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Weekly Competition #275 - Autumnal Decay Competition

Title Weekly Competition #275 - Autumnal Decay
Judge johnriley
Closing Date 21/10/2012
Autumn, the time when nature decays into its winter coat. This time I'm looking for pictures of that Autumnal decay, be it perhaps festering fungus, rotting leaves, or even rotting woodwork on an old building. Even people in their autumn years would count. In other words, anything that shows the decay of autumn.

If you can think outside the box, by all means have a go with something different, as long as it fulfills the brief of Autumnal Decay.

Winning Photograph

Competition Entries

Photographs uploaded to the Weekly Competition #275 - Autumnal Decay competition.

Posted 22/10/2012 - 00:35 Link
I'm really delighted that the competition brought in such an healthy entry. There were some cracking good images that showed the way both in technical quality and in artistic content. It's also essential that entries should reflect what the competition subject is.

If there was any recurrent thing that struck me it was that the brightness of images could be a bit variable. The web uses sRGB, so do check that your workflow reflects this. If you use an AdobeRGB image it may not look as good when out on the internet, depending upon whether the browser can display it properly or not. If you stick to sRGB there will not be a problem.

The other thing is tripods. Sadly, as I really dislike the things, there is no substitute when shooting close up images in particular to using a sturdy tripod. Using a tripod will pay off in ensuring sharp close up and macro images.

And so to the critique, which I have tried to make helpful and constructive.

Davidstorm – Intelligent use of the square format has created an excellent composition. I feel I would have liked more depth of field, provided the background could still be kept so delightfully diffused.

AxelLuther – A really fantastic “expression” on this face. I have been pondering about the inclusion of the background on the right side of the image and my suggestion would be to experiment by removing it. This would concentrate on the “face” and I think this would increase the impact.

Iangilmore – Another really striking composition. Again, the diffused background enhances the picture. More sharpness on the main subject would clinch it for me.

Bforbes – The subject matter is not the easiest, but good exposure and light has certainly caught the decaying leaves. The biggest problem as I see it is that the image is too confused. A mass of leaves is perhaps too much, and a simpler arrangement could well be more powerful.

Geordie01 – Excellent colour on this one. The subject matter is very striking and the image simple and full of impact. Don't you just love that red?

Tyronet2000 – The first signs of frost have yet to really hit around here, but it makes for interesting images when it does arrive. There are two things that worry me about this image though. One is that I think it could be sharper. A firm tripod and small aperture are the stuff of close ups. The second is that our attention is being drawn away to the top right of the image, because this is the brightest part. It would be helpful to keep our attention within the picture by leading us to the brightest, most interesting part within the composition.

Mikeprotts - This is interesting. At first our eye wanders around these decaying seed heads, but eventually locks onto the small bird. The exposure is good, the colour is good, and it fits the theme well.

Febphoto – A picture that makes the point that it isn't necessary to travel far to find good subjects. There are a few things that could tidy up the image. Watch out for bright areas in the background, as these distract us. If possible, the background should be more subdued than the main subject. Then, the use of a tripod and small aperture will give enough depth of field to make the whole of the subject sharp. I would use f/11 or f/16 for a shot like this and still expect enough diffusion from the background if it is far enough away.

Dodge69 – This is a very classy interpretation of Autumn Decay. The decay is in fact quite beautiful. We are led effortlessly into the image by the water and our eye can then enjoy the fine autumn colours and the decaying barns. Classically gorgeous.

Cher-cher – This interpretation of the theme takes us to the autumn of this gentleman's years, presenting this with very nice toning and some subtle vignetting as well. The positioning of the bench leaves us with a dark splodge in the picture, which is a pity, but it's not that easy to do anything about it.

GaryJohn – This is a much brighter image, full of colour, but unfortunately probably a little too light. The pink is a bit distracting, but the overall intent is sound and the subject is an interesting one.

Rhallman – Right to the point, the image shows us exactly what the photographer intended and no more. I might have made it slightly brighter, but as it is is just fine. This is a good example of the maxim “less is more”.

AndrewA – Almost there, with a background that would benefit from being less bright. Unfortunately the main subject does not look particularly sharp, so as mentioned in a couple of cases already, it's needing a firm tripod and small aperture.

