SPC February 2021 Digital Competition

The entries, awards and judge's comments for the February 2021 comp. The set topic was 'In the Shadows'. The judge was John Swainston
Title page Set Colour
Feeding the Deer - Barbara Reed  Colour temperature doesn’t match the shadow. Highlights are somewhat overblown. . A case where the framing may be too tight, because it could almost be several types of animal. Secret Pocket in the Wall - Sue Williamson  One of the most difficult things to control, because in nature the dynamic may be 13-15 stops and your camera might have 11 at its upper end. Highlights look as a result, more like dust sprinkled, and almost minimal shadow can be seen, because the camera has exposed for the shadows.  This is where an Elastolite or other portable reflector can help manage the dynamic range. I love the detail of the lichens, so perhaps this is a case where thinking through what you want to be the hero and how to place it in the frame with both brightness and shadow geometry can make this beautiful scene work better.
Bull's Eye - Peter Noakes  With the title Bull’s eye, the photographer needs to ensure that the Eye really is the brightest element in the frame. The eye here is drawn to the bull’s right year brown hair and then to the nose. If you have someone with you a targeted reflector can often radically reframe the brain’s pathway through the image. The tones are rather cool, whereas at the time of shadows in evening they tend to be rather warmer. If this was a morning shot, understood. Walk on by - Pauline Kitto  Again this needs to ensure the subject is clear. The girls in the shadows are bright enough that they tend to distract, and the brightness of the cameraman is not contrasted enough from the scene to stand out. The framing here is very much on the right lines but you might have been able to pose the two girls so that their faces just poked into sunlight as the man walked into it and have them look at him. Don’t be afraid to intervene and make a really impactful image just centimetres differently placed.
7 Mile Hats Off - Dave Macquart  MERIT     There is an economy in subject matter, but enough detail for context. Strong contrast of shadow but nice brightness from the waves to then enable the black to draw you down. The geometry is strong and distinct. Well done. At the Beach - Bruce Williams  While a much busier photograph than the prior entry, nonetheless the contrasts are good and clear and there is detail that highlights books and shoulders of the male.  Also good control of cloud brightness which is nicely defocused. I would probably have increased the brightness of the primary subjects.
Fire in the Night - Robin Pitcher  This is an eerie photo which invites multiple questions and engages one by the brightness of the fire. The contrast forms shadows of fire and firelight shadows. Cropping in from the bottom left might have given more weight to the primary subject, but the light in the upper trees is subtle and beautiful.  Nice effort. Light Painting - John Shadlow  MERIT.   This is imagination and technical skill combined and follows the subject directive in the shadows. I wish I was an expert at this because the author has produced a fabulous image here. You might like to try cropping tighter from the right and base and see if it enhances the geometric form of the overall picture. Excellent work. Well done.
Corregated iron - Dan Crowley  CREDIT.   Great use of monochromatic tones in the main subject  and added interest from the coloured dusting on the left which raises questions as to what we are viewing. Good work. Barrow - Matt Kaarma  MERIT.  The author here has followed the subject brief well, given us  a strong focused subject in sharp shadow and some very pleasing colorful  background nicely out of focus. I would have liked to see a bit more of the barrow shape to help speed the identification of what I was looking at.
Sugar Pine Memorial - Bruce Williams  The contrast of the background here does not enable us to distinguish enough of the subjects in shadow. A lower line of view looking upwards of the subject could have created a very strong backlit image, lifting the foreground subject 3 or four stops. And neatly placed between the converging sun lines. Hiding in Plain View - Peter Noakes  This is a good attempt to follow the brief, but ther is not enough contrast for us to see the subject well. It’s more unlit than what I would normally think of shadow. This is shade, and there is a big difference. Love the parrot though when I zoom.
Booderee National Park - Barbara Reed  I had to look at this a fair time before I decoded this water scene. I found it a bit busy and hard to decide where the main focus was intended to be. The colours are rich and a good leading line into the frame but it needs to take one to where you want the eye to rest. Hiding in the Shade - Robin Pitcher  CREDIT  Beautiful underlying photo of an animal entirely in shade rather than shadow, in my opinion. Pop up the exposure a bit and lighting is very constant. If you want to try something different, try lifting the brightness of the eyes only., or eyes and nose. It may or may not work but experiment. Fundamentally good picture needing a bit more work on brightness levels.
