Close Up Competition Results

For our final digital competition of the season, judge Chris Nicholls was joined by wife Ruth, a fellow experienced photographer, who offered to make a separate critique of each image before they arrived at an overall score.

We are very grateful to Chris and Ruth for judging the Close Up competition from their home and helping us to complete our season, and – as you will see below – giving such in-depth comments.

Chris summarised the process and entries as follows:

“We looked independently at the pictures on our separate iMac Retina monitors and scored them with our individual comments. We then agreed the scores and the top images .

“There are some terrific images but also some poorly-taken ones. Most fitted the assignment of “Close Up”, which encompasses macro , whereas macro isn’t  “Close Up”. A true macro shot should fill the screen with the subject and one really needs the right lens, while I think some of your members had tried macro without a lens that was capable, hence the poor depth of fields.”

The results and top placed images are as follows:
Joint 1st: “50 Metres in 10 Seconds” by Jim Gibson – 20 points
Joint 1st: “Frog” by Simon Jennings – 20 points
2nd: “That’s Close Enough” by John Keelan – 19 points
3rd: “Painted Lady Feeding” by John Keelan – 19 points

19 points Very Highly Commended: “Soap Patterns” by Brian Goldie
18 points Highly Commended: “Strawberry Seeds” by Andrea Thrussell

50 Metres in 10 Seconds by Jim Gibson
Joint first place: 50 Metres in 10 Seconds by Jim Gibson
Frog by Simon Jennings
Joint first place: Frog by Simon Jennings
That's close enough by John Keelan
Second place: That’s close enough by John Keelan
Painted Lady feeding by John Keelan
Third place: Painted Lady feeding by John Keelan

Here are Chris and Ruth’s scores and comments on each of the 45 images, which can be viewed again at full-size in the gallery here. The top five are first, followed by the rest in entry order.

50 Metres in 10 Seconds by Jim Gibson
20 points and Joint First
Ruth: “Very clever. I think this might be made up of several shots at 1 second intervals, as the 10 positions of the second hand is clearly shown. It is a close-up, it shows us what the photographer set out to capture, it is sharp in the important parts and it tells a story. Well done.”
Chris: “A good composition. This needs looking at for some time – pun not intended – to appreciate the creativity and the clever rendition. I would like to know how the photographer achieved this sort of time-lapse with the second-hand. Really excellent.”
Frog by Simon Jennings
20 points and Joint First
Ruth: “Very good, close-up but not macro. Lovely little fellow, would love to know why he’s climbing up the door frame. The tip of its nose is marginally soft, but hardly noticeable. Well done.”
Chris: “Stands out with sharp close up filling a portrait format with good depth of field . The big eyes grab attention. Perhaps a bit of noise. Difficult to take as frogs don’t stay still. Top marks as fulfils the assignment.”
That’s Close Enough by John Keelan
19 points and Second Place
Ruth: “Ugh, this is scary! But an excellent close-up of a wasp. Dead sharp except for a couple of its legs. As the title says, quite close enough!”
Chris: “Superb close-up shot with fine detail. This image would need a good camera and lens but also the photographer is to be complimented on almost perfect depth of field. Taking it as a side view enables us to see all of the beast. Only the tips of the two front legs are not sharp otherwise this would have been my first choice.”
Painted Lady Feeding by John Keelan
19 points and Third Place
Ruth: “Cracking shot, love the angle of the wings contrasting with the angle of the lavender spikes. Just such a shame that there is one small out of focus bit of lavender overlapping the wing on the left side.”
Chris: “This brightly coloured image was one of my favourites but it is not as perfectly focused as the wasp. The diagonal position of the wings and the main focus of the picture being on the third shows the photographer knows how to take stunning image. It is a shame that part of the lavender flower overlaps part of the left wing.”
Soap Patterns by Brian Goldie
19 points Very Highly Commended
Soap Patterns by Brian Goldie
Ruth: “Love this, could live with this as a print on my wall. There is no sense of scale so not sure how close this is, but I think it has to be quite close. It is a beautiful pattern picture, great diagonal and lovely swirls and cascades. Well done.”
