Judge: Bob Yeates

With the changing landscape of our country newspaper service industry, staff photographers are rare as reporters are often armed with ever forgiving digital cameras and many papers use contributed photographs captured on new mobile phones capable of taking great photos. Judging these pictures I am not aware of the equipment used to capture the images. It may be interesting for a judge and also to our newspaper community, for next years' judging to include information like camera, lens, shutter speed aperture, (iphone use?) flash use or natural light etc etc. Having an understanding of these points demonstrates a better knowledge of photo capture and will lead to a greater appreciation for photography as a magnificent communication tool, given around 60% of our communities are visual learners and respond to visual information faster.
It may follow how important it is to have a picture with every story. Looking at all the entries in "best photo" section this year they have great emotional connection & mood of their own, the degree of reader empathy depends on the reader, although we all know they are generally local. Captions to all pictures except one did explain the relevance of the photo. Captions are so important as we compete, although it concerns me to say it, with mobile media madness or click bait news, short news stories, pictures and fat captions are ever so important for the local newspaper these days in a readers busy world. The range of submitted entries could touch the heart, make the reader laugh or relate to social & life in the country, the variety of entries reflect the nature of people in our communities.

Judged first, best photo this year was captured by Elisa Rose from The Courier.

It was a standout amongst the entries with two focus points in the picture, the wine glass and the face of wine maker Michael Downer.

Elisa explained on her entry how she simply positioned & lit the subjects to compose the photograph. Elisa demonstrated care & creative flair to create a soft picture with a warm message. A great photo doing justice to the area's best wine. The reproduction of the photo in the newspaper lost detail in the shadow areas and highlights were a little muddy. A touch more on the contrast button would have given a better printed result.

Second place went to experienced Country Times reporter Amie Price for her front page Cornish Festival photo of a happy couple visiting the York Peninsula.

The photo would have immediately connected with the local community. Amie thought about camera angle for the picture & appeared to use available light, the photograph was very well produced in the newspaper. The photograph printed well with no blowing out of the highlights, good detail in the shadows and a very good account of natural skin tones in the faces. A good team effort by the Y.P.T staff from the photographer to the news stand.

Third place: Plains Producer came in third place for best picture this year with the front page promotional shot of Brian Koch and his four smiling grandsons promoting Stockport's 175th anniversary.

The young boys all had great expressions on their faces and the family would be well known in the district. The image jumped off the page, the faces a good size, but I hope I received an early copy off the press as there was too much magenta through the picture, fixed no doubt during the press run!! The photographer had a good shot although they did not see the wine bottle to the left of a young member of the Koch family. Photoshop would have deleted it. The composition of the picture was enhanced by putting the young boys on the old wagon and putting their grandfather further from the camera, balancing the picture. The wagon as a prop may well be there to reflect the time of the event.

General notes of other entries

The Leader newspaper submitted a striking picture by Pete Thornton. The skin tones were great, lighting was very good, shadow & highlights with detail showing in both, but it was in a special publication printed on white stock.
A notable entry.

The serious subject of mental health was addressed by Katie Jackson on the Penola Pennant. The picture of a young man standing naked in a paddock may have been improved if it had been shot vertically, revealing a complete naked man with perhaps boots & hat. The picture would have readers looking and the story is of great interest to country people, the issue is ongoing.

Overall the photographs submitted have been thought about, the size of the faces in the pictures generally engaging, and the photographers have looked at their whole frame when taking the photograph, a skill to be developed for young photographers.

One tip that I have noted in my world of newspaper experience is that in the end, good cropping is good photography and in the words of Max Williams, a Melbourne photographer, my technical photographic teacher & mentor of 40 years ago said "when you are through taking a million pictures you will have a few good ones in between", and that's what we are looking for in our newspapers every week.

 

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