I belong to The Guild of Photographers and each month members are invited to submit their chosen images (must have been taken within the past 2 years) into the Image of the Month competition.
Over a thousand images every month are submitted (for which there is an entry fee) and are judged by some of the most well respected photographers in the UK.
Your image has nowhere to hide, they have a trained eye and will spot pretty much anything from dust spots to bad cloning, to over saturation or an out of focus image. It’s tough and I have received many an image back that has not scored. I love the image but in the eyes of the judges, it just didn’t stack up, so each month it’s back to the drawing board to start again.
Grading is as follows:-
A Platinum Bar .. Images of exceptional or outstanding quality (only awarded to the ultimate of images) – I do not believe anyone has actually received this award!
A Gold Bar .. Images of particular distinction (very rare)
A Silver Bar .. Images that are very well crafted (difficult to achieve)
A Bronze Bar .. Images of a strong standard at a national competition level (something to be proud of)
Classified .. Images of a standard worthy of acknowledgement relevant to the genre entered but which are not deemed award winning at national competition level.
Not scored .. Images that do not reach their 'Classified' level score will not be given a grade. Often images in this position do evidence competition potential, but require some things to be different for the image to score higher in a national competition. In some cases it can be just one thing that prevents a higher score such as dust spots which are clearly visible.
For each of the Bronze and upwards awards, points are given as follows: Bronze 2, Silver 4, Gold 7 and Platinum 10.
If you can attain 24 points in 8 months of the year you are awarded honorary life membership of the 'Photographer's Bar. This is incredibly difficult to achieve and is judged in accordance with National scoring criteria. To add to this, it has to be from the same category, ie New born, Open, People and Wedding.
I aim to focus on the Open category this year and have great support from my friends and family, as well as my Buddy Group that I belong to. The aim of the Buddy Group is that we help each other with hints/tips to help us on our photographic journey which I have found invaluable.
So, I entered my January submissions and the results are announced on the 21st of the following month. It is so nerve wracking hitting that refresh button. The adrenalin is pumping and you hope and pray that you wont be disappointed and set yourself up to deal with how to deal with whatever comes your way.
Well, yesterday I received my first results and pretty much fell off my chair having submitted 3 images, I received 2 x Bronze and a Silver which makes 8 points. It’s early days and a lot of hard work ahead of me but I am determined to improve and give my best to try and attain the Photographer’s Bar.
Below are my award winning images from January with a little background to the story behind the image. Hope you enjoy them….
Alcatraz Prison - San Francisco
In September 2016 Michelle and I travelled to San Francisco and no visit to this wonderful City is complete without hopping on the boat over to Alcatraz. Problem is you are there with 100's of other people and I really wanted the opportunity of capturing the silence of the place. We were all roaming aimlessly around the cells and walkways listening to the audio on our headsets when I suddenly saw the corridor in front of me was void of people. They were there alright, but in the cells or had just turned the corner. I immediately took some images and was pleased that at the end of the corridor sat an Alcatraz guide (I'd like to think of her as a prison guard for this shot though!)
I converted it to Black and White to try and emphasise the cold feel of the place and was delighted when I saw the judges had awarded me a Bronze for this image.
We have a nesting pair of Robins in our garden and in the tree above him we have some fat balls which the sparrows and blue tits love. They're pretty messy though and quite a bit falls to the floor.
If the pigeons haven't got there first, its a tasty protein meal for other birds such as blackbirds, dunnocks and our little robins.
This was the first time I had used my new Sigma 150mm-600mm lens and so was over the moon when this image was awarded the Bronze award by the judges.
Ceiling at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas
Quite a few people have asked me about this image and wondered if it was some swarm of jellyfish! In fact it's called Fiori di Como and is Chihuly's interpretation of Italian flowers in the spring - there are over 2,000 flowers and it weighs around 40,000 tonnes.
You can't miss this masterpiece as you walk in and the Bellagio is a bit "posh" so I had to act as discreet as a person can be when laying on the lobby floor taking some photos. Luckily it was buzzing with people so it wasn't too bad but I did feel 100's of eyes watching me as I tried to remain as still as possible to capture them.
I think the flowers must have mesmorised the judges as they kindly gave me a Silver award for this image which is only my third ever of this standard which makes me very proud.
So what next, well the next images are submitted for February's competition. Something different this time as they are all landscapes. Gulp!
If you would like to see all the Silver's and Golds (all 7 of them!) - that's how tough the competition is then please click the Guild link here to see all the wonderful awards this month. Breathtaking....