PDI First Round… PSCC….9.9.2021…Judge Damon Guy. (High Wycombe)

Date Published 
Fri 10 Sep 2021

A good start with a reasonable number of images bearing in mind the size of our club. An encouragingly even standard as well, which is confidence building for club moral but of course more difficult for the judge to separate out. The man in question this night being Damon Guy who managed the job admirably. On quite a few occasions he seemed to be delving deeply into the image, searching for the statement the author was trying to make never missing a detail but also not seeming to be too picky about little mistakes. Sue Anderson might have been a bit unlucky with some slightly visible cloning around a petal on her ‘Rose’ but on the other hand Terry got the other sort of luck when Damon talked us into all manner of possible narratives surrounding his ‘Broken Sign’ entry. Where were we all going with that? Great stuff and it encourages everyone to try slightly different approaches.

It’s a very difficult line to walk when the judge starts to really dissect and involve himself in your picture’s ‘idea.’ It can all go terribly wrong and easily sound pretentious and arty. Damon manages to attenuate this nicely couching most of the quite complicated stuff in simple English we could all understand. He even admitted to having some slight leanings which was most honest. (I trust you were taking notice of what they were.) Domestic animals seemed a soft spot. John Jennings’ ‘Faithfull Companion’ and Terry Day’s excellent ‘Branston Pickle portrait benefiting and scoring 17s accordingly. Jaqui’s ‘Long Eared Owl’ on the other hand must have looked to him just a little bit too domestic as he mistook it for a set-up pose which it wasn’t but so looked like one. Only a 15 for that was harsh. For technique alone it deserved more. Neither could he have known that Sue H’s ‘In the Frame’ was a self portrait. A title conveying the idea might have helped it but it still scored 17 along with her ‘Precision in Brass’, a fancy window latch. Sue A’s excellent ‘Stripes’ might too have deserved some more.

Eight were held back so we had a decent bunch to look at again. The scores were spread from 18 upwards. Jeremy’s ‘Rock Art’ entertained sufficiently to collect an18 as did his ‘Over Ambitious Poohsticks’. This image scoring as much on pure artistic design as anything else. An excellent sea-scape from Leon entitled ‘Rough Seas’ really caught the eye. Damon rightly pointing out its mood and how well it had worked even without recourse to a focal point or centre which is usually so essential. Excellent cropping too. Jacqui Taylor’s Kestrel also scored 18 making amends for the earlier misunderstood Owl.

That left John Jennings’ ‘Drama Queen’ as the only 19 and in fourth place. Third was taken by Chris Gilbert after a couple of uncharacteristic 16s from his attractive ‘Autumn, Brompton Cemetry’ and enigmatic ‘Another Day, Havana.’ His ‘Linseed Flower’ slid in with a 20 behind Jacqui Taylor’s ‘Sparrow Hawk’ family and at the top a very impressive dancer action shot by John Jennings entitled ‘Butterfly.’ Throughout, Damon’s comments about such ethereal images as this had been highly educational. He clearly knew about dance and explained even more about how hands don’t always have to be a problem in such images. Indeed they can be a veritable asset to the action and the pose. Words like poise and grace were used to illustrate his ideas. His approach throughout was one of enthusiasm and positivity to such an extent that on at least two occasions his comments completely changed my mind on an image!

A bit of statistical maths inspired by Jeremy’s post competition nomo-graph. Damon’s ‘score curve’ came out a little bit heavy in the16 and 17s which incidentally was exactly the same pattern as I had achieved when I judged the same images (minus author’s names) a day or two earlier. However surely a pre-view should allow a judge to re-adjust for that and level off the peak and even enable a score of at least one 12 which we still didn’t quite get. After all there is always a worst picture and it isn’t a crime. Fear not however – I think I have got one ready for the next comp!