The Weekend Starts Here
What a fun packed but stressful weekend I had, just gone.
A motto in my life,that I’ve found useful on many occasions is “just say yes”
And then worry about any consequences later.
This has generally served me well, with most instances rewarding me with benefits both material and spiritual.
All of the pictures below are from the final placed three competitors in the BSoUP competition I was very happy to be the judge for.
Relaxing in the Red Sea
This happened just under two months ago on my latest Red Sea Relaxed trip in August.
Paul Colley wrote a review about it here and during our lovely weeks diving, Paul was sat across from me and asked if I could judge a competition for BSoUP, so of course I immediately said yes, without giving it a second thought.
A photography super group
BSoUP is the British Society of Underwater Photographers whose members comprise some of the worlds leading underwater photographers, so I was very flattered to be asked and particularly so as it was their yearly competition showcasing the best that some of their members could deliver.
The competition theme was Underwater Excellence and the entrants had to submit a set of three pictures to be judged by yours truly.
How hard can that possibly be? I thought.
I’ve interspersed the winning shots with the text.
Nick More I placed first, Mark Drayton came second and in a very close third place was Phil Medcalf
Fairplay for all
There were nineteen entrants in total, all submitting three pictures each, a total of fifty seven very good examples of underwater photography.
The competition is blind which meant that I could see the numbered sets of three but not the authors of those pictures, to ensure fairness.
The world of underwater photography is quite small so the chances were very high that I knew some of these people.
For the sake of absolute clarity here,and as I have been involved in the world of underwater photography for many years now, it would be unreasonable to suggest that even with blind numbering like this I wasn’t able to be completely clueless about the authors of these shots.
However I can completely assure each and every entrant that I play with a straight bat, and even if I had suspicions as to the authors in a lot of cases, this in no way affected my fairness in judging.
Wise Words from Trevor
I had had a bit of guidance from Trevor Rees as he had judged this competition the previous year, and his sage words of wisdom were very useful.
He suggested that I look for a consistent spread of skills showing quality wide angle and macro abilities. With the emphasis on consistency.
I dabbled with the idea of awarding each picture a score from 1 to 10 but felt that this might allow two strong shots to carry a much weaker picture.
So I was looking for a good spread of skills.
A good sort out
The first sort to reduce the entrants down to a final six, was hard enough, as there were some cracking pictures, more often two cracking pictures in a group only slightly let down by a weaker third.
And I can say that in most cases all of the rejected 13 were very closely snapping at the heels of the last six, with honestly very little to separate them.
So a very well done to all.
Time and Motion
I gave this a lot of time and thought, and in the end the ordering of the final six were based upon a combination of gut feeling, and initial reaction.
Another very handy way I would suggest to others asked to judge competitions of this type is to reduce the pictures to small thumbnails, this has the effect of making you concentrate on simplicity and design, which at the end of the day is a key factor in separating between images, but I also took into consideration the subject matter, and how difficult technically those shots were obtained,in the end though it was the pictures and their composition which mattered most to me. It’s alright displaying mastery of photographic techniques, and the vast majority of the entrants displayed that in spadefuls, but at the end of the day the viewer isn’t aware necessarily how difficult a shot was to take, they just care about the shot.
Great Stuff in the Pipeline
And to this end as part of the judging pipeline workflow, I ran the selections by a couple of non diving and non photographically minded friends, not to make a decision per se, but to see if their choices matched mine, and in the main they did, but the final outcome was down to me.
A close run thing
Nick More, Mark Drayton and Phil Medcalf were very close runners for the final three, with Nick just edging it in the end as I thought his grouping displayed the best combination of technical skill, good design, and aesthetic simplicity.
I have developed a few extra grey hairs as a result of this judging process, but it was also great fun and showed me what a healthy state the world of underwater photography is in at the present time.
If you’d like to join me on one of my escorted trips for Scubatravel please check out my trips page here.
My excursions provide a great environment for underwater photography and the itineraries are focussed upon easy going non rushed diving with repeat dives at productive dive spots, but they are equally good for folk that just want quality relaxed and easy diving, regardless of wether or not they wield a camera.
If you’d like to learn about some of the techniques used here please check out these earlier blogs.
There are lots of technique blogs that I have posted over the years please check them out and let me know if you’ve found them useful.