External Competition

Competing in the 2023 Albany Cup

Participating in external photo competitions is vitally import to us as a club.  Not only does it enable us to compete within a completely different cohort, but it can also be a great way to attract new members by advertising the quality of images coming out of our club.  It is import that we submit our very best images.

However, getting there involves a lot of effort from many different parties.  The load should not fall on a single person’s shoulders.

Our panel for the Albany Cup was put together at very short notice.  The Portrait Group had been hoping to create a panel but were unable to find a suitable 4th image to fit the theme they had in mind.  The issue is that out of the 4 images, they must be from a minimum of 3 authors.  (In other words, it is acceptable to have 2 images from one author).

As a final push to pull something together, I suggested we review the images from the Winter Themed Competition, Mono Graveyards, which at least would provide us with a theme for our panel.  The next task was to find a group of images that worked well together.

Jeff Lawrence chaired called an emergency Zoom meeting during which members discussed the images and selected a group that blended well together, balancing each other.  These are not always the strongest images because it is important not to let one image dominate the panel.  There is a fine art to the process.

The next step was to print and mount the images.  In the absence of other volunteers, Jeff took on this responsibility as well.

A couple of days before the competition, Jeff called into my house with the finished product – four pristinely mounted images and a title, ‘Tombstones’, appropriately scripted in a Celtic font.

From there, the baton passed to me.  I was given clear instructions on how to display the images, creating a tight panel with black card pinned to the back to avoid a gaping white hole in the middle, on account of the differing orientations for the images.  (Portrait and landscape in the top row and landscape and portrait below).

Thankfully, the responsibly of delivering and displaying the panel was shared with Roy Cardrick.  We skipped club on Monday 13th February, like two school kids playing hooky, to deliver our panel to Guildford Photographic Society at Burpham Village Hall.    Erring on the side of caution we found ourselves the first to arrive, an hour early.  Once the hall was opened, we made ourselves useful setting up the room.  For future reference, it is a curious set up.  Prints are scattered randomly across the stands at the front of the room for a brief viewing for judge and attendees and then, gathered in a pile to be placed one at a time under the light box, where they are judged individually.

Then, over the tea break we flipped our chairs so that they faced the other end of the room where the panel boards are set up.  This was very definitely a two man job, so I was very grateful to have Roy’s help and expert eye.  It pretty much took the whole of the tea break to pin the images, but we did ourselves proud with the end result.

Our judge was the inspirational, insightful Ken Scott who takes a positive, mindful and motivational approach to judging.

The marking

My notes are sketchy but they will give you a gist of Ken’s comments.

Moving from Dark to Light by Jeff Lawrence

In this image the shapes are separated by interesting light.  It’s a challenge when the contrast is so strong, it pulls the eye to the left where there is a very bright area between the branches.  However, there is a pleasing triangular shape.  8

Standing Tall by Jeff Lawrence

Beautiful Celtic cross – dappled light lovely on the floor gives a sense of being in the woods.  Less successful in the sky.  Detail on the circle of the cross needs slightly different tonality.  Balanced elements.  Well printed.  8

Celtic Memorial by Terry Adams

In this image the tonal difference separates the cross from the background.  Details nicely done.  Slight blueness in trees separates it out.  Lovely lead from the bottom.  Compositionally top left sky draws the eye.  Top gable of the church gives context. 8

The Old Graveyard by Mark Wright

Although there is not a single point of interest the overall effect is pleasing.  Detail not as ornate as other images but the overall impression comes through.  Balanced tones.  Light in sky less distracting.  This approach of context works better.  8.5


Beautifully presented.  Arranged in a style that interlocks them.  Well done for not leaving a white space in the middle.  This would have taken the attention into the middle.  Images placed well.  (A pat on the back for Roy and me.  We executed our job well).  The shadow lines of the image bottom right lead the eye into the panel.  The sky in the top left is far less prominent in the panel.  The individual images are not the most immediately impactful but as a panel they work on a different level.    34

The individual images were marked out of ten and the panel marked out of 40.  This means that images that scored highly individually did not necessarily result in a high scoring panel, particularly if one image did not blend well in the panel as a whole.  Sadly we came last overall in the competition when scores were added up but in actual fact, our panel on its own was not the lowest scoring panel.

The winning panel from Molesey Photographic Club, ‘Carter’s Steam Fair’, was outstanding with wonderful bold colours.  A well deserved win.  It was achieved from a group outing.  (An inspiration in itself).  They are a small photographic club with 40-45 members but they certainly achieved great things between them.


It does not end there.  It is important that we already put our thinking caps on and plan for next year.  The time slips by incredibly quickly when there is an event like this on the agenda.  Let us all get involved in planning for our next panel.  Perhaps someone can think of a great day out for us to work together as a club to produce an outstanding panel of images.  Our SIGs may already be thinking about this but anyone can get involved.

If you would like to become involved with external competitions, please shout.  You can speak to me or any other member of the committee.  https://bracknell-camera-club.co.uk/bcc-committee/


Gladys Perrier
Publicity Secretary

Gladys Perrier

Joined BCC in Sept 2018. Gained my LRPS in March 2022. Qualified as a Level 2 Judge for the SCPF. Current Co-Chair of BCC.