Set Subject

Prints - Judge Caroline Ludford

First of all thank you for allowing me to assess your images for your monthly competition. I have thoroughly enjoyed looking at the work that you have produced and you have some very talented photographers.
A little bit about me before I start with my comments. I am born and bred in Lancashire in the UK and have been in NZ for the last 13 years. I recently retired from the Police having spent the last 29 years working as a Constable in
Manchester, UK and Auckland. I spent the last few years as a Police Forensic Photographer and dealt with the big scenes and major crime, including homicides, armed robberies, suspicious deaths, stabbings and photographing
post mortems (about 25 per year). On average I would take between 16,000 and 18,000 images per year and we used a Canon 5D mark 3. Prior to that I was a crash analyst on the Serious Crash Unit. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Police and found each role fascinating. It is fair to say that I have seen my fair share of carnage though.
I have been a member of a couple of camera clubs in Auckland including the North Shore and Hibiscus Coast clubs, and since moving to Kapiti Coast I joined the local club there. I have been the secretary of the Judge Accreditation Panel for the last couple of years and gained accreditation myself a couple of years ago.
I have my LPSNZ and LRPS (UK) and I am working towards getting ‘nature’ accreditation together with APSNZ.
Most recently I was one of the selectors for NATEX in the Open prints category and it was a pleasure to judge the Laurie Thomas competition in 2018. So many stunning images.
A good question would be what am I looking for – has the photographer shown me a different view, an individual style, how well do you communicate a message in the image and the visual design (composition and craft).
Ok so lets start with your lovely images.
Oaro beach evening (C) – The colours of the sky give a nice peaceful feeling to the shot with the oranges, pinks and yellows. I like the way you have left detail in the pieces of wood on the beach too giving us a foreground, middle ground and background. In my view I think the image would be a little stronger with a slight crop off the bottom (about 1 inch) so that the dark sands start in the left corner of the shot and lead you to
the hills in the background. This would also give a nice triangle shape to the foreground, which I feel would add a dynamic balance. Very nicely
done. Merit
2. Sunset at Wairau River diversion (C) – This shot makes me want to visit. We have some lovely colours again. I feel the image is quite centrally placed rather than on the 1/3 but in this case I feel it works as I enjoy the dark foreground, which gives it a good base and framing. Nice work.
3. View from the Lakehead hut, Lake Rotoiti (C) – I enjoy the extra interest with the clouds in this shot rather than plain blue sky. I find this image quite moody with the darkening sky. I am taken on an adventure through the beautiful grasses to the point where the hills meet, nice lighting andgreat story. HONOURS

