Updated: May 28
Congratulations to Eunice on winning this year's challenge with her entry, "Three Strands".
Keith's feedback is noted below and the scoring images.
Chairman’s Challenge Results
1st Three Strands
2nd equal Bluebell Trio
3rd equal Hear No, Speak No, See No
Highly Commended Three reflections
Marbles on the beach
Three of a kind
Commended All the Threes
Sorry We are Closed
Great title. The three gothic arches with the three supporting pillars have been really well seen. The angle too that the image has been taken from is ideal and if the verticals do converge a little, I don’t think they have a negative impact in any way. However, in this instance I’m not convinced by the treatment of the image. The conversion to what I think might be infra-red has meant that a lot of the detail has been lost. It’s also meant that the contrast is quite high, which doesn’t in my opinion, benefit this image.
Absolutely loved this image and the title. Humorous, well spotted and certainly fulfilling the brief, it made me smile every time I looked at it. The only thing that might have improved it, if there had been time, would have been to shoot it with the camera parallel to the wall, and perhaps take a step back to include all the ivy. This might have enhanced the graphic aspect of the image. In addition, the green contrasts well with the brown of the brick and so increasing the saturation might have developed this further.
Joker of the Shoal
Mackerel are a much-underappreciated fish. Not only are they, at least in my opinion, good eating, but they make excellent photographic subjects as this image demonstrates. Shot against a plain background which does not distract in any way, the pretty patterns and colours on their backs are very apparent, and having their mouths open definitely adds something. However, I suspect that this image would probably be stronger if the “face” of the top fish was as clear of the two at the bottom. I also wonder if it wouldn’t benefit from maybe a tighter crop around the head areas.
Look at Mummy
A superb studio portrait which has been expertly lit. The faces are well illuminated yet there is only the merest hint of a shadow on the ground. The interaction between the middle girl and her mother is very strong and is, to my mind, another real strength of this image. Unfortunately, the younger girl on the left is not interacting with either the other two subjects or the photographer and this does detract from the overall impact.
An image in the style of a well-known successful Scottish photographer and so perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but this has been really well done. The slate is a fantastic background for the plants both in terms of texture and colour. The small crack near the centre almost gives the feeling of a hillside slope thus giving an impression of a landscape. It’s been really well lit so that the shadows don’t intrude, and the positioning of the plants is great. I also like the way the edge of the image frays into the border. The only bit which detracts a little bit for me is the clock face which I don’t think adds anything significant. Overall though, a super image.
This is a really well-done, creative and intriguing image. Firstly, I really like the fact that the letters making up the words are at an angle. Had they been straight on or parallel to the squares on the board this would not have had the impact it does. Though there are perhaps small digital artefacts around the letters I don’t think these detract significantly. If the letters had been moved down just a little and the board tilted a bit more, then I suspect the red triple word score squares would have been more apparent. At present they are perhaps just a little too saturated and so it is impossible to read what’s written on them. A tighter crop might also have boosted the impact. Having said all of that I liked this image very much indeed and its different take on the theme.
What some folk get up to in their bathrooms! A funny, superbly well executed image which definitely reads from left to right. Indeed, the inclusion of the pointing figure in the top left-hand corner really leads you into the picture. The way it’s constructed means that it looks like the reflected figures appear to be in other rooms, especially given the presence of the light in only one of the reflections. The only minor issue for me is the direction the first reflected figure is looking Though pointing at the camera, the fact that he is not looking at either the camera or the other figures tends to lead the eye out of the mirror on the right hand side i.e. in the direction he is looking.
All the Threes
When constructing triptychs, getting the contributing images to balance is always a challenge. In this instance the author has succeeded in doing this spectacularly with a wonderfully colourful well-constructed piece of work. The attention to detail in terms of the space around each window, the exposure and even the inclusion of the equal little triangle at the top of the side images is quite brilliant. Many judges bemoan white borders, but in this case, I think it adds significantly to the impact. Though at magnification the image does not look entirely sharp, I assuming that this is a combination of the compression of the file when transferred, and my monitor. One that I returned to on many occasions and would make a fabulous print I believe.
Sometimes it’s hard to fathom why you like an image as much as you do, particularly when it doesn’t fit into a standard category. Though I can understand that this image is not to everyone’s taste, I absolutely love it. Well spotted and well taken it has so many subtle colours and textures in it. This coupled with the fact that it reminds me a bit of the work of Fay Godwin (one of my favourite photographers) made me return to it again and again. The very shallow depth of field (I guess this was shot at a very wide aperture) helps focus attention on the three barbed wire strands and it is the contrast of these metal strands with the weathered wood which was, for me, another a real strength of this outstanding image.
Yet another absolutely superb image, which on another day might well have won. The colours of the tulip flowers are absolutely outstanding. Part of that is down to really good handling of the light by the author who has got the exposure spot on. I really like the angle of the stems which give the image greater energy and the contrast with the diffuse, out of focus background is, to my mind, perhaps the key element in what is a brilliant piece of work. The only minor issue is the fact that the middle flower very slightly obscures the one to its left. Any sort of separation between the two flowers might have improved the image just a little.
