Black and White Decisions this month

It’s the end of the month and the judging of another online competition has been completed. The subject for August was “Monochrome” and it gave everyone an opportunity to have a go at interpreting and conveying a subject in just (usually) black and white. The  deadline of the 20th is now behind us and Neil Scarlett has been perusing all the images. He has done a fantastic job (and no I didn’t win) in working out which he thinks have used monochrome the best. His extensive comments are here.

Thankyou to everyone who entered this month’s competition. All images were of a high quality and each one was distinctive in it’s own way.
1. The Betrayal : This looks a difficult image to capture successfully and I think the photographer has done a good job. A good choice of exposure, depth of field and lighting has enabled the detail and texture both in the sculpture and the wall to be retained really well. For me if there has been any contrast it would have introduced lots of distracting shadows and I enjoyed the work as it is.
2. Testing The Water : An atmospheric portrayal with good lighting and tones and just the right amount of balance between sharpness and softness. I like the way that the model’s leg closely follows the line of the tree trunk as it gives good visual impact and adds interest. Also the triangle composition of the raised leg gives a feeling of good balance to the composition.
3. Shadows : A well seen photograph not easy to shoot given that you are facing into the sunlight. I like the way that the viewer’s eye is led along the wall and stream to the lampost and gate which are themselves placed near the third which gives a good sense of balance. The capture of detail on the surface of the water adds life to the scene and I found it a very pleasing image overall.
4. Spring, YSP : I was attracted to this image by the unusual nature of the subject. The photographer has achieved excellent depth of field and clarity and looking closely, an impressive amount of detail. I thought that the exposure and contrast is just right with no hot spots or washed out areas and I admired it as a very professional and interesting image.
5. White On White : An intriguing image and I complement the author on the idea. I like the positioning of the three objects in that composition encourages the eye to start with the pineapple and then naturally move from left to right. I would have been interested to see if the outlines of the objects could have been brought out just a little more to give them a touch more emphasis without losing the delicacy but nevertheless I found this a pleasing image.
6. In Flight : A really classy image with enviable sharpness, lighting and detail. I like the creamy bokeh background achieved through good aperture selection. The occasional highlight spots bring life to the scene and give the bird a 3D quality. The bird is positioned well within the frame as the diagonal leading to the left and the space on the left give a sense of movement into it. A very enjoyable image.
7. Salford Quays : I like the choice of perspective as it gives a sense of scale and emphasises the diagonal lines of the struts which lead the eye to the fan shaped structure. The tonal range is good with no areas distracting the viewer through being too dark or too light and the sharpness and detail is well preserved throughout the image. I don’t find the lightness of the front right hand foreground too bright as it provides a balance to the dark of the fan structure. Overall an impressive image.
8. Sarah Thornton : I appreciate the close framing of this image which helps to emphasise the model’s features and also the good attention to lighting which conveys a natural feeling to me. The contrast between darks and lights is very good, there is plenty of detail in the hair and there are no distracting shadows anywhere. The skin tones look good and the pose does not look forced. A very professional portrait photograph in my opinion.
9. Splashing Around : The close cropping of these cars fits the scene perfectly, emphasising the speed and power involved. The grainy feeling conveys the wet and rough conditions and makes the image more appealing to me and there is more than enough detail to give a high degree of impact. The placing of the three cars on a diagonal increases the overall effect and in total the image conveys a strong sense of the sporting event.
10. Shard Of Light : I was impressed with the pin sharp clarity and perfect verticals of this image. The composition leads the eye to the Shard, the contrast between blacks and whites is excellent and the detail from front to back couldn’t be any better. The reproduction of the sky is good and I can see no distracting noise. I rated this as a really proficient night photograph.
11. Facade Cologne Cathedral : I admire this as a technically superb monochrome record with outstanding clsrity and detail. The lighting and contrast shows every nook and cranny without introducing any distractions from over dark or over light spots. It has a real visual impact which conveys the impressive nature of the subject. An extremely enjoyable professional image with a sense of awe.
12. Longing : This image conveys it’s title to me one hundred percent. The lighting coming in from the left hand side is just right to reinforce the diagonal line from the girl’s foot to her head which effortlessly leads the eye up to her face. The author has perfectly conveyed a feeling of longing in the face as required by the title. The tones across the image convey an atmosphere of naturalness, softness and perhaps even vulnerability. I was impressed by this work because for me it has potrayed a moment of emotion. I would have it on my wall any day.
13. Mermaid Street : I like this as a well seen representation of a charming location. The author has composed the image well to provide a leading line down a good length of cobbled street which has lots of building detail. There is nicely detailed depth of field from front to back along the street and yet a slight softness to the image overall which gives it originality and style and makes it quite appealing without detracting from the detail or clarity. An enjoyable work to view.
14. Eye Contact : The choice of viewpoint with a close cropping of the frame and then framing the face with the hair really brings out the features of and expresssion in this girl’s face. The lighting is perfect to my mind, bringing out all of the relevant features with no shadows or brights to distract and just enough highlights in the right places to show detail, texture and depth. Everything is as sharp as it needs to be and not too sharp and this gives a natural feeling to the presentation. The whole image is simple and easy on the eye and yet has captured a depth of emotion.
15. Abandoned Tractor : It has been said that a good photograph turns the commonplace into something distinctive and I think that this image does that. The HDR type effect ensures sharpness and detail throughout and particularly emphasises the decay on the tractor and conveys a very brooding sky to match. The contrast and tones across the image are good and whilst it may well be a composite from several images it is the final image that counts and I judged this to be a memorable and visually appealing work.
16. Man On The Moor : I though this was a distinctive image as it has that indefinable ‘something’. It looks like a composite of three seperate images, but nevertheless the final production has considerable impact. The sky is just right as a backdrop, it fills the space and provides balance but does not compete with the main subject. The moorland is innocuous but again serves it’s purpose in providing a platform for the Old Man without competing with him. But it is the detail in the main figure which is most impressive. There is a HDR like clarity in the clothing and footwear which brings the figure to life and the expression on the man’s face and detail in his hair and beard have been presented superbly. The perspective has arguably produced a figure out of scale with it’s surroundings, but even if so I still think it is a memorable image with a lot of visual impact.
I felt that technical merit was high in all of these images. It was a close call and I awarded the placings as follows :
SECOND PLACE : Man On The Moor
THIRD PLACE : Eye Contact

Now to put some names to the images. In third place was yours truly Steve Wright with “Eye Contact” and in second was Neil Carter with “Man on the Moor”. However in first place was Steve Wood with “Longing”. Congratulations to them. And a big thanks to Neil for all the comments – they are really worth reading whilst looking at the images. You can se them al below now with the authours’ names.

Next month the subject is “Clothing” (there’s a couple  of images this month that couldn’t qualify!). So get your thinking caps on – and maybe photograph them at the same time.

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