Judging a photo contest is tough, so when the Seabrook Camera Club asked The Island Connection to judge their “Boats Afloat” photo contest, we searched around for some experts to help us make the tough decisions.
With our offices located on Sullivan’s Island, we were able to pull from the island’s incredibly artistic community. For the photo contest, we asked Isle of Palms Council member and former photographer for The Chicago Tribune, Barbara Bergwerf, to be a judge, as well as Kathy Sullivan, an animal artist most well known for her horse painting on the 2006 Kentucky Derby commemorative edition of Woodford Reserve, and National Geographic photographer Vincent Musi, who is home from a photo shoot of a groundbreaking archeological discovery in the Fertile Crescent.
Though each photographer/artist had their opinions and reasons for selecting the paintings that they did, in the end, it all came down to five. In first place, Stanley Ullner’s photo of sailors standing on the crossbeams of a tallship caught the eye of several judges, including Vince Musi. “It’s a graphic use of the human element,” Musi explained. “It’s challenging and pleasing at the same time. I even like how the top guys are a little cut off,” he smiled. In second place, judges agreed that DeTurk’s image of the reflection of a boat on glassy, rippling water was incredibly well-conceived. “You have to ask ‘what did the photographer bring to the situation?’,” said Musi. “We can all stand in a great situation, it’s what you do with it that makes a good picture.” The quality of light in most of the images was a definite deciding factor for the judges, as well as the use of scale. A couple judges pointed out that just because you have a zoom lens doesn’t mean you have to take tight, close-up shots. In fact, that’s the reason they chose the third place picture by Judy
Bailey. The image of a man standing on a thin handmade boat was made all the more intriguing by the fact that his foot was swinging out above the water, almost dancing as he maneuvered the small craft through the river. A pool of golden light at the bow of the ship cast both the action and the silhouette of the man in an almost fairytale setting.
The two honorable mentions, Shirley Hanson’s image of a woman painting a sailboat from shore and Bob Hider’s capture of a boat’s crew casting fish scraps to a flock of pelicans before an impending storm, were unanimously chosen for their use of light and framing. “It was a nice surprise to see the artist in the corner,” said Musi of Hanson’s image. “It was very sensibly done.” And Hider’s image of the pelican feeding was exceptional for the quality of light use in extreme weather conditions. “It’s hard to capture weather,” said Musi, noting how the “edges” of the day are often the best times to take pictures as they provide some of the most interesting light.
The awards for the Seabrook Camera Club “Boats Afloat” winners were given out on Thursday, October 22. Cash prizes were given to first, second and third place winners and prizes were given to the honorable mentions. For more information on the Seabrook Camera Club meets the fourth Thursday of every month at the Lake House at 7pm. Due to the Thanksgiving Holiday, the November meeting will be held on November 19, 2009.