Judge:- Barney Douglas www.hl-studio.co.uk WITH COMPLIMENTS :
First of all, a very big thank you for the invitation to adjudicate on this competition and may I start by saying that there is a pretty high standard of work here, with a few excellent submissions. I have little doubt that you have had plenty of judges over the years mentioning phrases like “rule of thirds”, “point of interest”, “having the subject looking into the image” and, of course, focus, depth of field and much more. I’m a photographer who likes to see images where the subject thinks outside the box … and sometimes thinks well inside the box. You’ll see what I mean as I comment on each and every image.
With all three groups, I am taking the images in order of title and I’ll then pick out my highlight image(s) from each group. I checked the White Balance setting on all images for which it was available, and everyone in this group had it set on Auto. Appreciating that quite a few of these images were shot on mobile phone cameras that are a bit more difficult to control, but it’s worth checking out the variations you have available. Some photos could have been improved a bit by playing with the various settings available and it’s worth getting to know the device you are using.
All At Sea: Steve Court
Taking any photo of a fun regatta poses challenges, and I well remember doing something similar on the lake at Flavignac, Haute-Vienne, France on the Feast of the Assumption about thirty years ago … in the days of film … (remember that stuff?) One of the biggest challenges on that occasion was an MC who talked constantly on a microphone where the volume was way too high. The idea of a floating flower-power VW Campervan emblazoned with a CND logo is great fun. I have a couple of comments, the first being that the light is a bit flat resulting in an image that needs a bit more contrast. That could be enhanced in the computer and it might be worth playing with the brightness and contrast settings where you can. The central point of interest, (yes, there’s one of those phrases), is the man facing the camera and one option would have been to concentrate on him. But I do wonder where the raft was heading, and perhaps a wider angle shot showing where the Campervan was going might have been another option worth considering. Dragon’s Den: Steve Court
This is a well exposed journalistic style image of one of the regatta competitors, pretty well framed and avoiding the distraction of human interest. I’d only consider two slight changes. The tail of the dragon just catches the logo on the van behind. Standing just a metre or so to the left would have avoided that, and this image slightly suffers from the photographer being a fraction too close. Step back and the image would have been better framed. It’s also worth checking the Panasonic Lumix manual (page 95) Scene Mode especially for controlling different types of subject matter. This photo is good, but could have been even better if you were a bit more familiar with the different ways of approaching different subjects, and had used a setting to throw the background a bit out of focus. Well done! Let The Festivities Begin: Commended. Rosie
I’ve got no EXIF data on this image so I’m looking solely at the finished image, not knowing the camera or any of the settings. This works well. Good exposure, well framed, nicely balanced colour, the electric lighting in the background (upper left) does not distract, and the subjects are expressive and clearly enjoying themselves. Great image! Let’s Party: Highly Commended. Rosie
Again no EXIF data. I really like this image, shot under difficult illumination. Catching the main subject under balanced lighting works very well, and the slight movement does not worry me one little bit. Could I be very picky on the cropping? Possibly! My Edit:: A little crop off the left side and the bottom, and maybe a sliver off the top, might have improved this image even more. The only reason I mention it is that the shoes of the man behind just slightly caught my attention, but only momentarily. Other than that, I really like it. Well done! Smile Please: Judith Court
Shot on an iPhone 5 this has worked well, and, although I’ll admit I’m no fan of cameras in mobile phones, I am impressed with the colour and exposure. Sneaking a shot from someone else’s pose always has its challenges, but you have caught this at just the right moment, and apart from losing the elbow of the girl on the right the framing is close to spot on. Good shot! The 2 Of Us: Highly Commended. 3rd Place Overall Rosie
Some people will look at this and mutter words like “focus”, “thirds”, “under-exposed” and so on. Yes the man is out of focus. Yes he is looking out of the shot. Yes the man is a little under-exposed. Yes the shadow is distracting … and it’s meant to be. Great idea, almost spot on, and I would have been delighted to shoot this myself. Excellent! The Band Plays On: Judith Court
Colourful, full of action, and as a group it works pretty well. If only you had concentrated on the left hand boy, and please be prepared to kneel, sit or even lie down to get the right angle of view. As it stands it does work. If you’d concentrated on that boy it would have been excellent. Great effort Three Degrees: Steve Court
I’m guessing probably the same photographer as Dragon’s Den. I love the colour, I love the concept, I love the exuberance the subjects are displaying. Now, let’s help you with making it better. I mentioned on The Band Plays On “please be prepared to kneel, sit or even lie down to get the right angle of view”. The photographer here is taller than two of the three subjects. Be prepared to get down to chest level on full length shots. That would have hidden the ambulance and the white vehicle behind the subjects. And it’s worth waiting those two or three seconds just to let the man behind the subjects move away. That apart, love the shot. Great capture! Tropical Fruits: Judith Court
Like Smile Please, this is another opportunistic shot capturing someone else’s image from a different angle. This one has not worked quite so well, and as I mentioned on Three Degrees, would have been better shot from a slightly lower angle, thus avoiding the word HOTEL behind the subjects. However, colour and lighting are spot on, and there’s great fun in the shot. Well done! Intermediate:
Here I’m looking for a higher standard than beginners, so I think I can justify being a little more critical where necessary.
