Judge: Irene Callaghan
MCC TROPHY Topic: An image that captures a sense of “space” and “place” and tells a story of the scene before the camera.

Photographs which capture a sense of “space” and “place” and tell a story of the scene before the camera. A landscape will typically combine elements of earth, sea or sky. The image may include human elements for scale and context but not to the extent that they become the prominent element. Creative enhancement of the image is acceptable provided that the resulting image still reflects the essential story of what is seen in that landscape.

  • A total of four (4) images are allowed to be submitted. Two printed and Two digital images.   

Please submit your image(s) under SET subject. Do not use Open. In the title, please indicate if this is NOT a New Zealand image. 

When the images are submitted to the judge, they will not be graded. However, we will still request a results and critique. The results will not be included in your end of year points for tophies.


Set Subject

Comments on the competition:

It has been a pleasure to critique your images once again, and congratulations to everyone who did well. I hope you find my comments helpful and I remind you I am only one opinion amongst many, and apologies for being fussy. Obviously most picked their best entries for printing as these were all very impressive. I love prints as you have full control over the finished result. I would like to challenge everyone to put at least one print into the next competition. There must be a few members who climb mountains in your club, as there were quite a few entries taken from the high country.

Landscape is a difficult subject to perfect as we tend to look at our wonderful scenery and think that our cameras are going to record exactly what our eye sees. Unfortunately the camera sees in two dimensions only, and a good image requires a lot thought and expertise from the photographer to bring home a good image.

Record in raw if you can, as with jpeg files, the camera will chose to throw out important information you may want to make use of later. The time of day really does matter. My favorite times are just before the sun comes up or otherwise the blue hour which happens after the sun goes down. I also much prefer stormy weather for more dramatic images so I actually hope for dramatic storms when we travel.

Search for and include interesting subjects in the foreground where possible, or use leading and converging lines to make your images look more dynamic. Use motion like rushing waves, clouds and waving grass. Some entries in this landscape competition are great examples of using long exposure techniques.

Landscape is a big subject and I hope to never stop travelling and learning how to improve my own images. I hope I will see many of you at the Nelson/Marlborough/Motueka challenge on the 27th May.

Irene Callaghan


I feel this image impressed you when you were looking at the scene before your eyes, however when it is reduced to a two dimensional image on the screen it looks different. The composition needs to be stronger with more detail in the clouds to hold our attention. As the masts are high this makes it difficult to crop from the sky so I suggest instead cropping about half of the water to bring the horizon line down from the centre. ACCEPTED



The grasses in the front of the image begin our journey that takes our eye across to the line of light which travels though the hills. There is just enough sky to frame the top of the image which has led us back to the well lit grass in the front. The shadows in the print are only slightly too dark and may even show up lighter when the file is projected. MERIT


This image takes me on a journey through the rocks and across the bay to the hills on the other side. The rock to the right is obviously in shadow and the author has done a good job in post of controlling the difficult lighting. I like the inclusion of the grass at the lower left which becomes our diving board into the image. MERIT


I liked the matt paper and the very concise matting of this image. I enjoyed the layers of the different elements in this image, up to and including the sky, which is interesting and not too busy. There is a yellow cast to this image which is evident most in the sky, and this could be reduced in colour management if the author wishes. MERIT



Very strong yellow tone here may be explained by the late evening light bathing the landscape. I like the way the layers in the image are separated and the grass seeds add a lighter element in front of the darker trees. Beautifully Matted. ACCEPTED



Wow! I hope we will see this one entered in the Challenge. I call tell this author is very competent technically as all aspects of composition and post production have been handled extremely well. I loved the detail of the rocks under the water in the foreground which lead up to the main rock where my eye comes to rest after travelling around the rest of the image. The golden colour of the vegetation is a perfect partner to the grays in this image. Well done and I wish I had been standing beside you with my camera and tripod. HONOURS 



A great example of a long exposure that has turned the water silky. The rocks are sharp with good exposure and you can peak through the hole into the distance where a small amount of sky is seen that just breaks up the visual weight of the rocks. The grey clouds suit the image and prove that a blue sky will rarely enhance most landscapes as much as a dramatic stormy one. It pays to go out searching for landscapes on stormy days. HONOURS 


