Light, Shadow and a Lot of Bottle

The March Competition was judged by Catherine Knee who gave some excellent advice and guidance and was very realistic about how the limitations of the current situation can limit the opportunities for capturing good images. Having said that, the Open was full of pictures from trips around the country as well as nature nearer home. The Open was won by John Hunt with Winter Bird Food, a picture taken in his garden.

Winter Bird Food
John Hunt

The Theme of Bottles was well received by the judge and clearly a lot of preparation was involved in making sure that liquid did not accidentally drain on to the set! The Theme first place was taken by Anne Blaber with this atmospheric picture of lights inside a line of bottles. The judge commented that having the top of the nearest bottle cut off added to the interest and mystery of the image.

Bottles with Fairy Lights
Anne Blaber

Catherine’s feedback centred a lot around the use of light and shadow and how a wrongly-place bright patch can pull the eye away from the main subject of the picture. Unlike a lot of judges nowadays, she did suggest that there is a place for judicial use of the vignette tool to help dull bright edges and to pull the eye into the image – but don’t overdo it!

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While My Guitar Gently Weeps

Our judge for February was Trevor Rudkin LRPS.  Trevor was quite sympathetic and provided good guidance and constructive comment while discussing our humble efforts.

In the theme of Leading Lines Ann Blaber took first place with a picture of the strings on her husbands’ guitar which she had spotted while seeking inspiration for the theme. That this victory pushed her husbands’ own theme image into second place may have caused some domestic strife or maybe it was just his guitar that gently wept.


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In the open Richard Hollingum nailed a buzzard to its perch like a Norwegian Blue so it stayed still long enough to get a cracking nature shot. 


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A Start to 2021

Our judge for the first competition of the year was Graham Heywood EFIAP/p FBPE. Via Zoom, he had to assess our open images plus those for the set theme of “Eyes.” 

In the Open, a view from the battlements of Warwick Castle took first place, giving the author his first success in several years.

1st in Open: “Autumnal Colours” by Andy Holland

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In the theme Graham was faced with human eyes, both adult and child, cats eyes, both big cat and domestic moggy, but what found his first place favour was a flower.

1st in Theme: “Oxeye Daisy” by Brian Pere

This gave Brian his first win since rejoining the group last year.

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2020 Finale

Our last competition round of 2020 was judged by Richard Cobby ARPS CPAGB. Dialling in via Zoom Richard had had a good look at our images beforehand, gave an informative commentary and provided some edited examples as to how they could be improved.

It was a very successful evening for our Chair, Richard Hollingum, scoring a first and third in the open and first place in the the theme of “Sport in Action”.  

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1st in Open: “With the Beatles” by Richard Hollingum

His efforts however could not alter the destination of the Peter Saul Cup as Ron Wykes had already built an unassailable lead winning the cup for the fourth time. 

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It was a very different situation with the Andy Stewart Cup for the theme league.  3 authors, including the Richard, the current holder, were in contention for the prize depending on last round results. Richard’s win wasn’t enough to retain the cup as a third place for Ray Barnes gave him the league overall by one point.

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The Votes are In!

Online visitors to the 3rd Spratton Open Photography Show were asked to vote for their favourite image in the six categories displayed. Here ( in no particular order) are the results:

Portrait: “A Touch of Rouge” by Alan Edwards
Landscape: “Mawddach Dawn” by Adrian Chandler
Travel: “Socialising at the Opera House” by Ray Barnes
Buildings: “Radcliffe Camera” by Alan Edwards
Street Photography: “The Barbican” by Richard Hollingum
Natural History: “Tawny Owl” by Lee Stretton

All at Sea in October

Crashing Waves
1st in Theme: “Crashing Waves” by Ray Barnes

The judge on this on this occasion was John Lewis from Daventry Photographic Society who had to cope with the mounting swells of our Seascapes as well as our open efforts. 

A pre-lockdown trip to Australia provided Ray Barnes with the best shot in the theme. However, he had to endure “the roughest boat ride he has ever had” to get his winning “Crashing Waves”. HDR in post-processing added to drama of the scene. This result sees him well placed to take the Andy Stewart Cup for a second time. 

