Tom Jones (L) receiving his silver medal from Bob Dennis and the CD featuring his weight-lifter picture.

Crewe PS has been one of the venues for the showing of this national exhibition for almost all of its 15 year history. Bob Dennis APAGB CPAGB AFIAP BPE4 organises the exhibition and takes the show on the road. This year he has set himself an even more punishing list of showings but his enthusiasm and sense of humour never fails. This year I thought the quality of the display was even better – one has to be awestruck at the work Bob puts in, making sure that members in the audience have their work displayed if they were successful in the competition.

Our friends from Alsager CC join us for the evening. Geoff Reader from Alsager CC and Tom Seaton, Stephen Coyne and John Royle from Crewe PS all had acceptances and John’s photograph, the Connoisseur gained a Highly Commended award. This was John’s second award of the week having also gained a HC in the Keele Three Counties on Tuesday! Highlight of the awards though was to our good friend Tom Jones from Nantwich CC who gained a Silver Medal for his image of a weightlifter, which graces the cover of the CD of the Salon.

Our member Ian Whiston DPAGB EFIAP BPE5 was one of the three judges of the Salon, there especially for his skills as a nature photographer and judge.

One sad note is that Bob Dennis is leaving the L&CPU executive this year, after 27 years service. Having served on that committee myself for a mere 6 years or so I can tell you that they will miss Bob’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the club’s and their members. I am just glad we will see him when he presents the Bebington again.

If I might just add some observations. The nature and landscape sections contained work of the very highest order  which were a delight to see. I also really like Bob’s determination to keep montages etc in a group of their own where we can admire the compositing skills without feeling that they are displacing the photographs. Other sections were not so universally pleasing; there was a marked tendency to over-process images, leading to an unreal and distinctly “digital” look which could be positively harsh. I assume (I do not follow nationals as closely as I used to) that this is fairly typical of the 22 BPE competitions. I was certainly not alone in my concern; members from both clubs talked to me about this at the break. It is perhaps time judges recognised that they are encouraging club photography down a route which induces disdain from the rest of the photographic world. Nature, with its strict rules about processing is so much the richer as a result and that section was universally well received. There were, of course, many fine pieces of work in all sections.

So come on judges, if these over-processed images start failing to get the 12s they need for acceptance they will soon disappear. I know it is hard to rock the boat but it is high time.

Trouble is, it is not quite so easy. The crucial thing (for an acceptance) is whether each judge gives a 4 or a 3. It is the 5s which distinguish the potential award winners. It is easy to give a good but over-processed image a 4 rather than a 5, but not so easy to give such an image a 3 rather than a 4. So they will keep getting in until the culture changes.  However, I do feel that some good shots were marred by poor processing to such an extent that I would have pressed the 3 button. Quite a number of sports shots had backgrounds inexpertly blurred and I remember a horse jumping shot where haloes round the leaves on the hedge were so marked it was practically the first thing I saw. In these cases the treatment had detracted and I’m sure the judges had noticed, but the marking instrument is too crude. The judges also have to think about parity with the other BPEs too. One thing which may, however, happen is that a particular image may get into some exhibitions but not others.

The whole subject of nationals and their influence over club photography is an important one and for a number of reasons. I may go into this in a later post.