Chris: “The colourful diffraction of colour on the surface of a soap bubble is stunning. I appreciated the loops of colour and the grey band running diagonally. I noticed a few specs of what might be dust on the sensor or lens. Well taken.”
Strawberry Seeds by Andrea Thrussell
18 points Highly Commended
Strawberry Seeds by Andrea Thrussell
Ruth: “Really like this a lot. The side lighting is good, the seeds are sharp and can even see hairs on the fruit. It dropped a bit because it is missing the top point, and also the edges are a bit soft, probably due to diffraction of the lens at the edges rather than insufficient depth of field.”
Chris: “I love strawberries and when it is shown in this detail it becomes mouthwatering. I appreciated the soft focused background contrasting the sharp detail of the fruit. The illumination was rather too strong with blown highlights. In summary , yummy.”
A Triumph! by Gwen Tuck
13 points
A Triumph! by Gwen Tuck
Ruth: “Lovely old car, a pleasure to see. Yes it fills the frame, yes it is sharp, but it isn’t a close-up. Yes you had to stand reasonably close to it, or it is a crop, but this is sharp from front to far background and that is not a characteristic of close-up photography.”
Chris: “I used to be a proud owner of a Triumph Vitesse , this I think is a Triumph Herald coupe and a beautifully preserved specimen of a classic car. I had my doubts whether this was a true close enough image to fit the assignment, although it is pin sharp and correctly exposed. I wish I’d kept my car in this condition.”
Bee on Lavender by Andrea Thrussell
15 points
Bee on Lavender by Andrea Thrussell
Ruth: “Part of the bee is really sharp and part of the plant, and the background is nicely muted and out of focus, but insufficient depth of field lets it down. The wings and body of the bee need to be sharp too, and the bright area on the left draws the eye too much. Cropping this off would improve it.”
Chris: “This is not an easy picture as bees don’t land for very long and keep moving about so it is difficult to get correct exposure. However the main difficulty is the depth of field and a macro shot. One would need a high shutter speed and a really small aperture. There is lots of good detail in the bee’s head, the rest of the insect however is out of focus.”
Beetle by Stuart Alexander
12 points
Beetle by Stuart Alexander
Ruth: “There are two images of this beetle and I imagine they are by the same photographer. In my experience it is never a good idea to put in two similar images into the same comp as you are competing against yourself and wasting one of your spaces. The second image is better than this one but my comments apply to both as they are so similar. There is very little of the beetle in focus, really only two of its legs, because depth of field is far too shallow. And there are a lot of extraneous plant stalks in the background which spoils the otherwise nice diffusion of the background. Sorry to be harsh.”
Chris: “I think this is by the same author of the other Dor beetle. It is more challenging to get proper depth of field when the creature is head on. I would be disappointed with this image, especially as I would have had to got myself low down in the heather to take it.”
Burrs by Lesley Cullen
13 points
Burrs by Lesley Cullen
Ruth: “These teasels are on a nice diagonal line against a good non-distracting background. But two of them overlap each other and it really isn’t a close-up. One teasel filling the frame is what I would call a close-up.”
Chris: “I like the diagonal orientation and three seed heads make for a competent image in good relief against a blue sky making them stand out well. However the image is not sharp Maybe it was taken with a phone or it was a windy day and there was movement. Nice idea.”
Dandelion Drop by Georgina Shaw
17 points Very Highly Commended
Dandelion Drop by Georgina Shaw
Ruth: “Lovely colours, lovely pearls of water, and the flower in the big droplet and giving a hint of pink to the other smaller ones is great, very well executed. I would suggest cropping it. The background flower is out of focus, which it does need to be so that is correct, but some of it and the stalk are superfluous to the main part of the image.”
Chris: “A really creative image which would make a lovely print on the wall. I commend the author as the image of the flower is encompassed in the droplet of water and I presume that the pink background which is perfectly out of focus is also the flower. This could have been a winner had the stem been in focus and it was a pity that some of the fine seed head hairs are also soft. it is very highly commended however.”
