Open

Set Subject

Judge’s Comments

Thank you for the invitation to evaluate your October competition.  As I was asked to evaluate the images according to the criteria I use, I will briefly set out how I approach image evaluation. The main criteria I adopt are:
•    Is there a story?
•    Does  the composition support the story?
•    How strong is the emotional connection I feel for the image.
As you can appreciate, my evaluations are therefore personal and subjective and represent my thoughts and feelings about the image.

Catching the big one

Digital Image

C

Set Subject

I got a sense that the fisher is quietly enjoying the day out when something to the left has caught his attention. I also feel the photographer is commenting on the lack of sun-smartness – no hat.  I really liked the simple composition and the way in which the moment of looking left creates balance in the left of the image with the seated man.  Very nice composition.

Contemplation by Firelight

Digital Image

C

Set Subject

This image brings back many memories of campfires on scout trips.  The warm glow of the fire on everyone’s faces, the happiness and fun that we had.  These feelings are all seen by me in the woman’s face.  Nice image.

Daisy patch

Digital Image

C

Set Subject

I found it interesting that a poppy is growing in the middle of a daisy patch.  I thought that if the poppy was emphasised more by cropping in the image to keep the daisies above and just below the poppy, I would have rated the image more highly.

Its only paint

Digital Image

C

Set Subject

I enjoyed the creativity in using the painting to express the set subject.  However, for me, it was unclear what the story of the image was about.  I wondered whether the photo is about the photographer’s enjoyment of painting and portrait painting in particular , or is the person in the portrait important to the photographer, or is the portrait painting the photographer at a special time? I wondered why so much black space in the image – in my opinion, it is useful to have lots of unused space in an image when you seek to emphasise an element.  In this case, I felt that the unused black space tended to distract me from viewing the image – perhaps try cropping in a little and see how you feel about that.

Lone tree

Digital Image

C

Set Subject

This scene reminds me of One Tree Hill in Auckland before the tree was vandalised and had to be cut down.  I like the way the power of nature is shown in the tree – it is able to withstand all the elements including dry conditions to keep on growing and surviving.  I enjoyed the simplicity of the composition and particularly liked the way in which the ridge lines lead me up to the tree.  I wondered if the image might have a stronger emotive feel if the contrast were increased and some “Clarity” added (sharpening of the mid-tones).  If this were done I would rate the image more highly.

Me Time

Digital Image

C

Set Subject

I really enjoyed the mood and the feeling of really taking time out to think about things.  As my eye kept getting pulled to the bright tones on the pillow, I wondered if a brush could be used to burn (darken) this brightly toned area – so as to further emphasis the expression on the woman’s face.

No Kids

Digital Image

C

Set Subject

For me the image speaks a little to the over-protective nature of our society towards children.  The play area has no children – when my children grew up, they knew the hazards of playgrounds and learned how to be safe.  The image suggests to me that removing risk from play leaves no sense of adventure – and no children.  I felt that the image would give a stronger connection to me if the actual swings were brighend a little by brushing the seats or by opening up the shadows a little with the tone curve.

Solitary school standing proud

Digital Image

C

Set Subject

I liked the capture of the derelict nature of the building and especially enjoyed the way in which the building is isolated from the background. However, the title didn’t seem to connect with me given the story of the image which to me is the derelict building.  I thought that this image might have been made with a wide-angle view as the lines of the corners are not vertical but seem to converge.  When using wide angle lenses, it is suggested that the sensor be parallel with the vertical plane of the object you are photographing otherwise your vertical lines may tend to converge.

Solitude

Digital Image

C

Set Subject

I really felt a strong connection with this story.  A person sitting on the end of a pier – will he jump or not? What is going through the person’s mind?  As my eye kept moving from the pier to the dark shadow and hill on the left of the image, I wondered if a slight crop in from the left would give a stronger balance between the left and right of the image.  Alternatively, a neutral graduated filter could be used to dodge (brighten) this area a little.

Waiting For Company

Digital Image

C

Set Subject

For me quite a dramatic image of a spider – I am a little unsure whether it is wrapping its prey, or it is an unusual spider. I wondered if a brush were used to brighten up the dark areas would I be able to see more of the spider details.  Because all the light is on the pointy orangy bits, my eye tended to rest there, and this I felt was a distraction from seeing the details of the spider.

Yellow Tulip

Digital Image

C

Set Subject

The placement of the yellow tulip provides a focal point for my eye.  I thought the placement of a number of tulips on the edge of the frame tended to draw my eye out of the image.  It’s a good habit to run your eye around the edge of the frame in your viewfinder before pressing the shutter.