4. A tranquil evening (A) – You sure have some beautiful skies in Marlborough and after seeing all these lovely images I feel a visit coming on. The colour palette of pinks evokes feelings of ‘blessed to live in such a wonderful country’ for me. My eye is drawn to the brighter tones in the top right of the sky and I wonder if a crop off the top taking out the brightest part of the sky would eliminate this. There would still be some lovely tones in the sky towards the left hand side. I also feel that lightening the shadows a little would help lift the image. Nicely done.
5. Aorere River Estuary (A) – I get a calm feeling from this image with the stillness. The critical timing with the bird, which is just off centre, gives us a focal point to rest on and I like the reflection in the water. The added bits of cloud give more definition in the sky. A nice simple but strong image. Nice job. Merit
6. Buller Riverbank (A) – The riverbank looks like a penguin or bird on its side to me with the beak to the right hand side. The reflections are lovely and soft. I do find that my eye is drawn to the lighter coloured tree towards the top left and is a bit distracting. The photographer might like to consider a vignette. This would assist to bring the viewer back to the land in my opinion. Acceptance
7. Evening Glow (A) – Here we see some rugged textures in the landscape and contrast between the golden yellow and the blue of the sky. The light coming in from the left hand side is low and producing long dark shadows
with just the crests of some of the grasses illuminated. I find my eye hunting round for a focal point to rest on. Acceptance
8. Kaikora Before the Earthquake (A) – I enjoy the way the photographer has chosen to present this image. I like the choice of texture and feel it adds a sense of drama. The rugged detail in the environment and choice of colour helps prevent any distractions in my view. Beautifully sharp and lighting is perfection. HONOURS
9. Light the night (A) – I feel a sense of foreboding doom with the red/scarlet/pink and darkness of the image. This mood communicates a sense of apprehension and an ominous feeling in me. The colours add a tension and I find it quite confronting. The swirling of the foreground adds to the layer effect I get from this shot. Merit
10. Old Gold Mining Site (A) – I had to check that I had the right image as there were two identical titles and none that showed ‘Old gold mining site’. I like the tones of yellow and green that are shown in this shot. I also feel that it is a pity that the reflection is not still. The wind was obviously blowing across that day. In my view, the foreground does not add anything to the image and the author might like to consider a crop. In my view, the image appears a little over sharpened and quite contrasty.
11. Pohara Beach Gloaming (A) – When I first looked at this image I saw the moon and then worked my way down the shot to the brighter sands in the foreground. I found that my eye kept going back to the foreground. I also
found that the ribbon of water took me out of the shot. The photographer might like to try either cropping that foreground or darkening it down. Nice composition with the moon though. Acceptance
12. Power to the light (A) – I like the way the line of the hills roll down to the light pole and the base of the image almost mirrors the top which in my view helps to frame the shot and keep the viewer engaged. I feel that it is
well balanced with the larger part of the base on the right hand side balancing the pole on the left. I find it a little soft in focus and feel that it would be a stronger image if sharp. Nice colours. Acceptance
13. St Bathan’s (A) – A beautiful part of the country and one I have visited a couple of times. The lovely reflection shows some good detail. In my opinion the image feels a little over sharpened. I see a slight halo on the
ridge on the left hand side. Acceptance
14. West Coast in the mist (A) – This has a clean crisp, serenity and calmness feel to it for me. I enjoy the choice of the author to use black and white. I like the contrast of the soft mist on the left hand side to the crisp detail of
the tree on the right. The pencil drawing effect adds to the drama. Great work. HONOURS
15. South island waves (A) – I get a lovely relaxed and serene feeling when I look into this image. The sweeping cresting of the wave in the foreground is the main focal point and powerful and then I find myself being taken on
a journey to the darkness in the background. Beautiful composition and subtle lighting add to the drama of the shot. A unique and interesting perspective and way of exploring the landscape. HONOURS
16. Rarangi Beach (A) – Feeling of moody troubled waters, a tenseness of what is about to happen maybe. I enjoy the choice of the author to use black and white and feel it adds to the drama of the shot. Nice composition adding mystery to the shot as my eye wanders around. Nice work. Merit
My pick for Print of the Month was a difficult one as all four images were of a very high standard. I finally decided on ‘View from the Lakehead hut, Lake Rotoiti.’ A stunning shot and excellent work for a ‘C’ grader. Keep up the
fantastic work.

I hope that you are happy with my choice and assessment of your work. Remember, at the end of the day, these are my thoughts and opinions only.

Digital - Judge Judy Stokes

I have absolutely loved judging your images for tonight and am sorry I can’t be with you to share them. You have all given me itchy feet to get down to your beautiful South Island again!!
I have included some of my own images for you to see what sort of work I do. I love working with Intentional Camera Movement and am often told my photographs look more like paintings. I am now giving workshops from my home in Muriwai on how to be creative with photography as well as just exploring our West Coast area. I would love some of you to come and join me some time. I do also provide accommodation with my workshops. Feel free to look at my website
In critiquing your images tonight I have tried to give you constructive tips. That is what I have always liked receiving when having my own work assessed. If I haven’t loved your image tonight please have a thick skin and don’t worry. The most important thing is whether YOU love it or not! Isn’t it wonderful that we all have different viewpoints and opinions to make up a colourful and varied world? 
Goodluck to all of you…you have some tremendous work here that you can be very proud of!

