A Winning Evening

On the evening of Monday 29th September approximately 40 members attended a wonderfully informative and varied set of talks entitled “How I Won”. All the talks were presented by members and explained to the audience how they had managed to achieve various awards and competitions and membership of bodies such as The Royal Photographic Society (RPS).

First up was Steve Womack LRPS who explained the requirements for LRPS status and how he obtained his. He gave us a run down of the rules and the criteria the RPS use to grant Licentiate status. The RPS for this status requite a “panel” of 10 photographs that work together as a collection. Steve explained how important it was to have a key image that grabs the attention and how the images can be arranged around it. The assessment process is a public event and over 40 panels are assessed in the day in front of the audience and Steve conveyed some of the atmosphere and stress of the day where he viewed his own work being assessed. He gave lots of tips as to improve your chances if you decide to go in for it.

Next up was our President, Sally Sallett. This time she gave us the run down on achieving CPAGB (Credit of the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain) status. Like with the RPS a set of photographs have to be submitted but this time they are not presented together as a panel but just as individual photographs. Again this judging is a public event but this time judges just look at single images to judge them. They only allow themselves 5 SECONDS to assess the image and then score it. All you images together have to reach a total of 200 marks and as each photograph is scored you can keep a running total and therefore assess your likely chances of reaching the total. Sally also has LRPS status so she could compare the two awards processes and she said she found it more difficult to collect together the photographs for the CPAG as they didn’t have to relate to each other, whereas with with LRPS there has to be some relationship and that made it easier to decide which photographs to leave in or reject from the submission.

Finally in the first half our Secretary, David Kershaw, explained about the BPE (British Photographic Exhibition) award. This is more about the number of acceptances and prizes your photographs achieve rather than assessing a specific set of photographs. To illustrate how he produces images for entry into competitions David went through how he created his latest winning print. He showed how he used elements of 2 unpromising shots in combination and a variety of Photoshop techniques to produce a composite image with real atmosphere.  His clear explanation made it all appear so simple you felt you just had to give it a go.

After the break There was a presentation by Les Forrester on how he produces his superb international award-winning images. To illustrate his points he used 3 images which have done well for him in competitions and exhibitions. There was a clear step-by-step guide to the various stages he uses from camera to final image, showing the objective of each step and how each improved the image. Again he made it all appear so simple but, as he conceded, you have to have a good image to start with.

Then Phil Watson, who has won many of the club’s competitions, gave us a live demo of how he achieved a couple of his winning images. As this was done live using Photoshop everyone could see each of the adjustments Phil made, their effect and how a balance was achieved. He showed how even subtle changes changed the impact of the shot substantially.

Finally another Phil, this time Phil Gledhill, had his chance to demonstrate his use of Lightroom. Time was running out given that this was a packed evening, so he restricted himself to just a couple of images. In particular he showed how a very unpromising shot of Castleford weir produced a competition-winning image. It was truly spectacular to see the changes he brought about, bringing out features and details that at first sight one would not even see were there. He went on to very briefly show how a complex set of shots of the interior of Selby Abbey was combined and the straightened.

It had been a very full evening with lots of information about not only the awards you could achieve but how to process images to gain those awards. Now there’s no excuse for not going for it.


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