Set Subject


C Grade, Open:

Surprise. The most truthful thing I can say about this is - “so near, yet so far”! A little bit of the problem is the title. Do remember, that when you give a title, you tell the viewer what to see, and who often may not see it that way. But in this case I think that you want the viewer to see that the father(?) has asked us to see that he has surprised the girl. So why is he looking at the camera to see if this has occurred????? That’s the so near. But the so far? Mask dad out of the picture and you have a fantastic portrait of the girl - truly Honours material in just about any grade. Still, in this grade, with such potential .... Merit

A Grade, Open:

South Bay, Kaikoura. This is a very pleasant picture, with attractive daytime light. Had it been in the Set Subject, it would do better, but because it is Open, I find that it lacks any significant feeling of composition. While all the rock is interesting, it is just too messy to navigate the eye through the picture. Acceptance

Hammer Smash. Technically very good picture, but is does lack pictorial interest, with its high contrast presentation and arrangement. I do not think that it needs so much on the left, and one could well remove an equal amount on the right. In so doing, much more attention would be given to the action. Merit

Around the Corner. A considerable amount of thought has gone into the execution of this picture - the sloping view, the low viewpoint, the relative arrangement of the statues, and the use of the available light. But somehow it has not quite succeeded - the small image size? The tight framing? The horizontal format? Merit

Hamilton Lillian. Later (because this is a late addition comment) I will comment about the fact that it is difficult to find award winning flower images, but this just goes to show that it can be done. There is an attractive overall simplicity in this complex picture. The sloping main heads fill the frame well, but it is the bud in the bottom left corner that makes the picture by pulling the eye back to the start. The bud in the top
right on the other hand is a gentle, non-distracting balance to the primary bud.
Although there some patches of light, they too are not an issue. Merit

A Grade, Fascinating Textures:

Four Walls Again, we have the issue that a title tells the viewer what they are supposed to see in the picture. Here, I frankly cannot see four walls. What I do see is what looks like a metal fence, hints of a face, and some brick wall (texture) in the background. The fence work is the most dominant feature, but because it is such an open, manufactured item, it hardly qualifies as texture. However, the image is a beautiful piece of artwork. I am going to give you the chance to use this in another competition where it could be better rewarded for its qualities. Not Accepted

Faded, Scratched and Splashed. I’m afraid this image bothers me. I agree that the title is a good one for this particular picture, and as such it fits the set subject requirements well. But as presented, with the dark (and most textured part of the picture) at the bottom left, the picture does not succeed very well because the viewer’s eye is quickly pulled to the very bright top right of the picture . But turn it through 180 degrees, and put the dark in the top right and the image comes alive - interestingly the eye then passes over the bight bottom left corner, and enjoys the water texture in the upper right. Also, we see then that the bottom of the drops are shadowed, as we would expect from light coming (usually) from above. Accepted

Digital Images

B Grade, Open:

Sea Star. An image well worth having as a record. However, the light is rather flat -being taken probably near mid day in high summer - with the result that it does lacksomewhat in competition values. (A polarizer might have helped intensify the colour saturation.) Acceptance

Fiordland Tarn. In marked contrast to the previous slide, although this too has some aspects of “a record photograph” about it, but this succeeds very well. The figure is a critical part of this image. There is a slight impression of it being “posed”, but it also captures a feeling of achievement at reaching the destination. And although the landscape is extremely well arranged and beautifully lit, without the figure it would be no where near as interesting. Honours

A Grade, Open:

Face Up. There are certain to be some who will disagree with my comments on this image. My problem is about the intent of this picture. With its artificial frame, and unusual background one could get the impression this is posing as a painting. I find the background particularly bothersome, in that although at first glance it appears unobtrusive and subtle, but them one sees annoying overtones of texture that look like damage to a painting. There is an overall softness - again akin to a painting. But my real problem is with the disturbing element in the bottom left corner, just as one’s eye enters the picture. Not Accepted

Horse Power. More than most, I love colour in a picture, being an old Ektachrome user for most of my life. But here the saturation is just too much - it destroys what is otherwise a very interesting subject. Not Accepted

Moria Gate Arch. A very difficult subject to deal with - very messy vegetation, in a very wide range of lighting conditions. A closer viewpoint would probably have produced a more pictorial image. Accepted

Divine Light. A good effort, but still some way to go. We will put aside the spotty light - not sure it helps. The face is well lit, and the lack of eye is not a serious problem. For me, the feature that prevents this succeeding fully is the competition between the face (the primary feature) and the brighter and almost equally sized light. Merit

