Judge: Roger Thwaites
A group or singular device with moving/working parts.

May include the people and equipment that are used.  Suggestions - gritty machinery, sweaty workers using machinery or unkempt industrial.  Also could include cars, boats, bikes, motorbiles, tractors, transportation, mechanical items as in watches, clocks etc etc. 

Updated 30th July

 https://digital-photography-school.com/27-images-of-powerful-and-practical-machinery/ and some of these are valid from https://expertphotography.com/industrial-photography/  - beware some egs are industral architectural so not valid !!! 


Set Subject

Greetings everyone.

“MACHINERY” is a subject with unlimited opportunities. It covers a wide range of subjects, and photographers are able to take advantage of various mediums such as close-up/macro, and colour or mono, and achieve an interesting and successful result.

A quick word about titles: Quite a few of the titles used were unnecessarily lengthy, with some photographers using a long title to tell the judge how to look at their photos, when it is the content of their photos which should “do the talking” and tell the story, not the title! Keep titles short and to the point (No more than four words, is ample).

Still on the subject of titles:  You don’t need to include the location of where the photo was taken, in your titles. The location(while it is of interest) is information, that is “surplus to requirements” as far as judges are concerned. Judges are only interested in assessing the image they see before them, not locations.

I was rapt to see so many entries from C-Graders. Well done all. Keep it going! C-graders need to make sure that they understand what the ‘set subject’ is all about, as well as making themselves conversant with the competition rules. If you don’t know, ask someone who does!

Finally, it is so, so, important to create images for competition that have something of “unrivalled visual interest”. You have to be aware that judges like myself, judge hundreds of images a year, and if your image just happens to be lacking in interest, the judge will also lose interest in your image rather quickly. This is something that all clubs need to work on. Now, let’s do the competition stuff!


3-DAYS OLD:  A nice portrait for the family album. A pity the lighting is a little bit dull, It’s a converted grey scale image which needs a little bit more work on brightening the mono tones.    ACCEPTANCE.

GENTLE COLLISION:  The action of this water spout is well put together, and your patience in creating this, has paid off. The strong central column leads to the umbrella-like shape of the droplets, and is supported by the subtle backdrop of colour tones, and giving it a most interesting effect. HONOURS AWARD.

I’M CUTE:   It’s the cute expression on the baby’s face that makes this a delightful family portrait. Can’t see much of the mother’s face, but that doesn’t lessen the obvious interaction between them. A nice memory to look back on, in future years.   MERIT AWARD.                                                       

PINK DAHLIA:   Beautiful colours and nicely displayed against a black background. The out-of-focus bloom on the right, needs to be closer to the main bunch. As it is, it acts more as a distracting influence, rather than an integral part of the composition.  ACCEPTANCE.

WALKING TRACK ONAMALUTU:  A nicely composed shot of the track passing by a tall stand of handsome Podocarps (Probably Kaihikatea and Rimu). Very subtle, but effective lighting on this scene. Well done.  MERIT AWARD.

WEST COAST WEATHERED:  Nice lighting accentuates the rustic colours of the shed, but then that is probably where the viewer’s interest in it begins to taper off. Perhaps a different, or closer camera angle would add more of a “point of difference” to this image?   ACCEPTANCE.

C-Grade Print OPEN.

MOODY ISLES:   The sea mist certainly gives this image mood. I don’t know that the oval mount has worked that well. It hides a good proportion of the print (more of which could be shown). Lighting is quite dull, which makes the image a little bit lifeless. However, it is an interesting landscape with a lot of potential. ACCEPTANCE.   (Last minute add-on to entry list)

Digital C-Grade SET SUBJECT.

WHALING DAYS:  Looks like spokes of a wheel set in concrete. The rusty textures are an effective element, but I think there needs to be more of the wheel in the picture, to be able to guage what role it plays as a machine part. Certainly, the radiating spokes are a strong element, which adds to the visual interest.       ACCEPTANCE.

