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The Spike or Victoria College Review 1938

Photographic Criticism

page 48

Photographic Criticism

The "Spike" Photographic Competition this year brought in over 50 entries, and these were kindly judged by Mr. H. A. McDonald, of the Wellington Camera Club, and Mr. J. T. Salmon, M.Sc., A.R.P.S. The following commentary on the first six pictures has been written by the judges:—

"In order to prevent bias towards the subject depicted, each print was considered individually from the point of view of (a) Conception, (b) Technique, (c) Composition, and (d) Finishing. This process assisted in the elimination of the pictures to twelve semi-finalists, from which the final six were chosen as follows:

1st.—"Pattern," by O. A. E. Hughan.

2nd.—"Quietude," by John Hale.

3rd.—"The Wood Carver," by G. A. Eiby.

4th.—"Coast at Punakaiki," by O. A. E. Hughan.

5th.—"The Spring," by Peter Clarke.

6th.—"The Dawn Comes Up Like Thunder," by Ewen Cardale.

Viewing the prints as a whole we think that more attention of club members should be paid to the finishing of pictures, i.e. spotting, trimming, and mounting. Many prints are not trimmed square, mounts are dirty, and spotting is badly done. Cut-out mounts usually give a more pleasing result.

The photographic technique of the winning pictures is good, but of those rejected, the technical quality was in many cases of a low standard. It was noticed that the average print contained no dominant point of interest, but where such had been secured, its position in the picture space was not suitable. The majority of prints submitted contained very little of pictorial merit, the motifs of many being obscure.

"Pattern" by Hughan, displays an originality of outlook and expression not common to modern pictorialists, and reminds one rather of the sketchy pictures in Notan executed by eastern artists; Particularly pleasing and synchronous are the repetitions in curves made by the shapes of the bodies of the birds, and the trunk and limbs of the trees. Altogether, with the exception mentioned below, a fine piece of work. It is unfortunate, though not irremediable, that the horizon runs down to the right. The picture could also be improved by a print of greater brilliance.

"Quietude" by Hale, is a very pleasing and satisfying portrayal of a mood. The aerial atmosphere is particularly well conveyed, and the composition calls for little comment, the placing of the boats in the foreground being just right. Technically, it is excellent, but it lacks originality.

"The Wood Carver" by Eiby, succeeds because all lines lead to a definite point of interest well placed within the picture space. The hands in themselves, however, do not appear to be accustomed to the work in which they are portrayed, and on this account the picture is riot as convincing as it might have been.

"Coast at Punakaiki" by Hughan, though rather of the record type, is outstanding in the quality of its tones, and the lighting. An excellent arrangement of the subject matter has been selected by the artist, though, in our opinion, something of a more dramatic nature migh1: have been secured with a considerably lower viewpoint from among the rocks in the foreground.

"The Spring" by Clarke. Though good material has been selected, the best use has not been made of it. Had the child been drinking, or playing with the water, there would have been more motif in the picture.

"The Dawn Comes Up Like Thunder" by Cardale. If more attention had been given to the technique, trimming, and mounting of this picture, it would most certainly have gained a higher place. We suggest the trimming of 1 £ inches from the top, and f of an inch from the bottom, and enlargement of the rest to a greater degree.

H. A. McDonald.

J. T. Salmon, M.Sc., A.R.P.S.