Tea Time at the Memorial - Robyn Larson-Sheldon  To get detail the shadow here has been lifted. It has exposed a very blue shadow, suggesting mid day. Look to shoot later in the day where the shadow line will be very different, and tones much warmer and more pleasing. Lions - Philomena Kaarma  MERIT   Well done here. The author has framed it superbly, has subjects in complete shadow and the shapes invite questions about what we are looking at well done.
Cafe - Matt Kaarma  CREDIT  This has a lovely contrast of outside/inside. There is simply a suggestion of the shaded items on a low light day. But there very obscurity is part of the charm of the image. Well done Greenfields - Ian Brown  The author her has given us something immediately to focus on in the horizon.. I think the use of a reflector in the foreground might, with careful checking on light source location matching,  have added some extra detail for the eye to fall back to. Very blue light again. Try moving the colour temperature levels a bit. The camera is making this overly cold.
Moraki Boulders - John Shadlow  CREDIT. This is an elegant image though I might have played around with leveling the horizon.. Good shadow and strong shade to make the eye move up to the sunset. Thank you for  not overdoing the colour to “enhance” it, because the simplicity of the shot is its joy for me. Nice work. Song on the River - Sue Williamson  This is another case where the subject is in shade, but I can’t see a distinct shadow. The thought is good though cropped a bit tight – we want to see more of the boy with a bit more space behind him,
Capture Mogo's Tiger - Barbara Reed  Wonderful image but again I can’t see distinct shadow. This beautifully shot tiger is in the shade of the undergrowth but not casting any visible shadow. Beautiful image nonetheless, and thank you. Words matter.
Shadows in the Arches - Dan Crowley  MERIT. Great shadows and highlights, well controlled. Some fine geometry, leading lines and inviting the eye to move through the quad. Very strong picture. Well done. A Toast among the Tombstones - Robyn Larson-Sheldon  CREDIT   Strong shadows and a nice focus point for the eye. The strong lines of the tress and their respective shadows also helping the overall structure of the image. Nicely done and thank you.
Lunch in the Shade disguised as a Stick - Sue Williamson  The issue with this image lies in what I am supposed to be looking at. The tonality is generally low in contrast. It took me a long time to finally work out the stick insect. It’s actually beautifully sharp and this would have been a very good image indeed if we had had more acute natural focal point of the insect itself. Famine Girl - Dan Crowley  I want to rate this image very highly; My challenge was I couldn’t locate any distinct shadow of the brightest components. The background panelling and the broken timbers left of picture and sharpness through the image are detailed and engaging and there’s just enough detail into the face to tell a story. But I can’t see a shadow, just shade.
Hands Up - Dave Macquart  We saw a similar version of this in colour. This is tighter and even more pared back, but I feel the colour image has been more effective because it gave us context and contrast. The hands are closer here so the mystery of what is being carried is less distinct. Good effort but try the colour image as a high contrast mono. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Good work and a well-presented idea. Eucha - John Shadlow  I like this image very much – but I would class this as REFLECTION.  What I really like is the detail of the boat against the brightness of the sheds above and the trees
Un named - Lorraine Sladden  CREDIT.   This took me a while, but on repeated  viewing it just keeps on growing on me. Everything is in shade except the highlight and that’s because something out of frame has created that shade which here I WOULD define as shadow, simply because of the evident contrast of the lit component. Cooling the Beer - Bruce Williamson  CREDIT.   This has a good control of subject lighting and shadows but brings us humour. Delighted to see that here. Really forces one to decode this line and where it leads. Bravo. Really enjoyed this.
Open Colour Great Egret - Ian Brown  MERIT.  This is technically excellent, great highlight and exposure control. It’s also worth noting that while it could have been cropped tighter to reveal more detail, by holding some surrounding detail it gives full context to the reed existence, adds some colour and interest. All round very well done. Thank you.
Tiger - Merelyn Deadman  CREDIT More humour,  showing an almost human reticence in the tiger. The use of selective focus helps concentrate on the paws. I am not sure about the square crop, but this may have had other reasons or some “:noise” that a horizontal layout might have not worked. Blue Mountains Tree Frog - Kim Touzel  MERIT    Absolutely great photo – lighting, focal point, context and the contrast with the tree, which also helps connect it with the frog’s name and habitat.  Well done. A joyous and excellent picture. You might want to explore a 5x4 crop placing the frog in the right two thirds. I think it would add to the value of this altogether great image.