Early Morning in the clover field  MERIT
What an interesting piece of equipment to pop into your foreground- the reds of the clover tie in beautifully with it. Personally I wonder if you need all of the sky. I do love the depth you have managed to create with the point of view you chose.
Big Sky Country  ACCEPTED 
I love the way your golden and tawny colours are complimentary to the blues of the sky and water. Perhaps with a little bit more contrast you could get them to pop out against each other even more. Your title does lead me to perhaps want the sky to be a more dominant hero of the image. I enjoy the varying textures created by your subject matter.
Cape Cambell  ACCEPTED
I have never been to Cape Cambell, but now I want to go there! What fascinating sand formations. My eye is a little distracted away from the interesting formations by the bright shrubby part on the LH lower third. You also have quite a large area of shadow on the RH side which isn’t perhaps as interesting as the sand formations. I like your use of the path as a leading line- and the lines formed by the difference of light and dark also work as interesting leading lines.
Channels in the sand ACCEPTED
I do enjoy the beautiful winding line of black sand in the bottom of this image. Our brains do unfortunately tend to be drawn to the brightest parts of images and in this case my eye wants to dash to the very top of this image. I wonder if you considered a crop or a darkening down of the very bright part right at the top edge, whether your image might be more effective. I love the way the wet sand is catching the light giving it a greeny/goldy  glow and accentuating it’s texture.
Clover Crop HONOURS
This image has a wonderful mood about it. You have chosen your spot well and used a lovely time of day to get your image. I wonder if the trees on the left hand side are integral to you composition and serene feel. I also wonder if a very  small crop off the top could  turn this into a wonderful panoramic image. I love the echoing of the red clover in the pinky sky tones.
Cuillins and Pines MERIT
With your title you have cleverly told me that the pines are an important part of your image and made me notice the similarity in their outline in comparison to the mountains outline. I do wonder if the two focal points give a little bit of competition in terms of where to rest my eye, is it the mountain or the trees- or should my eye just continue the line from the mountains over the tree…so I feel the image has a certain amount of tension about it rather than being serene-which may well be your intent. This image does give me the urge to go into the scene right now and enjoy the crisp air and crunch through the grass!

Geologists Dreamworld  MERIT
I find your layering in this image wonderful and I especially love the foreground. I do find the image seems to have a very blue tone and on my computer screen which does admittedly seem to show more detail than others, there is a little noise in the sky just above the horizon area. Your vantage point was definitely worth the walk and I love the tip of the mountain above the horizon line.
Glacier and Yaks in Tibet MERIT
A snowstorm hovering on the edge of your scene really sets a wonderful mood. It could have been really effective if the Yaks were caught in the patch of sunlight that is just behind them, and if your travel companions were patient it might have been worth waiting for the patches to move as they sometimes do. I was interested too to notice a person amongst the yaks. I feel you have handled the light on the mountains and slopes beautifully.
Glendhu Bay MERIT
The snowy mountains reflected in the water are a nice touch in this almost classical landscape. In my view, it might be worth just lifting a few of the darker areas and having a touch more contrast to give the image a touch more zing. I do like the way the branches frame the scene and make us feel like we are peeping through to see it.
Hawkdun Range MERIT
I can feel the fresh air of this image. I am not quite sure if the composition is the most effective –I personally feel the bush shuts the viewer out of the image a little- of course the splashes of red berries are effective though!! It might just have been worth it to play around with different view points and compositions. I think you have handled the light beautifully.
Irish Mist HONOURS
What a wonderful opportunity of place and weather and you have made great use of the scene. I love the layering of trees and shapes outlined. There is one tiny suggestion I`d make, and that would be in the bottom right hand corner to just darken the one piece of grass/twig  that is catching the light and drawing our attention. Ideally, in my view, if it wasn’t in a landscape competition it would be nice to clone it out! On the other hand you might love it there to give the image depth. Overall I find this a marvellously moody scene.
Kaiteriteri Estuary ACCEPTED
Your choice of place, sets the scene well for a minimalistic image. In my view this image feels a little unbalanced with more weight on the RHside of the image. It might have been fun to play around with the same lovely simple elements and by moving your position seeing what different options you could have come up with. I do enjoy the contrast of the blue set against the browns of the scene.
Karamea Stream HONOURS
Your shutter speed choice for this image works beautifully to give the stream the lovely silky water feel. I love your crop of the scene and the almost Zen like quality your composition gives us. My eye is drawn to the young sapling growing out of the bank on the LH third and I wondered if perhaps the leaves of it were a little bright. I do feel you have handled the other foliage and moss beautifully.