Two photographers, one using a Nikon D3200 and one using a Canon EOS 600D, ISO from 100 to 3200, aperture from f4 to f11, and all images again on auto white balance. I won’t let on which manufacturer I use.
Burger Anyone: Keith Dawson
The low viewpoint and the whole concept works well here, and the lighting, contrast and colour rendition are good. I’m a little distracted by what appears to be an out-of-focus flash gun in the foreground, and the man’s hand and beer glass on the right could have been cropped out. Indeed a tighter crop all round would have made this a much better photo. Having said that, good capture … well done! Cropped it would have earned a “commended”. Clowns: Keith Dawson
Again good colour rendition, lighting and contrast, and I do appreciate that in this type of environment, it’s all too easy to catch something distracting in the background … this time the fast food truck illuminated sign. A lower viewpoint and moving yourself about 18 inches to the right might have solved that problem. Another good capture which could alternatively have been improved with a slight crop towards a more letter-box format. The grouping of the four participants provides impact and again, on the whole, a good shot. Well done again. Family: Gwynn
Assuming this is the first of three from the same photographer, I’m afraid this doesn’t work too well. Put the small girl in front and towards the middle and swap the right hand pair of adults to get a more balanced image. Move yourself about 18″ to the right to avoid the distraction of the couple by the tree. It’s a shame it falls down there, because again lighting and colour rendition area very good. Family Outing: Keith Dawson
This one, sadly, didn’t work so well, and I feel that is as much to do with catching it on the fly as the distracting background. I appreciate that this wasn’t posed. Had you been able to organise the group for a few seconds, you could have moved the boy in the large sombrero behind and slightly to the side of the shorter girl. Colour, lighting and contrast, however, still work well. Hi: Commended. Gwynn
What a difference one shot makes. Here I can forgive the slight distraction of the man with the red nose because the main subject is close to spot on. A tight crop would have improved a well shot image, but even without that it still works. I do, however, like it both ways. My Edit: In love: Gwynn
Focal length on this is only 30mm, f8 and ISO 100, and, assuming you could have shot this further from the subjects a longer lens would have improved this dramatically. Again, the camera is level with the subjects’ faces, and that causes tapering of the legs which would have been avoided at 70mm focal length or more. Kneel to get to the right height, get back from the subject, bring the aperture as wide as you can provided you have the available top end shutter speed and then crop in. As it’s shot the viewer might miss the fact that they’ve both got odd socks. In love: Gwynn
My edit: It’s a shame. I good shot that could have been so much better Commended: Hi … (and it would have been highly commended if cropped)
At this level, I should see at least a third of photos worthy of a Licentiate-ship panel at the RPS, not all, but at least some.