BOATS AT MOORING:  Boats can be classified as machines, but they need to be the main part of your composition, and here, they are a small feature of the wider seascape/landscape. With the overall image being quite dark, detail of the boats are barely noticeable. Nice evening light though. (This might be better entered in a “landscape” category).  NOT ACCEPTED

BUILT TO LAST:   The Mono/B & W look, is ldeal for this type of image. Good repetition of the machine engine parts, with very clearly depicted detail. This is a close-up view, which is a good example of just how well these old engines were built. Excellent machine image. Very well done. HONOURS AWARD.

DALEK QUARTZ STAMPER, BARTLETT’S CREEK:  Very much a record shot of this old stamping machine. With a little more thought and a different camera angle, laced with some “fertile” imagination, you could do something more creative with this. (you have heard of the saying: “ A silk purse out of a sow’s ear”?) (Be careful of long-winded titles).    ACCEPTANCE.

DOG FIGHT:   Don’t you love these old flying machines! This is well caught with good angles and placement of the subjects within the frame. Clearly depicted with just that perfect little bit of propeller movement. Well done. MERIT AWARD.   (Judge’s cheeky thought: flying matchbox toys!).

DRILL:  The drill and drill chuck, being very central in this image, pulls the eye right through the picture, with nothing to distract the view. It’s a subject that most viewers will be able to easily recognise. It’s a simple but most effective composition. A good machine image.    MERIT AWARD.

FARMYARD ICON:   These tractors are indeed, farming greats. The low camera angle is right for this, but there are lots of distracting bits in and around the background. These compete with the main subject, taking some of the impact away from it. It can be the difference between the tractor being the main point of interest, or it being a general part of the wider picture.  ACCEPTANCE.

FINE TUNING:    A good close-up image of parts of a machine, but it doesn’t really give the viewer much of an idea as to what it is, or what it does, and therefore interest in it is soon lost. Perhaps, including more of the machine, would show more detail, and therefore, give a more complete story about this?    ACCEPTANCE.

GOOEY:   I would say much the same about this image, as the last one. Perhaps, “Greasy” or “Oily” would be a more applicable title? A good close-up shot, but including a bit more detail, would give the viewer a better idea about the story behind this machine, and what it is.   ACCEPTANCE.

INTO GEAR:  This image clearly shows good detail of the machinery parts, with the interlocking teeth of the gear sprockets, and part of the ball-race of a bearing assembly. A well-considered machinery image, which is well composed with good lighting.  (Composed in such a way as to create viewer interest).     HONOURS AWARD.

LIGHT WORK:   This is a typical shot of an old motor shack, perhaps used to run generator sets. It’s a fairly busy image, which has the eye jumping all over the place, but probably the main point of interest is the motor to the right with the spinning flywheel. Maybe, get a bit closer and make this the image. Its’s about being selective and keeping it simple. Overall the picture is a little bit dark, which means some of the detail is lost.  ACCEPTANCE.

MINTING MACHINE 1767:  (No need for such a long-winded title!) Sorry, but the title doesn’t really tell me a lot, apart from it’s a minting machine of some sort. There is a lot of very sharp detail of the machine, but it still remains a mystery to me as to what it might be. By the title, it is very old, but I guess it will remain a mystery until the photographer enlightens me!  ACCEPTANCE

RENDERING MACHINERY FISHING BAY: (Just “rendering machinery” would do as a title). Looks like a bit of whaling history here, but I do think with this type of image, you have to consider how you are going to make this image attractive to the viewers, so they don’t lose interest. Perhaps this would be better in Black & white?     ACCEPTANCE.

SCOTT MCLAUGHLAN AT PHILLIP ISLAND: (What about “Scott McLaughlan’s car” as the title?) A very colourful image of this racing machine. The car looks as though it is stationery with no-one in it! Perhaps, panning it as it swings by, would give more of a feeling of speed? Cropping out the sky would make the composition a lot stronger.  ACCEPTANCE.

