Competition – “People” – 31 March 2021 Judge – Barney Douglas – www.hi-studio.co.uk Introduction: Thank you again for inviting me to judge your competition. This is my third time with you and I hope you are starting to emerge from the constraints of the pandemic unscathed. It’s been hard for us all, and the camera has come out quite a few times for me, just experimenting with local wildlife, but shooting people, other than a few commercial jobs I have had, has been limited, so I am in awe at the number of entries. Well done! Beginners: Remember that for this group I am not expecting an advanced standard, but rather those images that have taken the subject of the competition and produced results that are correctly exposed and interesting, with the signs of creativity that make the difference. The term “people” does not necessarily mean “portrait” and there are images here that look at the subject from a number of different points of view. Castle – Paul Dodd
This is a good start to a good Beginners set, a close crop profile with some contrasting interest in the background. Exposure is spot on, the main subject is crisply in focus and the background is blurred enough to separate the two, and not so much as to make it indistinct.
Could it have been better? Well, it could be argued that the tight crop is about right, but personally I would have stepped back probably no more than one pace and just lowered the camera a fraction… and for two reasons.
Stepping back would give you a little room to make two vital adjustments, i.e. it would have enabled you to correct the verticals in the castle in post-processing, and would have given you a little of the sky to frame the main subject better. Lowering the camera a little would have removed the very slightly distracting coloured rubbish bins (?) bottom left, and given you more of an interesting sky. Even so, I like it as it is, and would have been better with those adjustments. Chewing the Fat – Lu Dunne
The idea behind this is good, but a crop would have made it so much better. I find the people in the background a fraction distracting, and the verticals are slightly off. So I have rotated this just a fraction.
Cropping would allow you to frame the image subjects much better and the surroundings have given you the perfect opportunity. The tree’s branches above and the bench on the left provide that frame. The subjects are well observed. My crop: Barney Douglas – MY CROP: Delighted to be Here – Paul Dodd
A little aside for a moment. I saw a clip from Britain’s Got Talent dating from a few years ago of a Polish comedian who got great plaudits from the judges for what started as a pretty nondescript audition. This image, at first sight, is in that category. And then you start to look at it and ask yourself, “Do all the things that are wrong with it actually make it work well?” And the answer is “Yes”.
The camera’s too high, the photographer is too close, the verticals are way off, the woman in the background is distracting … but I love it. Is it a winner? No! Is it worthy of mention? Yes! Why? Because someone has got the camera out and taken a photo that shows real people.
Good for you. Take a lot more photos. Every time you do you’ll learn something. Family Before the Hassle – Sylvia
This is a shot of subject matter that, in the past year or so, we’ve seen far too little. And I’ve no doubt there’s not a single one of us that isn’t wishing for this type of moment again.
It’s a “record” shot, and it could have been better, firstly by moving that chair lower right out of shot and by the photographer sitting or even kneeling rather than standing, perhaps one pace right and two paces back. That would have hidden the person with the broad stripes on her jumper and allowed the lady behind granny the chance to straighten up a fraction.
However, as a memory of a family group in happier times it works well. Just Chillin – Emma Dodd
A simple, single-person record of a moment in time, and this time the high viewpoint works. There’s nothing distracting here at all and I like the overall simplicity of the image. Exposure spot on again.
Nice shot! Just Jack – Emma Dodd
The first of four monochrome shots in the group, the low viewpoint and the tight crop work well, although the image lacks crispness caused, probably, by auto-exposure taking a little too much from the sky and the bare arm, and consequently slightly under-exposing the whole image.
I like the concept. It didn’t quite work … and that’s a shame. Long & Short of It – Sylvia
From mono to bright gaudy colours in a moment. I am guessing this is from the carnival that was the subject of a previous competition I judged. Shot at f9 at 1/200 on a Canon EOS 600D, this is good. Two adjustments would have made it so much better.