Across a Mist Filled Ravine. It is easy to see why this picture was taken - it has is striking light, and the competing sides of the ravine are somewhat compulsive. But the real issue is the problem associated with the “across” - that mist filling the void is a very strong distraction, especially as it goes off into the distance. Merit

C Grade, Fascinating Textures:

Red Waves. A major attraction of this image is that it lets the imagination run wild. But it is sufficiently abstract that we are so unsure of how it was taken, so we do not waste time trying to work out what it is. And it certainly fills the texture requirement. One little quibble is that the black horizontal across the centres has a slight tendency to divide the image in two, but fortunately there is still some detail there. Merit

Looking Up. A somewhat standard approach, but very well seen and done. But the texture concept is very powerful with this particular piece of architecture. Honours

Old Things. Again, one could say this is somewhat standard, but here we have a exceptionally well balance amount of ceiling going off into the distance, and the very central orientation makes this exceptional. Honours

Key Bird. An outstanding image for the set subject. True, the door provides excellent texture, yet it does this without any regularity or pattern - in itself quite an achievement. And although the bird is a distinct object in the picture, it has the same texture as the rest of the door, and so completes the requirement. Honours

B Grade, Fascinating Textures:

Rhododendron Beauty. Flowers! A real problem subject, primarily because there have been so many flower pictures taken since the camera was invented. This is NOT to say you should not keep trying it is just that a straight forward shot like this is no longer good enough. Here the back background also does not help. But the main issue is that this event is about texture, and is too small a component of this picture (very sorry for the blunt comments). Not Accepted

Coral Fungi. Normally, a fungi would not meet the requirements of texture, but this one certainly does. But this image does need masking - certainly most of the dark background on the left, and even the shaded fungi at the bottom - THEN reverse it so that the darker parts left are at the bottom right of the frame, and our eye stays in the frame. Acceptance

Arctic Sea Ice. Definitely texture here - soft and hard water. And I do like the fact that in the bottom right there is an ice feature that keeps the eye in the frame. Merit

Kit’s Fur. This would have been much less successful if the eye had been open. We could do with a little less material showing, and reversing the image would also help, but you are not A grade yet so ..... Honours

A Grade, Fascinating Textures:

Creekside Reflections. In effect, we have three pictures here; the reflections, the muddy bank in the top left, and the muddy area with vegetation in the bottom left. And yes, all three are textures. But only the water is reasonably attractive, and I find that it is not strong enough to keep the viewer’s attention from the much less attractive mud. Not Accepted

Vinyard Texture. There is some beautiful texture in the vines - both in the leaves, and the trunks as the lines pass over the hill. All of which is helped by the vibrant colour. But that sky does a lot of damage to the overall appreciation of the vines, and those three posts at the base provide a strong secondary distraction.
Not Accepted

Winter Texture. While this image has some interesting areas of texture in the ice crystals, the there is a much stronger, but less definite contrasting texture in the background, and an overall star pattern that together tend to overwhelm the main interest. Not Accepted

Sparkling Treasure. Again, we have a conflict between the components of the picture. The paua shell, which is exceedingly powerful in the frame, has what, at a stretch, could be considered as texture. Then the rest of the picture has the texture of the night sky. Eye catching as the over image is, the relative strength of these two components results in an image that does not meet the require criteria.
Not Accepted

Black Birch Raoulia Constellations. This time, the image meets the textural requirement very well. However, there are some issues with the title. That the Raoulia is very clearly specified, the very strong colour cast does spoil the result. Further, the inclusion of the abstract concept of “constellation” in the title causes one to interpret this - does it refer to the white “stars” in the (usually) dark sky-space, or are the greenish flowers also “stars”? Please do be careful with titles. Accepted

Ceiling Structure. Another picture that has multiple textures in it, but this become acceptable because of the clearer strength of each one. There is a texture in the brown, a texture on the white pillars (which  themselves form a very coarse texture), and there is a texture in the leaves. The overall impact and careful arrangement of materal allows this picture be accepted. Accepted

Centre of My World & Sunrise. I am commenting on these two images because they are so similar in form. Both appear to be double images - an underlying form, with a textured and/or coloured overlay. Both are acceptable, although to be honest, I am not so happy about the fact that they appear be constructs - given that there are so many very good presentations of actual subjects. Accepted

Folds of Mould. OK, so it is hardly an attractive picture, and any “composition” is essentially non-excitant. But it is somewhat interesting in a morbid sort of way, and certainly does show texture. Accepted

Frosty. An interesting contrast of two tenures that show some similarity. The lighting is well handled, and shows good variety, with excessive over or under exposure. Some might quibble about the central placing, but it does evoke an interesting comparison with the Canadian flag. Accepted

