May Competition: Results Black & White Photography

Judge:  Wendy Kerr


As I said at the beginning of my presentation on this subject, I am no expert in the field of black and white photography. The comments I have made on each photograph submitted for the competition, are based on the knowledge I have gained over the past few years, while I continue to improve my own skills.

I am in total awe of the quality of the some of the images and feel honoured to have the opportunity to critique them. I make no apologies for the number of highly commended in the experienced section.

Beginners Section.

Above the Wall. Rosie

A good effort, but would benefit from a slight straightening of the horizon. Cropping too would improve it, by taking out the wall on the left and some of the sky, giving a better “Rule of Thirds ‘result. Although this is the beginners section, some simple post processing such as an increase in clarity, and a little lightening of highlights and shadows might help.

In Need of TLC Rosie

This has some good points, in that the black and white enhances the detail of the buildings and terrain in front of them. However, the lamp post is distracting. If it were possible to take it from a different angle (such as the middle of the road, subject to traffic!) the buildings would become the focal point.

Road to Nowhere Rosie

Nice sharp image with a good depth of field. The road to nowhere is a good leading line into the centre of the picture to the mountain, which gives further interest. Crop to exclude the lamp post and some of the sky would enhance it, particularly as there is not much contrast in the sky.

Shadow in Water Bowl Richard Holmes

A good effort. Using black and white increases the contrast to show the cracked glaze in the bowl. The white corner on the bottom left hand side is distracting. It might be difficult to remove it, so a white vignette might work.

The Wall Ingrid

This is a great black and white shot, showing textures, shapes, lines, all good components. The centre, slightly raised stone adds a focal point. Nevertheless, I wonder if a different angle might add a bit more interest if it showed what this was part of?

Palm Mosaic in El Roque – Highly Commended Richard Holmes

Excellent image, with an almost 3D effect. The palm tree could be on the wall, or free standing. Lots of contrast and texture in the different stones in the wall, and a dark sky to set it all off. This image works really well in monochrome. The only minor distraction is the washing line on the roof, but it is minimal.

Sunday Rain – 3rd Place Ingrid

A lovely atmospheric shot. Good composition with the dark clouds, and trees on either side of the picture providing a natural frame. The road is a good leading line into the centre of the image, with the wet road and dark sky adding to the overall effect. Its a perfect subject for monochrome. The only suggestion I would offer is to lighten up the shadows and highlights a bit to reveal some detail in the trees, and contrast in the clouds. Clarity too would enhance it, but I am aware that this is the beginner section.

Ivy Seed Head – 2nd Place Richard Holmes

A beautiful macro shot, perfect in monochrome. Its a little soft, but that probably enhances it. In colour you would not see so much detail, but in black and white its absolutely right.

Holy Building – 1st Place Ingrid

Well deserved first place image. Its a stunning shot, with everything right. The angle looking up, giving a sense of height and and the sheer magnificence of the building. The peaks of the architecture draw the eye upwards, taking in the detail of the stonework. The lighting providing a contrast as it towers up to the black sky. Perfect.

Intermediate Section

Caleta Castle Sarah Colby

An interesting view, the kiln on the right hand side is a bit distracting. However, the rest of it works well in monochrome, as it brings out the textures and different shades of the rocks. I like the curve with its contrasting light coloured stones. The cloud detail adds interest

Clouds Keith Dawson

The clouds work well in this image, as the focal point. But, the harbour detail is too dark, and distracts from the clouds. If the clouds are to remain as the important feature, it might be worth cropping out some of the harbour, and add a gradient filter to bring out the cloud detail, and increase the highlights, shadows and clarity of the rest. Good try though.

Friends Gwynn

Maybe not the best subject for black and white as it has come out a bit greyscale. There is not a lot of contrast, which would give a bit more impact, and maybe a different angle might be better.

Happy Couple Keith Dawson

Nice shot, clear and sharp with relaxed subjects. It might be improved by cropping it to make it a true head and shoulders image. Also a cleaner background, without texture, and the use of a lower f-stop to keep the sharpness of the features but blur some of the background might enhance it. Lovely portrait though.