Faceoff by Dave Salter
18 points
Faceoff by Dave Salter
Ruth: “Good macro shot, well exposed, sharp, nice and central as it is facing straight forward, doesn’t need space to move into. I would like it better if there had been a bit greater depth of field and maybe rather less of the green vegetation at the sides.”
Chris: “Truly a macro shot with superb detail on the insect’s head. One can even make out the facets that make up the compound eye. I don’t mind that the rest of the insect is out of focus but the bright green foreground is distracting. However the photographer is to be complimented on setting this insect against a dark background. To take this shot one needs a macro lens and a good camera and a good photographer. Well done.”
Frozen Flower by Sue Clegg
15 points
Frozen Flower by Sue Clegg
Ruth: “Frozen flowers is not an easy technique to get right. Here I think the photographer has done a good job technically. The frozen water has lots of bubbles which make an attractive ‘texture’ and the flower is laid on the diagonal and is all sharp. What for me let’s it down is the choice of plant. The large black base of the flower is without any detail and doesn’t add anything to the image. If it was a more attractive flower it would have done better also it is perhaps not really close-up.”
Chris: “I looked a long time at this image which is nicely presented diagonally. Detail in the ice with multiple bubbles is lovely and doesn’t obscure the coloured flower head; the black body occupying a large part of the image is too obscured to be interesting. I’m sorry I couldn’t mark it any higher even though it must have taken some effort to set this up. It’s certainly different.”
Key by Jason Quayle
14 points
Key by Jason Quayle
Ruth: “On a diagonal again. It does make getting an object sharp all over much more difficult. Much easier if the object is parallel with the back of the camera. Here only the front third is in focus, which is a shame. Also the lighting is very harsh and there is no detail in the shadows or the reflection – yes there is a reflection but you can’t see it.”
Chris: “I looked closely at this picture and came to the conclusion there were drops of oil or liquid running down the key. I liked the composition on a diagonal with a black background which made it stand out well. I think that because it was sloping to get the liquid to run there is only the lower third of the key that is sharp. Depth of field is difficult to master; one needs really small aperture, and often tripod with good illumination and a macro lens.”
Raindrops by Anna Mayall
17 points Highly Commended
Raindrops by Anna Mayall
Ruth: “I like this one, the raindrop in the centre is beautiful and brings out the veining in the leaf. Most of the other water droplets are sharp, especially in the lower half of the photo, and the leaf is tightly framed. It is not perfect though; there are blown out highlights and the depth of field hasn’t quite coped with the whole leaf.”
Chris: “This is a highly commended image with a good score showing great attention to detail and excellent cropping with lots of interest in the water droplets. A great close-up image, which I liked a lot. especially for its composition. The only reason it didn’t score higher is a falloff in focus in the top of the leaf edges. Nice.”
Seaweed by Jenny Shade
14 points
Seaweed by Jenny Shade
Ruth: “Interestingly shaped bit of seaweed, slightly diagonal in the frame. I think you should have straightened out that one errant strand but haven’t considered that in the marking. It isn’t quite enough of a close-up for me and it is a bit soft, even the sand grains are not very clear.”
Chris: “I have taken a picture like this recently on Castletown Beach, so we can compare results. I took mine with a camera (rather than iPhone) so it is good and sharp and this is where this fails to make the grade. Well spotted as a suitable subject for close-up.”
Uninvited Guest by Brian Green
14 points
Uninvited Guest by Brian Green
Ruth: “The camera’s focussing has locked onto the nearest blade of greenery here, instead of the animal. So everything is not truly in focus, and the various stems are very distracting.”
Chris: “I wonder if we should call this chap Anthony Rowley, a nice head-on shot in what looks like a natural environment. The camera seems to have focused on his nose, which is sharp, and one grass but the rest of the frog including his legs not sharp enough. It definitely is a close-up so commendable for that.”
Beetle by Stuart Alexander
13 points
Beetle by Stuart Alexander
Ruth: “This is better than the other similar photo as there is less background clutter and more of the beetle can be seen. But the depth of field is minimal and only the back third of the beetle is anything like sharp. Your aperture needed to be smaller to get all of the beetle in focus.”