Dabchick at dam

Digital Image

B

Set Subject

I felt a strong sense of action in this image.  Here the blueness of the water seems in harmony with the tones of the chick.  I wanted to see a little more of the feathers in the back area – this could be brightened using a digital brush in lightroom or photoshop.  The piercing yellow eye is really well caught.

Feeling Lonely

Digital Image

B

Set Subject

I felt the image needs more context to give the feeling of loneliness. I wondered if you had more space in the digital negative try a different perspective in the crop.  I really enjoyed the clarity of the web feet under the water and the nice light on the duck. 

Fishing boat

Digital Image

B

Set Subject

The sheer scale of the scene made me feel like the boat was all alone to deal with whatever nature had to send – whether it would be bad weather or a successful catch.  I felt a strong sense of vulnerability for the vessel.  I did need the title to add information otherwise I would not have been entirely sure what the story was.  It is always important that the image tells the story, rather than being guided by the title.

Lonely bear

Digital Image

B

Set Subject

For me this is a wonderful commentary on the plight of the polar bear – the shrinking ice cap, which are essential for their seal hunting.  The image also shows me the solitary lifestyle of the polar bear and thankfully this one looks in good condition.  I liked this image for its natural history commentary on the life of the polar beer.

Misty Morning

Digital Image

B

Set Subject

I enjoyed the way the man has been portrayed in this scene, as an insignificant object in the scheme of our world.  I would have felt a stronger connection to the image if it was more in focus on the man – the softness in this area I found quite distracting.

one tree and thousand flowers

Digital Image

B

Set Subject

For me this image is caught between giving an impression of the scene and being out of focus.  For me, the image would need to have more blur to give a stronger impressionistic feel and this could be achieved with a little intentional camera movement. Aesthetically, I felt the tones of the top third of the image were not in harmony with the tones of the grass and tree and this could be addressed with a neutral graduated filter brush.

Pot Man

Digital Image

B

Set Subject

I liked the way in which the pots have been used to create an impression of a person. The cobwebs at the foot of the sculpture indicate to me that this sculpture has been in this situation for some time – all by itself.  The aging feel I got from looking at this image created a sense of loneliness in me – how we can all be alone and have no way of getting out of our situation. For me an intriguing image also because the angle of the seat made me feel a tension – would the potman be able to survive.  Nicely composed.

Walking Home

Digital Image

B

Set Subject

I loved the sense of solitude and the scale of the environment – I felt like the woman is dwarfed by the setting.  For me, I expected to see footsteps in the snow given the title, and I noticed that the bottom quarter of the image is quite out of focus.  I thought that a longer depth of field (f/11 to f/16 would have given a loner zone of sharpness and for me stronger emotional impact

Tawero point - Pelorus sound

Digital Image

B

Open

For me this is quite majestic.  I love the sense of place and the way in which you have composed the lines and shapes to create an elongated oval – this gives me such a peaceful feeling.

All alone-1

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

I enjoyed the visual contrast I saw between the modern clothing of the woman and the traditional method of net fishing from the shore.  For me it felt like the woman was caught between the fishing chore and wanting to go somewhere.  An interesting story in my opinion. Nicely composed in this respect and for me all the secondary elements support the main character well.

Alone in the Fog

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

The image suggests that below the buoy is a craypot or two.  The use of the fog to isolate the colour is well done and I really enjoyed the simplicity of the composition and the use of tonality to point me to the buoy.

Alone on a mountain top

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

This image speaks to me of contemplation.  The lighting on the scene emphasises the feeling really well. I love this image.

Alone with a Broken Heart

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

I liked the innovative and creative elements in this image.  The absence of clothing on the woman gives a sense of feeling exposed to the world and the placement of the heart in the image really emphasises the sad morose expression of the woman.

Cheviot Tree

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

This image feels like a commentary on the Wanaka tree, which is a photographic icon for Central Otago.  I enjoyed the idea and particularly the way in which the reflection in the water makes the tree appear to stand taller.  The greens of the branches of the main tree tend to merge with the background tree – For me the tree needed to be isolated from its background to give a strong connection to the story.  In this image I suggest the tree could be isolated from the background by both brightening the main tree a little and also darkening the background.

Cute as Ever

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

This image brings back memories of my own sons walk-riding their motorbike and heading into solo adventures – just like this one. For me the strong front lighting creates deep shadows in the child’s eyes and also appears to cause her to squint a little.  The shadows of the grasses also fall across her cheeks – I found this particularly distracting when exploring the child’s facial expressions.  I have found it useful to think about the direction and quality of the light particularly when composing portrait photoss.

