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More on Club Judges

Discussion in 'Talking Pictures' started by MickLL, Dec 2, 2014.

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  1. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    I couldn't be bothered to find the old thread about judges but thought it might be interesting to recount a real situation.

    At the end of last week my club held it's projected image competition. The judge was a very senior judge who was responsible for the training of judges in a neighbouring county.

    We offered him 106, yes 106, images to be commented on and marked in one evening. A ridiculous number - nigh on impossible - but we are a big club and don't restrict the number of people who can enter. We are allowed two entries each.

    The images ranged from pure natural history through some heavily PhotoShopped stuff, a couple of traditional nudes, a couple of (IMHO) very 'modern' portraits, some landscapes and pretty well every other possible genre.

    He did a great job (again IMHO). If he repeated himself I didn't notice. He seemed to 'get' each and every picture and didn't seem to be riding any hobby horses.

    We mark out of 20 and don't ask for a winner. His spread of marks was interesting. The lowest awarded was 14 and he awarded the top mark of 20 to 5 images. The top marks went to:

    An insect macro
    A Kingfisher emerging from the water with a fish (if the others got 20 then IMHO this should have got 25 !!!)
    A traditional (and very excellent) landscape.
    A weird concrete structure (a sound mirror I think) treated in an almost abstract way.
    A very striking plant taken from ground level and looking up.

    None of the above five were obvious PhotoShop creations.

    That's it. Thought that you might be interested in an actual, rather than hearsay, event. Don't have a go at me about the futility of competition - I agree and repeat that our members seem to LOVE it and demand it.

  2. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

    I reckon that, wether people wish to go in for competition or conversation, they should be free to do so. The only problem arises, so far as I'm concerned, when someone comes over all religious and says that what they do is the only true way.

    In other words: live and let live. Apart from that, whatever floats your boat...

  3. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    I have great sympathy for club judges. To have to judge images and present your conclusions in front of an audience must take courage, no matter how long you have been doing it.
    I do think the fact that some judges get to see the images beforehand must be a good idea and really to expect the same feedback in an instant way (if not seen beforehand) is asking a lot, especially if some images grow on you the more you look at them.
    I spent about 18 months entering Salons, just for the experience. I wasn't going after awards or letters after my name, it just gave me something to aim for and a reason to look at my archives as well and hone some editing skills. These Salons are club run and judging is done by those deemed qualified to do it. They have a glimpse of your shot (so many entered) and my experience has been that the immediate impact shots (most of them doing the circuits over and over) are the ones picked for awards. Whether this is 'right' or not is a moot point. Salons are not the way to go for encouragement or feedback, but is a lesson all the same, so always valuable.
    I wonder if judges also feel pressure from clubs to pick the pristine exhibition shot rather than going their own way on their own preferences.

    Anyway, as you say, members want the competition so they get it. I wonder if what they want is really someone respected to analyse what they are doing currently and critique their work?

    Which was yours in this competition? Bet you made the top 5. :)

  4. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    My money's on the insect macro - all the others are described as if from the outside.
  5. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    Very perceptive - yes it was.

    As a matter of interest the judge said some kind things but was not OTT in his praise. On the other hand he waxed lyrical about my second entry and said some very, very flattering things - and awarded it 19 marks.

    I have no complaints and I heard none from the other members.


    PS He had seen the images beforehand (easy to do with projected).
  6. RogerMac

    RogerMac Well-Known Member

    Congratulations, I am sure both were excellent and is there any chance that you could post them in the exhibition lounge?
  7. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    Well done Mick.

    And thanks for posting this "real life" appraisal of club judging.

    Your experience is almost identical to my own (the only difference is that we ask judges to award only one 20, one 19 and one 18 - so the scores tend to range down a bit farther, usually to 12 or 13.

  8. Thunderer

    Thunderer Well-Known Member

    I wonder how photographers would react to having a non photographer judge such as a painter, potter or sculpted doing the judging and commenting?
    I sometimes think judges function to advise people how to please judges and succeed in the narrow genre of club photography, rather than talk about artistic or broader photographic merit.
    Anyhow tomorrow is the first judgement day for some years for my efforts in club photography. I am bound to do well being the only "beginner" in the print section so it will be the judges comments that matter. I hope he doesn't start his comments with a loud and slightly quizzical "yes" which usually seems to mean there is not much else to say.
  9. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

    That does rather say it all, for me.