Chris: “A brave attempt of attempting a macro shot of, I think, a Dor Beetle, with a slight blue iridescence. Unfortunately the only part of the beetle that is really sharp is a leg clutching the Heather. A side-on shot should be easier to get the depth of field but the camera seems to have focused on the Heather stem rather than the beetle.”
Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar by Georgina Shaw
18 points
Cinnabar Moth Caterpillar by Georgina Shaw
Ruth: “Focus point is just right, the head is nice and sharp, the plant is a bit soft at the base but is not intrusive or distracting.”
Chris: “an amazing close-up of the caterpillar’s head showing fine detail. Good positioning in the top third and not easy to get what matters in focus. Again a good macro lens is probably necessary. The image is let down by the out of focus part of the plant in the middle of the frame and the white background on the right side but worthy of a good mark.”
Cornet Close Detail by Brian Goldie
16 points
Cornet close detail by Brian Goldie
Ruth: “A small part of a complicated instrument. It stands out well against the black background, there is good modelling on the curved tubes. Unfortunately the photographer really needed to include the whole of the arched tube on the left. This would have got it another point.”
Chris: “Good close-up detail and lighting on the most vital part of the instrument, the valves. Deciding where to crop is important and I think I would have excluded the metal loop on the extreme top right. Competent image illustrating the assignment well.”
Dahlia by Anna Mayall
18 points
Dahlia by Anna Mayall
Ruth: “What a lovely vibrant deep red. It fits the frame well, no distractions, good example of close-up. It was near the top of my choices at first but then I realised that there is something not quite right about the small petals in the centre. That area seems to have become noisy, possibly due to some selective sharpening.”
Chris: “Initially I had placed this image as the best, it has the wow factor with the red colour. I loved the trumpet-shaped petals; crisp, perfectly exposed. However when it is enlarged on my screen the centre seems pixelated, maybe it’s been selectively sharpened. Difficult not to like however – well done.”
Dahlia by Jenny Shade
16 points
Dahlia by Jenny Shade
Ruth: “Good colour combination, the background is not intrusive. I don’t mind the few petals being trimmed a bit and I like the lighting. But sadly it just is not quite sharp enough.”
Chris: “A lovely picture, centrally positioned set off against an unobtrusive background. The starburst effect of the petals draws your attention to the centre of the flower, which is unfortunately slightly out of focus. Good composition even though it breaks the rules.”
Down Under by Dave Salter
18 points
Down Under by Dave Salter
Ruth: “Very small toadstool, lit from below. Very sharp, competent image. I think there is too much background, would be better with a vertical or square crop, setting the fungus slightly to the left of centre.”
Chris: “A marvellous picture and I commend the author on illuminating the fungus gills and the rim of light on the stem. It looks almost as if the photographer has lit the fungus from inside. I guess that this is a Dave Salter special. Difficult to fault, except I would have liked to see a touch more illumination on the dark green base of the picture, which I think is probably moss, and a tighter crop.”
Money Money Money by Jason Quayle
13 points
Money Money Money by Jason Quayle
Ruth: “These coins are arranged in an overlapping curved line, but there is no sequence to them that I can see, no similar dates or head position, There are two at the top which are incomplete, partly cropped, and only one of them is sharp. So altogether, this is worth another go.”
Chris: “Five and half pound coins arranged in a nice cascade standing out well on a black background. The point of focus seems to be on the second coin so the leading edge of the first coin is blurred. Again the problem is insufficient depth of field. Next time choose as small a F number as possible, even if this means slow shutter speed, higher ISO, and use a tripod. Nice idea.”
Murphy by Lesley Cullen
12 points
Murphy by Lesley Cullen
Ruth: “I am sorry not to be able to give this a reasonable score, but it is just not up to the standard of most of the other entries. It is over-enlarged and has harsh highlights and blocked-up blacks with no shadow detail.”
Chris: “I think this is the only true monochrome image in the competition. The other dog Harvey is sepia toned and much better composed than Murphy. I searched for where the camera had focused and I think that it was just the tip of his nose.”
