Friday, November 17, 2017


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A last minute review of the winners in the Michael Edwards photo competition. I have reported on the various phases of this year's competition including on the line-up for the final.

The moment of truth arrived on 16 November as the prizewinners and overall winners were selected from among some fifty images from clubs and eleven from individuals.

Dermot Edwards

Dermot Edwards, who with his father Michael, runs the photographic shop (I nearly said Photoshop) in the Donaghmede Shopping Centre, looks a happy man.

In kicking off the final adjudication he thanked all who had been involved in supporting the competition during the year through sponsorship or simply by entering photos. Even this blog got a mention.

Eamon O'Daly

Eamon O'Daly, from The Outdoor Studio and Skerries Photography, was this year's adjudicator for the final.

Before getting down to the business of the evening he outlined his general approach to the adjudication.

Unlike Ray McManus, two years ago, who treated us to a diatribe against the use of Photoshop, Eamon had a more sensible approach. Post-processing was acceptable as long as it was simply enhancing the qualities of the original photograph and not creating a new artistic production.

He also mentioned the inadvisability of using glass frames when you don't know the precise lighting conditions under which your work will be displayed. It is important to avoid reflections which interfere with how people actually see your work.

I've been making this point myself till I'm blue in the face but nobody seems to be paying any attention.

He also made clear, in the context of this year's theme of OUR TOWN, that he preferred the location to be identifiable in the photo itself and, as our world was all about people, he would like to see people included in the photos. His choices very much reflected these considerations.

There was some muttering in the audience that it would have been good to know all this in advance. As it is, the existing rules are few and very general in nature. I know Dermot feels that this is to encourage the widest possible entry and while I have some sympathy with that point of view I think a little more specificity would be no harm. I'll leave it at that for now.

Overall winner in the Clubs category

As is customary, the results were announced in reverse order with the overall winners revealed at the end. As I'm not going to cover all the twenty or so prizewinners I'm doing it the other way round.

Top prize in the clubs category went to Dermot O'Flaherty from the Swords Viewfinders. This was for a black and white study of Bewley's Café in Grafton Street. A fine piece of work which, incidentally, took in both of the adjudicator's principal criteria. Personally, I'm always thrilled to see black and white holding its own.

As well as a fine trophy, courtesy of Dublin City Council, Dermot got a special gift from Michael. The Minox camera was standard spy equipment during WWII and the Cold War. Michael told Dermot he could use it but better not to.

My mother had a Minox but it was mainly me that used it. I must fish out the negs one of these days.

Dermot said that the photo had been inspired by one taken by a lady who was currently not well, so it was nice to see her inspiration get some recognition in the circumstances.

Winner in the Individual Category

The winner in the individual category was Vivion Mulcahy, a Northsider currently resident in Luxembourg which is where the winning photo was taken.

As Vivion is currently in Luxembourg his prize was accepted by his friend and photo-colleague, Barry Crowley from the Howth Club.

From the contented look on Barry's face you'd think it was him what took it.

The photo is a night shot of the River Alzette as it flows through the old low city (“Grund”) of Luxembourg.

It is a very crafted shot and worth your while to study it closely. I have seen other shots of this scene but not as subtle as this one.

The entire Grund is a UNESCO Heritage Site and so is protected from indiscriminate development. It is a warren of steep and narrow cobbled streets and includes a number of small restaurants and bars. In days gone by the lepers of Luxembourg were segregated in the Grund. Thankfully leprosy is no longer endemic in Luxembourg.

The best way to get there is via a lift which descends from the upper city (“Ville haute”) through hundreds of feet of solid rock and from which you emerge into a rock tunnel lined with artworks. From there it is a short walk to where the photo was taken.

The river is usually placid, but not always - as this photo of a riverside house graphically illustrates. The river's current level is some 12 feet below its flood level in 1756 (marked by the plaque at the top left of the photo). And this before climate change.

Other prizewinners

Just a quick take on a few other winning shots.

Another shot from Dermot O'Flaherty, this time a moment seized in St. Stephen's Green.

And yet another from Dermot, this time a night shot at the Spire in O'Connell St.

Michael wonders who took this one of fishermen on Howth pier.

And it's Pat Carey from the local St. Benedict's club and last year's winner. Another shot with strong people interest.

And yet another one from Pat. This time its buskers on the Clontarf prom with the two iconic chimneys in the background. The adjudicator particularly commented on this one as fulfilling both his main criteria with the people interest here being very strong. An unkind member of the audience drew attention to the smoke emanating from the chimneys.

Despite the intense individual rivalry in this competition there is a sense of club solidarity at the end of the day. Here the Sutton club pose for a family photo with their prize-winning photographer.

And I can't finish without mentioning Raheny. That club didn't get any prizes this year but I thought I'd show you Billy White's entry. Billy won the competition two years ago. I caught him sneaking out with his entry, as I did myself a few minutes later.

As the captions this year were restricted to "single word locations" I have taken the liberty of explaining the rationale behind my own entries here.

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