Paul Burwood judging Peoples Cup Park Street on Thursday 28th January

Date Published 
Fri 29 Jan 2021

As usual a Zoom arrangement and Paul Burwood our judge for the night was back again after his last visit in April. Throughout he was most observant. Not critical for the sake of it, just observant and there is a subtle difference. His manner was also very non judgemental which also sound like a contradiction bearing in mind he was there to be just that. However that balance too is a rare quality. Criticising without sounding discouraging and making some clear suggestions too especially regarding cropping. He also mentioned the importance of titles – so few judges do that despite titles subconsciously having an effect on how an image is perceived right from the start.

The PDI entry numbered 25 and the ‘prints’ submitted at higher resolution 15 but that number made a reasonable evening. Paul took the opportunity of this relaxed schedule to say a little more about each one he went along and explained that was what he was doing. ‘Holding back’ is definitely still popular as it is what we are used to and does create a bit more excitement around the winning images even though hardly necessary bearing in mind the judge has had the images for some days. Rather strangely he hadn’t scored any 18s by the finish and then scored all the 5 finalist either 19 or above!

Overlooked 17s were undoubtedly Chris Andersons “Boat Man,” Chris Gilbert’s “Balancing Act” and “Children of Burano” from Leon Flack. Had they been 18s it might have levelled it all up a bit as there were no less than nine 17s. However five images were held back and Terry’s excellent market trader shot “Serious Discussion” was awarded a 19. (Paul worked out it was a market trader from the style of clamp holding down a tarpaulin.) I suppose they still could have been arguing customers but he was right. Good deduction and proof he was looking hard just not at the scores. David Butler’s very sharp action shot ”Wind Surfer” also scored 19. Technically very good possibly not a lot of person in the frame but excellent none the less. Sue Hipperson was 3rd with a 20 for her “Hey That’s One of My Chips”. Chris Gilbert’s line of seated north African ladies “Waiting” working very well in Mono was 2nd and the winner a slightly eccentric idea from Jeremy Frazer Mitchell “Beach Legs” taken from very low down on a Brazilian beach and accentuating just one set of legs - placed top.

The ‘Print event was somewhat shorter and quite honestly to me didn’t really look any different to a standard PDI. He held another 5 back for this which left only ten others none of which scored less than 15.! The two 19s were actually rather good especially David Butler’s great portrait of our Chairman Terry looking menacing. Excellent. Sue H’s Olympia – a work colleague - also received a 19. Jeremy’s “Dramatic Pose” lady dancer was a 20 and 3rd leaving clearly two of the best shots of the evening for the top spots. Jeremy’s “Hell Bent for Leather” – good title too, and another crisp sports shot with some character in the performer and a good cropping. Use of Mono reduced the distraction of any background colours and it appeared very much in the same vein as the well known moving biker shot from John Jennings. (Perhaps the two of them could make up a panel!) The very first image we had seen in this section turned out to be Paul’s favourite. Dramatic side lighting and sandy surfaces creating a distinctive picture of a small dark skinned your lad kneeling and playing in the sand. No one could explain quite why his belly button was so prominent however.

So probably no arguments about the top images but why after he had been asked to score 12 to 20 and confirmed that he had been, did he only score only down to 16, admittedly with a couple of token 14s, but no 15s at all and mysteriously no 18s either in PDI? Last time he came, in April, he covered the desired range from 12 – 20. What went wrong? The smaller print entry was moreunderstandably tight but there was still plenty of room for scoring, down to 14 at least, to spread them out some more. Small entries allow the potential for even fewer ties not more! Scores are a process of putting pictures in order not a commodity to be dished out. Judges really are only precluded from placing an entire entry in their favoured order 1- 50 by the limitations of the scoring 0-20. (Or more practically 12 – 20). Why do so many not use the range they have even when they are asked to do so especially now they have all this extra time to consider?

Dave Hipperson


I agree that judges should mark between 12-20, with 12/13 being examples of images with significant technical faults and we need to ensure that this is emphasised to the judge before each competition.

Submitted by terry-day1 on Sat 30 Jan 2021 1:15pm

He was asked to mark over a wide range (12-20) and as the news report mentions, he confirmed this. The problem with marking over a narrow range is not just confined to the event in question, but also affects wider competitions e.g. the overall photographer of the year - if everybody scores the same, the competition is effectively "wasted" in the wider context.

Due credit though must be given to expert use of the Zoom "annotate" tools, which all other judges could learn from!