SMOKIN ON THE JOB:  A good left to right flow of the Anson aircraft, with the smoke trail leading the eye. The plane is sharp with good detail of it as it flies overhead. Simple composition that works well.  HONOURS AWARD.

SPRING LOADED:  A very clear image of the suspension spring attachments on a vehicle, but a tiny bit over-exposed. Dimming the highlights a little in post-production, would overcome this. Good idea for a machine shot, with simplicity of the composition.  MERIT AWARD.

STEAM POWER:  A maze of pipes, valves, and gauges – this view from inside the cab of a steam locomotive engine, is something that most people seldom see. A great machine shot which extends out the window to the front of the engine. Well composed and well executed machinery shot.   HONOURS AWARD.

SUZUKI THE MOTOR MOWER:  A double take, here! Two machines in one picture!  I guess you could say that it is the quickest way to get a machine shot. That said, a little more thought about the composition and the technique used to get the shot, could improve things, out-of-sight! (I like the flower prop at bottom left!)    ACCEPTANCE  (Judge is taking the micky!)

TIRED:   Some very strong contrasts of light here. Some reflected light to the inside of the wheel, would show more of the detail of it, and may have given the image (overall) a better score.   ACCEPTANCE.

TRAIN CEMETARY….BOLIVIA:  An interesting row of rusty old engines – more of a record shot of what you saw, rather than a well composed competition shot. It has a good ‘Viewer interest’ rating, but maybe a different camera angle or a different composition would bump up the ‘interest factor’ even more. You could tighten up the frame around the engines to enhance the “machinery” aspect, or even make it into a panorama of engines! Well spotted.   ACCEPTANCE.

TWO SMOKING BARRELS:  You have lost me with the title! It still remains a mystery to me! There are a few out-of-focus parts to this image, probably brought about by the narrow depth-of-field. It’s important to focus in sharply on the nearest part of your subject, and get as much of the subject in sharp focus, as you can.    ACCEPTANCE.  (Judge: What the hell is it?!!)

Digital B-Grade Set Subject.

A STITCH IN TIME:   An excellent machinery subject – really good detail, and as sharp as a pin! (The only thing missing is a bright red piece of material.) There is a clear view of the thread through the needle and the ‘foot’ assembly. Interesting shot, well done.  HONOURS AWARD.

ALL IN A DAYS WORK - WOOD PLANING:   Apart from a bit of a long-winded title, this clearly shows the planing bed and guides with the residue of wood shavings. Good machinery shot.   MERIT AWARD.

BIG MOUTH CAT DUMPER:  An impressive looking machine (from the front anyway!) Good colour and detail. Looks a bit “space age”. Be careful about backgrounds.    ACCEPTANCE.

CRAWLER STILL CRAWLING:   The wide-angle look of this image gives a “big nose” look, and the mono medium suits this well. It’s a bit of an ‘old dunger’ and reminds me of my days in the Forestry at Rai Valley, when I used to drive one of these. A very good example of this crawler (although not “still crawling!”)    MERIT AWARD.

HANDS ON TOOLS TIME:   An excellent capture of the action of the Angle Grinder (even though it might not meet health & safety standards – no gloves). The sparks flying are frozen in time, but there is still the sense of movement, which adds greatly to the action of this. Good balance and flow of the elements.    HONOURS AWARD.

ONE WITH THE LAND NOW:    A dear old machine past it’s best! The interior is mostly sharp except for the foreground elements, which tend to present as a minor distraction. Not a bad effort, and an interesting machinery subject.  ACCEPTANCE.

SILK FACTORY:   A very colourful setting of this machinery image. Clearly shows the raw materials through to the finished product on the reels above. An in–depth look at the manufacturing process. Well seen and composed.  HONOURS AWARD.

