Open season

“Tranquillity”  new member Fiona Couser’s beautiful colour image
“Tranquillity” new member Fiona Couser’s beautiful colour image

If the popularity of a club can be borne out by the number of entries in its competitions, then Kilmaurs PC must be doing pretty well this season, as 95 images were presented for the recently-held 2nd Open competition.The judge for the event was Fiona Brims who hails from Grangemouth. This was the second time she has judged at the club and her ‘no-nonsense’ style was just as entertaining as it was the last time.

Joyce Robinson with her trophy for best overall image in the 2nd Open competition
Joyce Robinson with her trophy for best overall image in the 2nd Open competition

The award for best mono print went to long-time club member Joyce Robinson with her outstanding black and white print of Leeds Arcade. This image was so stunning that it also received the accolade for overall winner of the competition.

What made Joyce’s achievement so great was that the image was taken on her iPhone. This of course gave rise to good natured rumblings of disquiet amongst the membership as the traditionalists, in the finest tradition of traditionalists, tutted their traditional disapproval quietly to themselves, while the younger members (I use the term younger loosely) looked at their phones in wonder and amazement.  Could it? Would it? Maybe? Surely not?

And why not? to quote the late, great Barry Norman This is kind of what we’ve been saying since we started this column; a good photo does not need state-of-the-art fancy camera equipment but can be captured on a phone camera. It’s exactly the same principle – a good eye for a composition and the skills to capture it, and the world’s your oyster.

“The Gallop”  Stevie Rafferty’s fabulous image of a galloping horse
“The Gallop” Stevie Rafferty’s fabulous image of a galloping horse

Add to this that the cameras in most phones these days have a sophistication we wouldn’t have thought possible even a few years ago. Many – iPhones and Android – even have the scope to take RAW images which can then be edited at a later stage.  I myself have been confronted with a great photo opportunity when I don’t have my “big” camera, and being able to take a RAW image on my Android phone has been ideal.  So if you find yourself caught like this, just go for it with the phone.  At the very least you will have captured something pleasing and in the moment – even if it doesn’t turn out to be an award winner like Joyce’s.


Couser and effect

Elsewhere in the competition, club stalwart Jim Stevenson won the best colour print and best colour Digitally Projected Image awards. Fiona Wallace had to eat some earlier words by gaining two 2nd equal placed mono prints while old warhorses, Colin Robinson, Stevie Rafferty, Donnie Briggs and Martin Clark also took top spots.

But what was most encouraging to see was a new member stepping up to the winners’ podium. Fiona Couser grabbed a very fine bronze award with her colour print ‘Tranquillity’ which was a particular favourite among the club members as well as with the judge.

“Glasgow Cathedral” also by Fiona Couser
“Glasgow Cathedral” also by Fiona Couser

Kilmaurs resident Fiona first got interested in photography around 5 years ago, having done the usual dabbling with family snaps before that. Laughs Fiona: “It wasn’t until I purchased my first DSLR that I realised photography was actually an art.”
Fiona sees photography very much as a hobby to be enjoyed although she quite clearly is keen to keep developing her skills.  “I enjoy online and practical tutorials  and see them as a great way of learning new aspects.  I would also really recommend YouTube as a great source of information.”

Kilmaurs PC is not Fiona’s first camera club and she did enjoy a bit of success with her images there. Her attitude to competitions is quite clear:  ‘I find competitions a great way to learn. Although I was nervous at putting in images at first, I have learned more from competitions than anywhere else.  I not only learn from critique of my own images but everyone else’s too.’ This approach is very interesting and perhaps flies in the face of our common perception of newer members’ attitudes to competitions.

She also attributes a lot of her success both at her previous club and at Kilmaurs to being around people who have a range of experience that they are happy to share and a common passion for photography.

Fiona’s winning image was a landscape and it comes as no surprise when she says that this is probably her favourite genre, although she professes a liking for most genres with the possible exception of sport. Having come to landscape almost by accident Fiona is planning on enhancing her new-found passion by travelling a bit more.   She states: ‘I work full time and since taking up landscape photography I’ve realised how little of our beautiful country I’ve actually seen. I am looking forward to making more time to go to new places. Taking my camera with me of course.’

Fiona, who also produced a stunning mono print of Glasgow Cathedral in an earlier competition this year, offered this last piece of advice: “If I was to give advice to new photographers,’ she adds, ‘I’d suggest that they just go out and take what you enjoy.  And don’t forget to take time to learn.’

“Johnstone Station Rush Hour” Fiona Wallace was fascinated by the Benny Hill-esque bustle at her local station
“Johnstone Station Rush Hour” Fiona Wallace was fascinated by the Benny Hill-esque bustle at her local station