Judging Feedback – Some Stats and Emerging Trends

Judging Feedback Comments by Competency

SCPF launched a feedback process in early 2016 to provide judges with constructive information about how we’re doing.

You might be interested to know the following stats from the first eighteen months of the process.

  • In the eighteen months since launch, 105 feedbacks have been received – 94 by the official form and 11 by letter or email;
  • 44 clubs have contributed, 80% of which are SCPF; the remainder equally are clubs in SxPF, SPA and CACC. That means approximately half of SCPF clubs have not provided feedback;
  • Clubs providing feedback are led by Basingstoke (9); Winchester (8); Bognor Regis (6); Petersfield (5); Bracknell, Gosport, New Forest, and Niton (4); Alton, Horndean, Isle of Wight, Lewes (SxPF), Reading, Salisbury, Seven Sisters (SxPF), and Storrington (3);
  • Feedback covers 36 individual judges, sixteen of whom were at Level 1 on receiving their first feedback, fifteen at Level 2 and five at Level 3;
  • Feedback has contributed to 10 upgrades to Level 2 (+2 currently pending) and 3 upgrades to Level 3 (+1 currently pending);
  • From 105 feedbacks, we have distilled approximately 400 useful free comments (both praise and criticism), and categorised them by the judging competencies that we train. Free comments carry a lot of weight, because they reveal what is important to reviewers.
Judging Feedback Comments by Competency

Spread of judging feedback comments by competency areas

Appraisal Skills (32%) attracted the most comments (mostly positive), and within that, giving a constructive critique and a balanced appraisal were overwhelmingly the most important qualities to emerge.

Marking (17%) was commented less frequently than Appraisal Skills and Language and Presentation, but attracted the most criticism, not surprisingly. Marking was mentioned more as a criticism than a praise. 39% of all comments received about Marking concerned the range of marks awarded, where there was twice as much criticism as praise, mainly for using too narrow a range. Coherence of marking – the perceived matching marks to comments – also attracted significant comment.

All of this I intend to publish in more detail later in the year.

For now, thank you very much to all the clubs who have contributed to our judging development by giving feedback. Your help is greatly appreciated.

And a reminder please. Recently we have had to intervene on behalf of judges to press clubs to provide feedback after judges have requested it. We do ask that clubs provide feedback whenever you engage a Level 1 judge for your evenings. It is essential, as they are gaining experience, for new judges to know how they are doing, and it helps us too when it comes to upgrades.

Best Regards

… Ken Scott
Judging Advisor

Important – Judging Advisor Availability

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From 10th February until October 2017 earliest, Judging Advisor Ken Scott will be unavailable.

If any clubs have judging specific questions or wish to send feedback through, please use an alternative judging2@ email address, which will copy to Caroline Colegate, who has kindly agreed to collate feedback and liaise with the Judging sub-committee. Ken will see emails to judging@ but will probably not be able to answer.

The judging sub-committee consists of Caroline, Tony Oliver, Roy Lambeth and Glyn Edmunds. Tony and Roy will continue to make representations to Council if required.

Ken is undertaking an expedition to walk solo around the coast of Britain in aid of both his own photography and for Parkinson’s UK and RNLI. If anyone is interested to follow his progress, you can do at http://www.touchingthelight.co.uk/coast. Ken would be extremely grateful too for any donations to the charities, which can be securely done at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/coast17. He will be walking through the SCPF region between Friday 10th and Saturday 18th February, heading west from Shoreham-by-Sea to Poole Harbour.

Judging Upgrades and Additions – February 2017

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Updated Judges Directory

A new edition of the judges directory is now available: Judges Directory February 2017 Edition

New Level 1 Judges

The latest judging training course brought forward six new judges to the Level 1 list:

  • Kelly-Louise Jennings – Hungerford CC
  • Keith Newton  – Yately CC
  • Tracey McEachran – Chichester CC
  • Glyn Paton – Winchester PS
  • Peter Rocchiccioli – Chichester CC
  • Julian Tubb – Hungerford CC

Welcome to you all. As always we encourage clubs to book Level 1 judges in order that they may gain experience. When you do book Level 1 judges, would clubs please complete feedback so that we can look to accredit them as soon as possible after their first year.

Again as a result of clubs sending feedback, for which thank you, we have been able to make several upgrades. Please join us in congratulating all the judges concerned.

Level 3 – Senior Judges

  • Paul Bradley  – Niton and District CC
  • Jon Mitchell – Gosport CC
  • Jim Pascoe – Highcliffe and Infinity CC

Level 2 – Accredited Judges

  • Ken Boddy – Bognor Regis CC
  • Paul Dunmall – Steyning CC
  • Paul Thackeray – Wimborned CC
  • Mike Warren  – Steyning CC

… Ken Scott
Judging Advisor
February 2017

 

Judge Upgrades

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Gordon Brown LRPS, Winchester Photographic Society

Following this year’s implementation of regular judging feedback, I’m delighted to report that we have agreed six new upgrades to our accredited Level 2. Thank you to all the clubs who have completed the feedback to enable this, and especially for giving our newly trained Level 1 judges the opportunity to practice.

