Judges comments

I missed last meeting due to an eye operation (yay I can see again) but people must have enjoyed the judges comments because I’ve been asked to add them to the website.

Bruce Shanks was the judge and he’s kindly given permission for his comments to be added.

I found an overall very good standard of images, within this competition.
Some of the things which we don’t stress enough today about images is, does the photographer have a story to tell ?
More often images appear to be an exercise, of trying to emulate a successful type of image that one has seen elsewhere, or searching for a formulae to success, rather than finding a story to advance
A lot of great images, are preconceived. i.e. they are thought about, and constructed from a blank canvas ( formerly piece of unexposed film , now free-space on a capture card. Things to consider for a successful image; are good lighting, understanding of depth of field, and composition, and the importance of using the space available, to great advantage.


When I learnt to judge, way back in 1959 at Tauranga and District Photographic Society, we judged on a points basis:

30 Points for Conception

Did the photographer have a story to present.

40 points for how the image w
as constructed, put together,(known as composition), consisting of shapes, placement of objects, balance of tones, light and shade, lines of view, darker at the base, lighter at the top etc.

25 points Photographic Technique

mainly over ridden today by the camera manufacturer’s in-camera software

5 points for presentation, mounting, matting, outlining, titling etc.
Of course that was in the days before, light meters, rangefinders, SLRs etc although the TLR (Twin lens Reflex) were fairly common ( Rollei’s etc) did have focus, on a screen, but an inverted image.
A good tip is to flip your image, and view the reversed image often, weaknesses will be seen, in this mirrored image, often it may be a stronger image, but be careful of writing, watches on the wrong wrist, and other, give away factors.
Try always to have a focal point, for the viewers eye to linger on.
Study the guidelines of composition, at the least.

Google “Rule of thirds” , “Golden ratio” or “Golden mean” or Fibonnaci number, spirals, and golden section.


Other forms of composition worth study, are balance, S curves, Triangles.


We pooh pooh construction of our image to our detriment, and an understanding of the balance and harmony between colours is a useful skill for the exhibition photographer to master.

In the knowledge basket section of the society website is a section on composition which gives guidance to some of the compositional considerations Bruce Shanks talks about.