PRINT OF THE YEAR….PSCC….Judge Martin Patten…..10th June 2021

Date Published 
Sat 12 Jun 2021

Due to practical limitations we did not have a full programme of prints this year. Indeed at one time it looked like we might be having none at all so we slipped in a few successful ‘Set Subject PDI’ comps instead. However rather imaginatively it was suggested that we should hold a sort of double size PDI event and call them prints. This kept the print people on board and maintained a balanced programme especially in the other events that included both PDIs and prints. It would appear very few other clubs thought of doing this and as a consequence their print activity was seriously reduced. A good move by us here. With any top three placings in this ‘so called’ print event then qualifying for the end of season ‘Best Of’ we were looking at over sixty, helped somewhat by those from the Mono, Creative, People and Wildlife sections.

Fortunately we had the benefit of the CACC Chairman Martin Patten along to do the judging. Booked far sightedly by Miranda long ago but now also booked by me for our best PDI next year! Martin is a DPAGB, LRPS, AFIAP and a BPE4*. A good judge straight out of the box seven years ago before he was all those other things however now he has authority as well as charisma to go along with that original talent. He is also quite tough or he has certainly got a reputation for being so but then as this was a ‘Best Of’ final that was probably what was required. After all they should all have been of a pretty much equal standard of excellence.

The fact that they weren’t was partly due to previous judge’s differing criteria but possibly as much that a number of us had joined in with this PDI style of Print event during the year to ensure there were enough pictures at the end to make this final viable. Many may have not have been able to use their best images, bearing in mind the reduced circumstances and mobility most of us had to endure during the pandemic crisis.

Martin delivered exactly what we had asked of him and in his usual friendly style. A dozen or so held back from just over 60 entries. On such a night there can be but a single winner however commendations were given to the eleven others to slightly sweeten the pill of defeat. Those good efforts not chosen included Sue Andersons ‘Spring Posy’. A very clean simple still life with great depth of field possibly due to the strong lighting. Martin’s suggestion that an artistic filter might have improved it further however was a useful one. ‘Common Carder Bee’ was first class natural history from Chris Gilbert and may have been treated a little harshly for some slight depth of field issues. (Photo stacking seems to becoming essential now for such shots.) Interestingly this one had placed 2nd in the Wildlife Print event itself judged by Andy Sands a month or two earlier who I thought had unduly stressed the importance of sharpness throughout that night. So this suggests Martin being even harsher than Andy in this area! However the actual winner of that Wildlife night had been Jacqui’s ‘Eyelash Viper’ another one that Martin passed over. Here his criticism was regarding its composition (no nose). Bang on and something which I was surprised Andy had missed on the night. Balance was somewhat restored there. ‘Wrapped’ from John Jennings was another test for Marin’s proclaimed interest in ‘emotion and engagement’ above technical detail. He passed over it suggesting that the lady’s face was not sharp enough but still appreciating the tenderness of the horse/human pose. Once again some softness in the tail of Jacqui’s wonderful wrought iron looking Lizard did not impress. In truth the curled tail was the story - slightly soft or not.

Chris Gilbert’s ‘Roseberry Toppings’ was also not chosen and although possibly a little stark as a mono (from the mono event) it didn’t deserve criticism for scale effects. The suggestion was that the size of the people on the hill compared to the trees in the foreground looked wrong. In such locations fully formed flora, trees in this case, can often be stunted and to my mind there was no contradiction between the small trees in the foreground and the human forms up the hill. Over thought this one. It was just a bit dull.

Four images were commended and they were all Jeremy’s. ‘Working at Height’, ‘Fantasy Ice, ’It's a Fair Copse' and ‘Alpe de Siusi’ – the latter being the strongest and a very fine well lit landscape. Jeremy also collected a Highly Commended for his ‘Hell Bent for Leather’ (excellent title). A carefully panned shot introducing more character than is usual in a sporting image. David Butler’s ‘Common Toads Mating’ was also highly commended along with Jacqui’s really excellent ‘On the Move’ a very fine amalgam of a super sharp Cheetah family foreground, against a softer contextual background of rapidly approaching Wildebeests. Pictorially well handled, technically spot on and also telling a story – who’s chasing who? Could have won it if not for some slightly distracting rocks about cheetah head size (pity) - Martin was right to point these out.

Dean Tyler had but one entry due to his reduced activity this year. However it was a standout costal landscape in evening light entitled ‘Sands of Time, Holywell Bay’and was placed 3rd. ‘Three Plus Three’ from Chris Gilbert impressed Martin sufficiently for him to award it 2nd place. A very carefully lit still life which would have lent itself better to actual printing if only to ensure that subtle blend of light and object down the right side had positive separation however faint. It nearly didn’t in the PDI version. Jacqui Taylor won with her deceptively simple shot ‘Richmond Park.’ A wonderful Stag portrait in the morning frost. As Martin was right to point out – no hot air breath nor annoying grass in the antlers which we see so often and can distract.

Dave Hipperson

Comments

Actually, as far as our "Open" print league went, we replaced the first two rounds with set subject PDI competitions, while we were waiting to see if physical prints would be viable later in the season (some hope!). Thus we decided to squeeze the normal 15 "open" prints into 3 rounds rather than 5, with 5 prints per author rather than 3, and 5 prints per round qualifying for POTY rather than just the top 3. I thought this worked pretty well; coupled with not actually having to produce physical prints, we got far more entries for each "print" round than each PDI round, and probably had better competitions as a result.

I actually had a fourth commended image (It's a fair copse) which this report didn't mention. I'd have preferred one of the top three spots though!!

Jacqui's winning image nearly didn't make it into the competition!! It had not secured one of the top 5 places in the open print round it was entered in, and was not in Jacqui's original list of images for submission. However there was an error in this list, and when Jacqui corrected this she also added her winning entry. A worthy winner, and we'll definitely be seeing it again in interclub competitions next year.