Land of Hope and Glory ACCEPTED
The strong point of this image for me is the interplay between the mountains and clouds. On my screen the quality of the image is lacking a little and it seems soft in the foreground and noisy in the sky. I like the way the road leads us into the image in two parts. 
I could see this as a painting in a hotel lobby. I love the choices you have made and because of these choices and the something a little special - I look past and forgive any technical issues. I do hope you silently thanked the cloud for posing so beautifully for you just above the snowy mountain!
Manukerikia River Valley MERIT
It’s definitely time for this North Islander to visit the South island again!! I hope you all realise how lucky you are  I might have been tempted to level the fence line as the horizon line even though it probably isn’t level.  I also wonder whether the patch of grass in the bottom RHside is adding to the image. A lovely sense of depth is created by having the lupins, then the slopes leading to the snowy caps.
Middle of Nowhere HONOURS
The Middle of Nowhere seems a tempting place to go!! This little crib works beautifully as a foreground. I do like how you have treated it. Your dark foreground area in front of the crib adds a certain mood to the image which I am sure you have intended. I personally might have lightened it a little to give the contrast of the tawny colour, but isn’t it good we all have our own visions. I think you have chosen the angle and point of view carefully and overall have a well thought out, moody image.
Nevis Bach MERIT
You have chosen to really push the processing of this image and I commend you for your vision. I do notice a rim on the edge of the hills which has happened somewhere along the line and this might be worth going back and sorting out. I think your composition is very effective and love the almost grungy black and white treatment..
Pepin Island HONOURS
What a glorious sea colour to have as a backdrop for this island scene. In my view the cropping choices you have made are lovely and I find this a well handled, beautifully balanced, image from a nicely refreshing viewpoint. The water texture provides lovely leading lines and the cloud, central at the top, is a wonderful little full stop! 

Rarangi Sunrise  HONOURS
Moody, serene, gentle, welcoming. I can feel the warmth gently seeping back into the air.I can feel a certain quietness and stillness. Thankyou for sharing this moment with us. 
Reflection in the Ice Slurry MERIT
This reflection certainly was worth stopping and capturing. I do find though that this image has more than just the reflection. Whether this was intended or not, the fact that there is a lot of contrast between the trees and the dark background on the RHside of the image, in my view,  adds a layer of mystique to the image. My screen shows a little overexposure on the straight tree, which might be worth trying to bring back a little. I think the almost monochromatic colour palette works beautifully.
Scottish Autumn at Castle Kilchurn HONOURS
The weather Gods certainly favoured you at this scene- what a lovely mix of elements! I notice 3 things that you might want to consider if you are putting this image into further competitions- Firstly the trees seems a little awkwardly cropped on the RH side- maybe  crop just a little more in where they are more solid - it seems to be a slight distraction from the main scene as is. Secondly I do notice a bit of banding on my screen in the top LH corner…which may be worth looking at- you might have to zoom in on your screen to see it. Thirdly you might want to consider just darkening the bottom LH corner a tad, to help pop the castle out and feature it as the hero of the image. Having said all of that .. I do find this a wonderful landscape and commend you for having captured a splendid moment!
Sea of Cloud MERIT
What a wonderful view you had -worth the climb! I love the composition you chose with the clouds making a diagonal through the image. I do wonder if your foreground rocks might be a bit distractingly bright.  The detail of the hills peeping through the clouds adds a nice touch to the image.
Spanish Countryside ACCEPTED
I find your composition choice of very low landline with the buildings very central and a lot of sky effective. In my opinion I am not sure whether the mix of texture and perhaps double sky layers adds to the image. This mixture and layering would possibly not be accepted in a traditional landscape competition. Having said that, the rays certainly do frame the buildings well and the stark white buildings pop out against the darker landscape in your artistic rendering of this scene.
Sunrise over Rarangi Beach MERIT
Your long exposure gives a wonderful softness to the water. I like the sunlight catching on the rock on the LHside. In my opinion the composition with the two rocks  one behind the other, gives the image a slightly static feel. I do enjoy the slice of orange morning in the background.
The Eviction of Taranaki by Tongariro ACCEPTED
Your title evokes a great story…and poor Taranaki seems very small and lonely in the distance! I do notice a bit of residue from lightening the foreground. I find the floating cloud between Tongariro and Taranaki interesting and the wispy clouds make for effective leading lines.
Even though the famous tree has been captured a lot, I feel you have a done a good job of it here. On the RHside in the water there is perhaps a bit of cloning that wasn’t quite carefully enough done. I do like the black and white treatment of it.