Guessing this camera is set on auto, the 600D does have a specific portrait setting that would have shifted the exposure to something like f4 at 1/500. Alternatively switch to aperture priority and set the aperture to f4 (or even wider if the lens can offer it) and the background would have softened dramatically making the subjects pop out of the image. I would also have appreciated seeing their feet, but that’s a minor point. Lovely colour and light levels. Memories – Kate Woodcock
This is not an easy shot to get right. I have seen very good photographers make a hash of a shot like this. The lack of EXIF data as much as anything else suggests this is a scan of an old image although the odd dust mark is still visible, (on the chin and on the jumper), and should have been removed.
The problem with these shots is that you have but a moment to take them. Young children, in the joy of the moment, don’t pose. So you need auto-focus, but it can be your worst enemy. It would have benefited from a wider aperture in the original image, but that might have thrown too much of the image out of focus. And it does fail on one point – it’s a mirror of the original image.
Lovely idea … doesn’t quite work. For all that, a very good image. Works well. Scrubs Up Well – Lu Dunne
This does remind me of a shot my father entered into the Sussex Portrait Competition in 1954. (I still have his portfolio). Exposure, colour balance and a muted background combine to give a good overall image. I like this one. Still Waiting for my Bath – Sylvia
I love the humour here and the idea really works well. Not a winner, but it definitely made me smile. You’re Never Alone – Andrew Ogdon
There’s a lot in this shot, and despite it being a little too busy, it works very well, and really captures my heart. The gift of friendship, the listening ear, the helping hand. We need people like this and it gives that little feeling emotion that makes you realise just how many people there are out there to whom we can all turn when we need someone there for us.
A little fussy perhaps, as an image, but a great concept and a wonderful record image. Warms my heart. Concentration – Andrew Ogdon Commended
Very well exposed image of someone totally unaware of the photographer’s presence. The colours on the clothing stand out well without dominating and the background does not distract.
My only criticism is that if you had moved the camera and brought into shot some of what is out of shot to the left and then used the tree trunk as your right hand border this would have gone from good to very good. Now I know that would have put the grass centre-shot. So focus on the subject with a half-press of the shutter, hold it and move the view leftwards a little and then press the rest of the way to take the shot. Doing that would have lifted this into at least the intermediate group, and possibly into advanced. Well done! Little Stuart Little Paul Dodd Highly Commended
Another monochrome shot, and this works much better.
This is a shot of a person being himself, rather than being a portrait of a person. (I hope you understand the difference).
Taken close in there’s a slight parallax problem, but here it doesn’t worry me. I do like this one. Good shot! Contemplation – Lu Dunne 3rd Place
Again, spot on for light levels and this image has been cropped very well. Shot at f8 at 1/200 second, this has allowed the background to start to drift out of focus. Question: had it been shot at f4 and 1/800 second would it have benefited from the background being softer? Reflections of Friendship – Andrew Ogdon 2nd Place
Very little to criticise here. I’ve used reflections in optical lenses myself and this works very well.