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 Tethered, in the bathroom, with a tripod. No, not some weird Cluedo murder but the methodology of Ron Wykes’ latest magnum opus. This tilted view gained Ron his fifth open win of the season and with only one round left the fat lady is warming up her vocal cords to serenade the Peter Saul Cup.

1st in Open: “Bubble Bath” by RonWykes:


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“In Deep” in September

Our judge for September was Catherine Knee from Leicester Forest Photographic Society who had recently convinced us in her talk that “Reality is Over Rated”.

Our open winner Ron Wykes obviously took that view to heart for his shot “In Deep”. His granddaughter thought that an air plant looked like an octopus and his imagination and Photoshop skills produced a shot which would not look out of place in a David Attenborough documentary.

 Our open winner Ron Wykes obviously took that view to heart for his shot “In Deep”. His granddaughter thought that an air plant looked like an octopus and his imagination and Photoshop skills produced a shot which not look out of place in a David Attenborough documentary. 

In Deep
1st in Open: “In Deep” by Ron Wykes

This was Ron’s forth win of the season, twice as many as his rather distant rival, and with only two rounds to go we could almost save some time now by engraving his name on the Peter Saul Cup for the fourth time.

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Lolly and Railway Enthusiasts
1st in Theme: “Lolly and Railway Enthusiasts” by Zsolt Bendek

It is a different story in the battle for the Andy Stewart Cup: two points cover the top three with current theme cup holder Richard Hollingum holding a slender lead 

On the night it was a win for Zsolt Benedek, twice a winner of the cup, as his ‘Lolly and Railway Enthusiasts” entranced the judge in the theme of enthusiasm.

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We’re meeting again in Lockdown

1st in Open: “Refractions” by Ron Wykes

In July SPG members would normally be exercising their shutter fingers in an outside shoot; but in these uncertain times we had another Zoom based competition with the usual open section and a very appropriate set theme of “Me in Lockdown”.

Our judge for the evening was Chris Baldwin from Daventry Photographic Society. Chris had seen the images beforehand so was well prepared with notes and not a little humour to go through our efforts, giving plenty of tips on how some of our work could be improved.

In the open normal service was resumed with first place going to Ron Wykes for his very Intriguing “Refractions”. This was Ron’s third win of the year to put him well placed to retain the Peter Saul Cup.

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Lockdown Theme

In the theme of “Me in Lockdown” Anne Blaber made the pieces fit for her first ever win with “Lockdown Jigsaw”.

Lockdown Jigsaw
1st in Theme: “Lockdown Jigsaw” by Anne Blaber









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A Socially Distanced Walk on the Wildside

A Portrait of Nicola
1st in Open: “A Portrait of Nicola” by Alan Roffey

Our June meeting was held via Zoom and our judge dialling in was Alan Edwards from Club Abington Photographic.

Alan was able to see the images beforehand full size on Flickr which allowed him to take a forensic look at our images both in the open section and in the theme of “Wildlife”.

On the night Alan gave a detailed commentary on the compositional and technical aspects of our work and his top images were held back for final review.

With our current competitions leader unexpectedly resting on his laurels this month others were given a chance to score some league points, and two of our members took full advantage scoring first and second places in both the open and the theme.

As a result, things are much tighter at the top of the tables.

See the current League Standings

Open Win
Because the model in the winning  shot was wearing a rather bright top the author had converted the image to black and white and then recoloured it in Photoshop to give a more pleasing effect.

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Judge Dilemma
The judge had a hard time deciding the theme winner, seeming to change his mind several times between the eventual winner and second place.

But in the end a trip to the Farne Islands yielded the winning wildlife shot. While primarily looking for Puffins with a beak full of sand eels the author, Elmer Fudd like, spotted a “wabbit”. 


Wild Rabbit on Inner Farne
1st in Theme: “Wild Rabbit on Inner Farne” by Alan Roffey

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The Virtues of Virtual

Our April Meeting, postponed due to the Coronavirus outbreak, eventual happened as a virtual competition. Images were submitted as usual but were posted online for members to vote on.

In the Open, Ron Wykes triumphed for the second month in succession with his “Faded Beauty”.

Faded Beauty
1st in Open: “Faded Beauty” by Ron Wykes

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In the theme of “Shadows” Ray Barnes took first position with his “Bike Stand”. 

Bike Stand
1st in Theme: “Bike Stand” by Ray Barnes

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