I had lots of options again this month, with what was essentially open color print and open digital monochrome competitions.
Prints: Open color
Maybe it was too much openness, because I really struggled to find something to enter.
Middle falls at Kuang Si
It felt kind of lazy to submit another image from Kuang Si waterfalls in Laos, but I wasn’t coming up with much else. I liked this image and (unlike the November submission) I knew it was really sharp. I also thought I had nailed the shutter speed to get the right amount of smoothness in the water. Still, it seemed like a kind of ordinary waterfall photo.
The judge agreed that I’d done a great job with getting a nice silky texture in the water. I don’t recall what (if anything) he said he didn’t like. I do recall that he gave it an award with a score of 9.
Courtyard at San Juan Capistrano
This is another shot from Mission San Juan Capistrano in California. It’s actually inside the Priest’s Courtyard, which was shown from outside the entrance in the image I submitted for the October monochrome salon.
I liked all the crazy shapes against the wall, but I can’t say I loved the overall image. I could see there was a good image somewhere in there, but I didn’t feel like I had really found it.
The judge could also see the potential, but he knew how to capture it. His recommendation to cut off the bottom of the image (cutting through the wall of the well) and focus all the attention on the wall was spot on. Maybe I’ll make that edit and resubmit it someday.
Digital theme: Monochrome
Despite my ongoing concern about the calibration of my monitor’s brightness, I was happy to have digital monochrome as the theme for the month. Part of my problem with monochrome is the difficulty I have getting the right tones out of my printer when doing traditional black and whites or sepias. That isn’t a problem with digital images.
I was really excited about this picture of grain elevators I took near my hometown in central Minnesota. When doing my original edits I’d done a lot of adjustments to mute some of the colors and make the image sort of glow. Once I converted to black and white, I added a bit of texture. I loved the way it turned out.
The judge did not love it. He disliked it a lot, but didn’t seem to know exactly why – maybe it needed more space at the bottom or a different crop . . . he wasn’t sure.
I still love it.
Under the Sonoran sun
I knew this one was a long-shot for an award when I submitted it. I love the contrast – the way I can almost feel the heat and how the black and white treatment reminds me of an old western movie. On the other hand, my husband thought it was a terrible image and a poor choice to submit.
Like I said, I knew this one was unlikely to get an award, and it didn’t. But the judge didn’t hate it either.
He too felt like you could almost feel the heat, but he thought the image needed a lot more contrast. I had backed off the contrast because I thought there was too much, so I’m not sure whether I was wrong or whether the contrast on my monitor was a lot higher than on the judge’s monitor. Of course, that’s why I don’t like digital competitions – I never know exactly what the judge is going to see.