  10. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    Couldn't agree more.
    The courage to be different, to do something technically doubtful but expressive and interesting. In other words, a bit of self expression and a toe into art. I think all into the creative arts have an eye for what works and what doesn't. Perhaps it would stop the inevitable lone tree, lurid sunset and boring but technically excellent macros.
  11. Thunderer

    Thunderer Well-Known Member

    And club photographers are not the only folk to stick with a narrow and safe genre. Club painters in my club are much the same with bland watercolours of valleys with a river flowing gently between meadows and trees, and a nice house in the middle distance, or big cats, or nice cottages predominating. There is a general recognition that this is not good enough but we lack the skill and imagination to break out. We hire people to show different and exciting approaches to painting and try to emulate what we have seen but then soon revert back to the safe and pedestrian.
    And painters are worse than photographers for ignoring copyright and directly copying images then selling them as original work.
    Question is where do photographers go to get critiques and advice other than clubs and open forum websites?
  12. PhotoEcosse

    PhotoEcosse Well-Known Member

    I just don't get this line of reasoning - because it is so far from the facts as I observe them week in and week out.

    To me, there is no doubt that camera clubs and photographic societies are the powerhouses that are driving the science and art of photography forward across a hugely diverse spectrum of genres, techniques and interpretations.

    Clubs are where we see - both as invited speakers and as members - those photographers who are really at the leading edge of our hobby. They are where we see the full age range of photographers, the gamut of photographic interests, the span of techniques, good representation of both sexes, unbridled enthusiasm from some, quiet contemplation from others.

    Compare that to the narrow and restricted focus of photographic magazines (and AP is by no means the worst), the almost traditional slant of the more prolific contributors to websites such as this, the arid and limited extent of most photographic education, the predictability of (most) exhibitions.

    At a meeting this week I heard one very experienced photographer state that he did not know what layers are and he did not wish to know. He then conceded that his fingers were brown from the chemicals he used in his platinum and palladium printing. At the same meeting there were presentations of superb landscapes, incredible creative work (largely achieved with a multitude of layers in Photoshop) and some award-winning wildlife images of a quality few of us ever get to see "in the flesh". You only get that sort of range by playing a full part in the activities of our clubs and societies.

    I am not saying that there is no place for the traditional; the tried and tested; the "safe" genres of photography. If folk get pleasure and satisfaction from them, that is great.

    But, personally, I much prefer the diversity and innovation that we only really find in clubs and societies.

  13. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    OI !!!

    You might at least have presented it as your opinion.

  14. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    Oh my! This can't go unchallenged.
    Clubs and Societies cater for - what? Less than 1% of photographers? The rest are professionals, carrying out businesses and the vast multitude who are just living life and photographing things as they feel like it and posting to websites to share with others. Clubs and Societies are the strait jackets of what is considered proper photography. Even innovative creativity is funnelled into flying boats for kudos or HDR wrestling with steeds in colour and action styles.
    No, it's the population out there who are experimenting in the true sense of the word. It's out there that the next iconic one will come from, not a Club or Society, which will protect its exclusivity with selection and its own exhibitions.
  15. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    Only kidding! Much as I admire the technical ability and diligence, I don't really connect, as it were. :)
  16. spinno

    spinno Well-Known Member

    I've a radical idea.... if you join a photo/camera club you are not allowed to enter the first competition that comes around... rather you have to judge it....(possibly in conjunction with other noobs...)
  17. Jacqui Jay

    Jacqui Jay Grasshopper's Sage

    You have a gift with words, Catriona. ;)
  18. Sejanus.Aelianus

    Sejanus.Aelianus In the Stop Bath

    I like the way you're thinking.

  19. Trannifan

    Trannifan Well-Known Member

    My experience with such 'judges' has been positive so far. They are far more open for different approaches and tend to offer encouragement along the lines of, "Hey, you've got something there, that's really interesting! Keep it up and see what you can do with it!" Photographers, on the other hand, often tend to be somewhat conservative when confronted with something outside their comfort zones.

    However, since I'm not involved in 'club' photography I can't really comment on that side of things.
  20. MickLL

    MickLL Well-Known Member

    There are several genres that I don't connect with. Probably top of the list are these PhotoShop Collages that seem to be popular these days. I loathe them with a passion. On the rare occasion I'm asked to judge one (as opposed to judging Natural History) I have to work very very hard to remain as objective as possible. In fact I feel that maybe I err slightly on the generous side as a result.

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