Set Subject


Good evening Marlborough. Graham Dainty here. It has been my pleasure to judge your Shot of the Year competition. There is a good variation of images and overall very pleasing indeed. What I do when assessing these is firstly Technical - making sure everything is correct there – then how you interpreted the scene or captured it. It has been very enjoyable and thank you very much.


Nice selection here – good to get your images out of your computer and make prints. In alphabetical order:

Alpine Pass: Well seen. Nice strong competition. I like the way that you wander up the face and the blue gives it that cold feeling – nice light. Dark back ground that emphasizes the front. A good scene of this valley.

Around we Go: The same image was in the digital section where it worked better – here it is not quite as punchy – get a bit lost in the smallness of it – Once again a nice triangular composition holds it together. You have seen it well and the shapes are good, with good initial impact but that does fade away after a number of viewings

Cloudy Bay: A very pleasing combination of abstract and reality . These abstract photos are quite hard to get correct and sometimes it is too much or not enough. In this I can feel the texture in the wind and the movement in this does give a good impression of this area. Soft colours – lovely.

Delilus: A very soft and delicate print that suits the subject. The matt paper is lovely. The whole thing sits well – nicely balanced and the combination of colours of the flowers and the vase works well.

Focussed: Very definitely focussed on something – but what is the question. I would like to see possibly what it is – perhaps a different angle may tell the whole story. Also, the weight of the picture is on the right hand side – sure its got a nice door on the right side and a gap leading that way – but its still all down one side. I like the treatment where it is just focussed on certain aspects of the picture so it has given a nice softness to it which suits the young child – a day dreamy sort of feel but its just missing something.

Harry the Heron: Very interesting – I looked at this one a bit trying to work it out –I do like the boldness of the style and the composition which has worked pretty well. The cloud in behind the head to the right hand side whatever you have done there does not match the texture of the rest of the cloud. Not sure whether the border all round is needed. Its an interesting shot – part reality and part abstract. Not sure what those lines are – just Heron wandering by in an unusual place.

Hawkdun Range: Great use of colour and lines in this. Its good when photographers find a spot and is able to combine a lot of elements in one – you have got the tussocks and the trees and the mountains in the background. The combination of the lines and the trees work nicely. The foreground tussocks have been overworked a wee bit – they are breaking up. A polarising filter would cut back a lot on the tussocky stuff – much better than using clouds. Getting back to the picture it is good and I think you should be pleased with the rendition of the area.

Hawkdun Ridges and Folds: I can see a lot more of the photographer’s input in this – in this one have picked up on the lay of the land, concentrated in close in the late light of the day. I really like the way it is coming through and just skimming the land. I really like the folds – exactly what it is titled as. Good detail in that background where the light is skimming across it.

Kina: I have never seen them photographed this way up and they do not look any more appetising to me. Good natural history to show the insides and technically it has been very nicely done. I like the separation between the spines and the background done with the shallow focussing – great colours. Probably needs a bit extra of something.

King Penguins South Georgia: Really nice group of them and good location and obviously you are in an exotic spot. South Georgia is on my list to visit. I just think they are sitting there – not going anywhere. I hope you have taken lots of pictures - I just feel this crop is a little bit tight – the 2 penguins on the outside are very close to the edges and the left hand one is staring right out onto the edge. Also just at the top you have that nice wave breaking onto the beach and the top of it has been cut off – to get that in – the crashing wave – that tells the place where they are. So, maybe just open up the picture a little bit. Timing is important as well – are their heads going up and down and doing different things – it is hard when you are there and there may have been something on the edges you did not want in there. Judges are always looking for the perfect image which often you cannot get. It’s a little bit flat and it could be opened up and some highlights in the birds and some cropping. Thank you – nice to see.

Pastoral Sonata: Great location. I feel it is a wee bit over saturated - the pink is just too much because it is actually been picked up in the skin and the shadow of the skin so you get a tone there which does not really suit. Also the glow effect in the face and arms makes the skin look a bit plastic and you lose and bit of detail there. A great idea and it has a lot of possibilities. So, just go back to the original and have another fiddle with it. It has good possibilities.

Reflection: Really interesting image which I had to look at for a while to find out what it is all about. A combination of the old building or monument and then modern bobsleigh sort of arrangement out in the desert, and metal reflector. A lot going on and it is well designed – well seen – just the processing in the sky is breaking up a bit and the halo around the trees could have been sorted a bit better. A nice picture and you should be pleased with that.

