‘Barn Owl’ image. The judge felt this was ‘beautifully simple, very strong and very striking’. He loved the fact that it was ‘lovely and sharp’ and had ‘fantastic catch lights in the eyes’. 

Kevin Brookes said this about his winning entry:

I took this photograph during a visit to a falconry centre about five years ago, since when it has sat in my computer. Despite several revisits I could never quite get the picture that I felt was there. Having not entered a monochrome competition since last March, and feeling a little left out, I decided to experiment converting the Barn Owl into a B&W picture.
The original photo was shot with a Canon 400D with kit lens, exposure: f6.7 at 1/180sec; ISO 400.
The conversion to B&W was carried out in Photoshop Elements. It was heavily cropped and there was some tinkering with the lighting controls, (I cannot remember what, simply played with sliders until I was happy with the result). It was just an experiment. Submitted in hope.
On the night It was eventually up against three very good landscapes, and I was stunned when it was given top spot. I am now going through my collection with renewed enthusiasm to see if I have any more pictures worth ‘experimenting’ with.
I don’t have any particular favourite subjects but I am drawn toward landscapes and animals, (providing they stay in frame long enough).

The Level 2 winner was Graham Simms, with his ‘Lakeland Fence’ image. The judge especially liked the ‘lovely moody sky… acting as a frame to the fence’. He felt this was a ‘nice and simple’ image – a ‘very effective piece of landscape photography’. 

Graham Simms said this about his winning entry:

I liked the graphics of the fence jutting into the lake, particularly with the side lighting. It was in November at about midday; the sun was not particularly high. I was set up in the lake, in about 2 feet of water, to get the perspective I was after.

It was taken on a Nikon D7500 with a 16-80 at 20mm, f/16, ISO 100 and 6.0 secs, with a little stopper (6 stops) to remove any distraction of small waves on the surface and to get some movement in the clouds.

The image was post processed in LR to crop (cropped about 25% from the left. The right not cropped) and I put a gradient on the top half to darken the clouds and hill. It was than ‘refined’ using Silver Efex 2 to bring out the detail in the fence rails and dry stone wall by sharpening using control points.

I don’t really have a favourite subject but tend to stick to landscapes as you are less likely to offend people, which is my worry with street photography, which I would like to do much more of.