Stephanie0812 – When judging a set subject competition it's always a shame when a really good image doesn't seem to fit the brief very well. An abandoned boat is certainly decay, but I don't find it relates to autumn in any major way. As an image though, I like it very much. I might personally darken it slightly, especially the sky, but otherwise I find the composition and point of view very satisfactory.

Simonarron – A splendid close up that demonstrates how to compose a picture that is also sharp and well exposed. The colour is dramatic without being too excessive. The subject itself is interesting and fits the brief of the competition.

Malcolm Leader – Having harped on about sharpness I'm now going to say that this one actually becomes arguably too sharp, giving a slightly unnatural look to the overall image. The colour and image itself are wonderful and do exhibit most attractive autumnal decay, for decay it is. However, at this resolution I would reduce the amount of sharpening, especially in a picture filled with such a lot of fine detail.

DrOrloff – A photographer who never disappoints, this time offering us a very well produced image with good accurate colour, good arrangement and absolutely spot on technique. The point of view is also just right and shows off these fascinating fungi to maximum effect.

Frogherder – What a horrible mess, but just what I asked for. Decay. In terms of technique I think slightly too light and in need of some more drama, but nice to see you getting right in there amongst the muck of autumn.

SnoozeMoose – An excellent subject, I love the way the leaves look against the shape of the car, bathed in that yellow light. What a shame that you had no tripod because a really sharp version could have really wowed us. I understand that you couldn't go back, but in competition it's the finished product that counts, not the idea. So why not revisit this when you can. I think it will pay dividends.

Jim-W – The shape and contours of this echo the shape and contours of a vast river and waterfall, all apart from the area at top. I think this lighter area you could happily crop off and this would strengthen your picture. Don't forget the tripod and a suitably small aperture to ensure adequate depth of field.

Sean282 – Interesting use of flash on this. I would crop off the top part of the picture and remove that competing horizontal light area. To be honest, I'd stop down to f/16 at least, maybe f/22 and try to get the whole leaf in focus. The contrast between the leaves and the background makes for a powerful shot, needing just a bit of tweaking for it to be just right.

Drofmit – Some interesting decisions in this. Limited depth of field just picks out the line of mushrooms. The colours are so close that they almost disappear, but are just visible enough to make it. The letterbox format is totally in keeping with the overall presentation. A bold entry. Has it worked? Yes, I rather think it has, well done.

Robwakefield – You have the correct point of view in terms of elevation and the placement of the group is good. I would have been tempted to do a small amount of gardening to make the group of fungi more coherent and I would have darkened the picture. Good exposure and good colour, showing off the green particularly well.

Coker – A very tight shot and lateral thinking gives us this shed in the autumn of its years. It's sharp and well made, although not the most exciting of subjects. Not an easy one, but well done for pushing outside the obvious and looking for something different.

Paulb531 – Lovely autumnal leaves in this landscape, only let down by the blue line in the background and a feeling that the image is tilting quite a bit to the right. It looks as though you shot this for the competition, judging from that date on the EXIF data, so that's very encouraging and many thanks for making that effort.

Noelcmn – What an interesting shot. It has the subject matter, the colours of autumn and just the right treatment and technique. A very accomplished image.

BAJ – A colourful selection of autumnal leaves demonstrates the essence of autumnal decay. In my opinion slightly let down by allowing some traces of greenery to intrude top right, so I would have cropped tighter.

Mille19 – beautiful detail in these fungi, but the image does not cry out decay to me. They look in the best of health and it may be that more specialist knowledge is needed to appreciate that in some way they are in fact changing with the autumn. So please correct me if I'm wrong, but they look too good. The bright green behind is a shame, so a slight crop off the top would help, assuming that a change of viewpoint is not possible.

Timcx500e – Another good subject, this time showing lots of lovely decay. I wouldn't change much in this, but if it were mine I would darken the image and try and remove the bright highlights at the top of the background. That leaf is a perfect subject though.

So, finally to the result:

First Place: Dodge69
Second Place: DrOrloff
Third Place: Noelcmn

Highly Commended: dromfit, rhallman, geordie01, simonarron.