Congratulations to our new Level 2 Judges:

  • Gordon Brown ARPS, Winchester Photographic Society
  • Catherine Jolley LRPS ASWPP, Littlehampton & District CC
  • Andrew Mills MA (Photo) ARPS LBIPP
  • Paul O’Toole, Wothing Camera Club
  • Sue Sibley ARPS, Southampton Camera Club
  • Peter Woodhouse (picture awaited), Salisbury Camera Club
Gordon Brown LRPS, Winchester Photographic Society

Gordon Brown ARPS

Catherine Jolley, Littlehampton Camera Club

Catherine Jolley LRPS ASWPP

Andrew Mills MA (Photo) ARPS LBIPP

Andrew Mills MA (Photo) ARPS LBIPP

Paul O'Toole, Worthing Camera Club

Paul O’Toole

Sue Sibley ARPS, Southampton Camera Club

Sue Sibley ARPS

Judging Training Workshop

SCPF Level 1 Appraisal Workshop 2016

SCPF is always looking for new judges to come into the club community, and we are running another Level 1 training workshop on 27th November and 4th December 2016.

Note: this is now a practical two-day workshop and provides the most comprehensive training available for prospective club judges. It is the first step on the road to becoming an accredited judge.

The course is not about what does or does not make a good photograph. The main aim is to teach you to speak intelligently to an audience about photography, and to give quality feedback to the photographers whose work you are appraising.

There are no entry requirements except that you are a member of an SCPF club and an established photographer. Distinctions are not necessary, but you should feel confident in your own ability as a photographer and have a good feel for and understanding of club competitions.

Aims

  • To learn the Core Qualities of an appraiser
  • To understand the role of an appraiser
  • To understand the key elements of an appraisal and of giving feedback
  • To develop presentation skills, especially speaking and body language
  • To discuss and practise marking
  • To be aware of organisation and self-management
  • To be aware of the judging accreditation process and expenses scheme

The first day will be held at Littleton near Winchester and the second at Overton. There are max nine places available.

Please send the booking form either by email (judging@) or by post to the address indicated by October 31st latest. More detail about timing and programme will be issued then.

Whilst there are no obligations, this course is aimed at photographers who are looking to judge on the club circuit in our region. In view of the limited places, please consider this carefully before booking. If you are looking to understand more about how judging works, we are able to arrange overview sessions for your club or for small groups who are interested.

Best regards
… Ken Scott ARPS
Judging Advisor

Downloads:

Booking Form (.docx)

Booking Form (.pdf)

Judging Feedback

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Judging Workshop Feb 2015

We are implementing a new feedback process for judging following consultation. Detailed guidance and forms are available now.

Judges Directory

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Judging Workshop Feb 2015

Following our latest training day on 15th February, seven new Level 1 judges have agreed to be listed, further expanding our pool of talented appraisers for the Federation.

Please give them an opportunity to visit. We encourage all clubs to book Level 1 judges for the appropriate level of competition so that they can gain experience in a real environment; practice really IS the only way to get better. Do bear in mind that a) we would like you to tell us whenever you book a Level 1 judge so that we can arrange support for them and b) we would appreciate your formal feedback.

Starting in 2015-16 we are introducing a new feedback process for all judges in SCPF and this will be mandatory for Level 1 judges.

Judging Workshop Feb 2015

SCPF Judging Workshop Feb 2015

Judging Workshop Feb 2015

SCPF Judging Workshop Feb 2015

Judging Workshop Feb 2015

SCPF Judging Workshop Feb 2015

SCPF Judges 201505

The full Directory can be found on the Directory page

2014 Judges Conference

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High Hopes by Ken Scott ARPS

What do you call a group of more than twenty photography judges gathered in a room?

Some suggestions have included a “bracket”, an “exposure” and a “contradiction”. No this is not an invitation for more! However, it made us smile.

Our 2014 SCPF Judging Conference took place at Knowle on 8th June, an opportunity for judges to come together to discuss issues, to practise and to share ideas.

Over the last three years we have trained more than twenty new judges, and this annual event is seen as an essential in our ongoing development.

SCPF Judging Advisor, Ken Scott says

“Judging is always the most talked about subject in and around the clubs. So we owe it to ourselves and to the photographers whose work we appraise to try to improve continually. By coming together to share best practice, we can enhance our craft individually and also, hopefully, better understand the issues and continue to move judging forward.”

