Lighting the Nude – the results

Lighting the Nude. Almost a year after this competition title was announced the day has dawned, the entries have been submitted, and the scores dished out. And the final result? A mixed bag for me, but could have been far worse.

Of the eight titles for Photographer of the Year in 2013 this was the one that filled me with the most unease. I’ve never worked with models with clothes on, let alone without. How do you direct the model, decide the poses, discuss the shots? How to edit the picture afterwards and a myriad of other questions all ran through my mind. In the end it wasn’t so bad. I went on the Abbey House Gardens Art Nude course (see Nude in the Gardens) and the Camera Club ran a day in Padbury Village Hall where we got expert help from both the Chairman and the ever-patient models. So in the end I had a reasonable bank of images to select my final two from.

This round of the competition was a printed round, so as usual the prep took longer as you have to have the images printed and framed on mounts so they can be displayed for judging. I order my prints directly from this website and they are printed by a printshop called Loxley. The quality is always spot on, never yet have I had a print anything other than perfect. These days I also do my own mounting using card mounts purchased from Cotswold Mounts. Takes a little bit of time and I’m still perfecting the technique but saves a bit of cash and looks pretty good.

Mirrored Forks - Lighting the Nude / Open entry

My top scoring image in Round 7 – a 20 for my forks!

So how did my work fare with the judge this month? In the Nude category I had what I thought was one strong image and one weaker one. I love my Stairway shot from Abbey House of Suzanne, but the judge quite correctly pointed out a blown highlight in the pictures in the background, and also the bannister finial on her upper arm was distracting. The score was 16. Ironically the image I wasn’t so sure about – Curled – was complimented highly for its simplicity and use of negative space and was held back to the end, where it scored 19.

In the Open category I’d entered two images which I’d had printed for a while but not entered up to this point. One image I wasn’t sure about and figured wouldn’t do well, the other was a print where I had a choice of two for an earlier competition and this one wasn’t used. As expected the Blazin’ Blues shot was criticised for the “HOUS” on the left, and scored just 14. Not unfair, I’ve been looking at it for ages and had it been a projected image I’d have cloned it out. Mirrored Forks came as somewhat of a surprise to me. The judge commented that he enjoys coming to clubs to judge because sometimes he sees something he really wants to try – and this was it. He loved the lines, the  simplicity and the symmetry. Normally when a judge likes an image it is held back to the end and then the top images are compared again. Not this time – a straight 20! Very impressed with that, given that this image had been rejected for use earlier in the year by me!

As for the table in the competition little has changed. I’ve climbed one place into fourth, but two people that were ahead of me didn’t enter this round so in reality I’ve moved back a place. I’m five points off third place now which is the position I achieved last year but with just one round to go I am 18 points behind second place and 27 points behind the leader. With just one round to go I can’t see this changing and me bettering my achievement last year – fourth is probably the best for me this year. With the power of statistics the average score of the leader this year is 17.6 points, last year the title was won with an average of 17.53. My average score this year is 16.6, well down on where it should be. Last year my average was 17.47 – I came third and was just two points behind the winner. This year I have not come anywhere close despite me feeling my work is better than I submitted last year.

The final round this year is Reflections. I’ve got some good images for this category but I’m quite reluctant to use them when I have no chance of winning, so will enter some more “maybe” shots and see what happens. Then I can save what I feel are my best images for next year. Roll on 2014!

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