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Friday, April 15, 2011

Judging HS Photography

In the Body Shop Competition, no color correction or digital manipulation! These students are Post secondary level.

The TV Broadcasting Competition HS level - This is the actual photo as taken.
Yesterday I was a judge for the Photography segment of the Colorado SkillsUSA Leadership Conference being held at Warren Tech and Red Rocks Community College in Lakewood, CO. It was my first experience being a judge for any on-site student competition. The students (only 5 HS students for photography) were impressive. They were given their "assignment" at 9 a.m. and had to have 50 photos available for me to look at on the computer (aka contact sheet) and 7 prints made. 2 B&W, 3 color and 2 of their choice. 2 had to be 8x10 and 3 had to be 5x7. I only required 2 to be matted and to mat their choices only. The assignment had to be completed by 1 pm. They were judged on print presentation, digital manipulation, troubleshooting, field work, composition and color correction - and they had to use a digital SLR. I had my Digital SLR with me and I decided to go around campus and act as if I were in the competition so I could better understand what they were up against, to see how they dealt with the problems vs how I saw it and to see how they worked in the field. I then watched them when they worked on the computer manipulating and color correcting their chosen images. This lab had better equipment then I have at my job! State of the art. I found that one young man stood out in my view. There was a second who was fast, his presentation looked very professional, but I felt he played it safe and was not creative in his choices. The youngest contestant had a great eye but needed maturity to fine tune his work (I told him I expect great things from him next year and leave his excuses at home!) The person who got second place stood out by his compositions, very strong lines, but he went too far with that one concept and therefore they all looked the same-he was also very good at digital manipulation; Third place went to the only young woman. She wasn't as strong as some of the others in her choices of subject or composition, but she was creative in what she did with in a different way than the boys. Only the first place winner will go to the national competition held this summer.

I was given 2 "assistant" judges, 2 young men from Las Cruces, NM who knew nothing about photography or design principles. They were both very willing and took their task seriously. They gave the side of the viewer to their decisions, and their first choice was the young man I thought played it safe, which did not surprise me. Their second choice was the person who ultimately got second (he came in 4th to me) as he did focus on the cars that were in the body shop (another area of competition going on yesterday).

It is quite amazing to go back to high school after so many years. The opportunities available are phenomenal. Warren Tech offers Fire Science, Forensic Science, Computer programming, Advertising Design, Carpentry, Precision Machining just to name a few; I saw girls competing in the welding competition and in the body shop. There were maybe 8 categories just in the body shop alone! Who knew?

Tomorrow I head up to Vail for the weekend to be a judge for the Future Business Leaders of America. I will be judging HS Web Design; only the finalists, as they have already been winnowed down by 3 judges. I have been a judge for the winnowing part of this competition in past years, and again, impressed by some of the student work that is being generated. This will be my first time in judging the cream of the crop.

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