The Spike or Victoria College Review 1941
Photographic Judgments 1941
Photographic Judgments 1941
The Quality of the entries for the Spike photographic competition this year seems to have in no way suffered through the shortage of material and limitation of subject matter imposed by war conditions. Although the number of entrants was not great, each of them submitted several prints, all of which were of a uniformly high standard.
The prize of one guinea I have awarded to Mr M. A. Johnson for his entry Quo Vadis? Of this entrant's technical skill, I shall say more later, but here I must say a word about the other qualities of the picture. In it are exemplified most of the qualities which impress in the best of modern photography. The conception is a good one, and the choice of material indicates that it has been the result of careful study, and not of haphazard snapshotting. The composition is bold, but there is no sense of a conscious striving for the freakish or unusual for its own sake. Rather is this print the result of the work of an artist of great originality who does not scorn to build firmly on the traditions of the past.
For the remainder of the competition, rather than attempt to distinguish between so much work of equal merit, I have chosen for reproduction a number of prints typical of the work submitted. First among these are two prints by M. Geddes. The Rock Climber is a well arranged composition, depending mainly on its pattern for effect, and backed by sound technique. Mount Aspiring is at first glance merely a good record photograph, but a closer analysis shows the most careful composition page 25 Note especially the dynamic touch which is given by the slightly leaning figures, and the completion of the pyramidal composition by the careful placing of the rucksac in the foreground.
In an entirely different class, yet equally satisfying is G. Coles In the beech forest. This picture has much in common with Impressionism, depending for its effectiveness entirely on the skilful rendering of an effect of sunlight. This type of photography is not often successful, which makes such a fine example as this of double value.
I could not resist including two further examples of the versatility of the first prize winner. His Profile makes good use of the seldom used process of solarisation, and possesses a vigour of characterisation which is quite lacking from the majority of commercial portraits.
Honesty is very different from either of the foregoing examples of Mr Johnson's work. Here, as in the prizewinning print, we find a technique which insists on the finest detail, yet retains its command of the broad masses and lines of the picture. Such a picture is at once reminiscent of the etchings of Albrecht Durer, and the photographs of Edward Weston.
The entrants in this competition are to be congratulated on the production of photographic work which is as fine as any being produced in this country. Much of the work submitted was fully up to International Salon standard.