What Happened When I Judged a Photography Competition

#7 in the Judging A Photograph Series

I was very fortunate to be invited to judge the 50th Anniversary Photography Competition at an historic Yorkshire Camera Club. Knaresborough Camera Club found out that I am now blogging about photo critique here on Falcondale Life, they decided to ask me back as a judge. I’m a past member and I know what it’s like to sit and listen to a judge deconstruct my hard work in front of everyone else. It was quite daunting, but I knew they would make me welcome.

What happened when I judged a photography competition on Falcondale Life

Competition Theme and Categories

This 50th Anniversary contest had a “golden” theme. There were three sections to the competition. The first section was prints, and I was pleased there were plenty of these to judge. I couldn’t fit them all in to one photo but here’s my photograph of a few of them laid out in my lounge. I picked my winners in advance. On the night I went through each photo and talked through the strengths and weaknesses, and interesting points.

What happened when I judged a photography competition for Knaresborough Camera Club on Falcondale Life

Next there were two digital image categories. The Projected category is for about half the members including new photographers. The Projected Plus category is for other members who have scored highly in past years. This gives newer photographers a chance for recognition in their own category without having to compete against the people who regularly win.

Because of the golden theme, there were a lot of yellow and orange tinted overlays in post-production. I found these worked fairly well on water if done with a light touch, but yellow skies don’t look so good. There were plenty of golden autumn leaves and yellow flowers too. Most of the flowers were shot in excellent lighting, often with a very dark background which made them stand out well.

There were also golden sunsets, images showing the number 50 and photos shot during the “golden hour” which – if you don’t already know – is dawn or more usually dusk when the light falls softly and warmly from the side. I congratulated the club on the fabulous wide ranging interpretations of the Golden Anniversary theme.

Because there were three competition categories there were three winners. Also there were three 2nd, 3rd and 4th places. There were a few Highly Commendeds as well.

Print Winner – Mike Morley

Mike Morley's photo of Derwent Water Jetty, winner in the print category at Knaresborough Camera Club. Story of the competition judging on Falcondale Life blog.

The winner of the print category was Mike Morley with this shot “Derwent Water Jetty Golden Sunset”. I am very envious of this photo and I wish I had taken it! A jetty in the Lake District always looks great placed in the centre of the image. It gives good perspective as it stretches out before you. The trick is getting really good quality light, sky and surrounding landscape.

The sky is obviously great in this shot. It’s been taken with a slow shutter speed which has also made the water look very smooth. The jetty is in flood, and you can hardly where the posts end and the reflection starts. The top of the posts end nicely within the darkness of the distant hills. This means that they don’t break up the line of the horizon.

Although the subject is central, the sunburst is slightly off to one side which works well. You can tell that a small aperture has been used because the sun appears small with beams of light pointing out from it like petals. Mike has timed this photo so that the sun is just slightly obscured by the hills. That means it’s not too overwhelming but still makes a dramatic feature in the image. The rope floating from a post in the foreground adds interest, and for me it gently humanizes this ethereal image.

Golden Anniversary

I hope to talk a little about some of the other photos from this competition in a later blog post. For now I want to send the club best wishes and congratulations for their 50th Anniversary, and thank-you so much for the honour of allowing me to be your judge.

Read the previous post in the Judging a Photograph series by clicking here or read the series from the start by clicking here. Continue to the next blog in the series by clicking here.

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  1. 6th April 2017 / 4:34 pm

    That winning photo is stunning! Well done, Mike! I love the artistry in photography, I’d love to train and improve my skills. I try and I do really enjoy it x

    Kat x

    • 9th April 2017 / 11:11 pm

      That’s great – it’s a nice skill to practice.

  2. 6th March 2017 / 8:16 pm

    Nice to read something a bit different. Very interesting read, even though I don’t know much about photography, only just started taking photos using my husbands digital SLR rather than my phone all the time. The winning print picture of the jetty is stunning!

  3. Susan
    5th March 2017 / 5:07 pm

    Beautiful and unusual photo of one of my favourite places. Your technical comments help me – as an ignorant photo appreciator – appreciate it all the more.

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