Last night – the PKM Trophy mono print competition

Last night we were delighted to host Rob Davis, of Ayr Photographic Society, on his first visit to Perth, to judge our PKM Trophy mono print competition. Rob started out by noting what he had been looking for in our entries: distinct, purposeful and artistic use of light, shade, tonal range, and where the light actually is in the image. And, when they’ve nailed all of that, for images that have a storyline or a narrative of their own.

He also referred to the Scottish Photographic Federation’s ‘What Judges Should Be Looking For’ (we link to this on our Competitions/ general guidelines page), being how SPF judges are guided to allocate marks in the 1-20 system, and which gives a surprising amount of flexibility for rating subjective appeal as well as a solid technical foundation.

He had 57 prints to cover, which gave a good length of time for comments on both the image itself and the quality of the printing, including the choice of paper on which it was printed. There were several film-based images, a darkroom print here and there, and Rob was un-fazed by the inclusion of a cyanotype-printed T-shirt amongst the entries.

Without the distinctions of colour, mono images need to make distinctions by use of tone; one of Rob’s tips, which we’ve not heard before, was to explore the presets in your favourite editing software, and see if any of them can bring out some tonal differences in the RAW file that the eye on it’s own might miss, and then use that as a basis for manual processing.

Commentary complete, there was time to check the scores and spend some more time viewing the prints at close quarters, before heading home and perhaps putting some of Rob’s advice into practice.