Now MOOve On There by Simon Jennings
14 points
Now MOOve on there by Simon Jennings
Ruth: “Very friendly cow to be able to get that close! It is lovely and sharp, the hairs and its eye are very clear. Pity the ear with the tag has cast such a sharply defined shadow and the top of the ear is missing.”
Chris: “A humorous title for a good close-up of this cow, I like the way it is presented rather side on, it is commendably sharp when it needs to be and there is good control of the exposure . Not that easy with a black-and-white subject. The supersaturation of the colours I think is overdone and I think it would benefit by being cropped. The black part of the cow’s face has a colour cast of cyan which detracts. By reworking on this picture in Photoshop it could be improved but overall I like it.”
Oh Heck an Echium by Gwen Tuck
15 points
Oh Heck an Echium by Gwen Tuck
Ruth: “I like the little bee and the flowers are pretty, but there is too much of it, too many leaves and some that aren’t in focus.”
Chris: “This exotic plant can be found in sheltered gardens here in the Isle of Man where we have a temperate climate. I believe it usually grows where there is no frost in North Africa. it can grow up to 14 foot. This colourful flower spike is loved by the pollinating insects and the photographer has been fortunate in capturing one. I would have liked the bottom half of the picture to be as sharp as the top half but is nicely positioned on the third. I liked seeing this unusual plant.”
Petal and Soap Bubbles by Sue Clegg
17 points Commended
Petal and Soap Bubbles by Sue Clegg
Ruth: “I find this a strange combination of subject matter; what’s the connection between a flower petal and soap bubbles? It is a reflection and technically very well executed. The petal and bubbles are really crisp and the reflection is sufficiently muted in tone and clarity.”
Chris: “A super creative artistic and pleasing image with great attention to detail. I tried to work out how this picture had been taken as the lower half I think is a mirror reflection. Rendering it on the black background makes it pop out of the frame and I commend the photographer who obviously knows clever techniques. It is commended.”
Pride of the Peacocks by Brian Green
16 points
Pride of the Peacocks by Brian Green
Ruth: “Good capture of the bird’s head, with a nice muted background. It’s a pity there is no catchlight in the eye and sadly it is not critically sharp.”
Chris: “This is a pretty composition and sharp on the comb feathers on the head . Exposure is good and the blue iridescent feathers stand out nicely against the unobtrusive green background. Definitely a close-up to fit the assignment and well taken as these birds are constantly on the move.”
Threaded Needle by Jim Gibson
13 points
Threaded Needle by Jim Gibson
Ruth: “At first glance this was quite high up my list as the composition is good. It is a good close-up subject, well positioned against a good background. Then I saw the noise over all over it. I even looked at the metadata expecting a high ISO but couldn’t see a reason for the noise. So I’m afraid it got moved down a lot because of that.”
Chris: “This had the potential to be a cracking image. It is a macro and the needle eye is sharp, but the image is let down by a huge amount of noise. It was a good idea for the competition but maybe the image processing was too aggressive.”
Beautiful Orchid by Brian Green
16 points
Beautiful Orchid by Brian Green
Ruth: “Lovely orchid spray, suitable black background. It just needed a bit of light from the right to light the last flower and a touch of sharpening – just the flower, not the background. Would have scored a lot higher.”
Chris: “This composition in the arrangement of the flowers has a lot going for it and I would have given it a much higher score if it was sharper. Probably looked fine on the back of the camera but a high resolution monitor shows a progressive softening of focus from left to right. Nice image which I enjoyed looking at.”
Bejeweled Bubble by Georgina Shaw
15 points
Bejeweled Bubble by Georgina Shaw
Ruth: “I’m disappointed with this one. It could be so much better and it is worth having another go. As a close-up there is too much background at the top, and there is not enough depth of field so you only have about a quarter of the frame sharp. Sorry to be so critical.”
Chris: “What wonders the photographer has seen in the surface of an ephemeral bubble. That looks like the surface of an alien world set against pitch darkness of space. I don’t know how you achieve the illumination but it has produced a great detailed image. I would have liked to give it high marks but there is only a band in the middle of the bubble which is pin sharp. It is a pity the foreground is blurred but I realise this is extremely difficult to achieve with a curved surface, and high illumination to enable a narrow aperture would probably have washed out all the colour. Superb.”
