The Last Chapter

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Once upon a time there was a camera club competition and everyone was invited to bring a present to the judge but it had to tell a story. The judge would then decide which was the best story and present the person with a prize. Well a few brave souls felt up to the job and thought and thought, looked through their old photographs and some even took new ones. This pleased the judge until he realised he had to decide which was the best. It was not an easy job but he looked at them all time and time again. His computer began to get hot, his wife kept asking if he’d finished, images floated in front of his eyes until he shouted “That’s the one!” All he had to do now was to explain to everyone why that photograph had won……and that’s when the trouble really began.

First – Yesterday Today – Lots of story elements here. What happened to the restaurant? What stories are in the papers in the windows? What is the story of the lady? It was well seen and the lady’s in just the right place with the right expression and stance for me. Her coat is the only non-muted colour so it really stands out and grabs you attention. Everything is very sharp. Well done.

Second – The Bringer Of News – A wonderfully captured expression clearly reading a “story” of some sort which obviously affects her. The lighting is great with the contours of the face being brought out very clearly adding to the expression. The detail is excellent. Some may say the face is in shadow but I think the highlighted hair frame sit and draws the viewer in. Well done in grabbing the shot.

Third – Books? SO 20th Century! – I like the composition. The arms of the chair seem to be cradling the girl. The monochrome treatment works well as there is no colour to distract the eyes. Similarly the vignette draws your eyes to the subject. The title tries to show why she isn’t reading a book and maybe the girl is listening to an audio book but I’m not entirely convinced. It is a lovely shot though.

Highly Commended – Tweedledum and Tweedledee – Lovely still life with the flowers balancing the books (and not in an accounting way!). The lighting is very good. The story books are there ready to be read to someone. The colours work well giving a slightly aged feel, helped by the texture applied. My only concern is that my eyes keep being drawn to the flowers rather than the story books which is a shame.

Commended – A Fisherman’s Life – There is some storyline here – the sea, the harbour, the washing, the boxes. They all seem to come together to suggest a story. I like the crop and the moody evening lighting. The foreground is nice and sharp but possibly due to the evening light, the objects, especially the boxes, are a little dark meaning your eye doesn’t linger on some of the important elements. I did really like it though.

Commended – I Am Listening Dad  – Oh if only they could talk! Lovely shot and the dog’s expression is priceless. I like the colours which work well – except for the distracting bit of red on the right hand side. OK the dog isn’t actually listening to a story but it certainly looks like it and that’s what the author has caught.

Commended – The Ugly Duckling – A beauty of a shot. I don’t know how long you had to wait for it to be just so. The picture’s telling a story even without the title. It’s pretty crisp with focus tailing off towards ……….. the tail! Something raises a query in my mind about the background – it’s a good contrast and nicely out of focus but has it been dropped in afterwards? The patterns don’t seem to match the foreground and the angle of view. But it really is a nice shot.

Stop Eating and Gather Round. I want to tell You a Story – Most of the subjects (!) are sharp but do tend to merge together. Most of the background is nicely out of focus. However, maybe I’m missing something but it’s only the title that relates to the “story” element. I can see what the author is trying to do with the title but it doesn’t quite work for me.

I Only Realised Later That Only Three of These Were Alive – Very striking costumes and all are sharp (including the “dummies”) creating a striking image (I certainly wouldn’t like to meet them on a dark night). The problem for me is that there is no obvious “story” element although I’m sure each character must have a story to tell but it doesn’t come out. Maybe if the pose was different so they interacted with each other or something it would help.

Nothing to See, Hear – Interesting creation and a lovely shallow depth of field draws the viewer to the two figures. It looks as though one is telling the other something and that may be the story. Where does the guitar come in though? Is that the “Hear” in the title? Not sure really. Somehow it doesn’t really grab me.

Queen Victoria’s Children – A fascinating story on the headstone. A little pruning of the nettle at the bottom of the headstone would have helped (although the author might have got stung!).The headstone is lovely and sharp and framed well by the greenery. I find the angle of the headstone a bit unsettling and possibly a slight adjustment of the position when taking the shot would have helped – although again that might have incurred serious stinging. Certainly it’s a shot about a story but the effect is a little static.

They Won’t Know What’s Hit ‘Em – Definitely drama here helped by the grungy monochrome treatment. The arresting image of the figure with a gun makes you want to know the story behind it. I feel that the upper part of the face is too dark – just a little bit more information would have helped. Parts of the sky are burned out. It’s as though the author has gone for drama a bit too much. However it’s a well set up shot and it did grab my attention.

Welcome to the Falkland Islands  – Nice image with the striking red carried through the image. The penguins are almost a story to themselves – or is the author referencing Penguin Books, the publisher. It’s all very clean and crisp but I don’t think it’s as strong on the story element.

Paperweight – Mmmm. There could be quite a story here. It’s a sort of still life with everything arranged to suggest the story of a problem phone and time spent trying to fix it. The message on the laptop screen is almost humorous – I’ve seen it many time and it’s usually totally unhelpful! The image is lovely and sharp but I find it a bit static.

And that’s the end of the story except to say thanks to all the entrants for submitting to a theme that I would have found difficult as an entrant, but became somewhat more difficult as a judge. I would like to say “they all lived happily ever after” but that probably only applies to the winner!!

Steve Wright