Desert Walk

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

Initially I was drawn to the man by the tonal contrast between the character and the the sky.  Then I noticed some dark spots below the man in the sand – in my opinion, while these dark lines appeared to create a triangle that kept my eye in the centre part of the image, I felt that distracted me from enjoying the story of the sky and the potential threatening weather. 

Despair

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

I got a strong sense of despair at being shut out.  The distortion in the vertical lines was for a significant distraction from the story.  I felt that if the convergence of the lines was addressed, I would have felt a stronger connection to the story.

Dwarfed by nature

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

I really enjoyed the composition.  I noticed when I zoomed in to examine the sharpness, (I felt the image seemed to be a little soft around the man),  the image appeared to pixelate.  I loved the sense of scale given in the composition.  I really felt in awe of the power of water.

first to see the light

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

I loved the light on the tree, its direction and its warmth. However, I felt the overlaid multiple image was inconsistent with and intruded into the gentleness of the main scene and the warmth of the light.

Glass Frog

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

I found the placement of the frog identified it as the story of the image.  I liked the way the green leaf supported the main element (the frog). The dark band through the right-hand side of the leaf created a sense of imbalance for me and I wondered if I would feel more connected if this dark band and the right side of the frog were lightened using a brush.

Hope

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

I thought this image was brilliantly conceived.  The red rose suggesting love is placed in the light, but there seems to be lots of challenges in going down the path to realise the love that is suggested.  Loved this image.

Incommunicado

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

I got a sense that the figure is using a cellphone – it seems like a typical cellphone pose. The image provoked me into thinking why anyone would want to use a cellphone when the beauty of nature is showing us peacefulness.  I felt an implied criticism in the image of the use of technology in such a wonderful setting.

It's a Goal

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

I enjoyed what I perceived as humour in the image with the gumboot flying off the foot just at the critical moment of preparing to kick the ball.  I quite enjoyed the moment, bringing back all those quirky moments shared with our children as they grew up. I would have felt a stronger connection to the story if I could see more of the boy’s facial expression at this point in time.

Lone party girl

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

I get an impression that our subject child is not too happy about what is happening.  In my view, she gives me an impression of being grumpy about the situation, suggesting maybe she is a bit tired.  In my opinion, I felt that the tractor and the child competed for my attention to be the main element as neither of these two elements I the image appeared to  my eye to support the other.  The highlights area on the tractor steering wheel, seat and back mudguards tended to capture my attention. As a result, I did have a strong emotional connection with this image.

me and myself

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

I really enjoyed this image.  I particularly liked the way the reflection reiterated the story of the man wandering in the wilderness.  At a different level I also took the image to suggest also how we remove our self from reality to reflect on life’s journey – when we take time out we reflect on so much in our lives and the image suggests to me we reflect on everything. This image really connects with me.

Middle of Nowhere Nevis Valley

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

Having visited the Nevis Valley a few times for fishing and photography, I remember dark gloomy days like this well and some of the structures in the valley.  While the cottage is placed in a way that makes it the dominant element, I found the angles of the corners of the front of the building to distract me from enjoying the image.  As the angles suggest a wide-angle lens, I felt that if the image had been captured parallel to the front of the building, then the angles would not have been so evident. I also found the lighting to merge tones on the side of the cottage with the background.  Some selective brightening of the cottage tonality using brushes would have made this image more appealing to me.

On the prowl

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

I enjoyed the impressionist feel in the image and the inquisitive look of the ram.  Was he attracted by the photographer or had he spied some “girls” let loose in the paddock?  I have an uncle who used to farm sheep and it was always fun listening to his stories about the boys in the back paddock and the change in their behaviour when set free amongst the ewes  From an aesthetic point of view, I felt the vignette blur was distracting and I would have been more strongly attracted to the image had this vignette been less strong and big.  Experiment with both reducing the strength of the vignette and the size and see what you think.

One tree all alone

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

The celebrated Wanaka tree. For me the tree merges with the background and as a result I lose connection with the image because the tones of the branches are so similar to the tones of the hills behind. If you are able to have another visit, try different perspectives, placing the bulk of the tree against the V of a valley rather than the tones of the mountains or go low so that the branches are placed above the ridgeline. 

Sitting Guard

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

I found  this image interesting as it got me thinking about the connection between the well-lit areas of the courtyard and the upper window and brickwork. The silhouette at the archway did not enter my perception for some time. Because of this I felt the picture contained ambiguity in its story.  While the title appears to direct me to seeing the person as the main element, the image composition points to the open space in the courtyard and the upper area as the main elements. I felt that if the tones of the seated person were a little brighter, then I would have sensed a stronger connection between the spaces and the person.

