Photography News 07

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Your opinions

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Speakers’ corner in issue 6 drew a huge response. To recap, judge ColinWalls CPAGB suggested that judging club competitions should not be done ‘live’, but considered beforehand. Well, here’s what you think… What you think about… judging

First-hand experience

Des Ward is media manager at Cheltenham Camera Club, and he read the Speakers’ corner article by Colin Walls CPAGB with interest as Colin had judged at the club in 2012. As part of his post, Des writes a members’ only blog, so he can say what he really thinks about visiting speakers without worrying. Here’s his blog entry commenting on Colin’s judging, followed by subsequent comments from Cheltenham CC’s members:

subject. I thought he was effective in telling us where the eyes go when looking at various pictures – and whether that contributed to the image working or not. “He also made a number of very good points which I took note of: • The eye is automatically drawn to text, and if it is incomplete, you tend to spend more time on it, trying to work out what it really says – if the text is not the main point of the image then this essentially distracts from the subject. • Simplicity is the art of taking away everything to leave only what’s essential. I also particularly liked the way that the images which didn’t quite make it to the award giving stage got an honourable mention to let you know how close they were. “Finally, you could argue that his style of reading notes from an iPad led to a less dynamic presentation than usual – and there are certainly judges who are more entertaining; but to be honest I think the level of detail we got from his full consideration of the images far outweighed that. “In summary, another excellent judging; the time and care that Colin put in to prepare were self-evident and certainly paid off. Thanks Colin.” of each picture given by Colin, so much better than the umming and so on that often accompanies the assessment. The keeping to time was largely due to this delivery and was welcome. Sometimes I find the delivery we get from judges so laborious. I think we should invite this one back for sure.” TP I agree entirely that the time he devoted to judging beforehand was beneficial. I think more judges should be encouraged to do this. It made for a much better, yet concise summary of each image’s good and poorer points.” IG I liked the crisp summary

“A rather unusual, perhaps even unorthodox judge. Unusual in that we got his history upfront to let us know where he was coming from (and I don’t just mean the Beacon Club, Malvern) but also his slant on assessment in preference to judgment and his love of seeing other people’s photographs. Also I believe unique in recent years in that he examined the prints for 1.5 days before Thursday evening. His presentation was undoubtedly unorthodox – reading his notes from an iPad. And finally he doesn’t accept expenses – he requests a donation to his nominated charity, SightSavers. “So how did he do? Well I could be accused of bias as he gave a first place to my image, Divergence (although I got no change whatsoever with my mono images), but I thought his very careful assessment of the prints was excellent. I think we got a much better, more considered, more in-depth, more insightful and more concise assessment of the prints than we ever get when a judge is seeing them for the first time on the night. “Colin gave us his ideas on how some of the images could be improved, mentioning a better crop quite a few times, and even an anti-crop – where there wasn’t enough space around the Judging at home and delivering your carefully considered assessment was normal when I first joined a club. Sadly around 1990 judges started insisting that they would only judge live. The reality is that live judging is more difficult and some are better than others. However, the advantages of home judging were well displayed by Colin and quite a contrast. Well done Colin!” DH Good judging, great preparation and he kept on time!” DP Comments

“I feel that I must respond on behalf of the many dedicated camera club judges, who undertake their judging assignments on a ‘cold’ judging basis. Colin Walls felt compelled to label ‘cold’ judges as pontificating and lazy. How disappointing that a fellow judge and photography enthusiast should feel so arrogant and superior. “I have personally been judging at club and federation level for five years. During that time I have worked hard on improving my knowledge and understanding of photography by visiting exhibitions, studying photographers and photographs and viewing as many club photographers’ images as possible. This knowledge has enabled me to deliver informed photographic critique at club competition evenings, even if I only have a limited time to preview all images entered on the night. “I certainly do not feel that the criticism “lazy” and “pontificating” has any substance and does Colin no credit at all. I might question if his “five or six” judging assignments a year in any way keeps him up to date with current club photography in all of its varying guises, but I would never presume to criticise something about which I am not fully informed. “In my experience camera club judges do their best, in their own time, to provide a valuable service to clubs and their members. Some are better than others, but that is a reflection on all aspects of life. “It is disappointing that a fellow judge feels the need to criticise his colleagues when it would be much more productive if we worked together in developing our many skills to the benefit of camera clubs and their members. At the end of the day camera club judging is something that we all do through our enthusiasm and love of photography. Ill-informed criticism will only serve to stifle that enthusiasm to the detriment of all.” Anthony Oliver LRPS, CPAGB “I have been a judge for 30 years and have used both methods in club competitions. If I have over 90 images I prefer to have them in advance. If however the numbers are lower, more often than not the clubs don’t get the entries until the night of the competition. “I feel that with experience it is quite possible to make an informed judgment in the time available on the night. What I would normally do is mark the average and below and keep the higher scoring images until the end and then select a winner when the top images are together. “Bearing in mind that most club evenings last at the most two hours and an interval of 20 minutes is taken out of that, this leaves 100 minutes to judge maybe up to 120 images which does not leave much time for long informed comment. “And at the end of the night, it’s only ever the competition winner who really likes the judge.” David Hollows CPAGB

“I am not a judge but have years of experience listening to them. One memorable example of the pre-competition viewing method I had was listening to an experienced federation judge pontificating on how he would have taken the images rather than giving advice on how to improve them. “Good judges, if they are worth their salt, can sum up an image quickly, get straight to the point and still give helpful and constructive comments. Spontaneity is more refreshing. Sometimes one may disagree with a particular comment or mark, but after all, it is subjective. For more in-depth analysis we have in-house critique evenings.   “As a comparison, a music exam candidate is judged on the immediate performance as are other music competitions.” William Norman “I have been a keen photographer for decades, but only joined a club (Park Street Camera Club) about a year ago, and have not yet entered one of their competitions. I have been highly impressed by the way that all the judges I have seen at the club have made constructive comments about most or all the photos presented to them during the evening.   “I don’t yet have much feel for how important winning the competitions is for club members, but I think the competition results have been far more appropriate than the random selection suggested, presumably tongue-in-cheek, by Colin.   “I agree wholeheartedly with Colin that judges would be better able to do their job if they devoted a weekend in advance to studying the photos, and I admire him for sticking to his principles and refusing to judge ‘cold’. But, having been surprised by the number of competitions Park Street Camera Club holds or enters, I wonder whether there are enough competent judges available, who would be willing to devote a weekend to each competition, to sustain such intensive judging for all club competitions.” Chris Newman

Photography News | Issue 7

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