The second place we gained this week is our best achievement in these well-supported competitions (we gained a third about 10 years back) but we are often in the top ten. Might we have won with a different judge? Probably not, since Chorley are on a high at present, with an ample number of successful national and international in their ranks. When you get to that point, they come flocking and your competitiveness takes a leap. Against that kind of opposition we did very well indeed to get a second place.

It was interesting to compare the two judges; Peter Gennard for the prints and Richard Spiers for the PDI KO. Peter deliberately cultivated the common touch, with reference to all larger birds as “ducks” and use of the emphasised Black Country accent on occasions. You have to tell yourself that this a man who knows his club photography, having been one of the first to achieve EFIAP/p – one who they had to make new hoops for! His criticisms were almost entirely physical; things which affected ones perception of the image rather than anything to do with content. So we had frequent reference to distracting highlights, burnt highlights, dodgy dodging (and burning) and lack of sharpness. Cropping was often questioned too.

On Thursday night Richard Spiers presented a completely different persona. Although Richard likes a joke (he once told one at this event which is now a favourite of mine) they are always an aside and his calm, measured approach instils confidence. Such a shock then when he started to process the knock out as a game of pairs. It was only my complete faith in him which stopped the alarm bells and, sure enough, he didn’t stick literally to the routine and abandoned it after the first round. It was just Richard’s way of making himself dismiss about half of the work in the first round. (He actually only lost 1/3).

The main difference in judging was that Richard took account of the whole image; its content and meaning rather than details of perception. He made many astute comments and showed deep appreciation of landscapes in particular. So I was astonished when he selected an obviously manipulated nature shot as his best picture. But it was an Open competition, not a Nature one.

All this shows what a difficult job it is to guess what judges will take to. We can all, however, try to satisfy the Peter Gennard approach; we all know those faults which are picked at – work on them!  Results