Carnival Girl: Wendy Kerr
The concept is good, but even at 32mm and 2000 ISO, the thumbs-up is both a distraction and out of focus because aperture is only f5. This is the first of three at 1/80 second. Take the aperture smaller and the ISO would have had to endure a push into the realms of graininess and it’s difficult to see how this particular problem could have been improved without asking the subject to move the “thumns up” hand into the same plane as the person’s body. However, one improvement would have been a crop to a portrait format removing the over-exposed highlights lower right and the blank black area on the left. As I say, good concept let down at least partly by technical limitations. Carnival Bus: Wendy Kerr
Love the bus, love the decoration, cropping is close to correct although the camera could have been elevated slightly to get a small border of night sky and then parallax could be corrected in the computer. What a shame the driver is right in the middle of the shot. This is one of those cases where potentially a good shot would have been so much better had you waited for the driver to move away. This is one that got away. Sorry! Carnival Girl Green: Wendy Kerr
This works much better. The low viewpoint works fine and the image could really only have been improved by cropping away the unwanted content left and right more to a portrait format. Best of the three by a long way. Well done! Cider Festival: Highly Commmended. 2nd Place Overall Helen
I knew there’d be one sooner or later that looked at the subject matter from a different perspective. This still life image is very good indeed, and I particularly like the framing and the way the whole image has been grouped. It’s not perfect and the raised viewpoint and the 30mm lens has resulted in a very slight parallax problem, although that could very easily be corrected and does not detract from the image. The wide aperture is not a problem and I am fairly certain that this has been shot on a tripod at 1/30 second. This bit is not a criticism, but I note that, once again Auto White Balance has been used. A suggestion only, but do try playing with the white balance just to see the effects produced. On the whole, very good and very close to my top selection. Festival Fireworks: Helen
The same photographer (or at least the same camera) as the cider image also works well, but needs cropping. The foreground here is distracting and I just wish this had been cropped a little and the camera raised a little to concentrate on the fireworks which are, after all, the main element of the shot. Spot on for the fireworks in terms of exposure and content. Girl With Headdress: Commended. Alan Hillman
Take one crowd and pick out one subject, and this (very nearly) works perfectly. I’m guessing this was a different lens from the previous shot, and the EXIF data suggests a different camera, so it could be a different photographer from the previous two images. I know there’s the problem of the space you have available behind you amongst the crowd to position yourself to take the shot, but if you could have got the aperture wider than f4, if available, this would have gone from good to very good. One tip, and that is that if the girl had been willing to wait two or three seconds then manual focus, or focussing automatically on something just in front of the girl would have allowed you to keep the girl in focus and throw the background more out-of-focus. Remember that the point of focus has a depth of focus twice as much behind the subject as in front. Throw in a slight crop and you’d have lost a little of the distraction to the left. That apart, and I know I’m being perhaps over-picky here, it is a very good shot indeed. Golden Guy: Alan Hillman
I so want this to be a good shot, and in many ways it works very well. The man is spot on in focus and you are limited in the position you can take to take the shot. The low ISO, the fairly wide aperture and the fast shutter speed have given you a crisp and well exposed image. You can’t do anything about the position of the girls’ shoulders in front, and you are really stuck with the green beach hut. So, as I mentioned on the Intermediate section for the large clown face, I feel this would be aided by a fairly tight crop. You haven’t got eye contact with the subject, so you have to draw the viewer’s eyes to the subject … and just the subject. I’ve put my crop on the next page. No, it’s not a 3 x 2 or 4 x 3 format, but it overcomes the distractions, including the little sliver of the sky. It was a good shot, and could have been much better. However, a good try at an awkward subject. Harvest Festival: Commended. Ken Johnson. This would have been Highly Commended if you hadn’t clipped the ends off the runner beans Girl with Headdress.
Another still life image where the photographer took the word “festival” and thought beyond the local event. I’m only going to pick out thing that isn’t quite right, and that is the missing upper ends of the runner beans. That apart, a beautifully composed, well exposed and well thought out subject. Majanicho Musicians: Duncan Gray
This image has a lot of interest in it, and I just wanted it to be showing more activity. The musicians almost all seem to be at that point in the music called a rest and I wanted them to be active. I’ll show you what I mean. Sam Brown is nowadays a lecturer in music at the University of Bath. When I took this studio image on the left he was still at school completing A levels and doing Saturdays at the Royal College of Music. You can almost feel the movement in his hands. Unlike the shot of Sam, which was posed, the in-concert one on the right, shot in 1984 on a Bronica ETRS by available light, was totally on the fly. Now in these images I was helped by the fact that I also play the guitar, (though nowhere near as well as Sam), so I was anticipating what he was doing. The same applies to dance. If you can, when shooting dance, always get the dancer to repeat the same move at least half a dozen times before you click the shutter, and be ready to repeat. The image Majanicho Musicians needs that intimation of movement and would then have been so much better. Don’t worry if there’s movement in their hands. That’s what music is about. Majanicho Parade: Duncan Gray