Background is well out of focus and if I have to be very picky, it’s probably that it’s cropped just a fraction too tight. The Thinker – Emma Dodd Ist Place
Simple, well composed monochrome shot that captures the eye. Great depth of focus. Definite contender. Commended: Concentration. Highly commended: Little Stuart Little. Third: Contemplation. Second: Reflections of Friendship. Winner: The Thinker Emma Dodd Intermediate: There are only six entries in this group, and I understand they come from two photographers. For that reason I am not going to award places on this group. I do expect a higher standard here than in Beginners. Can You See Me – Gwynn
Very good concept which would have been improved significantly with the camera slightly higher to allow a crop removing the distracting shadow and pool of light lower left and would have captured the whole of the light trail area at the top. That apart, good idea. Fun in the Park – Keith Dawson
A good idea that could have been improved by tilting the camera down a fraction to lose a bit of the greenery at the top of the shot and also the person in the distant background, while adding more of the main subjects. Fractionally over-exposed but a good record image all the same. Happy Boaters – Gwynn
Despite the fairly flat lighting this is pretty well spot on for exposure. Cropping is just a fraction too tight. If only we could have seen the whole of the hand of the gentleman on the left of the image. A good record shot that would have been better with just a tiny bit of care when taking the shot itself. Having Fun – Gwynn
Colourful record shot, but again the cropping has let it down just a fraction, with a little too much of the reed canopy visible at the top. Again, there is the need to angle the camera down just a fraction. Man at Work – Keith Dawson
A simple record image that works fairly well lacking a little at point of interest. I know the idea was not to distract him, and that might be the reason to have not moved a little to the right and get the camera lower. Father and Daughter Keith Dawson Commended
Parent / child relationships always work well, and this could only have been improved by the absence of the purple material visible below the father’s chin. Still a good shot even with that slight distraction. Commended: Father and Daughter Keith Dawson Experienced: Remember here that I am looking for more than just the photo. I am looking for creativity and this is a good selection indeed. Alien – Paul Armatige A good image, which sadly is spoiled only by the white panel behind the subject. Exposure of the face is spot on. Barney Douglas.Would the tight crop attached have improved it. Probably! Anna – Laura Woods Commended
Very good indeed. Framing and exposure pretty well spot on. The tattoo is fractionally distracting but takes nothing away from the photographic effect. I do like this. Blue Sash – Paul Armitage Commended
Dance has always been a favourite subject of mine, and the lines of the dancer and the sash work very well indeed. I am fairly certain that this has been clipped and then dropped onto the background in the computer, and my only tiny criticism is that she isn’t standing on the floor. Not easy to achieve, but a great concept. By The Numbers – Duncan Gray
A good record shot, a typical “local newspaper” image. I like the idea, but I wanted a bit more at this level. Check out Tyson Zahner’s Seniors portraits to see this type of image at its best. Calima Walk – Alan Hillman
I’m guessing the colour caste comes from Saharan dust and overall this image works well. Composition is about right and the image has an overall serenity about it. Captive Audience – Helen
It was recently my seventieth birthday, and my daughter reminded me that that is 21 in Celsius. Getting together for a chat is something we all love to do, and it is true that as the years advance a good chin-wag is great mental exercise. Colour and exposure spot on under fairly harsh sunlight. I experimented with flattening the contrast a fraction to try to get some detail into the shadow areas, but couldn’t lift them enough. Shame, as this was otherwise a very good image. Chilled Out – Alan Sheridan
Fundamentally a good idea of a great subject with a lot of potential, but focus on the main subject is a fraction soft. Aim at the face, focus with a half-press on the shutter, move the camera to frame and then shoot. This could have been very good and slipped because of that. Shame. Clergy – Wendy Kerr
I can see what you were trying to do and, had you caught this perhaps four seconds earlier when the priests were a little more to the right, it would have made a much better image. Otherwise a good shot. Fi-Fi La Roux – Laura Woods Commended
Almost spot-on, and my only criticism, (well this is the Experienced group, after all), is the man in the background. Here’s a tip. When you take shots like this work on a tripod. Then when you have the shot what you want, set the focus to manual without changing it, move the subject out of shot, wait for the space occupied by the man to empty, shoot an extra frame, and then edit the space into this shot. Make sure you are on a set White Balance, (about 4000 K here, not Auto). If you’d done that … Georgia – Steve Goldsmith
Great theatrical-style portrait spoilt only by the colour of the background and a lack of a crop at the top. My versions: Steve’s comments: I had the opportunity to photograph Georgia a few years ago, this photograph is from that shoot, the brief was to have a full length black dress,originally photographed against a white backdrop that frankly was not the brightest of whites so I dropped an alternative backdrop in during editing. The body jewlery is a matter of personal choicebut for me it is all part of the models character and therefore adds to the photograph. Barney Douglas – My Version. Platinum Effect Mono. Fill 20. Clarity 12. Barney Douglas – My Version. Background Change To A Very Dark Grey. Going Home – Keith Vincent
I can see what the photographer is trying to achieve here, and it’s nearly right. I’m guessing this was taken in Goa. The only criticism I have is the lack of a point of interest. However, with what you have here as a starting point, there is no obvious crop. Great idea, but too little to work with. Gran Canaria Big Band at Caleta – Wendy Kerr
Shots from the auditorium are never easy, especially at floor level. The big piece of equipment in front of the singer has not helped you at all, but in terms of exposure and colour balance it’s faultless. Well shot. Granada Buskers – Duncan Gray
There’s a lot to commend this image, and with a little forethought you could really have lifted it into contention.
