Photography News 10

14

Opinion

SPEAKERS’ CORNER

More pigeonholes? With the lines between photography and graphic design getting more andmore blurred, DennisWorrall reckons it’s time for new categories in contests and salons

PDIs that we are seeing in the open exhibitions. The wealth of plug-ins for Photoshop and other image-editing software packages has changed the face of photography greatly. A lot of photographers could now be called graphic artists, as sometimes their pictures have only a small percentage of photographic content in them. I was surprised in a recent international here in the Midlands, where so many prints were oversharpened and had too much contrast, and some components that had been imported into the original were poorly done and far too obvious (except to the judges!) – the edge effects looked too cut out and clearly visible. This is up to the judges to sort out, but I’m advocating a new section in exhibitions for highly manipulated or creative images, leaving work that has only received a little tidying up in a separate section. To my mind, the judges would prefer this approach, since the mix of little-altered and highly manipulated work is a difficult thing to compare fairly. The same judges could do the judging on the same day and enjoy the freedom to pick the best from each section, with the same scoring – five for real ale, two for lager. It would to a large degree depend on the entrants entering the appropriate section, and I feel that the judges should be allowed to move work to another section if they thought it was in the wrong one. Some time ago, a similar thing happened with nature photographers, who in some exhibitions were placed in the open sections. When the nature group were given their own section, it proved to be a very popular move I am a member of Smethwick PS, which is a very large club, probably the biggest in the UK, and has been very successful for many years. The members work hard and have a great sense of humour, which all clubs should have. The change that I and many others are advocating would be good, and it is not intended to penalise anyone. It would be a change for the better, and I hope it will be taken on board – if it is successful, great, but if not it will not do any harm to our photography. I am emigrating as quickly as possible, certainly before this article is published.

Words by Dennis Worrall FRPS

Recent discussions on the judging methods used or preferred by photo clubs or exhibition organisers have generated a great deal of discussion among photographers. This is good, as it has made people aware of howmuch work judges put into their efforts to not just award marks but also help members improve their work, which is very important. I started to enter work at a club many years ago. They were not outstanding pictures, which you would expect as a beginner, but some of the judges in those days were very harsh in their comments – if you know many old codgers like me, ask them and be surprised. One of my landscape efforts was swept aside with the comment that the clouds in the sky looked like smoke signals. Not very encouraging, but I persevered and eventually became a judge myself. My own experience across a large range of photographs over a long period has made me a little reticent regarding the appreciation of one image over another. Sometimes there is one image that stands out clearly as the winner, but on many occasions in large club exhibitions, I find that I have a collection of six or seven prints or PDIs from which to choose a winner. This then comes down to personal choice, but how do you compare an excellent landscape or action shot with a very good portrait? This is very difficult for a judge by himself.

This is why I prefer judging with two other respected judges using an electronic scoring machine that scores from two to five. This creates a conglomeration of scores, but they do form into a coherent mass. High scores, ie. 3x5 = 15, usually pick themselves, with the judges only having to fight over — sorry, I mean discuss — the merits of the very best pics. This does make for a good balanced selection of work with the best one coming to the top: fine by me, as long as it’s one I like. Things have changed a great deal in recent years with digital capture moving on at a terrific pace, and we are faced with new challenges. I found it astonishing how quickly film and film cameras were displaced by digital capture. The cameras are still improving and, of course, this means much better quality images. We no longer work in the dark with chemicals in a tray to produce images, although I still look at my monochrome prints with admiration and a certain amount of sadness at the passing of this process, the quality of which is still hard to beat. It was with this medium that I gained my fellowship of the RPS and to my great pleasure I was elected as a member of the London Salon, which has an annual exhibition that travels around the country and is well worth visiting. The members are all top photographers and very friendly, although my first print in the exhibition was not on the wall at the opening and I found it in the gents’ toilet. When I brought it out, Bob Moore Hon FRPS and Alan Jackson FRPS stood outside grinning from ear to ear and strongly denying any wrongdoing, but good humour should also be a strong point in all clubs – it’s not a war zone. A discussion that I’d like to start is about the large number of highly manipulated prints and

A lot of photographers couldnowbe called graphic artists, as sometimes their pictures have only a small percentage of photographic content

π To find out more about Smethwick Photographic Society, go to www.smethwickphotographic.co.uk.

Should he stay or should he go? Is Dennis wrong about the need for new categories, in which case he should start packing? Are we too quick to pigeonhole? Or is he right and we need more categories? Let us know where you stand at opinion@photography-news.co.uk. WHATDOYOUTHINK?

LEFT Martha with pet chicken. ABOVE Traveller girl.

Photography News | Issue 10

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