Author Archives: hbphotosoc

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.

Welcome to 2017

2017 has started and it’s nice to see another art form occurring around town – namely all the murals being painted for Pangeaseed’s Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans project.

This is the second project in Napier and the murals are pretty cool.

Occasionally people submit photos of others art for judging and often this results in a not achieved, even when the artwork is very beautiful.

The thing to consider when photographing anther’s artwork is how to add value. What difference has your photography added to the original art-work.

It’s your photography skills being judged, not the beauty of the artwork itself.

An example of this would be this image. This was captured at the moment the artist, Faith47, was signing her name after she had completed the mural.

Without the artist and the capture of that unique point in time it simply would have been a photograph of her mural.

So it’s not impossible to include others artwork in your submissions – you just need to consider what part you have played in creating the overall image.

Next years set subjects

Next years set subjects

Thanks for all the suggestions for next year. Certainly more suggestions than months available by a long way.

Final selection is thus:
Jan  – Orange
Feb – Kiwi Summer
March – Repetition
April – Very rural
May – Broken
June – Architecture
July – Weather
August – In the distance
September – Negative space
October – Frozen in time (Fast shutter speed)
Christmas Party – “X”

I’ll add a page to the website with this and meeting dates during the week.

So new members know – you don’t have to take the photo in the month of the competition. You can use both existing photos or take them well in advance.

Some people have been known to do a little chart up and tick them off as suitable opportunities appear.


Ahhh judging. Like it or love it in any artistic endeavour people will judge your work.

With photography though we actually ask people to do this. So a couple of perspectives from past elders wiser than ourselves.

Perspective 1.

It can be somewhat humbling to have that photograph that you so love put as grist to the mill. But grist to the mill it is.

For those not familiar with the saying grist is the corn that is taken to the mill and turned into flour. And so it is with judging.

You take your photo to the judge who views it from their own perspective and turns it into something else.

What you do with the resulting (flour) is up to you. There’s endless possibilities. You can throw it in the air, or you can bake a cake, you can say I still prefer the corn I bought here originally, you can add some water to it and make a sticky paste.

Whatever you do your photo will never be the same again.

Perspective 2.

Judge not, that ye be not judged. —Matthew 7:1

This is a not well understood quote from Jesus. Taken in isolation it suggests judging is not a good thing and that you should excuse bad photography in others lest you have bad photos of your own.

This lack of understanding is mainly because the context of the next verse is missing.

Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. — Matthew 7:1-2

Now this is a much more positive affirmation of judging that says you must judge with care and diligence but also maintain personal standards.

This I guess is where the judges, whether I like the feedback or not, do a very good job. Their judging is backed up by comments that give you an insight into the standards they are judging on.

So what have I learned from the judging of some of my photos.

1. I have a strong emotional attachment to my own work. This may be because of who is in it, the circumstances in which I took it, the skills I developed in taking it or editing it.

The judges have none of that. The emotion for the judges must come solely from the photo itself.

BTW you can’t separate emotion from decision-making – there’s no such thing as pure objectivity. That’s a topic for another day.

2.  The set subject must be the main subject in the photo.

This I think is a good example of missing this fundamental point. The set subject was white and my photo had lots of white. The judges comment was that “it is not really white.” Told a good story apparently, but not really white.


Set subject “White”

My initial reaction was “What do you mean it’s not white?”

Took me a while to get over this. Surprisingly it was the same judge’s comment on another entry that made the penny drop.

The judge said that that person had made the effort to create a photo in which the subject was white.

I got it. If I’m going to enter something in the set subject category I need to make sure that the main subject of the photo is the set subject. This gets a little harder when the topic is an adjective, verb or adverb. Much easier to do when it is a noun .

3. Not everyone sees what you see.

I think we all know this deep down. We have a commonality in photography that brings us together but each of us has a uniqueness that allows us to create our own art. The diversity on show in our club is delightful and wonderful and any other superlative you wish to use.

A judge cannot have all of our own unique perspectives. It’s obvious when we look at each others pictures that we as individuals don’t always get someone else’s picture. This one of mine illustrates how you can see something obvious that isn’t so.



This to me is so obviously a macro of a mushroom with the photographic title a play on the term “meat of a mushroom”. I’d grown up with this term. Wikipedia confirms it wasn’t just a family tradition.