Well done all, and many thanks for entering. Over to Dodge69!
Edited by johnriley: 22/10/2012 - 10:42
Posted 22/10/2012 - 09:15 Link
What a lovely way to start my Monday. Congratulations Dodge69-a lovely image-I want to be there and enjoy the wonder of Autumn. And congrats too DrOrloff and the HC's Dromfit, rhallman, geordie01 and Simonarron. Thanks John for your judging and fair comments and the 3rd place. The thing about tripods-they're so darn cumbersome!
Posted 22/10/2012 - 09:45 Link
Thanks, John, for the rapid assessments and the kind words. Compliments to the top three - and Dodge69 in particular for a wonderful winning entry. As for tripods, I bought one two years ago and have used it approximately once...
Posted 22/10/2012 - 10:02 Link
Congratulations to the Winner and other placings. Thanks John for the interesting subject and the constructive comments.

Posted 22/10/2012 - 10:04 Link
Thanks John, this is well up to your usual standard and it's good to see your subject attracted such numbers for the weekly competition. Congratulations to the podium, all well deserved.
Posted 22/10/2012 - 10:17 Link
Thanks for the HC John and congrats to the winner and podium
places a good turn out and some super quick judging.
Posted 22/10/2012 - 10:44 Link
I've made a correction to the critique of Cher-Cher's image, with my abject appologies for typing something totally obscure when I was momentarily distracted. Nothing else changes, just one word makes a difference!
Best regards, John
Posted 22/10/2012 - 11:00 Link
John, thanks for the comments on my pic. The care you have put into offering comments on each entry is most admirable. Thanks!

Must enter more of these 'ere things!
Posted 22/10/2012 - 12:13 Link
Nice work everyone & really well done John, for managing to coax so many lovely images out of the decaying woodwork.
Pentax pour des images riches en dιtails!
Posted 22/10/2012 - 12:55 Link
Congratulations Sean on a beautiful winining image and to the others singled out. Thanks to John for an excellent competition, a good subject that attracted a fine selection of entries and many of those shot especially. And thanks for the coveted second and the in depth judging.
Posted 22/10/2012 - 13:51 Link
Thanks John, I appreciate your critique and will try again.
The winner was obvious, in my oppinion, and well deserved

Posted 22/10/2012 - 19:13 Link
Congats to Dodge69 great picture, and well done to everyone else.
Thanks John for great comp and judging.
Note to self must buy a tripod someday.
Edited by Jim-w: 22/10/2012 - 19:14
Posted 22/10/2012 - 21:58 Link
Thanks John for the HC... I wasn't sure that you'd go for my letterbox... but it felt like the only way to get the 'Army' on the march. The rain stopped yesterday and the fungi have now dried out a bit and the caps are lighter... but they seem to have lost the grimness that they had in the very wet conditions. I did try to lighten the image before posting it... but again felt that something went missing.
Having started serious photography in the mid-sixties with a Nova-B and B&W film, I have never really taken shots for the 35mm negative... always looking to re-shape the picture in the bathroom [sorry... darkroom]. The advent of scanners to take my slides into the system, opened a whole new world for me... and I am still experimenting!!
Nowadays dry processing being much healthier... and with plenty of plug-ins... experimentation can go much further.

This was a fun topic to interpret.... with lots of scope... and a lot of inspiration from the other entries... and I was very glad not to be the last entry for a change.

{No tripod used.... a pea bag.... which went back in the freezer afterwards!]
Never be afraid to talk about your techniques...
"Give a thousand photographers...
the same camera, lens and scene...
and you'll always get a thousand different takes!!"
Posted 23/10/2012 - 16:43 Link
Congratulations to Dodge 69. A superb image and worthy winner. Its good to see so much talent around and all Pentax users to boot.
Also many thanks to John for taking the time to comment on so many entries.
Regards to all
Posted 25/10/2012 - 15:33 Link
@John, I was planning to revisit the subject this weekend.
But guess what?

I don't think it will be happening any time soon!
Posted 25/10/2012 - 23:42 Link
Snow makes for good pictures too!
Best regards, John

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