Photography News 08



mount an exhibition of the best of international photography open to the public for the whole month of August when Edinburgh is at its busiest with the various overlapping festivals. The several thousand visitors range from experienced photographers who know our exhibition is there, to the more casual tourists who find us in the Fringe programme. Once they have found us, many return year after year. A digital salon could not adequately be displayed in the same way and there are extra skills involved inmaking prints, which we wish to encourage. Howdoes the selection process work? We have a two-stage process now known widely as the ‘Edinburgh System’, which has also been adopted elsewhere. On the first day we divide all the prints between four rooms, each with a mix of colour and mono. The three judges take a room each and scrutinise the prints at close range, sorting them into ‘yes’ or ‘no’ piles. Any ‘yeses’ are set aside for the second round and the ‘noes’ stay in that room. The judge then moves onto the next vacant room, and repeats the process, so by the end of that round every ‘no’ in all four rooms has been closely examined and rejected by all three judges. This step tends to halve the total number of prints which get through to the second round. The next day, the judges are shown each of the ‘yeses’ individually on an easel in natural daylight. The judges allocate a mark of between two and five and the total score is noted down. Once every print has been scored, we then look at the totals of the different marks to see where we stand in relation to the desired 202. Sometimes if the judges have been kind with their marking, the sum of 12s to 15s exceeds 202 and we then ask the judges to revisit all the 12s to eliminate the number required. More often it is necessary to revisit all the 11s to promote some to the acceptance level. Eventually we reach the magic 202. Then the judges view the 13s to 15s to select the award winners. By the end of the second day we have an exhibition. Which are the most successful countries and which are the up-and-coming countries? England has tended to be the most dominant, usually with between one quarter and one third of the entrants and half or more of the total acceptances, with Scotland in a strong second place. China seems to be steadily increasing in numbers, for example in 2010 there were just nine entrants with 64 prints, but by 2012 we had 26 entrants from China with 223 prints. What current imaging trends have you noticed? We get a lot of composite images, some of which can be very plausible, others more surreal. Some make use of a lot of drawn components, rather than purely photographic, creating what is undoubtedly art, but arguably no longer photography. Our visitors each year have the opportunity to comment in a visitors’ book and often there are comments like ‘too much Photoshop’. From your personal standpoint, what sort of imagery excites youmost? Pure imaginative photography without fancy additions or contrivances. Simple images tend to have the biggest impact. What are the biggest weaknesses that you see in entries? Poor print quality. I often see prints that I recognise as having been accepted into digital salons but the image

ABOVE Strangers in the Night, Max van Son, AFIAP (The Netherlands) RIGHT Kindergarten Kids, Sue Moore FRPS MPAGB FIPF (England) FAR RIGHT Shadowlands, Steve Smith, FRPS MPAGB (England) BELOW RIGHT Viewpoint, Neil Scott, FRPS EFIAP/b DPAGB (Scotland)

has not translated well to paper. It takes more effort to produce an exhibition quality print, particularly when the standard of competition is high. Do you have any advice for photographers wanting to enter and be successful? First step is to read the rules! For example, we occasionally receive images, which don’t meet the size guidelines or aren’t fully monochrome and have to be set aside as un-judged. Second, submit images that are attention grabbing – imagination and simplicity go a long way. Remember, if your print gets as far as the second round, the three judges only spend a few seconds deciding what score to give it, so the more the picture is likely to grab them, the better the chance of a good score. Lastly, make sure that your print quality is exemplary and that generally tends to mean detail in both the highlights and the shadows. Other common defects are oversharpening with a computer, poor colour balance and unsuitable choice of paper surface. Remember the judges examine them very thoroughly in the first round and have time to spot any technical shortcomings. It would be great to have more exhibition space, which would enable us to put on a bigger exhibition. As affordable exhibition space in Edinburgh during August is rarer than unicorn droppings, any solution to increase hanging capacity has to happen within our own premises. We do have ideas for this, but don’t hold your breath! What are your future ambitions for the International Exhibition?


The exhibition welcomes entries from amateurs and professionals alike from around the world. Entrants are permitted to submit up to four prints in each of the two categories: Open Colour and Open Monochrome. The fee for entering is per section and is charged at £8 for one section or £11 for both. All entries must be submitted in print format and the last date for entry is 18 June 2014. All 202 accepted images will be exhibited at the Photographic Exhibition Centre in Edinburgh, 3-31 August (10am-5pm) during the Edinburgh International Festival.

It takesmore effort to produce an exhibition quality print, particularly when the standard of competition is high

π To find out more about the exhibition, go to

Issue 8 | Photography News

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