Expanding Horizons

Our agenda this year started with a challenge put to the audience by Ken – a critique, offered by Francis Hodgson in the Financial Times Visual Arts section of the image ‘L’accordéoniste de la Rue Mouffetard‘ by French photographer Robert Doisneau– you can read the critique here and view a version of the image here.

Whilst Ken read the critique, many of the cliché comments and crops we might commonly hear (but not want to hear) in competition were laid on the image displayed on the screen.

Ken says:

“I am continually wondering where our judging conventions and ‘rules’ in club photography have come from.

The way we typically provide critique is vastly different from the type of response we might see in the art world. I wanted to demonstrate two positions at opposite ends of the spectrum.

I am not advocating that we should all become art critics in an intellectual sense. What we must do, though, is learn to appreciate photographs of all genres and styles for both their aesthetic and technical qualities and the meanings we can draw from them; we need to give a balanced appraisal … “

Presentations

Peter Walmsley gave us his experiences as a new judge on the circuit and thoughts on what he has found to be some of the more difficult styles to appraise – images with a strong story but technical faults, images where the judge might not have the assumed knowledge to ‘get the point’, and styles such as documentary / record shots of iconic locations or flowers, or still life.

Matthew White’s innovative presentation gave his own views on the key criteria of appraisal but also warned of the trap of simply applying ‘rules’ in tickbox fashion e.g. “the subject must be on the thirds …” Most notably Matthew touched on the intangible quality of art and its appeal to the emotions. Matthew’s presentation can be viewed here.

Discussion Groups

Judges told us before the event that among those topics that commonly present the most difficulty are: nature, street and contemporary styles and appraising what might be described as “competent but ordinary” images in a positive way.

These topics were discussed in three breakout groups, allowing us to share ideas and to consider the key aspects of a variety of images. These groups seem to be the most popular activity for the day, so we will be incorporating more into future events.

Marking – A Mock Competition

One of the great controversies in club competition is marking. Photographers often suggest, perhaps when our own images have been subject to a wide variation in marks, that an image should score the same each time in competition, i.e. that the marking should somehow be objective and consistent.

Readers will therefore be interested to see a summary of a mock competition, where all 20+ trained judges simultaneously marked a PDI class (assumed to be of advanced level) out of 10. Peter Walmsley very kindly crunched the numbers for us to reveal the following:

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  • Only 3 judges (15%) agreed on the top scoring image
  • No judges (yes 0%!) actually agreed on the top 3 images!
  • 13 judges (65%) agreed on the bottom scoring image
  • 5 judges (25%) agreed on the bottom 3 images

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Conclusions we can draw are:

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  • Selection of the top images in a competition is very much down to an individual judge’s preference.
  • There is much more consensus in the identification of the weakest images.
  • Particularly for middle-scoring images, judges’ scoring across a wide range of marks would not be unusual.
  • Our judges showed an average consistency of +/- 1 mark at worst from the average score with some showing consistency to +/- a half mark across a competition.
  • The variance of scores in a competition about panel average scores is remarkably consistent at between 0.5-0.7 across ALL judges.
  • Across a competition season, the statistical variation between judges will start to average out but with typically only 10 ‘tests’ per season (2 images in either print to PDI) such averaging may not eliminate extreme scores.

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It was also observed that five of the top six scoring images, by average marks, were what might be described as ‘in fashion’: a tern in flight, vertical ICM – intentional camera movement – in a wood, flowers treated with the ‘Fractalius’ filter, people ‘staged’ in historical context and stylised, and camargue horses running through water.

To what extent do we as judges reinforce the idea, consciously or otherwise, that photographers have to do more of the same to win? To what extent are we, as judges, influenced by trend? Questions for us to ponder.

A full summary is being issued to the attendees, and out thanks go to Peter for a very thorough and interesting piece of work.

Conference conclusions in summary:

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  1. Marking
    It is generally perceived that clubs would like to see a wider range of marks used in competitions, whilst retaining an emphasis on the quality of comment. We should issue a guidance note to judges and to clubs, especially relating to SCPF League meetings.
  2. The Story
    We have placed more emphasis in training on the “message” or meaning or “communicative quality” of an image. This was necessary to correct a perceived imbalance that biased comment towards the technical.
    Somewhere this has been misinterpreted by some judges and clubs as “we are looking only for the story”. This is not the case. Our advice is to give a balanced appraisal – using Dr. Eddy Sethna’s suggested weightings as a starting point.
  3. Judges’ Feedback
    Level 1 judges have all said that they would appreciate constructive feedback to help their development. SCPF also needs regular feedback from clubs – not just negative reports. It was agreed to draft a new process for obtaining judges’ feedback and to identify more mentors who can work with judges at all levels.
  4. Judges’ Upgrades
    The process for upgrading was reiterated. L1 to L2 may be on the basis of good club feedback and / or following a live assessment at the discretion of SCPF. L2 to L3 must always be by assessment following a minimum period of practice of three years accompanied by good club feedback.
  5. Plagiarism and what to do about it
    Various aspects of this controversial topic were discussed, from the use of third-party components such as background textures to blatant use of others’ images. It was agreed that there are processes in place through the PAGB and FIAP to sanction photographers. It is not the judge’s place to make any reference during competition, but we should raise a concern privately with the organiser if such a situation arises.
  6. Nature Definition
    The new Nature definition agreed by PAGB and FIAP was brought to judges’ attention and it was agreed to publish – See New Nature Definitions
  7. Creative Images
    Much discussion was had relating to the use of creative post-processing: recognition, interpretation, effect etc. This debate will no doubt continue.

