Results of April’s Online Competition – Urban

Judge David Goodier has deliberated and come up with his pick of the entrants for the April round of the online competition, the theme of which was Urban. Everyone should have had chance to pick their favourites by now so here are David’s words. He has provided really helpful and constructive comments on all entrants which are well worth reading. For those just too eager to get to the placings they are at the end together with a gallery of all the images, now with their author’s name attached. Remember May’s subject is MOVEMENT.

For me ‘Urban’ simply means the area of a town or city with a high population density in both living & working, pretty much anything & everything shot within that environment is ‘urban’ in the same way a moss covered rock can give a feel of a much wider mountain landscape. Wide themes are often harder to shoot for than narrowly defined ones, so “At the bird table” is somewhat easier as a concept than “Anything in Leeds'”. This difficulty I’m guessing is why there doesn’t seem to be many entries, but those who have entered have gone for everything from close details to the widest of sprawling vista. As they all qualify as urban for me, its then simply down to what says urban the most and what makes for a striking image. Online viewing is compromised by the fact that we are all looking at different monitors with different calibrations, these images appear small on my 27″ mac and resizing for web can introduce its own flaws too, as such I’m not into pixel peeping and I’m forgiving any sharpening or processing artifacts and halos.

In order as they appear onscreen…

Brewery Wharf Skyline – A striking image that works whichever way up its viewed though I agree with the author that it sits best with more ‘weight’ at the bottom. The converging verticals are pointing towards the cloud and its just a pity there isn’t a plane flying over too adding interest to the central point we’re focusing on. With images like this I still like to see at least one pure vertical and here I’d have liked to look directly up through the balconies rather than them being off to one side, but its a strong image and defines urban
Observed – Another striking image with good use of DoF to tell us the bird is the thing we’re meant to pay attention to as the subject which is then ‘observed’ by the female beyond. Its an interesting idea but its doesn’t shout urban like some other images do, its more of a whisper
Rising into the Darkness – Buildings and especially large ones are the most obvious thing to pick for a theme like this, so its nice to see this one shot so differently. It closely satisfies one of my “Rules of nearly”, here being that it rises from exactly in the corner rather than nearly in the corner, and I like that the angle has the top of the building appearing to be perfectly horizontal too. A highly geometric building shot in a highly geometric way
City Dwellings – The first word that springs to mind here is ‘grim’, as a combination of unattractive flats processed in a highly gritty way. Always tricky in shots like this to decide on the final cropping but I think this is a good compromise. Verticals are going to lean in shots like this too and that’s fine, but its a pity there isn’t one obvious vertical in it, had there been so and if also exactly in the centre this might have faired better
Urban Artwork – Is another image that shouts urban as there is so much of urban life in it. I’d have liked it to be more obvious what we’re meant to be looking at as the title says artwork, which I’m taking to mean the painted boarding, but its too small a part of the image and too hidden by cars too
Out of Sight Out of Mind – Another image seeing a twist on the theme to avoid the obvious. Its nicely shot with a definite brickline running down the centre and the processing is telling us exactly what to look at in the lighting and graffiti but it falls down a bit with having no obvious floor. Had the processing there been held back a little so we could see its a walk/roadway it’d have been better IMO
St. John’s Square – Looking like a film set from a Victorian production its a nicely composed, exposed and processed image. For me the ‘period’ nature of it is the story rather than it being urban, its saying “look at me and imagine what’s going on in this snapshot of past history” rather than “look at me I’m representing urban”
Urban Sprawl – Is in itself a sprawling image with a skyline that could be mistaken for being on fire. Its a very busy image (which of course suits a busy city) but this means its lacking that one key focal point, my eye’s constantly scanning the image without settling. Its clearly a WB nightmare too and perhaps a little too orange
Beeston Bar – I can see why this shot attracted the author’s eye as its the only one with the word ‘Urban’ in it. Had it been cropped either side to the painting it would have also been a ‘bar’ to getting into the rest of the housing and urban nature of the image and that might have been stronger as a result, its a pity the sky’s blown too. Far a theme like this it’d have been hard to resist shooting this
Barcelona Fenosa Building – The Spanish seem to have a sense of humour with their building design, which has helped make for a striking image here. Its a pity they didn’t take more care of the lower part though as that’s distracting from the great architecture, and it looks like it’d have been hard to avoid. This image has strong haloing which I’m ignoring as a detraction as I said in my opening comment as it may be at least partly due to the resizing. Haloing like this is common with extreme wideangles and some processing too but it is simple enough to lessen or remove with just the Clone Stamp set to ‘darken’
Urban Shapes – Nicely seen juxtaposition of old and new buildings and with some foreshortening of the distance between them too. The rear building is a little tight to the top of the image and the contrail should be removed, but its another nicely seen & shot image
Urban – Another sprawling shot where the title says it all, and like the night-time version its just a pity there isn’t an obvious building to settle on. Images with this much detail work well when really big so you can enjoy it all, sadly when they are small its all a bit confusing to the eye
Scooter Rooted – Another different view of urban – its the perfect urban vehicle, its in decay like many urban areas and its covered in urban graffiti. Thinking outside the norm, I like that
The Last Post – If the scooter shot was thinking outside the box, then this is thinking of the box. Its a well taken and processed image, though it could be both urban & rural and doesn’t really say urban as such
Working in Lines – This is a strong graphic image that works especially well due to the shadows and colour. The central verticals are a bit off and I’d have liked to have seen the full part of the nearest shadow but its a good strong image
Diagonal mar Barcelona – Another vista of a skyline but better than the others are there’s an obvious building as the central subject, just needs a tweak in perspective to straighten it though 

The awards then
First – Brewery Wharf Skyline – for being most striking and suiting the theme with no distractions
Second – Rising into the Darkness – for accuracy of composition and simplicity
Third – Scooter Rooted – for quirky observation
HC – The Last Post – well composed and shot justifying a HC but it doesn’t say urban loudly enough for more

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