“Though neither meat nor vegetable, mushrooms are known as the “meat” of the vegetable world.”

So I tick off my checklist:
nice macro – check
Interesting concept – check
clever clogs title – check
All is go.

Judge thought it was a technical demonstration and that the title simply stated what the subject was.

My initial reaction was the  “What do you mean it’s not white?” reaction.

I’ve since talked to several others in the society and few of them could tell what it was either.

I’m not upset at them and I can’t be upset at the judge either. That peer feedback was most useful for me. I learned to get more perspectives and to trust the feedback.

So yeah I’m getting to love the judging cause it gives me opportunities to think about my photography and how I can improve what I present up for judging.

We’ve got good judges and you should read the comments, not only on your own photos but on others as well. Seek peer feedback if you’re still uncertain. Someone else may be able to give you a good steer.


Please take some time to have a look around the site.

If you would like more information about the society or are interested in joining, just click on our ‘Contact’ page and send us an email.

We meet on the last Tuesday of each month at the Napier Arts Club Rooms, 122 Vigor Brown St, Napier at 7:00 pm from January to November.

Whether you are wanting to learn how to use your point and shoot camera better; are totally into your craft and want to improve your techniques; or want to enter our monthly competitions, you are most welcome to come along, introduce yourself and see what we get up to.


A post today on our Facebook page had me thinking about why I’ve picked up this strange beast called photography.

I have no wish to be a paid photographer – capitalism is far far away from my own socialist and commons views.

Part of it was opportunity.
Going from almost completely blind to seeing in one eye certainly gave me the opportunity.
That change however gave me the opportunity to  do lots of things.
So why stick with photography?
I’ve looked at photography as a journey.
Part of that journey is the places I go and the compositions I see, part of that journey is the people I meet and the conversations we have, part of that journey is the photography knowledge I gain and the expertise I build up and part of that journey is the equipment I buy and how to use it, part of that journey is giving others pleasure from what you can do and show.
The point of a journey is not that you arrive instantly – taking a while provides a joy that instant gratification can not.

There were a couple of moments this weekend that gave immense satisfaction. The first was when I went to take a picture in my home town where the Whanganui River meets the Ongarue River to form one river.

A couple were there with their son trying to both take an ipad selfie and not fall in the water. I asked if they would like me to take a photo and email it to to them. They wished this and I took a few pics. We had a chat. They were visiting town, had never been to this spot but always wanted to and were related to my old neighbours from when I was a child.

We had a good talk before they had to leave. The photos were sent off the following day. They, despite my nervousness about taking photos of people, came out OK.


Cribb Family

The second was in deciding I should take a photo of the Mount Hikurangi that presides over my home town. One of the things about living in this part of the country (Hawkes Bay) is you hear lots about a different Mount Hikurangi and many here either don’t know of the other one or don’t know what it is like.

I took a photo I simply could not have taken two years ago when I started on this journey.


Mount Hikurangi, Taumarunui.

My Gisborne colleagues are now appreciative of the other Hikurangi and have shared with me more of their Hikurangi story. We’re all better off.

Commonality, rather than difference, is what makes us human and photography is a great way to explore that commonality.

One of my punk rock heroes is Greg Graffin from the band Bad Religion. His autobiography  “Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science and Bad Religion in a World Without God” is a good read.

He had this to say:

“Creativity is a challenge. It requires us to be fully human — autonomous yet engaged, independent yet interdependent. Creativity bridges the conflict between our individualistic and our sociality. It celebrates the commonality of our species while simultaneously setting us apart as unique individuals.”
Author: Greg Graffin



Three people have now received four B grade honours and will move to A grade.

Penny Kennedy, Tanya Howie and myself are all now set to take on the higher level of judging that A grade provides. It’s a cool achievement that’s been part of the journey I talk about above.

Well done.



We had a discussion at the last committee meeting about adding more content to the website. When I set this one up it was  deliberately quite static as a starting point.

One of the aspects to using WordPress is the ability to increase the dynamics by including a blogging aspect. This gives all members the opportunity to contribute with their thoughts and knowledge on photography.

A nice balance of technical and hearts and minds blogging will make this work. Content will be moderated to avoid controversy and it must always be on topic – photography.
Next Meeting

Pixel wars judging will be at next meeting as will the results of “The eyes have it”

Look forward to seeing you all there.