Sleeping Swan

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

For me the swan is beautifully isolated from the background. The ripples on the water seem to add to the calmness of the scene.  The hue and saturation of the water felt a little out of harmony with the natural qualities of the scene.  I would have felt a stronger connection with the image had the blue of the water been not so dominant as an element in the image.

Solitary Pastime

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

Yes, surfcasting can be a solitary pastime.  I liked the way the net curtain is used in the composition to cast a fuzzy blur – this suggested to me that the photographer might not be a fan of surfcasting and wanted to pull the curtain down on the whole scene.  A very interesting image for me.

The Last Post

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

For me this image is quite imaginative, and I feel the title is a clever play on words as one might expect the last post to be something associated with the military or with ANZAC day or Armistice Day.  So, I see the image being symbolic as well as literal.  The composition is very simple and the absence of fence wire, gate posts and fences generally suggest that the area has changed dramatically from its past use.  Symbolically, it reminds me of famous battles like the Alamo, the beachhead at Gallipoli in WW I and the evacuations from Dunkirk in WW II.  Very nice image in my opinion. I would have rated the image higher if the saturation in the grasses were a little less – to my eye this would have given the “last post” more emphasis as the highly saturated grasses tended to dominate my viewing of the image

Tranquillity

Digital Image

A

Set Subject

I really enjoyed the composition – it gave me a sense of peace and also joy at the beauty and power of nature.  For me the light felt a little flat and I wondered if a slight increase in contrast would create a stronger emotional connection for me.

Rocket launch

Digital Image

A

Open

I enjoyed the concept and the symbolism I saw in that it could represent how a space rocket would look taking off from the earth.  In my opinion, there appears to be a significant amount of camera shake – evident in the uneven flow of the rocket line and the people on the ground.  For me, there is a significant amount of digital noise in the image which impacts on my appreciation of the concept. I would have enjoyed the image more if the capture had been made on a tripod, with a longer shutter speed and a little lower ISO.  I shoot a lot of indoor events and I am quite familiar with the need to balance ISO with shutter speed yet generally use a wide aperture of f2.8 to f 4.  For outdoor night shots such as fireworks displays, I adapt this idea by keeping my ISO lower than I do for indoor events and use a longer shutter speed with a widish lens usually less than 25mm at f2.8  to f 5.6 – I find that gives a good depth of field and minimises digital noise for such events

Winter Lavender

Digital Image

A

Open

This image shows nice creativity and imagination in blending two images to give a nice textured feel.  For me this textured feel helps me see the delicate nature of the flower of the lavender.  I wondered about the hue and saturation chosen as it jarred with my sense of what lavender is – We have a number of different lavender plants in our gardens and the hues seem to me to be soft and relaxing.  The hue and saturation levels created in me a sense of tension.  I suggest reducing the saturation or moving the hue slightly with a colour adjustment layer would give me a stronger sense of connection.

All Alone

Print

A

Set Subject

An interesting composition.  I found the use of the Tilley lantern to be thought-provoking – I wondered if the person was out there for the night?  I did find the degree of vignetting applied to be a distraction from the story. Take care with vignettes and do ask yourself whether the vignette is emphasising the main element of the story or is the vignette perhaps competing for attention.

Norwegian Tranquility

Print

A

Set Subject

An image that sets man in the natural environment in a way that gives me a sense of peacefulness.  The dress of the main character suggests that the weather is reasonably kind along with the calmness of the water.  However, to me there is a hint of rain in the sky and the person is enjoying the moment while it is possible. For me the cloud top left seems a little heavy in dark tones compared to the tonality across the sky – and this gave me a slight sense of unease about the scene.

Up On The Roof

Print

A

Set Subject

I felt strongly attracted to this image – for its sense of solitude and the lovely control of tones throughout the image that make the person an really stand out and be separated from the environment  An outstanding image for me in the set subject.

Historic Bellhouse

Print

A

Open

I am intrigued by setting of the house and the proximity of what appear to be gravestones.  The architectural features of the building are beautifully captured and I really enjoyed the richness of the brick hues.   I felt drawn to this scene and would love to visit here one day.

Mother Daughter time

Print

A

Open

A heart-warming scene as all too often we read about neglect of children in the papers or read about it in the papers.  I enjoyed the way in which you have softened the sea sky and horizon line to make the mother and daughter really stand out.

Pop

Print

A

Open

An interesting abstract study  of shape  colour and texture.  The title revealed to me that the shapes are balloons.  I am sure you had fun composing this image, playing with the primary elements of composition.  Nice image.

Shoot em up

Print

A

Open

I quite enjoyed this image because it tells me a story about the world-wide status of the Coca-Cola company – the language on the coke tin is from Europe and it tells me a little about the global economy and that nowhere is safe from the problems of waste packaging.

Results

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