The summer break lends itself to photography: long, lazy days with no school work deadlines to worry about; day trips out to appreciate the breath-taking scenery of our little island; and family holidays exploring foreign lands, with the promise of dry, sunny weather. With the rush of a new school year, it’s easy for these amazing memories to quickly fade, so it occurred to me that a Summers House photography competition would be a great way to get back a little bit of that holiday feeling!
|James Christenson’s cheeky giraffe|
The response was overwhelming, with nearly a third of Summers pupils submitting almost 50 images for consideration by school photographer, Jason Baker, who acted as judge for the competition. Judging was a real challenge, as the standard of entry was so high, with a range of subjects including selfies, architecture, landscape, and wildlife. Jason was looking for great use of light, composition, balance, focus, use of colour, cropping and originality, and was asked to judge for winners in the following categories: Year 7, Year 8, Tutors, and Best Overall. Some of the very best entries are included here, with a more comprehensive selection on the Summers House noticeboard in the Middle School Common Room.
|A colourful beach scene from Mrs Dray|
Monkey, taken by the exceptionally talented Oscar Watson-Maguire.
Oscar is a keen photographer, who has previously acted
as Jason’s photographic assistant at Sports Day.
The quality of images certainly took us by surprise, which made judging a much more complicated process than initially anticipated. In the end it was decided to have a number of commended images, as well as outright winners in each category.
In the Year 7 category, Elen Jones was commended twice with her mountain view, and her interior view of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, whilst Jamie Reynolds was also commended for his sunset shot. Jason said: “I’ve seen very similar photographs before but all three of these are perfectly done, with a good, solid use of all the camera controls that I was looking for.”
|Elen Jones’ stunning mountain view|
|Jamie Reynolds’ moody sunset, with palm tree silhouettes|
The winner in the Year 7 category was Eliza Stevens, with an interesting take on a selfie. Her image was praised for its use of balance, cropping, and colour.
|Eliza’s intriguing self-portrait|
In the Year 8 category, Zak Goad’s picture of benches was highly commended for great observation and interesting use of angle. Oscar Watson-Maguire’s owl was also highly commended, and came close to taking first prize, with Jason commenting “He looks right into your soul….beautiful use of focus to blur the background just a little but perfect focus in his eyes… With a little cropping and tweaking this could make a nature magazine.”
|Zak Goad’s dramatic benches|
|Oscar Watson-Maguire’s soul-searching owl|
The winner in the Year 8 category was Arya Gowda’s picture of a squirrel, with Jason commenting “This was hard to choose and surprised me a little but I just can’t find anything I don’t like about it. The light is lovely, so is the composition, it’s perfectly balanced, the focus is perfect and I love the soft colours. The whole photograph just has a soft quiet autumn feel and draws me in; I can hear the sounds of a perfect country walk. My surprise is that if you had asked if a photo of a squirrel would win I would have said ‘Unlikely-I’ve seen hundreds!’”
|Arya Gowda’s winning Year 8 entry- a squirrel collecting nuts|
The winning tutor entry was Ms Smith’s image of Llanthony Priory. Jason observed, “For the tutors, the Priory wins: excellent and imaginative use of light, and very good use of editing effects, which haven’t detracted from the beauty of the subject.”
|Ms Smith’s shot of Llanthony Priory|
If choosing winners in each category was tough, selecting an overall winner was even more difficult…but it was decided that Eliza’s captivating, mysterious self-portrait just edged it. Jason said, “This self-portrait is unusual: it forces to the viewer to ask questions and search for the answers. As humans we read so much from each other’s faces, so when part if that face is covered our understanding is confused. She’s not giving much away! I’m asking who is this, how old is she, what’s she thinking……..?”
The standard of entries went above and beyond what we were expecting, demonstrating a healthy enjoyment of photography in the Middle School. Whilst some entries were taken on expensive DSLR cameras, many of them were taken on camera phones, using apps to touch up and filter shots into something special. The growth of mobile camera technology means that we are encouraged to constantly snap dynamic stills of the everyday world around us, meaning that it’s no longer necessary to carry a backpack of gear around with us to create wonderful photography. “No-one asks ‘What type of quill did Shakespeare write his sonnets with?’ People just enjoy and appreciate the beauty of the poetry,” Ms Smith pointed out, “So don’t worry about the camera you are using, because it is such a small part of taking a brilliant photograph.”