While you wouldn’t know it from looking at this blog over the past few months, I have been competing in Saint Paul Camera Club salons again this year.
The salon season started in October with themes that were pretty open. That seemed like a great opportunity to enter my best stuff and get a jump on award points for the year. Sadly, it didn’t work that way.
Prints: Open monochrome
As was the case last year, I still struggle to come up with monochrome entries. Not only do I have difficulty envisioning the world in black and white, but I don’t have the printing skills to make my images really shine.
While traveling over the summer we stopped at a pilgrimage site in Lithuania called the Hill of Crosses. It’s a place where people erect crosses of all types and sizes that are left to accumulate, weather, and decay. It’s a surprisingly chaotic scene, but with soft lighting and traditional symbols of spirituality, it seemed like a good subject for an old-fashioned monochrome.
I wanted to capture all of that – the spirituality, the decay, the chaos – in an image that looked as if it could have been taken decades ago.
The judge was not impressed. “Crop tight on the central figure and get rid of the faded edges.”
If implemented, that advice wouldn’t tell the same story. However, I can see where it would result in a stronger image for competition.
The Priest’s Courtyard
I’m still trying to figure out how to get nice sepia tones from my printer. I shoot a lot of historic places and sepia often gives these images an appropriately old-fashioned feel. However, I find it fiendishly hard to get my printer to produce the exact tones I’m looking for.
All of that is a long way of saying that I spent an awful lot of time working on this this image from Mission San Juan Capistrano in California before deciding it was close enough.
The judge didn’t love it, but he gave it an 8, which was enough to put it in the awards category. He also recommended darkening the one wall a bit, which seems reasonable.
Digital theme: Realistic
Realistic images can be manipulated in Photoshop, but they can’t look like it. That also means it’s ok to remove clouds (or people!) or make other corrections that wouldn’t be allowed in a nature or journalism competition.
Ancient Japanese Bridge in Hoi An
I entered my Christmas card picture from the year before, a morning shot of the Japanese bridge in Hoi An, Vietnam.
It’s pretty much a straight shot, except I removed some of the gunk floating in the water and maybe part of a person. I like this shot a lot, but the judge wasn’t as fond of it. Still, I got an 8, which put it into the awards category.
I also submitted a fall morning shot of a locally famous barn that has been slowly collapsing (and has now collapsed) into a pond.
I love this image. Not only for the magic of coming upon it by accident while headed elsewhere, but also because the barn seems to be melting into the glowing fall colors that surround it.
The judge hated it for pretty much the same reasons I love it. His advice: Crop as close to the barn as you can – get rid of all that other stuff. He thought the barn itself was amazing and should be the only thing in the photo. I tend to forget how interesting the barn itself is because I’ve seen so many pictures of it. My goal was to find a different take on it. For competition I probably don’t need to think about that so much. Still, I prefer it with a fairly wide crop.