Charity Print Competition



People have asked me what my expectations are for this charity print competition…….. I have to say that I don’t think its going to break any records LOL.

If 50 people enter then it will raise £500 for the charity – which runs, in the main, on donations given by extremely kind and caring people and I am sure that any amount of money will be gratefully received.

If you are part of a camera club – please remind everyone about the comp and if you would share the link I would be most grateful.

A different print competition for people who want to make a difference

Thanks in anticipation

Log onto the Butterflysmind website   -start with a www  and end with a .com

Charity Print Competition



I am organising a charity print competition with a difference

All the information is on my Butterflys Mind  website – unfortunately this WordPress website won’t allow links to other websites.

Please type in Butterflys Mind into your browser and you will find me there.

Butterflys Mind is my website for workshops, tutorials and charity events etc

I would be so grateful if you would spread the word to your photographic friends and at your club (if you belong to one).

The Charity,  which is St. Rocco’s Hospice, Warrington, Cheshire does fantastic work and depends on peoples kind donations for them to provide comfort to those most in need

I hope you can help make a difference .

The closing date is Saturday 6th April 2019.



I started my blog recounting the tale of my first teetering steps into the fabulous world of photographic competitions (see Notes From the Disillusioned).

I had begun to learn more about my camera by trial and error. After taking the picture I would look at the results but not have a clue as to what I had done wrong, so it was a huge learning curve working out how to rectify my mistakes. Even today, 10 years on, I still make those mistakes but I immediately know what I did wrong and can sort the error out more quickly.

So for the first few months my images (and therefore the pictures I sent off to competitions) were straight shots and I was quite happy with that. Then a good friend (Malcom from WPS – who sadly passed away a few weeks ago) introduced me to something that would change my photographic life …….. PHOTOSHOP. I had no idea how to use it, so again it was a long slow slog trying to find my way round that piece of software………. and I am so glad that I did persevere.

Now I was able to start pushing and blurring the boundaries where photography and conventional painting overlapped. I wanted to produce images that, on first sight, looked like a painting. I wanted to produce something “a bit different”. So I continued to digitally doodle until I had the desired effect. I found that I could do more with pixels than I could with a paint brush and canvas – I was so excited. Sometimes I would work on a picture for hours and hours and almost reach the end and then the computer would crash and I would lose everything and have to start over again…… I learned a lot from that…. save, save, save (and eventually get a MAC). But I was getting close to achieving my goal of blurring those boundaries and I was loving the process.

I didn’t have anyone to ask, people closely guarded their “secrets’. Their thoughts were “why should I share my knowledge with anyone else, I had to learn how to do it” AND (more importantly – to them) “If I share my “secrets” they might beat me in a competition” . Unfortunately I listened, in innocence, to someone who gave me some advice, which got me into some very hot water, but again I learned a lesson, and it was a VERY hard lesson to learn.

I made my first textures by scribbling on paper with various colours of pastel chalks and then overlaid a picture of 2 mackerel to make, what I considered to be a painterly picture. I entered it into a few competitions and it did well and eventually was chosen to go into the LCPU Annual Exhibition in Liverpool – unfortunately in the exhibition it was hung upside down……. oh well you can’t win ‘em all ! But this was my first textured painterly image and I was hooked.

I knew where I wanted to go with my photography and it was definitely in the painterly direction – there were going to be lots of bumps in the road……. but that’s another story.

Notes From The Disillusioned

Having bought a digital camera in 2007 I joined a local photographic society and quickly became aware that there was a monthly competition for the members. Woo Hoo!!

After watching for a few months what happened during the judging process  I decided, towards the end of the season, to dip my toe in the water and enter the comp.  So I carefully selected 3 pictures which I submitted into the digital section with high hopes of success. 

I have always been arty (although I have not had any formal art school training) so I thought that my pictures would blow the judges mind and he would shower my images with praise.

You know this is going to end badly don’t you?

To say that the judged savaged my pictures is an understatement. He wrongly guessed what the subject matter of my first picture actually was. It was in fact columns reflected in the water at the Albert Dock, Liverpool but he thought it was a picture of cricket stumps reflected in a puddle. He suggested that it would have scored more points if he could have seen the bales or the bottom of the cricket bat in the puddle !!!   I sat in stunned silence wondering whether if it would be the wrong thing to do to stand up and say what it actually was….. I decided not to say anything.

The second picture depicted two gentleman deep in conversation on a beach with a  little dog who, as far as I was concerned, was the focal point of the picture. The judge said that he liked the interaction of the two men but thought it would be better without the dog………. The dog WAS the whole point of the picture – why couldn’t he see that??  I shook my head in disbelief but knew my final picture was probably my best shot at getting a higher score.

The last picture, which was a line of row boats on a dock, elicited the following comment from the judge, and I quote.. “ why the photographer took their camera out on this occasion is beyond me. It is probably the worst picture I have had the misfortune to judge”.

I was crest fallen. My hopes for a set of high scores was shot down in flames BUT I have to say that I needed to be brought down to earth- I needed that brutal but honest set of scathing remarks, they made me more determined to get better. Had I received a good set of marks and nice comments I would have sat back and not tried to improve.

The judges comments made me realised that if I wanted to do well in competitions I would have to learn more about photographic techniques and about what judges look for when they were scoring the various pictures.

So that was my baptism of fire and I had taken my first steps in the wonderful and somewhat exasperating world of competitive photography.

I was yet to discover Photoshop…. that pleasure came much later and is another story.