Street Portrait Havana: Nice image – simple, bright, pretty in your face. I the way although the man is not looking at you he is concentrating on something – a nice natural look. Very simple, good lines, and well placed. Its great.

Tui: Really good colourful picture – Tui amongst the Rata. I love the way the tui sort of blends in with the background and is still there – you can see what the colours are – the greens and the blues. The rata is in hard focus and the bird is just in focus but it is probably good enough. Well seen. They do not hang around much so you have done well to have it placed in that beautiful area right in the centre where all is red. Great timing.

Veteran Line up: Is this your air show – lovely – amazing aircraft and good to see the different ones all lined up. To be a stronger picture just than having them all lined up just have a look at it and perhaps cropping it back so that just the front 2 planes are in so the emphasis is on the shark mouth and the pilot standing on the wing. It gives that person a lot of emphasis than just on the planes. Nice composition of lines and planes but if you want a bit more punch possibly a crop.

Place getting:

3rd place – Hawkdun Ridges and Folds – great study of the land and the photographer’s reaction to it. They have really put themselves out there and how they feel about it. Well exposed and well done.

2nd place – Cloudy Bay –Very similar – it is emotive and simple, really good photography – more than likely done in camera which is a skill in itself. Any picture that creates an emotion has to be a good thing. Lovely.

1st place – Street Portrait Havana – Great framing, good composition, I like the way the blotches of the blue fit in in the right places so the design is good. Exposure is great and very simple and high impact and it really is a winning image. Well done.


Judged on my computer so there may be slight exposure differences compared with projection.

Storm Petrel: Nice image, very sharp, detailed, love the reflection. I feel because it is just an Open section this could do with the crop just to cut it to put more emphasis on the bird and that reflection is gorgeous so if you could open that up a bit and the shadows – it gives 2 views of the bird with detail in it - it would be lovely. Bring that water out a bit – that beautiful texture and the oiliness of the water. Remember it is an Open competition so you can fiddle with it quite a lot to give that punch. As it is it’s a lovely image.

Bedtime Mr. Bear: All these montages work very well together –its been all combined to tell a new story which I like very much. The expression on the child is perfect, the look is fine. This works well. I like the way the butterflies are a lot softer than the rest of the picture so it is not overpowering and the lighting is great.

Crazy Circus: Nice mix of colours and shapes and I do like the triangular composition – it has a nice high initial impact. It makes a nice night time scene crazy as it is.

Curls: I love the shape of the wool – its really nice. Well seen, I like the detailed shots. I am not sure if it should be a little bit wider or in closer. It needs to tell a little bit more story or give more detail. There may be a few more shots –this may be the only one which I am quite happy with. The triangular shape of the table and the detail in that adds to it – may be a little bit lighter on the front edge but overall you have captured a piece of a shearing shed - its nice..

Elephant Seals at Play: Great combination of good natural history and a bit of humour. Very well timed just to have them as they are with mouth wide open but also it is the small details or big details – that breaking wave which is just folding over at exactly the right time – a lot of this is often good luck, but if it works well it is lovely. On the natural history side, it works well: it is showing 2 sides of the seals, the front and the back which is great. Good interaction.

The Koawai Fern: It stands out nicely in the light – I like the separation of the plant from the background which is not overpowering but it gives you a sense of shape but I can see all the marks on the side where it has been tied up. Burnt in with a hard edge – quite obvious which has let it down quite a lot. Keep this and put a polariser on a get rid of the white spots or sheen on the fern which will cut that right back and get that green coming right through. You have the composition right so just work on those technical.

Kowhai: Nice shapes with a single branch with both the flowers and the seeds. It is very simple shot and quite delicate. It could probably do with a little bit of slight burning around the edges to push that emphasis back into the plants . Good colour – nice shot.

Mucky but Happy: Great family shot – good expressions and a nice simple emotional photo. There are some deep blacks there but mostly it is evenly toned throughout no big highlights. Lovely family shot.

Mycena: Great colours – the red really pops against the green and it is a very nice example of fungi photography. Well placed and I quite like the marine mossy stuff along the bottom - quite punchy – its good. For natural history I know the judges like to see the gills in the photo but I do not mind this at all – its great. Well done, well seen. They are not very big so you have done well to see them.

On Watch: Nice record shot of a sculpture seen somewhere – it is a pretty straight shot so I do not see much of the photographer’s input into it. You have got to do something to get that feeling that you have made a whole new picture. You have got something going on along the top where you have got that graduation to make it much darker. Keep working on it – there is definitely a picture in there somewhere.

