The February salon was scheduled for the same day as a snowstorm, so it was delayed several weeks. That was more than ok – it turned out to be a salon that I would have been happy to have skipped all together!
Print Competition: Monochrome
I was really excited about this month’s monochrome print competition since I had two solid entries.
The first was a bit of an experiment. I took a shot from Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town, South Africa, that was nicely composed and exposed except for a dull bright sky and played with it until I had what I thought was a pleasing image.
The judge liked the way the branch filled the otherwise dull sky, but didn’t think much of the not sharply focused or clear mountains in the background. While I saw them as an ethereal background, she saw them as an integral part of the story. . . and she gave me a score that reflected her opinion.
While I liked that one, I loved my second image, a shot from Grand Marais harbor through the fog. I loved the way the sailboat and lighthouse emerged from hazy fog and I was sure that this one was going to be a winner.
Of course, the judge pretty much hated it. She didn’t understand why I included both the sailboat and the lighthouse and complained that her eye kept bouncing between them with nowhere to rest. (That was part of the idea.) Her suggestion was to split it into two separate images. . . . which I think would result in two really boring images. Oh well.
I gave a copy to the friend we were sailing with that weekend and she loved it, so I guess that is what really matters.
Digital competition: Up Close
This was the part of the competition I had been dreading all along. I don’t do macro photography and the only close-ups I usually take are of flowers, however, we have a member who is a master of flower photography. I knew there was no way I was going to beat her so wasn’t really sure what to enter. I actually changed one of my entries the day before they were due because I was so uncertain about what to enter. (I shouldn’t have made that switch, I might have done better with the original selection.)
I knew I was taking a chance on my first entry, where I was combining a close-up with a long view that explains what you are looking at.
Yup. This is a close-up view of a saguaro cactus.
The judge got what I was doing, declared the close-up part a winner, and then said the overall image didn’t meet the criteria for the competition and gave it a pathetically low score.
(She later awarded winning scores to things like standard portraits of people and animals, which don’t meet the criteria either. Sometimes judges are just irrational.)
My second image was the one I added at the last moment. I love the weird curlicues and textures in yucca plants and this was one of several similar images I’ve taken over the years in an attempt to get exactly the shot I want . . . which I haven’t actually accomplished yet.
The judge liked this one better than the cactus, but not enough to give it much of a score. Her suggestion was to use a focal length long enough to keep all if it in focus. (I’ve never been able to do that, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.) She didn’t like the almost blurred out leaf in front either. Those are both fair suggestions, so I guess I have to try this one a few more times.
All-in-all it was a pretty depressing salon, made more so by the praise heaped on relatively straight-forward images that didn’t seem to fit the criteria even as well as mine. On the other hand, most of the very top winners were, as usual, amazing.