Our first club competition was on the theme of ‘Water’.
Once again the quality of the images entered demonstrate ust what a talented bunch of photographers we are.
The quality of the photographs entered made judging hard: it always is, but this even more so. Before the comments were made we revisited the judging criteria, so everyone present knew what the judges are asked to look for. Judge for the night (yours truly), also explained that in terms of the ‘idea’:
- I am looking for photographs that are not just ‘of’ water, or just have water in them, but …
- photographs that draw attention to some characteristic or something else about water, or
- photographs that express another idea altogether but which only work because of the way water is used in their composition.
Both of the winning images expressed the latter idea beautifully.
The winning projected digital image “A Single Tear” entered by Michele Usher. It is the featured image above. The judge noted:
“Superb. Although the smallest element in the picture, the water drop is clearly the subject and what this image is about. Beautiful detail. Fantastic colour contrast of the secondary element (the scarlet petals) and the green negative space.”
The winning print also used water in a very clever way.
The judge’s notes say:
Here, the water is equal element with the paddler. The use of sihouetting downplays the paddler to a contrasting shape. Beautifully simple composition all about the interplay between the hoizontal lines of the wavelets and the ski, and the up and down of the paddler and paddle. Beautifully sharp. Lovely print.
As you will see from the galleries page there were many other amazing photographs.
This image by John Rhodes was perhaps the best photograph in telling a story ‘about’ water. You can nearly feel the power of the fall — accentuated by the use of the fast shutter speed to capture the detail, and the sense of awe created by the way the onlookers are placed in the frame.
A couple of photographers had used neutral density filters to increase exposure times slowing water movement. This technique can make stunning images like this one by Rebecca Kempton. However, the judge felt, rightly or wrongly, that the whole purpose of the very long exposure technique is to disguise the ‘wateriness’ of the water and to render it into silken softness. This works beautifully when the silken flow is contrasted with the hardness of its surroundings: rocks or hard shadows, for example, but may not have been the best choice when the subject was ‘water’. One or two of these shots could well have been winners in an ‘open’ competition.
In general, both the in-camera photography and the post-processing of the images were excellent.
One or two photos were softish suggesting focus issues. If you’re shooting static objects, using a tripod and live view makes accurate focus child’s play. Using a wide aperture, to cause shallow depth of field and consequent out of focus backgrounds, works really well to highlight eyes in portraiture. However, the technique is less successful in landscape photography, and particularly where you want to highlight a whole body of water like a fountain. You can get the front of the fountain in focus but the water at the back soft, or vice versa. f/8 is a good choice for fountains! This link, suggested by Bruce Kirk, demonstrates the idea quite well.
Two or three otherwise wonderful photographs were marred by distracting sensor-dust spots (so easily removed in Post-processing). Hint: look carefully around the edges of the frame and into clear mono-tonal areas like skies. Landscape textures in a couple of otherwise interesting images were somewhat spoiled by what seemed to have been over aggressive noise reduction and/or sharpening. Hint: when you’re applying sharpening or noise reduction, zoom in to view critical parts of your image at 100%.
All-in-all this was a great competition, and I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the entries.
— Tim McMahon