Projected Image League, Round 1. Judge: Damon Guy (Marlow CC) 12th September 2019
The first event of the season, and after a slight drop in entries at the end of the last, fingers were crossed. Immediate good news was Angela McCarty joining – more about her later and also hello again to Paul Winslow. Entries were also bolstered by three from Mike Webb and ditto Chairman Leo.
Damon Guy had been invited to do the judging. He has been to us a couple of times before, the last occasion being in December 2018. He was fine then, however he was even better this time. Although a professional photographer and now actually himself in charge of the CACC team governing who judges for us and how they do it, he hasn’t actually been judging that long, so he was either having a blinding day or he has learned much. This was top quality stuff. A lot of talking, absolutely no flannel and many very clever and subtle suggestions from someone who was clearly living it.
We gave him a fair number, nearly forty, slightly over a dozen entrants with our new secretary Seyhan Jones entering for the first time but with only two images. As is usually the case now at Park Street the standard overall was high; even the lowest scored images were entirely presentable which immediately threw up one way in which Damon has honed his craft. He spread the score wider but never unkindly. There is usually room to go down to a couple of 14s and he did. He held back ten.
However before that he scored Terry Day’s “Lady at the Market” an immediate 19. I say immediate: of all the images of the night this one possibly got the longest and closest scrutiny. Damon was very informative with his explanations of what can boost a portrait’s connection with the viewer. Explaining about reading the sitter’s character through their smile lines and appreciating how even folds in their clothing can bring your eyes back to their face. It was a master class in understanding portraiture and a huge help to me personally as I find these images the most difficult to judge. I do hope everyone else was listening as intensely as I. The picture definitely improved as he spoke about it!
From the ten that made the final cut, Chris Gilbert’s ‘Forever Locked’ got an unlucky 18. The now often used subject of padlocks affixed to a chain in some public place maybe wearing thin. Very well seen and crafted however, and Damon appreciated the fact that the chain on which they sat was itself tight. Again, another very subtle observation. However Chris had two more as all his were held back! One of Jacqui Taylor’s natural history shots ‘Little Owl and Owlet’ – very fluffy and at the same time sharp, scored a 19. I still wanted it to be called ‘Little Owl and Even Littler Owl’ but never mind. Jeremy Fraser-Mitchell had created a very striking double take on the Humber bridge. Similar in concept to some of Terry’s of the QE2 bridge, here Jeremy had overlaid the original perspective image from beneath with a mirror image creating both a very strong criss-cross composition, but also one of perfect symmetry. The remaining 19s were Chris’s other two. ‘Gatekeeper’ butterfly which came up early: spectacularly sharp and a perfect rendition of this small insect which we might have expected, so it is here that things got interesting. We are beginning to expect images this good. The equipment is out there, you only have to be a little patient to produce very good pictures in this genre now. But it only got a 19. So when Chris’s next entry came up, “Love-in-a-mist”, I was going down the road of …20 - won it! This didn’t happen, and the argument is important. It was pure perfection of a complex multi-layered bloom, with slightly enhanced light and shade and an ‘old master’ style back-drop. The sort if image that would have enraptured a botanist and been perfect for a textbook on the subject. However as Damon gently pointed out, technically wonderful as it was, would it connect with many observers not in that particular business? Did it connect with him? Did it make him feel anything but respect for the author’s technical ability? These are nebulous areas and even more difficult to verbalise and Damon did it and he had a point. Fine, but only a 19. Wow, now I was paying attention!
The remaining five all got 20s. Sue Hipperson’s “Burnt Orange Daisies” impressed with the very bold orange and green colour palette. It could have benefitted from its simplicity and hence looking especially good as a thumb nail (one trick worth remembering). This effectively tied at 4th with John Jennings’ period piece entitled “Skipping”, the judge complimenting both the capture of the young lady’s apparent concentration, as well as its sharp rendition with just a moving foot to accentuate the action. Here again he entirely ignored the slightly distracting text in a half cut-off notice on the wall behind. He was right. It simply didn’t matter, and in many ways added to the feeling of an impromptu snap, which it clearly wasn’t.
So to the final top three. Another from Sue Hipperson, “Light Work” was 3rd. The light tunnel, found on the subterranean walkway between St Pancras and Kings Cross has become a very popular subject. However the coloured lights are always changing so no two images of it are ever the same. It only takes the right number of people in it at the right moment and wearing the right clothes to make a good picture. Oh – and a lot of patience waiting for them to behave themselves and walk properly. In this case the yellow panel on the far right shone beautifully onto an individuals white shirt to make it too look yellow and bingo – it worked. Damon also reminded us of the appeal of an interesting corner around which we want to be led. Of course this venue has one of those from whichever end you view it.
Then another of Jacqui Taylor’s natural history shots. Dangerous territory, a humming bird. Do you freeze the motion or deliberately allow the wings to blur. Judges usually criticise either. Jackie got it dead right – she did both. Most of the action was frozen and we could clearly see beautiful definition in the feathers with just the tips of the wings blurring to remind us that this was very much an action shot. A worthy second place for “Humming Bird Costa Rica.”
Who is this winner, Angela McCarty? She only joined last week! “Imminent Strike” a perfect title for an unusual capture of a Red Kite just coming out of its stoop. Perfectly sharp, and we were looking down on the bird with foliage in the background, not the usual sky blue or otherwise. Head was tilted towards us, just as if it was checking that the author was getting its ‘good side’, and a light in its eye to keep Damon happy. How could it fail? Once again, a popular subject so it was already having to make up ground, but the angle of the wings made the composition very powerful. Angela had two others in as well, both competent natural history shots, so Jacqui might have competition this year. Somewhat of a dark horse, this lady, originally from New Zealand, was no beginner having been in a camera club a few years before. Great to have her on board and leading this clean sweep of the top three places by ladies.
It was generally agreed that Damon Guy did an excellent job for us on this night, so it is reassuring to know that with his position in the CACC Judge Workshop hierarchy, his style may be being imprinted a little on those future judges coming though.