Well, crisp, actually. Blueberry crisp. Made from some of the twenty one (21) pounds of blueberries the husband and I picked yesterday. I do so love, love, love summer in the Pacific Northwest. We’ve got jam, trays of frozen berries ready to be vacuum sealed, and the aforementioned crisp. Last night we had chicken salad with pecans and blueberries. Tomorrow I’m making blueberry lemon bars. Oh, and don’t forget the zucchini blueberry muffins. Heaven. Why humble pie, then?
I previously shared about entering photos into the local county fair as well as the state fair. Yesterday a notification popped up on my phone reminding me that, if I desired, I could go to the county fairgrounds today and watch the judging.
The plan was to stay for a couple of hours and then leave. That couple of hours turned into four.
What was I expecting? Well, it’s the county fair. A relatively small affair. Nothing real special. So, I think I expected to walk away with some serious ribbon power.
There were three judges, all part of a local camera club. Shortly after I arrived the first lot containing one of my photos entered the judging phase. The photo of Mt. St. Helens that I had entered was, in my mind, pretty stunning. And, the lady at the local framing shop had gushed over it when I dropped it off. Sure thing, right?
Nope. There were 88 photos in the lot. My photo made it through the initial culling. Then first place was awarded. Then second. Third. Honorable mention. No ribbon. My initial response? I felt a bit defensive. Certainly it was worth at least an honorable mention! (I still think it was worth a nod…I’m allowing myself that). Was it worth first or second? Here’s where the first bite of pie was consumed: No. It was not. When compared to the first and second place photos (of which there were multiples) mine was an attractive photo. But not amazing. It did not stand out. It was pretty in a soft way.
Other lots went up that I had no investment in. They were easier. I found myself scanning the photos as they went up, picking ones that I felt were strong (even though I can’t always articulate why) and seeing how my opinion compared with that of the judges. Once first place and best-in-lot were chosen the judges would explain why. I was able to follow and, in most circumstances, I agreed with them.
Another lot came up. I had four photos in this one. Want a dose of humble? Enter photos into an arena that involves judging. Every single time my heart started to pound, my mouth felt a little dry. It was nerve wracking. This is a passion. This is a love. I take a certain pride in the progress I’ve made over the last year.
All four made first cut. It was another 80+ lot. First place photos were selected. They were stunners. Second place. Zippo. Third place. Ahhhhh…one of mine (the red barn in the canola field) actually resulted in some discussion between two judges, one insisting it was stronger than the other thought. He won…and I won a third place ribbon. I was awarded a second third place ribbon as well as an honorable mention.
I stayed for a couple of more lots, then peeled off before the lot that included my final three photos. What am I expecting? Well, based upon earlier experience I’d take another third. A second would delight me. They’re not good enough for first.
Why aren’t they good enough? What I noticed about the first place photos was that they had a vibrance, a texture, a pop that mine do not have. When I was sharing that with my husband he asked how I get that. I told him I have no idea. I may have to join the photo club that did the judging.
What do I expect from Puyallup given today’s experience? I likely won’t even make it to the exhibit. But, you never know. Here’s the crazy thing about photography: a lot of it is subjective. I mean, you need to have properly exposed photos (though some of those selected today seemed a bit under to me). And composition is important…though those rules can be broken if broken well. But, a compelling photo…a photo with pop…a photo that tells a story…a photo with that “something”…could break some of the other rules and still be the clear winner. Interestingly, one thing I did hear from the judges over and over today was sharpness. They were sticklers for sharpness.
How do I feel coming out of today? Humbled. My ego has been checked a bit. However, I don’t feel slighted. I look forward to getting a closer look at some of those first place and best-in-lot photos later this week. I need to think seriously about joining the photo club. I need to learn more about post-processing (though I think I always want to apply a light hand to post-processing). I need to keep…learning. What else is there to do? Onward and upward!
Plus, I’ve entered dahlia and hydrangea blossoms into the floral exhibit. I feel a blue ribbon comin’ on! 😉