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Future Conferences

We are committed to continuing to run the conference on a regular basis. It will be expected that all judges attend at least every other year. Look out for details of the 2015 event.

Big thanks in closing to Roy Lambeth and Caroline Colegate for co-hosting, not to mention Glyn Edmunds who would have been with us but for feeling unwell on the morning. Also to all the co-presenters – Matthew White, Peter Walmsley, Jon Mitchell. To Lynn Lambeth for keeping us refreshed with tea, and to all the attendees for a successful day.

… Ken Scott
SCPF Judging Advisor

 

 

 

New Nature Definitions

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FIAP have recently agreed a coordinated definition of Nature with PSA and RPS and the PAGB, in the interest of commonality, have now agreed to adopt it. This definition will be used for the 2014 Inter-Club Print Championship and for all PAGB Competitions from Jan 2015, including the GB Cup Nature which opens in 2014. These coordinate and clarify the rules. There is also a clear differentiation between Nature and Wildlife sections.

The SCPF Council recommend that for commonality clubs adopt these rules.

New Definition of Nature to be used in PAGB Competitions

Nature photography is restricted to the use of the photographic process to depict all branches of natural history, except anthropology and archeology, in such a fashion that a well-informed person will be able to identify the subject material and certify its honest presentation.

The story telling value of a photograph must be weighed more than the pictorial quality while maintaining high technical quality. Human elements shall not be present, except where those human elements are integral parts of the nature story such as nature subjects, like barn owls or storks, adapted to an environment modified by humans, or where those human elements are in situations depicting natural forces, like hurricanes or tidal waves.

Scientific bands, scientific tags or radio collars on wild animals are permissible. Photographs of human created hybrid plants, cultivated plants, feral animals, domestic animals, or mounted specimens are ineligible, as is any form of manipulation that alters the truth of the photographic statement.

No techniques that add, relocate, replace, or remove pictorial elements except by cropping are permitted. Techniques that enhance the presentation of the photograph without changing the nature story or the pictorial content, or without altering the content of the original scene, are permitted including HDR, focus stacking and dodging / burning. Techniques that remove elements added by the camera, such as dust spots, digital noise, and film scratches, are allowed. Stitched images are not permitted. All allowed adjustments must appear natural. Color images can be converted to greyscale monochrome. Infrared images, either direct-captures or derivations, are not allowed.

Images used in Nature Photography competitions may be divided in two classes: Nature and Wildlife.

Images entered in Nature sections meeting the Nature Photography Definition above can have landscapes, geologic formations, weather phenomena, and extant organisms as the primary subject matter. This includes images taken with the subjects in controlled conditions, such as zoos, game farms, botanical gardens, aquariums and any enclosure where the subjects are totally dependent on man for food.

Images entered in Wildlife sections meeting the Nature Photography Definition above are further defined as one or more extant zoological or botanical organisms free and unrestrained in a natural or adopted habitat. Landscapes, geologic formations, photographs of zoo or game farm animals, or of any extant zoological or botanical species taken under controlled conditions are not eligible in Wildlife sections. Wildlife is not limited to animals, birds and insects. Marine subjects and botanical subjects (including fungi and algae) taken in the wild are suitable wildlife subjects, as are carcasses of extant species. Wildlife images may be entered in Nature sections of Exhibitions.

Judging Conference

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Judging Workshop 2012

SCPF is again running a Judges’ Conference in 2014, to take place on 8th June at Knowle Village Hall near Fareham.

The Conference is open to all judges on the SCPF lists from Levels 1 to 3 and your attendance is strongly encouraged. Based on your feedback and that from clubs we will be including a number of important discussions and activities:

  • Marking Ranges – yes still a hot topic
  • Specialist subjects – e.g. nature and portrait
  • Primary class images and coaching
  • Language and speaking skills
  • Visual Design Principles
  • Alternative / New Genres

Emails will be circulated, but you may also register your interest in advance by completing the form below. More details will follow.

… Ken Scott
March 2014