Orbeez and Bubbles. Not so enthusiastic about the “factual” presentation of the object placed centrally in a black void. However, the texture and colouring are strong enough to allow this image to be accepted. Accepted

Pot Moss. This material had very good potential, but is badly let down by the large amount of out-of-focus material. The two textures of background and stalk heads is particularly interesting, but even then, one would need to be careful to introduce some composition into the arrangement of the heads. And the dead leaves do not help the picture. Accepted

The Poppy. I have already mentioned the difficulty of using flowers as a subject. But here is an effort that comes reasonably close. The texture is particularly good. What lets this down is inadequate depth of field, and the featureless blank black background (OK, so I used to do that myself, long ago!) Accepted

Water on Fire. This is a wonderfully dynamic picture, with interesting textures, one of which is almost more correctly considered a pattern. And it certainly lives up to a very appropriate title. But, and this is a personal opinion, I find myself thinking too much about how this picture was structured. For example, there is blue (water) at the bottom, but on close examination, it does not have the texture of water. But putting that aside, a very imaginative picture. Accepted

Now we take a noticeable increase in quality.

Cross Section. We have had some fairly circular images already, but here we see the significantly more appealing result obtained when the background in not plain black. Here it is coloured, but not obtrusive, yet it emphasises the main subject. Then there is the delightful blending of four textures: the colour banding, the saw cuts, the splits, and the shading. Delightful. Merit

Frost on Leaves. While is has similarities to an earlier leaf study, this is far stronger. The oak (?) leaves are the main subject, while the fern leaves fill in the rest of the picture, and without being too dominant, keeping us from exiting the right of the picture. Then we have over this a further sparkling texture of ice crystals. And although I am no great fan of frames, the use here works well - one gets a pleasant feeling of viewing this on a wall. Merit

Gorgeous Plumage. This really lives up to its title. Fabulous rich green that stands out spectacularly against the background. To some extent the bird’s eye is a dichotomy, but it is not a problem - it temporarily liberates the veiwer’s eye from the green plumage, but is not strong enough to keep one distracted for long. And well done having the bird look left to right. Merit

Lichen. Here we have complexity in simplicity. The fascinating thing about this image is that there is really no composition in the picture, but there is so much detail to look at, that there is no chance for one’s eye to leave the frame. Depth of field, colour, exposure all spot on, Merit

Thermal Mud. One does have an initial reaction against this image it that it appears to be the classic “unresolved dichotomy”. But then one remembers those movies of the tennis ball being watched from the umpires chair, and then one remembers having actually seen a mud pool and remembered that they too behave like the tennis ball - “plot>plop<plot>plop<plot etc”. So here we have the coarse distinct texture of the boiling areas, and the fine texture of the more stagnant mud. Delightful memories! Merit

And now up another level!

Limestone Cave Wall. Dark foreboding underworld. I particularly like that there are three horizontal layers in this picture; that the somewhat foreboding darkest is on top, yet there is a invigorating patch of light below. And although all three are textured in different ways, the difference between them provides a vast amount of material to examine, and re-examine. Honours

Branded. In some respects, one of the easiest pictures to take, but talent to see just what to use. This is a brilliant selection of material, and one can very well imagine running one’s hand across this texture, and even managing to get a splinter out of it. And such a delightful combination of colours (Go Otago!) Honours

Colonial Cladding. Another instance of an excellent selection of material from something more extensive. And such subtle colours! Looking at this image, one can actually feel the texture - not just see it. Honours

Fascinating Bark. I am surprised that there are not more pictures of bark amongst the entries. But it can be a hard subject to do well with. Here we are close enough to see a lot a excellent detail, but are not swamped by excessive quantity - well done. Honours

Frost Flowers. Colour-wise - quite boring! But there is just enough colour here to show that it is not monochrome. But the real strength of this image is the sheer mesmerizing beauty of the texture and patterns, with essentially no strong composition. Honours

Lopey. There was some discussion in the Committee about this image, but the Chair’s casting vote prevailed. Here we have one of the major refuse problems of the day, that has resulted in a delightful quirky image that can raise a smile. Well done! Honours

Old Age. This is another instance where a remarkably simple subject has provided a very enjoyable result. Just old paint pealing off very old surface. So simple, but so successful. Honours

Wrinkly Face. Definitely not an everyday subject in our civilisation. But look at all that texture. A spectacularly successful selection of material, made great by the close selection. Honours


Print: Hamilton Lillian (Just to prove that I do not always disapprove of Flowers)
Projected Image: Key Bird (You did ask me to encourage to beginers!)
Errol Kelly,
October 2019