Blown Thistledown by John Keelan
15 points
Blown thistledown by John Keelan
Ruth: “This is a very difficult subject to get right. You have captured the colour and the silveriness well, but the depth of field is too shallow; only one seed is sharp. And the lighting has given you blown-out highlights. I can see you’ve tried to pull those back but that has created grey splotches instead.”
Chris: “There is a lot to like – the way the heads are positioned on the diagonal, the detail, lighting and the lack of distractions. Because the seed heads are three-dimensional the largest one in the frame has a lost of detail. There are also some blown highlights in the left corner which the photographer has tried to adjust. Pleasing image which fits the assignment well.”
Close Encounters of Dogs and Fairies by Simon Jennings
11 points
Close Encounters of Dogs and Fairies by Simon Jennings
Ruth: “Well, this is a truly whacky image! It is undoubtedly creative but seems to be in the wrong competition as it is in no way a close-up. So sadly I have not been able to give it a good score.”
Chris: “Very individual and different. I appreciate that it is thinking out of the box where the dog’s encounter with the fairy house is in a way close up. I suppose it is a Marmite picture and you either like it or you don’t; I think my score reflects my feelings. Sorry I didn’t appreciate the overdone enhanced saturation with aberrations.”
Clutching At Straws by Andrea Thrussell
17 points Commended
Clutching At Straws by Andrea Thrussell
Ruth: “I do like this a lot and it’s a good title. I think the lovely colour gradation is mostly what attracts me. It is a clever idea, not easy to set up. It is close-up – it fills the frame completely – but there is no one spot for the eye to settle on, except the two ‘gaps’ where there seems to be a straw missing.”
Chris: “Wonderfully unusual and shows great creativity in the changes of the colour spectrum. The ends of the straws are sharply in focus. Because it is different it stands out and is commended. I’m intrigued because I don’t know how the photographer set this picture up. The only reason it didn’t get placed higher is because of two areas where the straws are widely separated in the middle area of straws look as if they’ve got a milky substance within them.”
Flower by Stuart Alexander
14 points
Flower by Stuart Alexander
Ruth: “A very small wild flower with too much background. The flower is sharp and nicely exposed and you did have to get quite close to take it. But there is so much distracting greenery in the background, it would be much improved by a substantial amount of cropping, especially the bit of brown fern in the top right corner. That would give it another mark.”
Chris: “It is obvious this flower is really small and delicate, and there is one sharp one in the centre of the frame. Unfortunately the background is messy. It would benefit by being severely cropped but maybe the central image would then be too small to be rendered properly. A brave attempt at a close up and depth of field for the central image is not bad.”
Half A Sixpence by Sue Clegg
17 points
Half a Sixpence by Sue Clegg
Ruth: “Long time since I’ve seen one of these! Amazing how much muck there is on it! It is sharp, well exposed, a good record. A bit less black background would make it more of a ‘close-up’.”
Chris: “Yes these were around in my day too, when money was worth something. Three old pence, I think is only one and a quarter P . Still, I am meant to be judging the image and I admit it is close-up, well lit and good detail, however I’m sorry that that is soft on the top edge and bottom edge. But nice to reminisce, a good record of times gone by.”
Harvey by Lesley Cullen
15 points
Harvey by Lesley Cullen
Ruth: “Nice doggie portrait. Your focal point is the eye, which is nicely sharp and the exposure is correct and I like the tight framing. But it needed some light from the right as the other eye is almost invisible, and a greater depth of field would have allowed the dog’s nose and more of its fur to be sharp.”
Chris: “Thoughtfully produced portrait shot in sepia tone with interesting lighting. I would have liked to have seen more detail in the right side so I could see the other eye clearly and even on my bright monitor I could only make out a very small catch light. but I liked this friendly looking dog with nice expression.”
Head On by Dave Salter
15 points
Head On by Dave Salter
Ruth: “A macro image, capturing just the eyes and part of the front legs of the creature. A bit greater depth of field would have helped and pull back the highlights a bit.”