The repeating layers of the mountain ranges which graduate from darker in the front to lighter in the distance, make a good subject against the evening sky. Looking into the light, together with the haze in the distance has meant some loss of definition. I would recommend perhaps reducing the sky by about half to create more balance in the image. ACCEPTED


The last rays of the sun are beaming through the mountains at the end of the day. You would have to be fit to climb up this high. Try looking for something interesting to use in the foreground to begin our journey into your image. ACCEPTED


I like the way the gold in the hills contrasts with the blue of the lake. Well composed, although have a think about including some foreground interest even if it is just some stones or grass. A slight reduction in brightness will bring out the blues. Good work. MERIT


The clouds are your main subject here due to the size they take up and they dominate your image. I feel they are a bit complicated and busy and my eye is drawn back to the small one sitting at the top of the frame. Try to balance your images in landscape generally with layers of information starting with the foreground, then middle and lastly a subject in the distance. ACCEPTED


This is one of my favorite places and I still feel I have not made my best image here. You have done well as the person walking into your image has given a sense of scale and the rocks flow well through the image. Consider cropping the sky to just above the first hill and increasing the contrast a little. MERIT



The greenery has been exposed nicely however the water and sky are overexposed. Expose for the brightest area in your image and then burn any bright areas and dodge the shadows in post when you get home. Otherwise try exposing 3 images with differing exposures and process as a HDR later. ACCEPTED


An iconic view of lake Matheson. The light is very bright and I know it is tricky when travelling to always photograph during the golden hour, however it is extremely important to get a good exposure, particularly where there are highlights, as it is virtually impossible to rescue this information when processing. The still water has given you good reflections however even allowing for the curvature of the lake I feel there is a slope down to the right that could be straightened. ACCEPTED



I like that you have included the seaweed as a subject in your image. Consider a crop which will bring it closer to the foreground. There is a log of wood that partially disappears out the right of your image. It is best to clone these items out if possible, or to change position  when making your image and include items fully within the frame, as otherwise they tend to take your eye out of the image. ACCEPTED


The wave surging up the beach helps frames the dead tree which I feel has rather messy branches Always watch that your horizon is level, as here it is leaning very slightly to the right. Try under exposing a little when taking images when it is bright or wait till the light is softer. ACCEPTED


There is a lot happening in this image and it has a very busy sky with all the clouds. I feel if the sky was reduced it would take out some of the overexposed upper area, and bring our attention down towards the lovely foreground. I like the way the longer exposure has softened the water and our eye is directed along the leading lines of the pools further into the image. The horizon needs to be straightened very slightly. Looks great in black and white. This could be an honours with a little work. MERIT


It was rather difficult to get past the sloping sea level here. There are plenty of free programmes you can use to straighten images and I am sure that someone can show you how if you have not done this before. I do like the twisted form of the tree silhouetted against the view. NOT ACCEPTED


First well done you for getting out of bed early. It can be difficult to take an image when it is so early and the shadows are still dark. You would have to take three images on a tripod at different exposures and combine them later as an HDR to cover the light extremes, or use some way of reflecting light perhaps. ACCEPTED


This is a very lovely aurora image which is obviously a specialty of yours. It is great that you have an included an interesting foreground which has been nicely lit. You must have been pleased when you saw how well it turned out on your screen. I like the panoramic crop and can imagine this as a print. HONOURS 



The milky way is balanced by the pink glow of the aurora to the right hand side and the well controlled exposure has illuminated the rocks in the foreground. If you want to lighten the rocks very slightly more, in layers use the mode soft light and the opacity at 12/15 which is very gentle and you can build it up slowly. It certainly has been well named. HONOURS 


The plants included in the foreground tell us a story about the terrain we are experiencing as we travel deeper into the image. What a sight to wake up to, although it looks a little cold. The detail is a little soft in the distance and perhaps a subtle HDR may help, but don’t overdo it as less is more. ACCEPTED


The rays of the sun make a great subject although with so many trees it is slightly busy. The light is bright and a later time in the day may have helped or perhaps try underexposing the image then lightening the shadows in post. ACCEPTED