Ripples: Nice textural picture. There are some lovely elements in this picture and the sand is beautiful. The highlights on the sunny side are a bit much. You have got to be careful because sand is quite reflective. Colours in the water are great – you have got more water than sand and perhaps the other way round might have made it a stronger picture. The sane is the main part of the picture, or got in closer where the main part of the sand are blending together with lots of little islands and work in amongst that. Well seen, good colours, just needs a little bit more playing around with that area.

Seven Faces of Boredom: Not quite sure why there is a second title put onto the picture which is a bit confusing. It is a nice study of a group of people waiting . There are a few cameras there but it does not really talk photographers to me. The treatment is quite nice – overall quite interesting. Sort of photo you can sit and look for a wee bit.

Taylor Valley Interface: Great strong colours. Contrast is fairly good and I love that transition from the deep green to the dark grey and then up into the lighter grey. The tree at the bottom centre is very important and it is quite a focal piece but it is a wee bit lost – it is not strong enough to be brought out in post-production very well. A lot of detail in there but it is not really a strong element that holds that bottom there. You have framed it up nicely – the V in the clouds is nice except it is disappearing off to the right hand side – maybe just tone that down a wee bit. I like it – it has a good impact and it is well seen.

The Threat: I love the action and the posing of the birds. Very good natural history shot = the way it is hovering over and protecting its lunch or dinner – the way it is sitting there waiting. Lovely shot. And you should be very pleased with this one.

Torment: Very well posed and exposed and processed. It’s a good idea and well handled. I like the bits of colour in the cracks – it gives it an extra layer of the person coming out. Very nice. There is some detail in those deep shadows. Good impact.

Viking Vision: Another good idea and put together well. Your club is quite good on these montages – this one is quite subtly done. It’s a little bit hard to see but it looks to me like a modern boat in the back burning which it gives the appearance, or it is, which is a really good combination. The actual man himself the detail is good and just blended away beautifully as he is off on his final journey.

Bowen Falls, South Island New Zealand: I know this very well and they are very picturesque falls. The angle is good and I like the way you have got the main fall on the one side and the wee secondary fall on the other – 2 contrasting shapes and flows. What I love about these falls are the different shapes in the mix of water and the rocks . It has been well handled and contained by the rock face on the left hand side and the water spray coming out is good. It is a nice spot to get in before you get completely soaked. Well done.

New Zealand Falcon: Nice portrait and good angle – sitting there very staunch and on the lookout for its next meal and sitting amongst the grass is nice. Possibly it is a little bit light and perhaps pull it down a little bit and give it a little bit more impact. They deserve to be a little bit more menacing – a bit more structure to them. Good.

Polar Bear Family: This is nice – it gives a whole picture. I like the way the family and a recent kill are on the ice floe – I assume it is Mum there looking back at the cubs to see what they are up to. They are an amazing animal and you are privileged to be able to get to these places. So, well done.

Silver Eye: A nice exposure on the bird but the cut out of it has not been handled very well at all. There are bits of the bird missing and the background is not well handled with some distortion and pixelated. I am not sure what that red bit is. You have a lovely close photo to get detail of the bird so keep finding a nice place where they will be and if they are sitting on an apple or on something it does not matter as that is what they do. Just keep them in their natural place and shoot them that way and you will get a much better photo.

Winter Evening Kaikoura: Great landscape and you have found a good place to get this image. Love the folds of the land and that road and power lines leading up to it. Very good composition. The black and white is nice but I have a slight issue with the rays – you have brought those out. It has degraded the sky and the bits around the rays. It is beautiful and textural as you are leading up to it but as you get into the lighter area it starts to break up. That is just the processing so you will have this in your files so just go back and process it a bit more – you do not have to have those rays so strong. Lovely shot and it should come up beautifully.

Bee flying to Marlborough nest: A really interesting photo. You have done well to find this and get in close enough to get this image. Especially good to get them just at the nest. The top is a bit bright so crop it in and drop down the top to put more emphasis on the bee which is nice and sharp.

Blue on Blue: A very classic image. It’s a lovely picture all the elements are there but it just needs something else. Maybe some people wandering down the beach just to say why is the boat here. It needs to tell more of a story.

Tairoa Dawn: Lots of fantastic bits in this image. The highlights in the land and in the cloud on the right hand side – just lovely bits. A very hard exposure if it was a single exposure you have done. I think you have got it exactly right because the highlights are well handled and the deep shadows are very deep. If possible it probably needs a bit more in the shadows in the centre where the weather is coming down needs opening up a bit so you get a bit more detail so you can see what you are looking at leading into the big storm at night and open up that cloud just a wee bit more at the top.