∙ Wider aperture to throw the buildings out of focus;
∙ Step two paces to your left to remove the slight distraction of the wider part of the guitar case from in front of the guy on the right;
∙ Slightly lower viewpoint to take both singers’ heads wholly above the visible horizon. That apart I do like it. Hair and Water – Alan Hillman Highly Commended
Very good spur-of-the-moment portrait. This has a lot to commend it. You can do nothing about the breeze and you should not let it worry you. I do like it. Hands Up – Alan Sheridan
I’m guessing this was shot in Indonesia. It’s fun, it’s interesting, and the two participants are clearly enjoying themselves. You can’t help the light being a little flat, and the colour of the woman’s clothes makes up for that. Well exposed. Great image. Heading Off – John Verlander Highly Commended
Colourful record shot of the UNICEF Clipper 2020 boat. This is one of those record shots that captures a moment well. For a competition, I would have spent some time dealing with the parallax in the computer. Exposure and colour balance pretty well spot on. High Handed – John Verlander
I love veteran vehicles and you’ve captured this one pretty well spot on. There’s human interest and authenticity in this image which is perfectly exposed and framed. A contender. If – Keith Vincent
A beautifully captured moment in time. It would be fascinating to know what she was thinking at the time the shutter was clicked. The contrast with the two other women chatting in the background is complimentary without being intrusive. I’m not at all worried by the sunlight being very low in the sky. A contender. Indoors – Alan Sheridan
There’s something really rather fetching about this image, the way you’ve intruded on these young women’s lives without invading their space. Good shot, well-exposed and not that easy to get right. I do like it. Key Worker – Richard Holmes Commended
This is a very clever use of miniaturisation as a “still life” image that sticks to the competition theme. Shots like this are not easy to get. The precise lighting also really adds to the overall effect. There’s nothing to really criticise here. It’s certainly a contender. March Sunshine – Helen
The thing that really struck me about this image was that one woman has the tradition of the printed newspaper, and the other is on her tablet. Again exposure is great, but I feel this time that the vignette is just a bit too much. I’m in two minds as to whether I would have used it at all. That apart, well-captured shot. People Carrier – John Verlander
Not sure this qualifies as an image in a competition entitled “People”, but as a record of colourful traveller caravans it’s exposed and captured pretty well spot on. Photo Opp – Alan Hillman
It’s that Saharan dust again. This is close to being a very good shot, but slips up by not having the subject fractionally to the left (either at capture or crop). Great concept. Nearly right. Red – Carol Sheridan
Simple, well-exposed image with spot-on bokeh. Nothing really to criticise here at all in the way the shot has been tackled. Did you take a shot showing more of the headgear lower down? I
would have liked to be able to compare the two.. Rest – Carol Sheridan
Again, another great and simple shot. Colour and exposure again pretty well spot-on and what really caught my eye is that you got the horizon spot on. Serious – Carol Sheridan
Very good candid portrait that could only have been improved by getting the whole of the subject’s right hand in the frame. Good bokeh. Very nice indeed. Smiles – Laura Woods
One of those shots where the “rule of thirds” goes right out of the window … and rightly so. Lighting is a little flat, (but that’s not your fault at all), and I just love the whole idea. The Coach Says – Duncan Gray
Colour, lighting, white balance and an intensity in the pre-match briefing that hits the spot . The wide angle lens does not distract. Would it have been better cropped a bit. TBH I think it would work either way. The Nutters – Richard Holmes
Another still life miniaturisation from the same competitor as Key Workers. This is good, but very slightly lacks a point of interest. Don’t get me wrong; I love the idea, the concept and the execution, but me this one is just a little too fussy and perhaps the grouping could have been just a little tighter with perhaps a bit space around the “foreman”. He should be the centre of attraction in the image and yet he doesn’t quite catch my eye, The Writing’s On The Wall – Steve Goldsmith