The image of the musicians above was shot on a camera, and this one, of the same musicians was shot on a Samsung smartphone … and it is so much better. Now it’s not perfect, and I find the crowd following the musicians, particularly to the left of the image, just a little distracting. The light level also drops off on the left and I am guessing that might be the limitations of the phone and its “instant-edit” software. It would also have been better cropped, removing the following crowd as much as possible, but keeping the empty space to the right, as that is the place towards which the musicians are walking. Snip off the sky too This crop works much better. I love the subject, and despite the phone camera’s shortcomings the subject works well. Much better shot with the crop. Pirate Festival Gals: Helen
Taking just the subject matter of the two ladies themselves, this is well framed and correctly exposed. You’ve avoided the bright background affecting the result. I did wonder for a moment whether this was the same photographer as the shot Fireworks earlier on. I am distracted by the hand of the man out of shot to the left. Could you have asked him to step aside perhaps? Possibly not, so, as a shot, this is close to the achievable best. Reflections Of Green: Commended. Steve Hall
A simple subject, well shot during performance … and for me this really works very well indeed. Yes, the guitarist might be seen by some as a distraction, but, on this occasion, for me he adds to the picture rather than detracting. The one thing that did catch my eye was the edge of the amplifier cabinet on the left, and there are two ways of approaching that problem. The first is a simple crop of a sliver off the left hand side, but that still leaves the horizontal black line. I’ve done this edit very quickly, (so far from perfect), just as an example, using first the makeover tool and than the sharpen brush, just to reapply the graininess. However, please be aware that I still rate this image, even without the edit I have done, as being up amongst the contenders. Well done. Reflections Through The Mist: Highly Commended. 1st Place Overall Steve Hall
The only image in the complete set of entries submitted in RAW. (I did convert it to JPG just to check, and it worked just as well). Okay, so there’s movement, the drummer’s face is either slightly out of focus or slightly moving, and bearing in mind this was shot on a lens at 200mm at just 1/80 second, frankly, movement is almost inevitable. But this has atmosphere, and for all its petty shortcomings, this one is right up there in the mix. Very good indeed! Spring Festival: Ken Johnson
I love the play on words, the simplicity of the subject, the cropping and framing, and, apart from the very front edge of the dish, the fact that this is crisply in focus throughout. Nothing is missing here, but something needs to be added. The humour is present, but you need to smack the audience in the eye when you are telling a joke. Story telling not quite there, but photographically strong. Good shot! The Assembly: Keith Vincent
Shot in Thailand this has the makings of a good composition. The young woman, still engrossed in her mobile phone, is a sign of the times and the overall picture is colourful, well captured, in focus, well lit and correctly exposed. But it does need a crop. The man climbing the mound on the left in the background is a distraction that could have been edited out, as could the man above him, and then the crop would not have needed to be quite to severe. On the right I’d have used the trunk of the tree to frame the image and hold it in place. Great concept. Could have been so much better. The Blessing: Keith Vincent
A better image than the previous one because it lacks the other image’s slight fussiness. This is simple, almost reportage photography and brings the eye to the main subjects fairly easily. I am happy with the framing and despite the slight intrusion of the man on the left I would not crop this image. Much better. The Parade: Commended. Keith Vincent
Now we’re talking! This image stands out against the two previous images from the same photographer with an immediate focus character in the police officer and the background interest of the parade itself. However, this image I would have cropped not least because of the hand holding the mobile phone bottom right. What a shame you left it in shot. Without it, this becomes a very good image indeed. Vibrant colours, exposure pretty well spot on. Very good! My crop: Tour de Skipton: Steve Hall
I can see what the photographer is trying to achieve here and it so very nearly works. The concept is great and I am not the least bit worried by the movement, which, given the subject matter, you would expect. There’s absolutely no EXIF data for me to see on this image, and I really appreciate knowing the camera make and model, ISO, shutter speed and focal length. That would help me make suggestions for how to get what is a great idea even better. Vibrant: Alan Hillman
I can see what the photographer is trying to achieve here and it nearly works. This is real shooting “on the fly” and timing the shutter depression is vital on this type of image. Unfortunately this was about a second too late. The man in the blue top needed to be about two to three yards right of where you got him. I love the idea, and if you’d got the shot just that moment earlier it would have been in the mix. Band Singer for Louder Still Steve Goldsmith
This works well as a composition and is well framed, but lacks a little bit of contrast being slightly over-exposed. I’m not the least bit concerned by the presence of the microphone stand which you’d expect in this type of image, and it is a shame that the exposure and contrast did not quite work. Lead Guitar for Louder Still Commended Steve Goldsmith
This really works well, and avoids the over-emphasised light levels of the other image of the same guitarist. I would probably have cropped a little off the top and the right and, yes, I know that that means the guitarist would have been closer to the right hand edge of the shot, but I feel that doing so would have lifted this from good to excellent. The 2 Of Us: Highly Commended. 3rd Place Overall Rosie
Some people will look at this and mutter words like “focus”, “thirds”, “under-exposed” and so on. Yes the man is out of focus. Yes he is looking out of the shot. Yes the man is a little under-exposed. Yes the shadow is distracting … and it’s meant to be. Great idea, almost spot on, and I would have been delighted to shoot this myself. Excellent! 2nd Place Overall: Helen 1st Place Overall: Steve Commended: The Parade– Reflections of Gree n – Harvest Festival – this would have been Highly Commended if you hadn’t clipped the ends off the runner beans Girl with Headdress. Highly commended: Reflections- Through the Mist -Cider Festival Third place: The 2 of Us (Beginners Group) Second place: Cider Festival (Advanced Group) First place: Reflections in the Mist (Advanced Group)