Nelson Beach - Anthony Turner  CREDIT This is the kind of image most of us would like to bring back from our holidays. It is full of emotional connection – late afternoon – good day at the beach, the smell of the breakers, finding stuff on the beach’s edge. It also invites us to ask – who is the lone walker? Well done. And enjoy the memory of place and your feelings on that day. Watching Grandpa Dance - Robyn Larson-Sheldon  MERIT.   Those eyes have really reached into my soul. Great work. The ideas that ran through my head as a result of seeing this human being were hugely emotional, reflections of my own grandchildren, memories of Africa and Fiji and The Northern Territory. And the geometry also made for a second level of visual satisfaction. Outstanding work. Thank you
Lake Tabourie - Dave Macquart  I felt a warmth to this image, but I did not get a strong emotional charge as I did from the last image. Technically the author has a fine balance of foreground, middle distance and horizon. It is a well documented view. But the absence of humanity made it harder to connect. Dinghies - Pauline Kitto  MERIT.  Our first pure abstract of the evening. I commend the author for thinking beyond record and seeing where artistic expression could take them. The colour palette is a combination of two of the eye’s most sensitive: Yellow and blue, which in itself, helps connect. Great effort and lots of ideas here. Thanks for thinking outside the box and pushing out in a new direction.
Seascape - Merelyn Deadman  MERIT.   Fine restraint in colour saturation, time control of exposure and object placement in the frame. I also love the 16x9 layout which further strengthens the impact. The depth of field control is also very well done to ensure we take in the full scene and don’t have our eyes dart away from the emotion of the whole picture;. Good effort. Shoreline - Matt Kaarma  CREDIT.  The geometry here is different and engaging. The clarity of the water and the patterning is distinct and engaging. The beach however lacks in anything specifically different so it’s a strong drone shot, but the image needed a target on the beach – a lone walker, a tied up boat – something I think to balance and inform of scale as well.
Cambewarra Night Sky - Pam Allen  CREDIT   Cambewarra Night Sky is the title. Today’s cameras are remarkable but like this photographer you have a bit of work to do to execute a final image like this. So great detail control, timing and restraint. I have spent several nights in Cambewarra and considering its proximity to Nowra the depth of sky detail is remarkable. Good effort. More please during the winter on no moon nights. Feeding Time - Peter Noakes  MERIT   Excellent bird photography here and a bit of s story too. Depth of field and framing is excellent on a difficult and fast-moving subject.  Great work – wish I still had the reflexes for this.. The detail in the beak and the clarity of the wing makes for a wonderful image most people would love to own. Well done.
White Faced Heron - Kim Touzel  CREDIT.  Great bird photography like this takes a lot of experience, usually. I love the contrasting sandbank lines, the colour palette is immensely pleasing.  Again you might try a 5x4 format and crop in behind the heron, but that is personal presence and I commend the author for the work. Thank you. Otter - Ian Brown  MERIT.  Sublime portrait. Having just finished reading The Wind in the Willows to my grandson this really set off the emotional heartbeats. Very strong picture. Thank you.
Open Mono Coming to Get You! - Robin Pitcher  CREDIT. Technically well exposed, focused and framed. But I would have liked to see the feet as well because as it is the back is hunched but detached from the source of the energy in the legs. The concentration of those eyes is mesmerising. Very fine work but get out the original again and see if there is a possibility with those feet.
Patience - Pauline Kitto  This is a strong subject, depicts exactly what the title suggests. However, I think more work could have been done to bring the eye to the solitary person. Brighter Pile in white? Darker subject in relief, or just more contrast in the subject?  It almost worked but in the end I think you left a little something on the table. Beams - Philomena Kaarma  MERIT Here’s a photographer that has worked with what’s available, made the moves to see possibilities and then executed to deliver power in the architecture. I love the cris-crossing lines, contrast of black to grey, front to back, and yet all in controlled focus. Well done.
POTM Feb 21 Otter - Ian Brown-1  MERIT.  Sublime portrait. Having just finished reading The Wind in the Willows to my grandson this really set off the emotional heartbeats. Very strong picture. Thank you.