Still Gwynn

Again maybe not a good subject, as there is too much distraction with the post box and? meter box. Focusing on one or two, at most, of the figures might work.

La Fonda Sarah Colby

A nice shot, lots of contrast and the shadows create a lovely summery atmosphere. A letterbox crop would highlight the cafe and remove distracting features.

Bajaar –Commended Sarah Colby

Fantastic shot, good depth of field and great contrast. Its an image that works really well in monochrome. A slight crop to take out some of the area at the bottom of the picture and a little of the detail on the left might improve it.

Street Lamp Andy Cambell

An image that might have worked better if there was just a bit more light around, just before the sun disappeared. It would have avoided the over exposure of the lamp, and the coastline in the background would have shown up more. Also, a different angle putting the lamp post more to one side might have worked, as would straightening the horizon.

White Light – 3rd Place Gwynn

This is deservedly in third place as technically it is perfect and very clever. However, I think this type of light painting needs colour, but that is a totally personal view, feel free to disagree!

Hollingworth Lake – 2nd Place Keith Dawson

A lovely tranquil image, giving a sense of calm. Great composition with the four little boats looking as if they are off for a trip on their own – no humans needed! There is such a lot to catch your eye, the little boathouse, the cars on the road at the rear of the image, the birds on the boats. The vignette sets it all off, it has a real vintage feel – fantastic. If I where to offer one piece of constructive criticism it would be to lighten the whites very slightly to give a touch more contrast, but not much.

Corralejo Sea Front – 1st Place Andy Cambell

My perfect picture, I am very envious. This is a superb shot and has all the elements needed for stunning black and white photography. Great contrast with the dark sky and white buildings. Lovely cloud detail, the wide sweep of the beach, and the darker sea providing texture. Maybe take out the little bit of quay, down on the right hand side, but only by taking a bit from the bottom. You need to keep the width, to enhance the extent of the sand. Well done.

Experienced Section

Airport Tony Jones

A nice classic shot of inside the airport terminal. Good leading lines, and the black and white enhances the roof detail

Boat House Ken Johnson

I wonder if a different angle (if possible) would improve this image, to give a better view of what appears to be a boathouse in a field? The sky could do with a bit more contrast, and the image straightened.

Chinon Ken Johnson

A nice shot with lovely reflections, however I would crop out the bottom to enhance these and reduce the distraction of the shore line. Possibly crop down the left hand side a little, without reducing the overall view too much. Lovely contrasts, but may be a graduated filter on the sky would give even more contrast.

Fish Traps Helen

A lovely photo, well-balanced, good composition and it tells a story. It may need straightening a little? Lots of contrast, textures and nice detail.

Just Another Day at the Office Neville Wright

A brilliant portrait, the eyes say it all. Good shallow depth of field which gives a nice blurred background, emphasising the character. Lots of texture and contrast.

Lady at the Window Ken Johnson

Such a nice photo, the composition, the light falling on the lady’s face, and her hand on the window sill. It tells a story- what is she thinking? Is the weather nice? When is ….coming home? Great

Off to the Ferry Helen

A great piece of street photography. There is lots going on, it is nice and sharp and the birds eye view angle used works well. In monochrome, I think the individuals stand out, the two in hat wearers at the front, the ice cream eaters behind, the parents and pushchair. The kiosk too, with its advert for steam train tickets. A typical summer day in Devon.

Mothers Love Cambell Kidd

I am not sure that this works, as the artwork itself is very colourful, and that is part of its charm. The background has too much detail and detracts from the focal point. It might have worked if the photo was taken in close up, using just head and shoulders or only part of the figure.

Parasol Retreat Cambell Kidd

Nice photo with good contrast, but I am not sure that the angle works well.

Shipwrecked Cambell Kid

I think this needs a tighter crop so that the boat is really the main focal point. Highlights and shadow lightening might improve it, with some stronger contrast in the sky, using a gradient filter.