The photographer is very slightly aiming for a fashion editorial style here and it slips up a little. To improve it, bring the subject away from the wall, get the aperture as wide as possible, (I have an f1.4 / 80mm in my bag) and that would have lifted this a long way. Shame! It could have been a very good image. Steve’s comments: Lorraine has worked with me on a number of shoots both in the UK and Fuerteventura, this shot was taken in Fuerteventura in 2019. I like this shot a lot but am self critical of the shadow which for me is a distraction, however Lorraine stood on a narrow ledge and there was not an option to move her further awayfrom the wall, which would hav eliminated the shadow but Lorraine would have fallen a few feet!!!! So picture stands as does the shadow. What Does He See in That – Keith Vincent
My wife is one of those who finds peace watching the sea, and I guess that’s what this man does too. As a competition shot I would crop out the other person, but that apart I really like this image. Colour and exposure are great. What’s Over There – Wendy Kerr
Well there’s obviously something as it caught the attention of both subjects. I like the monochrome effect and feel this could only be improved by cropping. That apart – very good shot. Deep in Thought – Paul Armitage 3rd Place
Dance imagery again, and this is good. Exposure, colour balance, composition and an unfussy background make this a good image. Window light is pretty well spot on. Age is no Barrier to Memories – Steve Goldsmith 2nd Place
Yes, this steps up several gears, and there’s just a hint of the iconic Afghan Girl image here. A worthy member of the Experienced section. Very good indeed. Steve’s comments: Hopefully I’ve captured the look of ‘Lost in thought and personal memories’ it certainly was my intention. This is in the style of a photograph you would capture on a Greek island, however, in this case it was in the UK. I did consider turning it into a mono image but felt much as the mono would give depth the colour gave it more. Man’s Best Friend – Helen 1st Place
This is a quality image, and right up with the front runners. I love everything about this image – lighting, exposure, contrast, framing, vignetting and over all else, the unspoken relationship between the man and his dog. Just a joy to see. Results: I put eight images into my final group under consideration to decide my top three, and had one other image, not shown here, which was a close contender but not quite worthy of a place this time; and then took a second hard look at the final group of eight. Man’s Best Friend – Helen 1st Place This is a quality image, and right up with the front runners. I love everything about this image – lighting, exposure, contrast, framing, vignetting and over all else, the unspoken relationship between the man and his dog. Just a joy to see. At this point I’m going to let you into a secret. Some of you may have done your homework on me, and you might know I have a dance background. My mother was, in fact, a founder member and Life Fellow of the British Ballet Organisation. I also love dogs, especially collies, vintage and veteran vehicles, (I drive a 1996 TVR Chimaera), and I shoot fashion and portraiture, so this is a tough call for me as every one of these images has a pull on me. My top two places were, ultimately, pretty easy choices, and with a different judge, either could have taken top spot. My problem was which to put second. Picking third place was the difficult one and I had to ask myself, objectively, for each image in contention, what would have set it apart from the others. In the end it is simplicity that gets third place. Commended: Anna, Blue Sash and Fifi La Roux from the above, plus Key Worker. Blue Sash would have been HC if the backdrop had had a “floor”. Fifi La Roux would have been HC if the man in the background had not been there. Highly Commended: High Handed, Hair and Water The top three … and why … Third: Deep in Thought I mentioned simplicity, both in the subject and the background, and the added bonus of the natural light, perfectly exposed, it took my heart. Second: Age is no Barrier to Memories This is a beautifully composed and perfectly shot portrait, and it came so close to winning. There was a hair’s breadth between first and second. First: Man’s Best Friend Faultless composition, brilliantly observed, a spot-on exposure gently vignetted to maintain the draw of the eyes to the subjects.