THE CHIPPER IS OFF TO DO SOME EARLY MORNING WORK:  WOW!  A title which tells the whole story, at length! Could be an idea to let the picture tell the story, instead of an unrealistically long title. It’s a fairly static image, that would be better showing the chipper in action. Very much a record shot. NOT ACCEPTED.

VINTAGE JAMES:     I would like see more of this bike in the picture. It’s a little bit too abbreviated. An interesting image which titivates the viewer into wanting to see more. It is however an acceptable image, and a good attempt.    ACCEPTANCE.

Digital A-Grade Set Subject.

BOYS TOYS:  More of a serious piece of machinery, than a toy! Strong colour of the digger, but a fairly static record shot. A photo of the digger in action, would tell more of a story, and add lots more in the way of viewer interest. ACCEPTANCE.

CHARACTER MACHINE:  Not sure who has the most character ~ the old jalopy, or the driver!? The action of this is well caught, with mud and water dripping from this steaming old rust bucket, as it takes the turn. The background is a bit busy, but all in all, it tells a good story. (It’s held together by wet towels, bungee cords, and chains!)   HONOURS AWARD.  (Judge’s observation:  Character machine alright! No number plates, WOF, or Rego)!

COTTON REELING:   A well composed image of this cotton factory machinery. The detail and repetition of the converging angles of the machinery, adds to the strength of this image, although there are no people to be seen. (Could be that the whole ‘shebang’ is automated!?)   MERIT AWARD.

DERELICT:   A sad ending for this old car, to have a scruffy old tree’s branches spewing out of it’s engine space! More of a historical/environmental shot, which expresses the human mentality of dumping everything when it’s no longer any use to them. Good colour and good placement within the frame. MERIT AWARD.

GREENING THE MACKENZIE:   The story of this irrigation machine, would have greater meaning, if it were to have water squirting from the nozzles. The  framework of the irrigator is shown strongly across the picture, but mostly it is a static machine image, which is more of a record shot.   NOT ACCEPTED.

LET THE SPARKS FLY:    Great action shot of the Angle Grinder and its operator. A strong machinery image which is well composed, with the flying sparks adding dramatic impact. Strongly typifies machinery and engineering. Excellent photojournalism shot.   HONOURS AWARD.

LOCOMOTIVES AT OTIRA:   While these do fall into the set subject category, this a very general shot of the engines, which is more of a record shot of your visit to this location. It needs more thought about how you could make this composition a strong and compelling expression of the subject of machinery.  NOT ACCEPTED. (Judge’s suggestion:  zoom in on the hydraulic hoses and gear on the front of the leading engine.)

LOW FLYING ANSON: And so it might be, but I feel that it needs more of an interesting angle in the frame to make this work. The aircraft sits mainly in the right half of the frame, which leaves a lot of empty sky on the left. All that blue sky contributes little to the main subject. Lop off a third of the left side of the image, to give it greater impact.    ACCEPTANCE.

MAYDAY, MAYDAY:  This definitely looks like a “mayday” situation., judging by the lean of the rig! A well captured photojournalism shot. Amazing how a lean like this can cause so much drama. Quite a grainy image with the misty atmosphere, adding to the overall effect. Interesting PJ shot, with the photographer being “Johnny-on-the-spot” Well seen.   MERIT AWARD.

PAS DE DEUX:    By my reckoning, this means a pair of (ballet dancers?) – usually a male and female, ~ But, hard to tell which is which, and whether or not they actually dancing! Maybe I would have called it “ploughing in unison”. However, a good machinery subject, but all that empty sky needs to be cropped off altogether. A tighter frame around the two tractors might make this work better.  ACCEPTANCE.

RUNNING MACHINES:   An imaginative shot for a machinery subject, but fairly dark and a lot of contrast throughout. I’m not sure that the back view of the people, is the best idea. Maybe a slightly side-to-front on shot, and shooting from a low camera angle, would give a better composition. However, the idea is there.   ACCEPTANCE.

