Judge shares his top tips for panel prints

Final Bow by John Thompson.
Final Bow by John Thompson.

Morpeth Camera Club

On Tuesday, February 7, club member and judge John Thompson kindly stepped in at the last minute to present his ideas and opinions on producing a panel of prints for the Three of a Kind print competition from a judge’s point of view.

It was an open evening for everyone to have their say on images that members had been asked to bring along.

John wanted to explore two facets on the subject — the design of the set of three and the inter-relationship between them, and the reality of what makes a good picture to hold interest, catch the eye and tell a story.

Showing an example of a musician in three different poses, he explained that these had been the first digital images he had taken. When judged in competition it was placed first, but in the next competition the judge had criticised almost every aspect of it. In this type of competition nothing is definitive, either the judge likes or dislikes the entry.

John’s aim was to guide the audience through a series of criteria by which this subject could be approached, whilst outlining the pitfalls to avoid.

He went on to say that choosing the order in which all three are displayed is important as the two outer images should draw the eye into the centre. Alternatively, a linea story can be told, which leads the eye left to right. An overall title for the three, and separate individual titles, will provide a story, evoking the idea of what was envisaged.

John explained that although each image should be technically correct in their own right and be good enough as a stand-alone picture, with careful design and composition, a fourth picture would emerge as a set of three.

He displayed examples of his and members’ work, which included rural scenes, cycle park acrobatics, sculptures, lakes and snow, seascapes, car park signs, angular corridors, motorbikes, neon signs and vintage cars.

He invited the audience to participate with their observations on choice of mount colour, positioning of apertures and the use of a border and key line to give the picture breathing space within the mount. Choice of paper came under discussion as an important consideration as different papers produce varied tonal ranges.

In summary, John stressed that above all there should be a relationship between the images, no weak images among the three, consistent tonal range and presentation and a strength in balance in symmetry.

The second half of the evening was on the subject of how to improve images, members having been invited to bring along a selection of images they were not happy with.

John, with the participation of more experienced members of the audience and fellow judges, discussed the bearing on cropping, format, proportions, manipulation in Photoshop, the use of Raw, colour correction, improving contrast and general camera settings.

Examples of birds in flight, candle smoke and low lit subjects were projected, and solutions were suggested by members, who generously offered their expertise.

Chairman Glyn Trueman, thanked John for a very informative and interesting evening in which he provided an insight and understanding of competition requirements, evoking much discussion on the subject over coffee.