3rd Place: Bedtime Mr. Bear: A well constructed story with some good subtleties to it. A lot of those montages are just too over the top – just a beautiful exposure on the child and the book. Very well done.

2nd Place: Elephant Seals at Play: It really is a great combination of natural history and timing and sharpness – the whole lot. It is well captured.

1st Place: Torment When I opened it and look at it first it caused a reaction to me – it is technically perfect – a great image. It should do very well in various competitions.


Cape Campbell Light House: Very interesting and bold to be done in black and white. Good composition to see shape of the land and the light house sticking up. The light house is breaking up in the centre which is a shame – the texture there looks like the stars beside it which looks as though there is a hole in the light house. I do feel as though I am missing something having seen a lot of the astro photography done in colour. It does not give that milky way feel or the star feel, but overall all the elements are there.

Crossings: Pleasant little scene and a good idea. It is very well converted and printed – nice and punchy but I feel that the rail bridge does not have very much interest to keep you engaged with the picture. I do understand it completely and the line crossings so your thought process is perfect and you have made a lovely little image of the scene.

Cruising Queen Charlotte Sound: Good shot of scale and view point. I love the look up the sounds so you can see where it is coming and going but I feel that the foreground has no real interest as all you want to see is the boat and the Sounds so I think it is probably worth going back when a ship comes again as these cruise ships are amazing and just have it coming in or going out just around that head point so you are looking at the sounds and just the boat which could be spectacular. Work on your B & W – the white and the black points are all right but it is quite muddy in between – so work on your mid tones.

Dotti: Well done, well seen and well put together. I love the simplicity and punch of this – it is a really good black and white. Well printed. A very interesting picture. Well printed.

Dun Carloway Broch: A very moody image and there is a real feeling of what you expect these places to be like – ancient ruins and rocks with a feeling of foreboding. The bleak style really works – sometimes the details are a bit washed out – but this not like that good detail in this – very good.

Left Alone: A pretty confronting image with the pose and process and the location so it is very much in your face. High contrast and high structure brings out every little bit of detail. The wide angle does start to distort the proportions of the sitter – size 30 boots must be pretty hard to find. It’s a great thought and very much in a style I have seen before. Its possibly a self-portrait but all the elements are right , so well done.

New Beginnings: Great tonal range and detail in this. Nice symbolism of the new beginnings – simple and one of those wedding pictures which will look great in the album. Nice.

Poplars: Very well exposed and printed. Deep blacks and there is texture in the highlights as poplars are actually quite shiny. The texture is sharp but there is probably too much of it. It might be better to find a few simpler trees with a bit of space in between them might have given more impact but here you are a bit overawed by the mass of the tree shapes. You are 99% there so just keep looking.

Tasman Glassier and the Whataroa River: Amazing view point and the snow is beautifully lit and it has got a nice sheen to it the way it runs down and into the river is really good. The background scree slopes could have been toned down a bit – they are really contrasty so it takes the emphasis away from the area down into the river and the valley. That is being a bit picky – its is great to be where you are and it is overall a lovely picture. Well done

The Erewhon Team: Nice shot of the horses and clouds. I love the way the horses are turning in towards you. It has been well done. The print is just a wee bit flat – it could have done with a bit more punch to bring out the whites in the horses to give more emphasis. Overall it is a great record of this team.

Warren: Great detail and the expression is really natural. I do like that – quite often when you are in that close to people they change or tighten up – this is quite relaxed. I like the way the face is framed in the hoody – good texture, well framed – it is not cut off anywhere. Well printed.

3rd Place - Dotty : Each time I pick it up it makes me smile – that big smile right in the centre. I do love it. Simplicity in a made up picture is quite rare, so it is good. Well done

2ndPlace -Warren: I do love that portrait. It has a good feel about it – you almost get a connection with him. Its good.

1st Place – Dun Carloway broch : Punch, wild – what more do you need. You may want to be there or not want to be there at that time. Its emotive and very well done


Thank you very much Marlborough. For those who did not get placed, do not get despondent. There are some very good images and more importantly there are some images that are very close to being there – they just need a little bit of tuning and you have to think a little bit more about what you are doing when you are out in the field. It’s a great competition and I like they way it is all lumped in together. Thank you again and we will catch up again another day.

2018 Trophy Winners