8th October 2014 - A master class on competition judging

This week saw the welcome return of John Tilsley, senior judge and trainer for Western Camera Clubs, offering the inside track on competition judging. He kicked off with a task for the audience: to individually choose the best three of twelve prints. Most of us chose the same top three, yet every image scored at least one ‘best’ - such is the subjectivity of judging. Images can score high with one judge, low with another; the value lies in their constructive feedback.
Progressing beyond snapshots to quality images requires art and craft. The former communicates an idea, ideally touching viewer’s emotions. The latter supports it with a technical quality that eliminates distractions. Images need not have both in equal measure; we readily agreed that a fuzzy and near abstract image of swimmers in deep blue water had winning impact. To be accepted nature images, on the other hand, must be technically perfect and ‘natural’.
Pitfalls for judges include the disparity between images with instant appeal and those requiring thoughtful study, we saw good examples of the latter, and between those ‘as taken’ and those subject to extensive desktop editing. Current thinking says the route to an image is unimportant, it’s the result that counts.
In the second half, John demonstrated his judging style using six member’s prints, highlighting three postive elements in each before offering constructive criticism. Two brave members offered to judge six apiece, from which it was evident that John’s structure made for a much easier and enjoyable exercise when standing out front. John was warmly thanked for a thoroughly enjoyable and informative evening from a master of his craft