March 2020 – On the Wing

Judge: Peter Calder, Southern Suburbs Photographic Society, APJA.

How KPS defined ‘On the Wing’

The main subject could be something in flight. It could be a living creature or a man-made object. Or the main subject could be something on a wing. The main subject should be in sharp focus but not necessarily the background.

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Knox – “On the Wing”

Overall Comments

Thank you for requesting me to judge this competition. It is unfortunate that the events of the world have upset all our plans at this time. But we carry on.

In this document I will give a few overall comments about the competition and then briefly comment on all novice images and the open award-winning images.

The subject was “On the Wing”, one that I am very interested in, whether they be of the feathered type or the metal type.

What do I look for in an image? The overwhelming aspect that I am looking for is impact. Does the image have an impact on the viewer? Is the subject obvious? Are there too many distractions? How have the technical aspects been handled? “Appropriate” exposure is important. Note the use of the word “appropriate” and what is appropriate will depend upon what the maker is wanting to achieve. The Knox definition for this subject requires that the main subject is sharp, so there is no room in this competition for fuzzy abstract images. Composition is a major tool in creating the impact of the image. Lastly, I look at the overall manner in which the image has been processed and presented.

Most images complied with the definition, but there was a couple of exceptions and consequently they were marked down.

I was impressed with the degree of planning that some members put into their images.

Overall, the images were of a good standard, but one of the aspects that I would have liked to have seen more of was the use of selective adjustments. If you make the same adjustment to all the image, then the effect is not as noticeable as if you make the adjustment to key parts of the image. For example, take sharpening. If you sharpen only the main subject (or part thereof) and do not sharpen the background, the subject will stand out from the background. Sharpen the background as well and the subject is absorbed into the background.

I have commented about vignettes several times in this document. I would like to make one final overall comment about them. The objective of a vignette is to draw the attention of the viewer to a certain area of the image. Vignettes do not have to be harsh. They work best when you hardly know they are there. I believe that you get much more control over your vignette if you use tools like the radial filter in LR or ACR. These tools allow you to adjust more aspects than just darkening or lightening areas. You can change the saturation, white balance, etc as well as the exposure.

Comments on Novice Images and Awarding Winning Open Images

Novice DPI


Image has considerable impact with very good composition and good control of the shutter speed. Could be improved with the use of the radial filter in Lightroom to create a vignette and put the emphasis completely onto the bee and the surrounding flower.


The fly has been very well caught and sharp. An appropriate shutter speed has meant that you have caught the movement of the wings with still enough detail in the wings. It could be improved by the use of a radial filter in Lightroom to darken a bit around the edges and then throw the centre of interest back to the fly and the main flower.

New Holland Honeyeater

Excellent image and sharp where it needs to be sharp. I would crop a bit from the right hand side in order to put the bird approximately on the right hand third line. I believe that this would strengthen the image. In addition, the image would be strengthened by the use of the Dehaze function in Lightroom to add some contrast and the use of a vignette to darken around the edges and draw the viewers’ interest to the bird. This is a great capture of the bird in flight. Well done and deserves recognition.

A jewel in flight

An excellent capture with the head in sharp focus. Given how fast these birds move this is a great achievement notwithstanding that the shutter speed was only 1/200th sec. I would look at bringing the colours in the chest out a little bit more and use a vignette to darken around the edges of the image and so push the viewer’s eyes directly to the bird. Well done.

with our telephoto lenses and still be slow enough that the propellers are blurred to some extend so as to give the impression that they are actually moving and not going to fall out of the sky. That is something to practice. Very good image.

Wings of colour

This is a lovely shot being very sharp and overall excellent composition. A bit of fine tuning would be to bring out the shadows of the butterfly and to reduce that Brightspot that is behind the butterfly in the background. Very attractive image.

Wings spread for landing

Very nice sharp image with a non-distracting background. Good control of exposure. Excellent image.

Novice Prints

In Search of Nectar

What a great capture of this hummingbird. The head is sharp, the beak is inside the flower. It has been caught at a crucial time. A couple of suggestions, and I am being picky. The background and particularly the flower and its stem, could be darkened a bit. The objective here is to highlight the bird and the one flower that he has his beak inside, so that they truly become the heroes of the image. I believe that the image would be further strengthened by cropping a bit off the top.

Venice on the Wing

Great image of a low approach to Venice. Sharp, clear, good exposure. No problem about seeing that the image satisfies the subject definition. I did note that the mounting of the image lets down the quality image within.

Open DPI – Award Winners

Handsome Boy

This image has immediate impact and has great detail in the wings. Exposure is spot on and the image is appropriately sharp. It is unfortunate that the right hand side is so closely cropped and has resulted in no margin of clearance at all. Overall an excellent image with those concentric circles in the water around the bird effectively framing it.

Flight of the Valkyies

Excellent image, well exposed and sharp. I would consider reducing highlights to reduce the harse whites. Well cropped. Overall an image with high impact.

Courtship Dance

This is an image with immediate impact. The birds been captured really well. Exposure is excellent. My only negative comment is that there are slight halo’s around the birds as a result of lack of feathering with the selections which also has produced some strange effects on the colour of the sky. Overall an excellent image.

Me Landing

This is a great capture of the bee in flight as it approaches the flower. The bee is sharp but I would suggest that there is a bit too much contrast and as a consequences the image has a harsh aspect to it. I would suggest a vignette using a radial filter to darken down some of the edges and to focus the viewers’ attention on the bee and the middle of the flower. Well done.

Hugging with Wings

This is an image with a very high impact. It is sharp and overall the exposure is very good. I believe the image could be improved with a slight increase in contrast or the use of the dehaze slider to reduce the fogginess of the image and make it crisper. It is suggested that the branch should be darkened a little bit.

Landing Gear

An excellent shot of the approaching vulture. The image is well exposured and sharp with plenty of detail in the feathers of the bird. Well done.

Winged Victory of Samothrace

An excellent image with a significant impact. It is a very nicely composed, sharp and hello well exposed image. I would decrease the highlights a little to reduce the bright light on her face. An image that very much deserves acknowledgement.

Open Prints – Award Winners

Splash and Dash

Very striking image. Interesting effect with the high contrast. I would remove the item in the bottom right hand corner. It is an unnecessary distraction. An image with immediate impact.


Excellent capture of the flock in flight. Wonderful reflections in the water. Non-distracting background. Birds are sharp and nicely exposed. An image deserving acknowledgement.

Pacific Dawn

A very simple image that conveys some very positive sentiments to the viewer. Good composition with the diagonal of the wing. Lovely tones from the low sun. To me it is an image that conveys a sense of anticipation. Where are we heading to? Potentially some great adventures. On the other hand it could be the setting sun on the way home after an incredible experience. Well done.

In Between Flowers

To a nature loving judge this is a very captivating image. As the title suggests we have the bee caught in flight between two flowers. The detail of the bee is excellent, and you certainly get the impression of the wings moving. Very good lighting on the bee and the target flower. Good cropping. I have a couple of minor suggestions. Firstly, darken the flower in the top left corner and that will put even more emphasis on the bee. I would also reduce the highlights a little on 3 or 4 of the stamens that the bee is heading towards. They have lost a bit of detail, especially on the tips. A wonderful image that deserves a highly commended.

Peter Calder

21 March 2020


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