West Coast  MERIT
I like this black and white treatment of these West Coast trees. My eye does catch a little on the fence coming from the bottom RH corner. I like how you have compositionally placed the trees looking rather awkward and gangly and think your tones work beautifully.
Winter Morning HONOURS
I don’t often see images with this much texture added to them that I personally like- in this rendition I do however feel you have been very successful. I find there is a wonderful mix of darks against  lights. In my view you have a simple and effective composition. I enjoy the framing with the dark cloud and feel you have created depth through the image too. With all the texture added this image might not be acceptable in a traditional landscape competition but as an artistic image I find it is a little gem of a landscape.
The Lagoons MERIT
Your composition provides us with an interesting textural image. I find the main sweeping curve of river provides a nice leading line through the image. I do find the lighting a little flat and lacking contrast. Taking the image at a different time of day or working with it a little in post production could perhaps lift it a bit and give it some more Zing!
Bay Scene  MERIT
Your choice of scene is beautiful and I like the composition with the curve of bay leading us to the boat sheds and boat. This image could be lifted a little by lightening/ brightening the middle story area and bringing the edges down just a tad, in post processing so that our eye is drawn to the focal point and stops there to enjoy it. I love the fact that you chose a nice calm day so that we get the reflections.
Inside Antelope Canyon MERIT
This spot is still on my wish list!! I like your unusual horizontal composition for this image. You have exposed for the lovely orangey tones…in an image like this it might be fun to try bracketing the shot so the camera takes three images –all at different exposures and you can then combine them. This means you could perhaps get a little more detail and texture in the darker areas and in the lighter areas. Also in this image where the sun is making a little purple flare- if you have your f stop at 1/16th or smaller then the sun makes a wonderful little starburst which can be quite effective.  This certainly makes an interesting and slightly unusual landscape image.
Morning Oaro MERIT
In my opinion you have found just the right spot to stand so the rocks frame the sunrise beautifully. I like the shafts of light just stroking the rocks and the almost hazy colour brushing the sea. I personally might have got my dog to sit on the rocks on the LH side so I had something to anchor my image but this might of course also be a little clichéd. As it stands you have a simple effective sunrise shot.

Moroccan vista  ACCEPTED
I like your nice high vantage point for this image. I wonder if the entire foreground is needed for the image to be effective. If a tad was cropped off the bottom the unusual colouring of the hills and buildings might be more prominent.  I find the rocks clipping the bottom edge catch my attention and I am not sure if they are where you want the viewer to focus on. It is always fun to try and figure out how we can lead our viewer’s eyes to what we want them to notice.
Northern Entrance MERIT
You have a small secret weapon in this image. The little yacht so subtly placed was a golden nugget when I found it. I think if you added a little more contrast to this image it would lift it to a whole new level.  I love your simple composition and I love your choice of moment to press the shutter.
Rarangi Beach, Blenheim HONOURS
Simply marvellous ! I personally might crop just a tiny bit off the bottom and top…and do you by any chance have a tiny bit more space on the LHside to catch the whole sweep of sea? .. but that is personal preference. I especially love the greeny glow and white of the water and subtle hints of land. 
Wairarapa badlands ACCEPTED
I am so glad you put a person in this image to give it scale. I do find the lefthand side of the sky quite a big chunk where not too much is happening – it might be worth playing with moving around and getting different angles when you are shooting images -perhaps even going really low and trying to fill your frame with the interesting rocks. I wonder if you tried this in black and white too to emphasise the textures. 
West Coast Recessions HONOURS
Your title cleverly tells us what you want us to notice. I do appreciate the placing of the smaller rocks on the LH third too. I am not sure whether the branches on the RHside add to the story. You have effectively captured a quintessentially moody New Zealand scene.
Wind Farm Turbines, Oxfordshire, UK HONOURS
I find this minimalist image really effective. I think the red poppies do their job beautifully in adding a little pop to the image. I find you have balanced the other colours well and in my view your balanced composition compliments the minimalist effect.