Judge for Yourself by Richard Cobby 5th Feb 2019
Richard opened his talk with a precursor by referring back to his notes from his previous
visit – a fun crowd and a great venue, happy to visit again! Which was probably just as well or
it would have been a rather dull evening without our speaker.
The evening’s talk was an attempt to view images through the eyes of a judge and find what a
judge is looking for to make a great image – and also what to look for to highlight any
flaws/niggles/problems/artefacts etc that could mark an image down from an author’s
perceived dizzy heights.
The talk was hugely interactive with Richard showing a great many images and in numerous
cases, asking what was wrong with each – and many members of the audience were more
than happy to tell him! From the obvious to the perceived and the preferential. Some of these
defects had names that he was happy to impart giving added knowledge to those observant
Helpfully Richard had coined a phrase or two to help us remember the various categories he
was covering. For things you want in your image, remember OPTICS (to remind us of our
cameras) but could also be spelt TOPICS to list the various categories !
O – Originality : Have we seen the same things time and again already? Try to get a new angle.
P – Presentation : How well the image has been presented (possibly more with prints than
T – Technique : How well was the image captured in relation to the subject matter
I – Impact : Does the image have a visual impact on the viewer, use of red or striking colours
C – Composition: How well is the image structured? Use of leading lines (this is actually a talk
in itself ! )
S – Story : the image should try to tell a story to add interest
If we’ve managed to get all these right then we should be in with a decent chance of a good
Richard has dedicated himself to try to improve judging; as better judges mean better
scoring and better identification of good images that raise the standards of photography and
encourage club members onto better and greater things. To assist in that area, he’s happy to
show that judges are not all seeing and can make mistakes too. He helpfully gave us a list of
his top 10 judges mistakes – all very useful so if you know what a judge might incorrectly
assume in your image, get one step ahead and prevent them seeing that.
In the second half, we looked at a number of technical terms and how they affect images.
These included sinister lines, a variety of mergers, open and closed images and (briefly) such
oddities as antlers, stolen edges and split apexes (did you blink and miss them?). To finish, a
final display of some of Richard’s post processed images demonstrated just what could be
done from an original camera shot – though the time to do so may well be measured in hours.
This was a great evening’s entertainment and instruction with a lot of detail included for
those that wished it and could read quickly. As Richard said, some topics are a talk in
themselves – so maybe there’s scope there for another visit; we’d be very happy to welcome
Richard back. Written by Ian Montgomery
Wonderful Wetlands & Rivers talk by Chris Ward 22nd Jan 2019
Chris Ward – a keen RSPB member – took us through a series of digital images that covered a calendar year.
The images showed the types of birds, reptiles, mammals, plants and insects that could be found in wetland
or river environments. Chris certainly knew his stuff and was amply able to talk with knowledge on the
various common and rarer species shown.
There were a number of cases where he involved the audience by asking for identification of a particular
subject and then having the answers, able to point out the details that marked as different e.g.
the small teeth in the goosander’s mouth.
The quality of the images was excellent with a lot of very close-up shots of birds and the shots supported the
behaviours he was talking about, be it bottoms in the air or chicks on their mother’s back.
He was also able to tell us what equipment he had used for various shots which is always useful to
understand – though a 7kg 600m prime lens may be out of the budget and carrying range for most! – and how
had managed to take them; times, methods and planning, again, all very useful hints & tips.
All in all, a great evening, full of interesting images and with a talk to match. I’ll end with a phrase we hear
quite often ‘ I’ll see that one again, please!’ Written by Ian Montgomery
Quartet Competition with Judge David Steel.