Exciting News

After many weeks of discussions I have had my final meeting today and had the go ahead to announce some exciting news.
I will be organising A BRAND NEW PRINT COMPETITION for 2019 and will be telling you more about it in the New Year.
It will be a DIFFERENT  competition for people who want to make a DIFFERENCE .
More info soon


This was posted on Facebook earlier this week – but you may not have seen it, so here it is again

(Please get your favourite beverage…. this is going to be a long posting)

Those of you who have attended one of my club presentations will know that I talk about the 3 images that I submitted in my very first club competition – you will also know how badly they did, they bombed and rightly so. But instead of giving up photography and taking up competitive knitting it made me determined to improve.

Having had that disastrous start in the comping world I learned 3 lessons

1. Ensure that the judge is in no doubt what the picture is all about – if he or she has to guess what it is, then their guess could be wrong. My picture depicted columns reflected in water (Albert Dock, Liverpool). The judge thought it was cricket stumps reflected in a puddle)
2. The judge does not have the same emotional attachment to the picture as you have. So if you have a picture of the landscape from your honeymoon bedroom and it brings back wonderful memories for you – remember the judge wasn’t with you (hopefully – unless you are married to them, in which case they shouldn’t be judging your work !)
3. Lots of judges judge on what they have heard other judges say…. what I personally call “tick box judging” and this is what I my NOTES are about today.

Having sat in the darkness for numerous external and internal club competitions I have been able to carefully listen to the comments of the judges brought in to appraise the prints/digital in front of them. Here are a few of the classic comments :-

It would be better if the @@@@ was on the third
The subject/model should be looking at the viewer not looking down/to one side
There is no connection with the viewer
The subject shouldn’t be in the middle of the picture
The horizon shouldn’t be in the middle of the picture
You haven’t left enough space/room for the @@@@ to move into
You shouldn’t have two catchlights in the eyes
You shouldn’t have the nose intersecting the cheek in a profile portrait
I would have moved a foot to the right/left
You haven’t left enough space at the top/side/ bottom
This @@@@ takes your eye out of the picture
I find this @@@@ a distraction
You’ve cut the models/subjects fingers, foot, elbow off
The model’s head should be tilted to one side
I have photographed this but……… (explains why his/hers is a better version than yours)

Why are we ruled by rules? Please don’t say that we are following the rules of art and artists because I can show you (and I do in my presentation) lots of examples of where famous artists do not adhere to “the rules”. For a start I will point you in the direction of Degas – have look ! Okay, I hear you shout, there are thousands of pictures/paintings that DO stick to the rules and you are right of course, there are . Sticking to the rules could indeed help you when your picture is being judged by someone who is giving out points in a club comp or awarding distinctions.

So, what happens the next time someone composes a picture or puts a composite together with competition in mind…. they try and adhere to the comments of the various judges they have heard and thus produce a picture that tries to ‘tick the boxes’. This then, in my humble opinion, continues to shape what is deemed “acceptable” in competition whether it be internal or external and so it rolls on year after year.

I’ve heard people say…. “I photograph what I like and if the judge likes it ,then it’s a bonus. I only photograph what makes me happy, I do it for my own pleasure” that’s fine, fill your boots but don’t be surprised if the judge doesn’t give high marks to your picture, especially if you enjoy taking pictures of shag pile carpets (or similar). If you are entering a competition you are … to put it bluntly, guess what…..being competitive, so why on earth would you put something in front of a judge that he or she may not like/appreciate and will therefore probably not score well. When I have judged (nationally and internationally) I have seen pictures of people eating hearts with blood dripping out of their mouths, a lady who enjoyed taking nude selfies, pictures of dogs wearing frocks…. but none of them scored very well, even though they were obviously the authors pride and joy – otherwise why send them out to the competition? So, if you don’t know what scores well then I would suggest that you look at the images in the various catalogues and see what IS scoring well.

But, thereby lies the problem – in my opinion, competitions are driven by what is popular…. Because a certain subject matter/genre is doing well people produce the same sort of thing hoping to catch the judges eye. I have seen puffins, puffins with a sand eel in their beaks, puffins with their beaks stuffed with sand eels, kingfishers on twigs, kingfishers diving into water, kingfishers emerging from the water with fish in their beaks, hares, white hares, white hares in snow, snow, snowy landscapes, lone trees, lone trees in snow etc etc etc. Some people it seems, think that if it’s popular and its winning medals then why not clamber onto that particular bandwagon ….. fabulous idea, until that particular picture/genre falls out of favour with the judges “Im sick of seeing that particular model”, “not another bloody kingfisher”, “white horses galloping…. seen it so many times before”, “wizened old ladies ….. not again ” etc etc

I personally have tried not to follow “the rules” and have endeavoured to break them whenever possible – which has been successful for me personally (except for the various club judges who don’t like the subject matter being slap bang in the middle of the picture or the colour green – tick box judging at its best). I will continue to produce pictures that catch the eye even though my pictures don’t have a particular story or have a hidden message. Some will have the subject on the third but most won’t , I will have the subject looking out of the picture especially if its a fine art nude, I will put the subject in the middle of the picture, I will continue to use green, I will carry on being slightly rebellious. But then again I have finished “going for” the various distinctions so don’t have to try and comply with what is deemed as being “acceptable” to the various judges who determine my fate.

Judges are given a hard time and I enjoy being a judge (I like to judge the picture and not “the rules)” and I know I will probably NEVER be invited to be an adjudicator at certain distinctions, but I can live with that. In the meantime I will continue to produce”pretty pictures” that don’t always adhere to “the rules” and bang the drum for other rule breakers too.



Picture Published On – woo hoo

So why do am I ALWAYS thrilled to have a picture published on

Firstly only 5% of the thousands of images uploaded are chosen to be published

The images are chosen by a team of international judges who don’t know me personally or what I have produced before

The images chosen to be published don’t always adhere to what some would consider “the rules” of photography – Hurrah

If you haven’t looked at‘s site have a quick look now

Why don’t you try uploading one of your own pictures to see if you can be one of the 5% who get published