Plymouth Camera Club Merits 2 Competition.
I have entered photography competitions in the past, with degrees of varying success. Winning some and then completely falling into the also ran category with others. But I only enter competitions if I can be there in the night to see the judging, and working shifts has often made this impossible. However this year Plymouth Camera a Club have reduced the number of competitions they have so it opened up the opportunity to enter again. The club has an ongoing competition running through the year known as Merits, with sections for Prints and Digital projected images (DPI). Images are scored out of 20 and the totals added up to produce a leaderboard for the year.
There are many different views on competitions, opinions vary greatly, and the subject has been know to break clubs up. I walk the middle ground, competitions have there place and uses, and depending on the quality of the judge the photographers reaction to comments in that very public forum they can be highly useful way to advance your photography, or for the more sensitive totally destroy all confidence. What ever way you look at it - "it is a competition" and getting good scores and a high ranking are important, others argue that most benefit is gained from listening to the judges comments, and not worrying about if it does well or not. Most importantly what I always remember is that these are my photographs, primarily taken because I was attracted to what I saw and wanted to portray that to others using my creativity. So I don't always agree with the judges comments, but I respect them, it's my choice if I put their comments to use or not.
Plymouth Camera Club has 2 versions of its Merits competitions. Set subject, where an image must be produced on a set theme, and own choice - which is self explanatory. I rarely enter set subject, personally for me I can't get excited about the set subjects, I photograph what I like, which is predominantly the Landscape, So it does not always fit in, but this time the subject was "Abstracts In Nature" which was I thought a perfect fit for a couple of images I had taken.
Set Subject "Abstracts In Nature".
Ice and Water 1
Ice and Water 2
I entered Ice and water 1 and 2 into the Set subject. I'm not great with abstract images, and these are probably as extract as I get with my photography, although I believe that both of these images are recognisable, and some would argue that if you can see what it is - it's not abstract, but for me it works. both images represent an abstraction of water from its natural liquid state into ice. both were produced to show something of the environment with flowing water in the background. You can play judge and decide if they are abstract or not! Judges comments and marking is sometimes not easy to interpret. Both were scored out of 20 and Ice and water 2 scored 17 points. My memory may fails me but the judges comments were fairly neutral. Ice and water 1 created more of a stir. It was my favourite but only scored a disappointing 13. The only suggesting for improvement was tha I should have presented the image turned through 90 degrees, in a landscape format with the ice at the bottom. I have done this below so you can decide. I do agree that the composition is more dynamic. The problem is it does not sit easy with me as it's not the way the Ice was in nature - as I said I don't do well with abstract images.
I selected 2 images for own choice, but due to the number of entries only one of them was allowed in. Own choice as it is less restrictive is often oversubscribed. I entered this Black and White Image of Bamburgh Castle that can be seen in my collection of Northern Landscapes. This is back in my comfort zone - monochrome landscapes and moving water, the image scored a very respectable 18. Comments made by the judge were positive and particular mention that a good shutter speed had been selected to retain just the right amount of detail in the moving water.
Entering was a worthwhile experience, it was nice to see my images in relation to to other people work and see where they now fit in with the rest of the club. It has been a good few years since I have shown work in competitions. On whole I agree with the judges comments. But as I know how hard it was to take the Ice and Water 1 I can't change the way it is displayed. It was taken on Dartmoor on a fairly small ledge up the side of a waterfall, to get to the position was a little slippery and unnerving, the temperature was -11, and it was exactly the contrast between the waterfall in shadow in the background and the light falling on the Ice that attracted me to the image. I will however look at producing a slightly different version of it. (Maybe blue toned and flipped on its side). As a positive I take from this, the way you see an image is not the only way, rotating a print flipping it left to right is something I had forgotten. And importantly can be tried using the camera back to check composition before leaving location. Stories tell pictures, if you want some one to see the picture the same way as you do - the story needs to be very strong indeed.
Time to prepare for the next competition!