It's not often that I'm a surprised person. I don't know why that is - whether I am less surprise-able than other people, or maybe that my life has had fewer surprising things in it than is the case for some. But this week I was very surprised.
I've been going to the local Camera Club for 7 months now, and have learned a huge amount in that time. From the visiting speakers and Judges, from watching tutorials, and from the other people who attend, who have been friendly, helpful and encouraging.
In common with most Camera Clubs or Photographic Societies, they have all sorts of contests - Audio Visual ones (where images are set to music); print ones and projected ones. Some with set subjects, and some without. Some require the images to have been taken in a specific place during a specific period of time. They have 'battles' against other Camera Clubs and Photographic Societies. It's a very gentle way to spend an evening - in a darkened room, looking at wonderful images and listening to someone who knows what they're talking about. Until this week, I had never been brave enough to enter any of the many competitions they hold there, but after a bit of encouragement from other members, I thought 'what the hell'. The Competition this week was 'Open Subject' (ie. images of anything you like) Digital Projected Image (ie. you hand in your images on a flash drive or cd the week before, and they are then projected on to a large blank wall for judging, and for everyone to see).
So I did ... I handed in my little flash drive containing my three (rather abstract) images, a couple of weeks ago. On the competition day I felt rather anxious. A friend said she might come with me, but texted at teatime to say her husband had a snooker match, therefore she couldn't come. So I went on my own, with my (ugly) knees knocking and hoping that nobody would say anything unkind about my creations.
In competitions, images are given a mark out of 20 by the visiting Judge, and each Judge obviously has their own personal likes, dislikes and opinions on what is appealing and what is not. There was a total of 87 images that night, so the Judge was going to have to work hard to earn his fee.
Anyway, here are the images I submitted:
The Judge said he thought this image was probably of a section of a glass ornament, but it's not. Since one has to sit there in the quiet, letting the Judge say what they think, I couldn't pipe up with 'no it's not actually ... it's golden syrup'. Nobody knows who is the 'author' of which image until the end. I just had to let him think it was an ornament. He said he liked the colours, admired the composition and gave it 16 points. I think I like this kind of psychedelic stuff more than most other people.
This one was taken in early January when the snow came. I was indoors, and tried to focus on the wet snow on the window, rendering the people outside, blurry. The Judge said at first he didn't realise it was people outside - he thought it was markings such as in Chinese writing, or something of that sort. But when he looked closer he could see it was people. He said it was "artistic" and gave it 18 points.
I took this one in December last year, with my little compact camera rather than the DSLR (which just goes to show, you don't need a DSLR to get a decent image). I keep the little camera in my bag so I will - hopefully - never miss an opportunity. The image is of some dew on a spider's web, which makes the web look like a piece of jewellery: The Judge said he thought it looked like a necklace. He liked the large droplet in focus and the other droplets becoming more blurred as one looked back into the picture. He also liked the diagonal emphasis. He gave it 19 points.
Three images that night scored the *perfect* 20 (these are called 'starred images') but I didn't mind that none of mine did. I was over the moon that this Judge hadn't said anything negative or too harshly critical (not that I don't welcome constructive criticism - I do). So, I had 16 + 18 + 19 = 53 points out of a possible 60, and I was rather pleased. I sat and chatted to the lady sitting next to me about a local school at which she worked, and she told me about her son who is doing GCSE Art - which No.1 will be doing too.
At the end of any competition, they announce who is in 4th, 3rd, 2nd and 1st place - in reverse order, like on Miss World when I was a kid. Several people had achieved the same score to be in equal 4th place. A few more had a point more to be in equal 3rd. Three had another point and were in 2nd. And two people had drawn for first place ... they each had 53 points. Erm ... pardon? Did you say 53 points? Yes, she did - she said 53 points, and before I knew it I was joint winner of 'Round One' (Round Two of this competition is in May, and the final Round Three is in September). How the heck did that happen? People came up and said 'well done' ... they couldn't do it to the other guy with 53 points as he's in the States at the moment. I felt embarrassedly self conscious, pleased, and a bit proud, all at the same time.
But mostly I was surprised: One gob, well and truly smacked.