13 February 2020 (Set Subject Competition – Wildlife)

This week we had the second of our 3 set subject competitions; this one on the theme of “Wildlife”.  Jim Todd had won last year’s “Abstract” competition but, as he was already judging the “Travel” competition, the judging passed to me in second place. Wildlife photography is one of the most strictly-defined categories. A commonly accepted definition is

Wildlife photography is a genre of photography concerned with documenting various forms of wildlife in their natural habitat.

Competitions such as the International Wildlife Photographer of the Year or Scottish Nature Photography Awards define strict rules along the lines of:

  • The photograph must include a wild creature and not a pet, a tame or farm animal. The creature must also be alive.
  • The photograph must be taken in the wild and not in a zoo, farmyard or any place where animals are in captivity.  N.B. A local park or garden is regarded as a wild place.
  • You must not manipulate the photograph in any way which changes the environment or animal but you are allowed to correct what the camera has done to the image. Cropping, colour correction, brightness and contrast correction, dodging, burning and removal of dust spots is allowed but cloning out distractions or composing composite images is not. Organisers will want to see the original RAW file from your camera as proof. So, if you capture a fantastic wildlife shot and are considering entering it for one of these competitions, keep your RAW file.

The club competition was not judged as strictly as these competitions. All images were accepted. Judging what was wild lead to a few controversial decisions: Is that curled up animal a domesticated cow or a wild deer? Did the photographer stalk that tiger, take a close-up photograph and survive, or was the image taken in a zoo? There were 45 images entered by 15 members. It was a hard competition to judge because all the images were good in some way. The strongest images were the ones which captured a wild animal showing natural behaviour, and where the background showed the environment but wasn’t too distracting from the subject. Photographs taken at eye level gave more engagement with the viewer than ones pointing downwards or upwards (although Mike Clark showed that rule could be broken with a shot of a Sparrowhawk looking directly down from a tree at the photographer). Cropping too tightly was a common fault. Some images were also take in harsh lighting. Correcting the exposure, dodging and burning can help some of these images, but choosing a cloudy day rather than bright sunshine would help capture a better image in camera.

The top-scoring images were

  • Red Squirrel (Jennifer Davidson) – 20 points
  • Where’s Dinner? (Joe Fowler) – 19 points
  • Female Green-Breasted Mango (Anne Yeomans) – 19 points
  • Robin Redbreast (Jennifer Davidson) – 18 points
  • Queens Of The Road (George Todd) – 18 points
  • Sparrowhawk Eyes Locked On (Mike Clark) – 18 points

The highest scorers were:

  • 5th place (47 points)
    • George Todd
  • 4th place (48 points)
    • Malcolm Roberts
  • 3rd place (50 points)
    • Mike Clark
  • 2nd = place (52 points)
    • Joe Fowler
    • Anne Yeomans
  • 1st place (55 points)
    • Jennifer Davidson

Well done to Jennifer Davidson, who wins the privilege of judging next year’s competition. The league table after two competitions has narrowed and now looks like this:

George Todd (55 + 47 = 102)
Joe Fowler (49 + 52 = 101)
Mike Clark (51 + 50 = 101)
Anne Yeomans (47 + 52 = 99)
Malcolm Roberts (50 + 48 = 98)
Lorraine Roberts (49 + 45 = 94)
Gordon Davidson (49 + 45 = 94)

Only 4 points separate the top 4 places, so there is everything to play for.  Entries for the final set-subject competition (on the theme of “Old Faces”) are due on 5th March 2020. Best of luck everyone!

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