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Gary Connor Wild Sea

Gary Connor; Wild Sea.

Winter photography on the Stade

The Stade Photography Competition 2013, Stade Winter, was a difficult one. Because there wasn’t a lot of winter after the competition was launched. So HOT reporter Lauris Morgan-Griffiths went along to Stade Hall to see what Hastings photographers came up with.

People are always taking photos of the Stade and so there were a few snowy and frosty ones taken, presumably at the beginning of last year. But the subject certainly really made people think about what makes a winter image.

The competition is in its fourth year. The first was simply called My Stade, then Stade Stories and last year Stade Colour.  The competition is open to both professional and amateur photographers, young and old – and most of the entries were from amateurs.

Looking around the exhibition at Stade Hall I was really struck by the quality of the images selected. The standard seems to be getting better and better; people are really upping their game. The results really show the enthusiasm, thought  and creativity of Hastings photographers.

On a personal level, I am not a great fan of the tools for manipulating photographs. I know, I know, they can be great tools. And so they are, if used sparingly. But some photographers cannot resist over-working and consequently they diminish the life  of an image. I heard several comments by viewers who were really attracted to certain images but felt they had been spoilt by a too-heavy hand on the colour saturation button.

Apart from the winners and the commendations – displayed on the back wall of Stade Hall – who have already been singled out, here are a few of the many images I was attracted to.

Maria Buzkova’s Silversand, the tracks, lumps and bumps made by the sea’s currents in the sand look like small ice floes glinting in the setting sun.

Alan Harding’s Weather looks like snow  but is, in fact, spume blowing from the waves, obliterating visibility, as the white froth falls thickly onto the beach.

Nicola Cox has taken a great close-up of a fisherman working, black plastic bag flags looking like a malevolent crow, wings outstretched. Monochrome except for the colour and texture of rope and  fishing gear.

Bronwen Griffith’s November Sea and Railing is a really accomplished photograph of the railings lit by the setting sun, glowing golden. What makes the image special is the orangey gold colour echoed in the sunset on the horizon.

Evensong Rosa Bella

Rose Bella: Evensong.

Rosa Bella’s monochrome Evensong has the fishing nets and birds –  for once, not seagulls – silhouetted against the falling light.

There are a couple of good fishing photographs, one that won the under-16 prize by Paschal Brattell, and another of men at the end of the harbour arm by S F Harding.  The sea looks bluey grey. And very cold. The two men huddle into their anoraks, their rods out, hopeful for a bite. It feels cold to look at it; an excellent winter image.

There were quite a few stormy seas. And I have great respect – and envy – for successful sea and wave photographs. I have tried so often, and failed so often, to take a half-decent image. Gary Connor has two Wild Seas in the exhibition, but one has the most fanastic curl. It is a wave straight out of central casting. Amazing.

The bar has certainly been set high. I look forward to seeing what next year will bring.

The exhibition closes this coming Sunday so there is still time to go and see for yourselves and vote for The People’s Choice which will be  announced next week.

The competition is being run by the Hastings Fisherman’s Protection Society, HBC and FLAG – Fisheries Local Action Group. It is supported by the Foreshore Trust and by a local photography group, PHG. The recently opened Silverhill Community Darkroom has provided prizes of free membership and tuition and the Blue Reef Aquarium provided the under-16 prize. The exhibition photographs are framed by local company Carbon Framing.

Stade Winter: The Stade Photography Competition 2013 is at Stade Hall until Sunday 19 January, from 11am to 5pm. Entrance free.

Posted 08:50 Thursday, Jan 16, 2014 In: Photography

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