THE LONG ARM FROM SKY:   A close-up view of a digger arm and bucket, which seems to be over-processed judging by the obvious halo-ing of the digger arm and the misting of the bucket, On the plus side, the subject fills the frame quite well, and fits right in to the “machinery” category.  NOT ACCEPTED.


C-Grade Open.

WINTER ON THE WAIRAU:   A nicely balanced landscape with good reflection of the sky and trees. A good effort, which just has a slightly flat cast overall. The white pole at left is a very annoying distraction, which I felt, would not have been difficult to get rid of, before printing. Otherwise, a good composition which is well mounted.   ACCEPTANCE.

B-Grade Open.

DOUSED:   A very good B & W Photojournalism shot clearly showing the helicopter trying to douse a rather large forest fire. Seemingly, it looks to be a big task for this tiny chopper. An excellent story-teller, which is well seen and printed.     HONOURS AWARD.

A-Grade Open.

RAKAIA RIVER:  A winter landscape with lots of appeal. The eye is drawn along the riverbed to the mountains beyond, and the strongly polarized sky adds the finishing touch. My only beef, is the “black stump” protruding out of the river bank, at left. Otherwise a very good landscape.    MERIT AWARD.



 MOTO GP TEAM:    It’s a pic that I really like ~ shows the action of the riders leaning into the corners, giving the viewer the real feeling of the thrill of it all. The creative background and surrounding colours, gives it the colour infrared-film effect. Well composed, printed, and mounted.  HONOURS AWARD.


ENGINE GEOMETRY:   Good title, and as well balanced image, and great colour. Looks like a motorbike engine with very clean parts, and with everything in pin-sharp focus. Great machine shot. Well done. BUT!....The mount is old, scratched, and decidedly tatty! Should have been an ‘Honours’, but the mount degrades the whole thing. ACCEPTANCE.

MACHINE 1:  A well balanced set of engine rocker arms. It’s really sharp with great detail. An excellent machine shot, which only begs a better title! No more to be said!    HONOURS AWARD.

MACHINE 2:  An equally good quality image of a set of engine gauges. Very clear and crisp composition, with great detail. A more imaginative title would be a fitting touch. However, this is excellent work.    HONOURS AWARD.

OLD TIMER:   Looks like an old boiler, which is probably still going strong, while younger more modern ones have bitten the dust!  Sharp with great detail and colour. A good example of the set subject. Pity about the scruffy looking mount. You need to know, that when a mount is put around a picture, it becomes part of that picture, not separate from it. The picture itself is a definite ‘Honours’ but the mount has degraded it to a ACCEPTANCE.

SPEED GOVERNOR PRIMA 20:   Clearly shows good detail of the hardware, and the movement of the governor. I like that this machine is operating and showing the moving parts. Well composed and well photographed. HONOURS AWARD.

THE LATHE:  Got a feeling I have seen this before? An interesting machine shot which shows all the bits and attachments necessary to do a ‘competent’ turning job. Love the sepia toning and creative border – it all seems to be an integral part of this lathe image. Well printed and portrayed.  HONOURS AWARD. (Judge’s cheeky comment: I’m sure I’ve seen this before!)


Well, that’s it folks! By now, you will have realised that I’m not a judge that likes to pull photos to bits in minute detail, and I like to keep the comments brief, limiting them to one or two ‘good’ or ‘not-so-good’ points, and I’m a great believer in introducing a bit of humour into what is quite often a far too serious exercise! I do hope that my comments will inspire some of you reach some higher goals within the world of photography.                ~ ROGER.


 “LET THE SPARKS FLY”.     (A-Grade SS) [If you look very carefully at this chap’s rough old hand you will see some printing on it – amazing  what you see if you look hard enough]



 Other images that I thought were Highly Commended but did not make “print” or “Digital” image of the month:

     “Gentle Collision”

      “A stitch in time”

      “Steam power”

      “Character Machine”