The theme for June – Farming – clearly confounded many members as there were only 9 submissions. This didn’t stop SPG Chair Richard Hollingum from getting 1st and 3rd – in fact it probably helped him. Gerald Davies spotted some interesting machinery Out To Rust that earned him a 2nd place. In spite of Richard’s placing this month, Anne Blaber still leads the Theme League by 4 points but with four more rounds to go there is still all to play for.
Ray Barnes garnered the top spot in the Open category this month with Workplace Meeting, an atmospheric picture taken at Didcot Railway Centre. Alan Roffey’s 2nd placed I’ve Got Your Back led to a surge of interest in the tattooist’s art, and Red ‘C’ Scrolls, another of his striking abstracts, earned Ron Wykes a 3rd.
The Open League is currently much tighter than the Theme. Alan Roffey and Richard Hollingum, are both at the top with 21 points with Ray Barnes nipping at their heels with 20. Ron Wykes and John Hunt are not that far behind either so the picture could change over the next few months.
The judge this month was Ralph Duckett, an experienced judge who, although he confesses to preferring prints, did a good job with the on-line digital images. As in previous months, the images were loaded on to a secure Flickr page and sent to Ralph a week in advance of the competition. His comments were positive, encouraging and helpful, providing good detail and critique. He particularly emphasised the importance of clear focal points and impact, whilst avoiding or removing unwanted distractions.
April’s theme had the potential to confound us but it was good to see so many attempts at interpreting Nostalgia. It appears that judge Chris Baldwin was also pleased, holding back 8 of the entries, but it was Phil Earle that stole the show taking both First and Second place. Apparently the Leica in the picture belonged to his father-in-law and was rescued from obscurity by Phil.
The Open images continue to be a good selection despite the constraints of lockdown. Some members clearly have a vast back catalogue of the past two years from which to select a couple of pictures, whilst others turn to Mother Nature hoping that she will supply the winning shot. And this month’s winning shot was supplied by Ron Wilks, one of three he had placed. At a Good Clip is yet another abstract painfully created to bring energy and colour to the screen.
It was pointed out that if you want to be placed Highly Commended or above in the Open league, your first name has to begin with an ‘R’
Feedback from Chris was comprehensive. He had downloaded the images and actually tried some of the changes he suggested, himself. The big message was to make more use of cropping to avoid unwanted or distracting items or colours. He also stressed how important a title is, something that became very clear in the Theme competition.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.