This is a really interesting image as the author has, to my mind, done all the hard work in identifying an unusual, innovative, creative take on the theme. They obviously have an artist’s eye. However, the way the image has been taken has let them down. The central blue strut divides the picture up extremely harshly and so the right-hand part of the image contributes nothing meaningful. The background by being almost in focus is distracting as is the contrast between the wood chips and the grass. Had the author may be taken a step to their left, framed the three racks of balls, so that they filled the frame and thrown the green grass out of focus by using a wide aperture, then I suspect this might have produced an outstanding image.
For me, this is the stronger of the two triptych images. Given that in this instance all three elements depict buildings, and all have a slightly muted colour palette, they work really well together. You have to hunt about in the middle image just a little to get the two sets of three chimneys and the three panes of glass, but this is only a minor issue. Having all three images as landscapes is perfect in emphasising the nature of the roofs. The “feathered” effect at the edges of each element for me, is very minor issue. Given the geometric lines of the buildings, I wonder if a “harder” border would have been more appropriate. However, that said, the author has taken a lot of time and put a lot of time and thought into this image and it has really paid off.
This is an extremely interesting series of images, which don’t quite hold together quite as well as the one with the buildings. Firstly, the three images obviously vary in theme, but there is also quite a strong contrast in terms of tone and colour. I absolutely love the top images of the boats. A fantastic range of colours, my eye literally climbed the ladder at the left-hand side before “walking” to the right down the quay side past the boats. I suspect this image on its own could have done very well. The second image (a waterwheel) is also very strong. The blades are positioned to give an almost 3d effect and are lined up under each of the boats. It is the third image, which in my opinion lets this triptych down just a little. The end two cygnets work well, their symmetry reflecting what is above, but the middle one is causing the bother by deciding to preen itself at the wrong moment! This just, for me, breaks the overall feel of the picture.
This image has the most wonderful background with the muted reds and greens reflected in the stem of the glass. Unfortunately, a couple of other elements to my mind let the image down a bit. Firstly, the strong metallic surface on which the glass is sitting contrasts very strongly with the green. This coupled with the quite bright highlight on the right-hand side of this surface meant that my eye kept being drawn to the bottom right corner. The bigger issue however, and I do wonder if something’s happened during the transfer of the files, is the fact that the three red fruits are so out of focus. As a result, we have this rather indeterminate red “grouping” at the top right of the image which tends to distract and confuse.
A hard shot to expose correctly and yet one which the author has handled really well. I like the way the three balls have been arranged and the way they “move” diagonally across the frame from top left towards the bottom right. I also really like the diffuse reflections in the ball at the right and in particular the out of focus trees. I’d like to have seen more of the shadow which is cut off at the bottom as this would, I think, have added additional interest to an image which as it stands maybe lacks a little punch.
This image does have some lovely textures, clearly shown here. There are also some very interesting reflections in this image in both the mirror and the spheres. However, for me, there’s quite a lot going on here, much of it unrelated. Other than the reflective surfaces we’ve two different colours and textures in the walls, the top of a post, a bright area in the stones, a tuft of grass and a very bright highlight in one of the spheres. As a result, I wasn’t entirely sure what it was I should be looking at.
A really good idea for an image. The muted background colour contrasts well with many of the tones in the fish and the borders are well positioned. However, the three fishes used in this case, I think it’s fair to say, have seen better days. With unusual body shapes and a lack of fins/tails, they look singularly unappetising and do tend to distract from the background. The exposure too does not look quite right as the fish are a little dark.
Marbles on the Beach
I absolutely love this weirdly wonderful image. From the rather alien colour cast of the seaside to the placement of the marbles, it has the feel of a shot from something like a science fiction film or maybe even the 1960s series “The Prisoner”. Given the shadows of the marble sand the way the image holds together tonally, the author has most likely spent a while tweaking it. It’s been time well spent. My only other comment is perhaps that the blue cast in the background is just a little too strong as it reduces the visual impact of the marbles. If it were toned down just a little, I wonder if the marbles would stand out just a bit more. Unusual and creative, it would be interesting to a series of similar images.
Oh for another 3
The cards in this image are very well exposed and there’s no hint of either a flash or reflection from a window. Indeed, if the cards had just been on a plain red background, then this would have produced quite a strong graphic image. Unfortunately, we have a really bright highlight in the bottom left corner which along with the other artefacts on the bottom edge is rather distracting.
Three of a Kind
A really well constructed and lit still life really gives the feel of a late-night game of cards. The green baize tabletop provides a perfect background for the items and there are no harsh highlights on either the cards or the contents of the glass. I also like the way the light on the tabletop gradually recedes into darkness on the left-hand side, though perhaps the shadow in the top right-hand corner is a little too sudden. The glass looks like it is tilting over just a little to the right, something which in these kinds of images is not too difficult to fix. These however are relatively minor points in what is an atmospheric well-taken shot.
Hear No, Speak No, See No
Three wise monkeys indeed. When Kim Ayres talked to the club prior to lockdown, he described street photography as “wildlife photography with people”. This image is street photography with wildlife and I really like it. The interaction between the two monkeys on the right is so reminiscent of two young children, whilst you just know that the one on the left is just about to cause trouble. Perfectly exposed at a suitable shutter speed, the animal’s faces are clear despite what was obviously really challenging bright contrasting light. The only change I might suggest would be to crop it in on the right-hand side. I can see that the author wanted to include the tail of the monkey on the right-hand side, but given that this is missing on the left, I don’t think that it would be an issue.