Gold, Silver, Bronze, Aluminium, Lead, and Pig Iron

_DSF0530I have been engaged this week in massaging egos and my fingers are tired. I hasten to add that I have no idea whose egos have been the subject of the exercise so I am not biased in favour of them one way or the other – I hate them equally.

I was asked to judge some photo competitions, you see. Normally I like these as they are a chance to see some very nice pictures, and if the criteria of the judging is kept simple, one can deal with it fairly well.

Most times this sort of thing is on a club basis, though this week saw a commercial contest with a $ 1000 prize in the balance. I was asked to judge 100+ images sent in to the shop as part of a newspaper contest. They did specify that it had to be the contestant’s best Western Australian picture and the size was limited but apart from that they could choose their own path.

Most were landscapes, though some strayed into macro subjects and a few into portraiture. Hard to tie that to the state, though. Nearly all were worthy, but a few missed out on bad technique…the horizon at sea is generally flat and few buildings have haloes around them. In the end a suitable winner was found – slightly touristy – but I suspect that was what the organisers wanted.

The real swamp was a request today to judge the end-of-year compilation from a local camera club – images that had been awarded rating throughout the year but wanted a final pat on the back for their Christmas party. My employer has to go deliver the judgement on Monday and I wish him well at it – I tried to give him the best selection possible.

The trouble was, and is, that camera clubs all want a complex system of judgement to churn and grind and award everyone a nice prize. The formulae for this can look like a track diagram on the Swiss railways, with points awarded and deducted and gold and silver and bronze ratings that are meant to mean something but don’t. I sometimes want to award aluminium medals for valueless lightweight images, lead medals for images that are so boring as to suggest terminal constipation, and pig iron medals for the cheap and brittle ones.

I also want to award a medal made of horse shit for the artist who presents the image with the worst caption. Unfortunately in many cases these are the ones that have the most visual appeal. If only they would stick to the lens and not the pens…

Well, in any case, we will see what the boss looks like on Tuesday morning. If the camera club party ends in tears and blood we can always pass the morning daubing him with mercurachrome.


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