Musings – Photo Contest and Reviews

I like to think of myself as an advanced amateur photographer…after all as of 2024 I have been doing this for 70 years. 

Having played around at the edges of professional photography a coup of years, I quickly decided there were too many really great photographers out there and so chose a different path.  That being said, as amateur or semi-pro photographers we still desire recognition.  Gallerys most times will not take a chance on an unknown unless he or she has a sponsor.  Thus, the rise of the online photo contests.  Here, for a small fee, we can pursue or dream. The purist will say “not I” but I say go for it.  The contests run the full gamut from fair to outstanding, and some even offer a review of your work.  Unfortunately, the site never says who the reviewer is or anything about the reviewer’s background.  

I will not go through and rate them but instead now post on from a contemporary photo site.  

This is a review from the current photo contest.  What I like about it is the reviewer found a mistake and offered recommendations:

        The ubiquitous emblem of renewable electric generation.  

“It’s clear that you are carefully paying attention to the topography, lines, flow and experience of the landscape. Each photograph dials into your attention to these aspects while also having a distinct ability to arrange these elements into pleasing photographs. So, in short answer to your question, you are making generally good images. But what does “good” mean in the context of what you hope to accomplish with your photography? Nothing, if you ask me. In other words, these images are fantastic for what you are seeking to achieve: “to continue sharing my view of the world around us the others who share a passion for photography.” In that regard, the images are invaluable.

I will offer more specific feedback on each image. 

Image 1 really captures the distinct topographical aspects of what makes the Badlands so distinct. And that particular time of day–be it morning or late day–really brings out the contrasty light that can define the spires of the features so richly. My thought on an image like this is that you either include the car more prominently in the photograph or leave the road completely empty. Right now, it’s just turning the corner and only somewhat in sight. 

Image 2 is one of my favorites in the selection. The colors remind me of what the Impressionists might have painted. And the beautiful shapes you have discovered in the tidal flats create rich spaces within the composition/rectangle. No less, I love how the birds are beautifully positioned in profile against the vibrant highlight of the sand.

Image 3 is my other favorite in the selection. The tonal range that you have discovered in the shadow elements of the mountains is stunning. They are all shadows, but distinct in their presence. And the strata that you have defined–the water, the mountains and the sky–remind me of looking at geological formations. Of course, the sole figure breaks the visual space in the most delicate of ways. Nicely done!

Image 4 is a striking scene. I again love the organization of the sky as a dominant form and the landscape features as the elements that are seeking to insert themselves into the space. I noticed a few technical issues that I would revisit:

  1. you created a mask to darken the sky. And the edges of the mask are obvious (note on right). I would feather that edge a little.
  2. there’s a sensor dust mark on the left side of the sky. 

Image 5 is yet another example of your ability to create beautiful spaces in the photographic rectangle. while the warm tones of the field are physically small in the frame, their color/value balances beautifully with the foreboding and dark tones of the sky. I also like how the windmill pierces the sky. I can’t tell what you did with the processing, but something is causing some elements–the ground and the windmill–to look very sharpened, and the sky to look blurry. I would try to process the image in a way that doesn’t show the technique.

Otherwise, James, I again can see your passion for these spaces. To me, these images reflect an intimate connection to the landscape and your concerted efforts to convey the passion you feel for these spaces.

Thank you for sharing your work.”

International 2022 Awards – Honorable Mention for “Morning on Winnie”


       IPA 2022 Award Cert

Dear James,

It is my great pleasure to inform you that your work has been awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2022 edition of the International Photography Awards – Congratulations! … Your winning entry will soon be posted…and your name will be featured in the IPA Annual Book of Photography.”

Please visit the official IPA Instagram page (@iphotoawards) or the official IPA Facebook page (@photoawards)

Neutral Density Magazine – the ND Awards

Hurry — Contest closes 20 September 2020 —
Neutral Density Magazine’s ND Awards promote photography and photographers to audiences all over the world. The winners of the Professional and Non-Professional sections will receive the titles: ND Photographer of the Year and ND Discovery of the Year and cash prizes. The Awards are judged by a panel of highly acclaimed industry professionals, including: gallery owners, publishers, editors and renowned photographers.

Prix de la Photographie Paris – Honorable Mention Awarded

Prix de la Photographie - Honorable Mention    

James Black was awarded an Honorable Mention for his series of black and white photographs titled “Color Blind.”  “The Prix de la Photographie, Paris (PX3) is a photography award that strives to promote appreciation of photography, discover emerging talent, and introduce photographers from around the world to the artistic community of Paris.”  “The Paris Photography Prize was founded in 2007 and has since become one of the most prestigious photography awards in Europe.”

For more information about PX3 go to P×3 – The Prix de la Photographie Paris – PX3 – The Prix de la Photographie Paris

Hole in the wall formation, Arches National Park

A must see place — Arches National Park.


Grand Canyon in B&W

Grand Canyon in B&W