RCPS Press Report 23rd November 2017

This week the society settled in for an evening of judging and critique for images submitted a couple of weeks ago. Jim Edwards, who specialises in Pictorial prints and slides, Nature and Digital Image judging proved to be the perfect person to kindly offer in-depth analysis and advice on getting the best from each print.

Over all there were 25 prints and 65 digital images submitted for judging, anyone who is a member can enter and so long as they meet the suggested guidelines – in this case for ‘Close Up’, basically taking an image with the subject close to the camera revealing details that may otherwise not be as noticeable – they will be accepted as part of the competition.

The images were very varied and this made for an enjoyable interesting evening – one of the members commented that avoiding very restricted topics is wise after another club had a whole evening comparing autumn leaf shots.

Jim took us through a range of digital images including flowers, bees, dragonflies, snails, fungi, timber, amazing goose barnacles up close and personal, abstracts including a close up of a family dog that made us stop and think, rusted metal sea worn bolts, beautiful water droplets, baby pigeons looking prehistoric and a cross eyed cat!

The highly commended were ‘Eagle Owl’ (a close up of piecing orange eyes with beautiful reflections visible, each feather in focus), ‘Oh deer, I must be seeing things’ (a close up abstract that, quite frankly, no one knew what it was but the colours and depth of field and focus were just right), ‘Owl Butterfly’ (stunning close up of the butterfly with its wings closed). The authors, respectively, were Stuart Ward, Helen Tabor and Frank Vallely.

The commended images were ‘Feast for Red Admiral’ (the butterfly feeding showing eye structure and expression), ‘Fixing the Computer’ (a clever image showing miniature model workmen working on a circuit board) and ‘Monster in my Garden’ (an image of a house fly so close that it looked almost unreal, each individual hair showing against the pale back ground). The authors, respectively, were Sarah Swinscoe, Gary Calland and Sara Richer.

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd places (for digital images) were taken by Sarah Swinscoe, Alistair Peterson and Stuart Ward. Respectively they were: ‘Dandelion Countdown’ – a close up of the partially deployed seedhead with a single dropping seed perfectly focused showing all the intricate detail that is so easy to miss as we dismiss the humble weed in our borders; ‘Birds Eye Beauty’ – a close up with clear focus and stunning detail of a Malaysian bird few of us had ever seen, singled out with its funny little comb over quiff; ‘Ermine Moth’ – again a view of this little creature that few have seen so close, its furry little body and huge eyes popping off the screen!

Our judge, Jim, was generous with his advice about how to improve each and every image, pointing out the focus point that the members had achieved and how to maybe just tweak the image to show more focus, this being of greater importance when taking macro images. Focus stacking was something that many of us knew nothing about and although the quality of the images was extremely high, clearly there were things we could all take away with us from Jim’s careful observations and hints about how professionals seem to get the perfect image – secrets of the macro world!

The prints offered a pleasant end to the evening and took us through abstract patterns, back lit teasels, pastel flowers, stunning close up of a snake about to strike, fungi, moss on the forest floor and background colours of a simple stem in a vase.

The highly commended images were ‘The Heart of the Poppy’ (a close up of a poppy filling the print with the dark seed head in focus and softly lit glowing petals surrounding it) and ‘Wasp Face Up Close in the Rain’ (the slightly triangular head of a wasp filling the print and showing a slightly softer side, with detail rarely seen, of this insect) – both by Suzanne Lamb. Commended images were ‘Portrait of an Orchid’ (a stunning green and white close up, almost abstract in its appearance, clear and well focused); ‘Robber Fly Feasting’ (a slight gruesome image of the fly feasting on a ladybird, colours and details springing off the picture); ‘Snail Descending’ (a snail moving down the flower stem giving us a close up of this little creature in all its slimy glory); authors of these images , respectively, were Frank Vallely, Stuart Ward and Sara Richer.

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd images were awarded, respectively,  to Stuart Ward for ‘Fritillary Feeding’ – a beautifully clear close up of the butterfly allowing the viewer to see small details of expression and anatomy of this exquisite graceful butterfly; Suzanne Lamb for ‘Tiny Garden Spider acting Big’ – at first glance it was difficult to belief this image was in fact only 1cm ‘garden spider’, it had the appearance of a massive hairy tropical spider with orange eyes, its legs forming shadows on the stone beneath – not everyone’s ideal subject but a clear image that begged a second look; Sara Richer for  ‘Natures Contrast’ – a lovely pastel image of pink blooms, merging beautifully into a soft bohek background.

Overall winner went to Stuart Ward for the ‘Fritillary Feeding’, a well deserved choice.

Once again the evening seemed to pass very quickly and our thanks go to Jim Edwards for taking the time to assess all the images, for travelling to Ripon to judge them and for sharing useful information about processing and image-capturing that will have inspired us to get out and about over the next few weeks looking for the small wonders in that hide in clear sight in the under growth of our gardens and parks.

This coming Monday we look forward to the judging of ‘Sport’ entries by Christine Hartley who will kindly join us for the evening.