Southern Cross John Verlander

A nice view, but there is a bit too much distracting detail, such as the cable car’s tracks.

The same view from a different viewpoint, without the cable cars, might be better. A nice sharp image.

Tall Stories John Verlander

A great image, lovely perspective of an interesting subject. I think its a little dark, and if the lighter areas on the building were even lighter it would give a much better contrast.

Upstairs Looking Down Duncan Gray

Fantastic shot. the only observation I would make is that a bit more overall increase in light would accentuate the staircase more, as its all a bit dark, but I am just being picky! Perfect in every other way.

Windmill Alan

Nice content, but It needs a bit of tweaking. The dark foreground areas would be better if lightened up to show some detail. Maybe using a curves adjustment as the clouds too would add a better contrast if the whites were upped a bit.

Three Wheeling John Verlander

Lovely photo with shadows, and contrasting detail. The main focal point, the ‘wheels, and sportsman on them’ stand out well against the background. Cropping to exclude the pavement at the top, and some of the space around the rider would add more impact.

Up and Over Down Under Neville Wright

This is a great shot, with atmosphere, and inclusion of amazing architectural detail. The people on the bridge give emphasis to the enormity of the structure. Love it!

Quay Side Helen

Lovely sharp image, although, I am not sure about the composition. I think the fishing net overpowers the image.

Reflections Tony Jones

This is a lovely photo, great reflections, nice composition. Its just a pity that there isn’t much detail in the sky, but we can’t arrange nature to suit our photos, I guess.

Repeated Patterns Alan

Nice shot, great composition almost perfect. My only comment is that, on this one there is maybe a few distracting objects in the centre third. The grainy texture of the sand is lovely though.

Lakeland Magic Keith Vincent

Nice image and great subject, but I think the tree takes over. It would be nice to see more of the background and the lake itself, maybe a different angle?

Lake Bled – Commended Duncan Gray

Superb atmospheric image. Lovely composition, amazing sky as a backdrop to the mountains. I love the little island, which is in just the right place. The only comment is that perhaps its a little too dark, but would need only minimal adjustment.

Spanish Prom – Commended Tony Jones

Lovely image, invoking both landscape and a bit of street photography with the action going on in the right hand corner. Great content and contrast, a perfect black and white photograph

Patterns – Highly Commended Alan

A classic dunes shot, beautiful curves, texture, composition and contrast. On another day…….in the top 3.

Jacks Bike – Highly Commended Keith Vincent

Really great photo. The grainy background contrasts nicely with what is obviously a lovingly cared for bike. The angle of the bike against the background, makes it stand out, and gives the overall image depth.

SOH Tiles – 3rd Place Neville Wright

Superb shot. An original take on an iconic building. It is the perfect subject for black and white photography. The composition is simple but effective with angular lines, and curves shown, along with the tile details.

The Alhambra – 2nd Place Duncan Gray

Amazing image, with superb reflection of the Alhambra, and lovely contrasting shades of monochrome.

The composition is perfect, I like the palm tree to the left hand side. The sky has lots of clouds, creating some good contrasting detail.

Medway Storm – 1st Place Keith Vincent

When making my decision, a difficult task in this section as there were so many exceptional images, I kept coming back to this one.

I love it. It has atmosphere, without being too dark. The eye is drawn into the picture, with the building in the middle of the estuary, highlighted by possibly some sunlight after the rain.

There are a mix of textures in the water and sand, and ruined wooden structure to the left. Even the tiny yacht in the distance is not a distraction but adds to the impression of remoteness. The stormy sky, with rain clouds and a hint of heavy rain in the distance.

From a technical point of view, it demonstrates ‘Rule of Thirds ‘perfectly, everything is in the correct place. The composition has foreground, middle and background, its just a perfect black and white image.

There are so many iconic places in the world to photograph, but sometimes its the simple mundane places which throw up opportunities. This is certainly one of those. Well done.

Wendy S Kerr

3rd June 2019.