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The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, 1939



The judges spent a very enjoyable though strenuous evening judging these prints which show a marked advance on previous exhibits. Some of the prints show a high standard of poetic imagination and ability to use the "Language of Pictures" as well as good photographic technique. We may look forward to the time when these workers will be producing pictures of salon quality.

Our method in judging was to first go through the lot and put aside those which were definitely out of the highest class. This left about a dozen that merited careful study and judgment, and gradually we selected in the following order those which seemed to us the best, taking note of all those points that go to the making of a picture.

First award, "Students." This is an excellent study of what is rather a difficult subject. To bring two figures into a composition and give each full value without setting up a competition between them is no easy matter. It has been done here exceedingly well. The picture is full of interest and ful of beautiful tone and rich quality in both lights and darks. All the material used to make the picture is Harmonious and supports the main theme. The mounting is good and the titling clear being assertive. There is no fault to find with the whole ensemble.

Second award, "Old Timer." This is a delightful scene well rendered. Its rich, if somewhat dark tones help to suggest the romance of the scene which is full of interest and contains no jarring note. Everything is well placed and nothing is superfluous. The mounting and titling are excellent. The head of the figure is rather lost against the dark tone behind and would perhaps have been better seen without the cap while the dog evidently resents the whole proceeding. Through such small misfortunes does a picture come to be placed second.

Third award, "Sydenham Potteries." Here is a first prize picture spoiled by its mounting and titling. The tones of inner and outer mount should be reversed. A warm toned print should be on a cream inner mount or better still one broad cream mount with a simple cut-out and possible a line round it. The title is much too big for this small print and overwhelms it, attracting attention first instead of last. The print is a delightful rendering of unpromising material and we longed to place it over so high, but, shades of D.O Hill! what could we do with a mount like that?

Very highly commended, "Excursion." This is well composed and photographed and the print has a pleasant softness and atmosphere. Perhaps the white circle on the left would be better out of the picture, while the headless coat on the right is also unfortunate. But what spoils the picture is the dreadful blank band round it. Very rarely will a photograph stand anything darker than a lead pencil will give around it. The picture is the thing, the mount is there to concentrate the attention on the picture. It must never attraction of itself.

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Highly commended, "Deep in the Forest." A beautiful scene and delightful texture in the print. Unfortunately the brometching has gone a little too far on the upper portion of the dark tree trunk so that the light in the middle distance seems to come forward across the tree. A little doping would rectify this, says J.W.J.! Another black band and badly cut mount helped to put this picture out of the higher places. I don't know what we would have done if these mistakes had not been made.

Commended, "Nightfall." The level lines and soft atmospheric tones all help to convey the feeling of evening. A gentle and dreamy feeling fills the picture, which alas the sharp and aggressive lettering of the title does its best to destroy. The stern of the boat is just a little too vertically under the dark headland and its artificial definition with a pencil is therefore the more undesirable.

A number of other prints show imagination, poetic and emotional feeling without which a picture is as "sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal," but they fail in one way or another such as those already mentioned faults, or in some other way. For instance let us consider "Decline and Decay." This has splendid "picture language" in it, but where does the bright light on the water come from? The sky has a half circle of lighter tone looks like a fault in development, otherwise it is a flat grey. A slightly hazy moon would do the trick and could be printed in. But for this weakness the picture would have scored highly. And so with several others, but be not dismayed; who would want to make picture if it was easy?