As presented, the long exposure has softened the water and clouds so that there is very little detail in these areas. We are then relying on the rocks to hold our attention however these are partially obscured by the misty water. Some added contrast may make bring out more detail here. NOT ACCEPTED


An interesting filter or treatment or maybe it is ICM but I quite like the subtle effect. The scene has a restful feel to it although I would like a person on the path towards the bend to stop me from wanting to leave the image. A tiny bit more room between the tree on the left and the edge of the image would improve the composition. ACCEPTED


I can see some very interesting alpine plants in the foreground and I suggest you try something different next time you make it up on the side of this mountain. Get down low and use the mountains as the backdrop to the plants. This should make for an interesting composition which won’t be as affected by glare, as the sky in the distance is very bright. Perhaps also try a polarizing filter or wait for the light to fade a little. ACCEPTED


This vineyard looks like a manicured garden it is so tidy. The converging lines of the grape vines draw your eye towards the tree which has been placed on the top third. This feels a comfortable place to come back to once the image has been explored. ACCEPTED


The set of three trees look good where they are placed and the sky feels like you have the proportion right. The grass is very dry and reminds me of Aussi when I was last there. Try using a fence as a leading line into the image. There appears to be a lot of plastic fence posts in front of the trees which look out of place in the landscape. NOT ACCEPTED


The golden hills have a great colour although they are bare of any subject large enough for my eye to settle on so I tend to go in circles. Maybe you could have zoomed in more on one of the interesting rock formations. I feel the image is a little soft. NOT ACCEPTED


The setting sun has lit up the grasses in a halo of light which means the mountains have become a supporting background. The repeating layers look interesting bathed in the yellow glow. This is a simple image which could look good printed and placed on the wall in my opinion. MERIT


This is a lovely wee tarn nestled amongst the beautiful basin of the peaks. This may be Lake Marion perhaps. The spot you have chosen to stand has a very busy foreground with many rocks in the water. I feel it is better to keep the foreground interest simple by finding a spot with only one or two main rocks if possible so our eye flows more to the mountain and back. ACCEPTED


A great example of using the flora as the main subject with the mountains as the background to show what the terrain is like. This would be suitable as a Natural History entry if suitably named. Nice light and good composition. MERIT


A beautiful but cold time of the day but it is my favorite as the light is so subtle and soft. If you check your histogram you may well find the brightness needs a small increase as the lighting seems slightly flat on my calibrated monitor. I would also crop a small amount off the sky which will bring more attention onto the mountains. Good on you for getting out of bed so early. ACCEPTED (Almost a merit)


The image has become almost abstract from high above. There is potential to enhance the brilliant blue/green colour of the water if the image was darkened very slightly, and a little vibrancy is added. I would also suggest trying a small crop from the top of the image to make this image slightly panoramic. ACCEPTED


A strong composition as my eye is directed into the left third of the image by the rows of grapes and the lines of light running down the ridges of the hills. Strong autumn tones give me the impression of a bright and cheerful image. I feel the white border is distracting and suggest applying one that is a only a few pixels in width when separation from the background is needed. MERIT


I can see by the movement in the clouds you have used a longer exposure and this has added interest to your image. A well thought out composition with interesting colour and lovely reflections in the still water. MERIT


You have a very good eye for “seeing” a scene, and then making the most of the composition with the elements you have available. The long exposure has left enough detail in the water to add interest to the image, and has given you a silky smooth sky. The rows of rock converge on the third for a well crafted image. Very nice in the monotone. HONOURS 


The wave is caught at the apex of the splash and there is good colour in the image. I find the rock is rather central in the image and placing it to one side will make the image more dynamic. I am looking for some leading lines or more content in your foreground to keep me interested. Perhaps a slower exposure would be worth trying although in bright light you would need a neutral density filter to reduce the speed enough. NOT ACCEPTED


The blue sky works well with the foliage. I would like to see a stronger foreground element included, or perhaps use a lower perspective and/or leading lines to make this a more dynamic composition. I would suggest a crop of both the top and bottom to make this a panoramic. The light is quite strong and this makes it difficult to create a more dynamic image at this time of the day. NOT ACCEPTED