Chris: “The eyes have it, what a terrific face in incredible detail with a very narrow depth of field. Excellent to capture this little beast as they are very active and rest only a second or two. Good exposure with a nice unobtrusive background. definitely a macro shot. The photographer must have had a macro lens and a good camera. All credit to the author. To get higher marks it would have to be larger in the frame, there is too much background. I’m being very critical and confess I couldn’t have taken this shot as I don’t have a macro lens or probably the patience.”
Hot Hot Hot by Jim Gibson
14 points
Hot Hot Hot by Jim Gibson
Ruth: “Would like this better if I knew what they are, seeds of some sort, maybe black peppercorns. What spoils it is the large out-of-focus one bottom centre, and the bits of white background are very distracting.”
Chris: “I never realised that peppercorns were faceted. There is one particularly sharp one in the centre of the image. I found the blurred ones in the foreground distracting but worse were the bright white areas which could have been eliminated in Photoshop by careful cloning with about 25% opacity . It is a good subject taking in close-up, so commendable in choosing it.”
Nature’s Paintwork by Anna Mayall
15 points
Nature's Paintwork by Anna Mayall
Ruth: “Eucalyptus bark, lovely colours. Not quite sharp enough and no specific point of interest for the eye to settle on.”
Chris: “This close-up detail of coloured bark makes a good image and I like the portrait format. Unfortunately there is no central focus in the composition, also the left aspect seems to have lost some of the sharpness, but well seen.”
Pomegranite by Gwen Tuck
17 points
Pomegranite by Gwen Tuck
Ruth: “This is good. Nice and sharp, the centre is very clear. Would be better if it was just one whole fruit without bits cropped off. The highlight area on the out of focus second fruit and the bright green background are all distracting.”
Chris: “Lovely and colourful and attention grabbing. Excellent focus on the base of the fruit, nicely positioned in the frame and I think the appearance of the second soft focus fruit is not distracting . Would have been highly commended if bright green background had been toned down and the highlights on the fruits not so obvious.”
Qwerty by Jason Quayle
12 points
Qwerty by Jason Quayle
Ruth: “Good subject for close-up. Lots of possibilities here. It is well exposed and at an interesting angle. But to fit with the title I think it would be good to try the keyboard straight on and get that first line with those keys all dead sharp, and the ones above and below soft. In the position you have it, the very narrow line of focal sharpness is more or less across the middle of the image, from F3 to B, which doesn’t really tell the story you intended, I think.”
Chris: “A close-up of the keys could have worked well if the plane of focus had been equal. Putting the keyboard at a diagonal going away from you compromises the focal point so the keys in the foreground are not sharp which is a real shame. Camera needs to be above the keyboard and parallel to it to achieve the correct depth of field.”
Sea Glass by Brian Goldie
16 points
Sea Glass by Brian Goldie
Ruth: “I love collecting sea-glass and this is a lovely little pile, brightly coloured and sharp, on a suitable background. My problem is there is no one piece that attracts the eye as a resting point. See if you can arrange them differently, with one piece or one colour positioned to be the main attention point.”
Chris: “Each piece of sea glass is a little jewel and the photographer must’ve had great fun finding them on the beach. This collection makes a fine picture; well focused and presented on a bit of weathered wood. I liked it but found my eyes kept wandering around coming back to the central blue fragment. competent close up picture.”
Wait For Me by Jenny Shade
12 points
Wait for Me by Jenny Shade
Ruth: “You did well to capture two Choughs so close to each other and I like the title. It would make a good natural history picture, but sadly it is just not sharp and not a close-up.”
Chris: “A pleasant picture of a pair of choughs, illustrating their red beaks and legs. I like the fact that they have their beaks open probably making their characteristic squawk. Nicely positioned in the natural environment. I would have given it a higher mark if some part of the picture had been properly focused. Exposure and composition is commendable.”

Our thanks to Chris and Ruth Nicholls for assessing the images from home in such depth with helpful feedback and advice.

We have invited them to visit us at a meeting next season when we are able to resume our activities, and look forward to thanking them in person.