Photography News 04

Opinion BEFORE THE JUDGE Peter Yeo


FRPS, DPAGB, APAGB Each issue, a respected judge or exhibition selector shares their thoughts and experiences with us. This month, we put lecturer, judge and selector Peter Yeo FRPS, DPAGB, APAGB in the hot seat

MEETTHE JUDGE Peter Yeo FRPS, DPAGB, APAGB : Peter is a lecturer (sponsored by Fotospeed Distribution), judge and selector. He was introduced to photography while training as an RAF apprentice in the 1950s. Home club: Newark & District Photographic Society, Favourite lens and camera combination: Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 fitted to a Nikon D600. The 70-200mm f/2.8 is another top-class lens that I love to use. Accessory: Gitzo carbon-fibre lightweight tripod, no longer a current model. Favourite photographers: Michael Kenna, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Hunter Kennedy, Willy Ronis and Elliott Erwitt for his tremendous sense of humour; we all need to enjoy our hobby. Favourite subjects: Virtually anything that presents itself in front of me and my camera, but Scottish landscape, particularly the Outer Hebrides, travel (instilled by 33 years of worldwide travel at the taxpayer’s expense as a serviceman). Awardswon: I got my Fellowship in the Visual Arts/Pictorial category. The award of APAGB, 17 years ago, in recognition of 35 years of ‘Meritorious Service to the PAGB and its Affiliated Societies’. images can be created fromvirtually nothing can lead to the over-reliance on software. For example, the use of HDReffects to create implausible, saturated colours. Personal taste is a factor to be considered, and who is to say that mine is the correct one? In recent years it has become the vogue to take a simple picture and enhance it by the addition of portions taken from a number of data files. I wonder sometimes whether the creator of such images really has a good reason for the end result or has simply arrived at it because he or she was able to. I suspect the style will change over time and we may, with luck, get back to what I think of as straight photography where the innate values of the image are shown and applauded. This begs the question ‘what is straight photography?’ Those exhibition organisers who are now seeking to introduce a category for straight photography will have a hard job policing the entries submitted. Camera club members naturally seek success, and this success can be hard to find, and even harder to measure in any meaningful way. Try entering club competitions and take note of the judges’ comments; judges do have a lot to offer, even if it is only an unbiased opinion from someone with a fair bit of experience. Ask fellow members how they get the results they do; many clubs run classes for newcomers to the hobby we share. As you make progress, try entering your regional PAGB Federation exhibition and even a national exhibition; gaining an acceptance will boost confidence and show if your work reaches the standard required. Above all take lots of photographs and share them with others. Listen to criticism, learn from it, but do not lose heart if you don’t hear what you hope to hear.

Words by Peter Yeo FRPS, DPAGB, APAGB

I have been involved in photography for well over 50 years. It became a major part of my life as I tried to record the many places a lengthy service career was to take me. I first joined the RPS when based in Singapore and have been a member of camera clubs all over. The extremely low prices of Nikon cameras and lenses in the Far East enabled me to buy an extensive range of kit, and I have been a loyal Nikon user ever since. As a keen travel and landscape photographer I use my Gitzo carbon-fibre tripod quite a lot. As a lecturer I try to give talks that show a wide range of work; travel and landscape, townscapes and a few people pictures are included, but actually I will have a go at anything. I was delighted to be invited to join the RPS Licentiate Assessment Panel two years ago. I first began judging at club level simply because I was asked, found I enjoyed it and have been accepting invitations for about 50 years, graduating to inter-club, federation, national and international exhibitions, for example Dingwall, Smethwick, the RPS Visual Art Group members’ exhibition and, only a few weeks ago, I judged the RPS Yorkshire Region Annual Exhibition. For me, exhibiting is not the main reason I enjoy photography; visiting clubs to lecture and judge is my real motivation. Like many who judge or act as exhibition selectors I find that seeing exceptional photography is what makes my involvement worthwhile, and it gets better when someone I have advised tells me that he or she has won an award or gained a distinction. Perhaps the most interesting judging event I have undertaken was to act as the sole judge for an international, inter-club four-way competition between top clubs in Britain, one each from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The venue was special too – the Electric Mountain in north Wales – and it brought me face-to-face with the work of Hunter Kennedy. Many regret the introduction of digital imaging and claim nothing measures up to film and darkroom work. I believe digital has broadened the appeal of photography as a hobby, and the standard of pictures at club and exhibition level continues to get better. Those who go to Warwick and Connah’s Quay will be aware of the very high standard of photography produced by the top clubs and their members, with Smethwick, Wigan-10 and others dominating the events. However, I am impressed by much of the work coming from Eastern Europe and the Far East. Exhibition selection usually requires three experienced judges who work together to find the best images to ensure a successful exhibition with a variety of work from different genres. There is plenty of scope for disagreements but, funnily enough, I have found very few prima donnas who want to enforce their views on the others. Selectors are chosen for their different skills, interests and

ABOVE Homeless but dignified, by Peter Yeo.

experience, and most recognise the need for a mix to maintain viewers’ interest; and all contribute to the success of an exhibition in their own ways. Judging is rather different from ‘selection’ in that selectors do not have to comment whereas judges do. There are times when a picture comes up for judgement and it is hard to know what to say, sometimes because the image is so dreadful that beingpositive is difficult, andotherswhenone’s breath is taken away by the beauty or impact of the picture. No matter what the situation, a judge has to say something, and pretty quickly. Thinking on your feet is a vital attribute, as is the ability to recognise when the poorer work might be that of a beginner who needs help. All sorts of problems crop up regularly but the most common are over-enlargement, over- sharpening, over-saturation, burned-out highlights and solid, featureless black shadows. The oft-quoted ‘rules’ in photography probably have their origins in painting from centuries ago, but it is also said that rules are made to be broken. If you want to try something outside the norm, and it works well, then so be it. A striking and different composition can be successful. Most of us began by taking quite ordinary photographs, so when faced with such a picture, a judge should seek out the good points and suggest how it might be improved. The less good aspects should also be mentioned, to give a rounded response, but encouraging remarks may retain a member who will make progress and not go home never to return to the club again. The wide range of software now available enables us to do things that would have been more difficult in the darkroom. However the relative ease with which

Personal taste is a factor to be considered, andwho is to say thatmine is the correct one?

Issue 4 | Photography News

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