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Croquet World applauds
the winners in our
2007 photo contest

text by James Hawkins;
compilation of photos by Bob Alman;
layout by Reuben Edwards

Related Links
Photo Contest images of the 86 qualifiers in the 2007 Photo Contest
Winners of the 2006 Photo Contest
100 qualifying images from the 2006 contest
How to Shoot Croquet Players, by Deborah Latham


Croquet publications in all media are constantly clamouring for fresh artwork, and each of the sport's national governing bodies needs an endless supply of stock photographs for publicity. To encourage better croquet photography and for our own considerable amusement, we have now concluded Croquet World Online's second photography competition. It is our intention to make the contest a recurring feature. The culture of photographing croquet events needs to be nurtured and encouraged. Many players take cameras to tournaments with good intentions, only to be sidetracked into playing the game. Too often, the sole images captured are a succession of smiling face-forward prizewinners proudly displaying their newly earned trophies. If only that period of creativity could start while players remain on the lawns! Here we present our pick of the best croquet-themed pictures submitted to our second photo contest.

In a break from other awards ceremonies, we start with a single overall winner. There's no prize, but the title goes to Joe Camosy, who gives us this exceptional image.

It often takes an outsider to look with a dispassionate eye at the game. Camosy - a friend of our American editor who was invited to take pictures at the National Croquet Center but who is not, himself, a croquet player - has given this close-up an almost abstract quality, an insight that may come more naturally to those with a fresh view of their subject. He's not a paid professional, but he clearly possesses a confident knowledge of digital image processing. PhotoShop is the best friend of the modern photographer, and the winning picture has undergone some enhancement to polish it to perfection.

About the contest and
reprint permissions

All the photos in this contest and article belong to the photographers and are published here by permission. They are reproduced here in low-resolution form suitable for the Web, but most are available in higher density from the photographer. If you wish permission to reprint, contact the photographer directly. Just click to "2007 Photo Contest Images" to view all the qualifying photos for this year, and click to "2006 Photo Contest Images" to view the photos from the 2006 contest.

Click on the images for a larger view. A new window will open.

There were a few nearly-but-not-quite images which the judges couldn't quite bestow with honours. Take this entry from John Wall of New Zealand, which shows Barbara Sugden of South Taranaki having just executed a roll shot with two balls that don't appear in the picture. As it stands, the photo is worth a commendable mention. It would have been a short step to make this jewel sparkle. The foreground works well enough, but there's too much in the background conflicting with the pale colours of the subject. With a few minutes in PhotoShop, many of these problems can be rectified. I've removed the man in white, by using the Clone tool to cover him with bushes duplicated from other parts of the image (and I've done the same for the distracting white building visible through the trees). The white car to the left has been selected using the Lasso tool, then darkened using Hue/Saturation. I've colourised the white area, and just dropped the Lightness by 20%.

BEST WEATHER PHOTOS

A common thread among croquet pictures is bad weather. This impressively wet scene - another image from New Zealand's John Wall to garner honourable mention - was snapped during Club Day at the Takaro Croquet Club, Palmerston North. Wall used a tripod and a ten-second timer delay.
Yet worse weather is experienced by the subject of the runner-up in the Weather category. Here's Jean Welsh playing to the peg in Sydney at the silver pennants of 2003, as captured by Judy Cleine. The scale and composition work well here. For one soul the game goes on, long after less determined players have run for shelter.

And so to our first category winner:
This curious shot shows a sunny day. The subject is in short trousers and a sun hat, but is wrapped in a waterproof jacket and gloves. Nods of recognition from all British players, but this scene is actually Canadian. Nothing sums up a croquet tournament in midsummer better than the changeability of the weather. Plaudits to Steve Dimond, for his category-winning image of Marian Smith, whom he describes as "shaking hands with the court ghost."

BEST HORIZONTAL PHOTOS

An unceasing source of inspiration comes from croquet players' enthusiasm for lying face down in damp grass. This has given rise to a new category this year: Best Lying Down and Lining Up Photograph.

The silver medal goes to Tim King, for this cleverly cropped image. The frame is filled by the two figures down on the ground, leaving the viewer confused as to their purpose. But Tim explains, "John Spiers and Mark Hamilton get down low to see whether the ball has travelled all the way through a hoop." One of the game's absurdities is captured nicely.

But here's a humdinger for the category winner. Jeff Soo seizes a great opportunity to get this reaction shot at the 2006 North Carolina Open - a good image of Paul Scott lining up a peel, elevated to greatness by the presence of two baffled onlookers.

BEST VENUE PHOTOS

The importance of a photograph's background is often overlooked. The far distance becomes the main subject matter in this next shot, joint runner-up in the Venues category.

A travelling funfair brightens up this picture of Tyneside from David Turner.
The silver medal for this category was a tight decision, and the verdict proved impossible to resolve. Fortunately, the other photo in contention was also by David Turner. Sharing the Number Two place is this view of Tynemouth Castle on New Year's Day 2001.
But the winner of the Venues category is another startling image from Joe Camosy, King of the PhotoShop. Masking and filtering of the image has imparted a threatening and surreal quality to the National Croquet Center in Florida.

BEST ACTION PHOTOS

Action photos are always difficult in croquet. Most playing styles prevent the photographer from seeing the subject's face at the same time as the outcome of a shot.

There's no such problem with Max Murray's shot of the reigning World Golf Croquet Champion, Mohamed Nasr, which takes the runner-up prize in the Action category. Side on, the extraordinary Egyptian style is clearly depicted (notice Nasr's right ankle bent outward to avoid injury) in this shot from the 2006 World Championship in New Zealand.
But the winner of the group is an unusual image, taken at night, and facing directly into the floodlights of South Africa's Johannesburg Country Club. Congratulations to Andrew Winn for capturing a striking image during the recent club Centenary Touranment.

THE MISCELLANEOUS CATEGORY

As last year, there are a number of images, which fit into none of the other categories.

I have a long-held antipathy to posed group photos, but an honourable mention must be given to this picture, again from David Turner. The Pendle & Craven Easter Handicap Tournament in 2006 saw a remarkable feat, documented here. David Maugham (centre) while conceding 131 bisques, won every single game. The figure on the extreme left appears to be Peter Wilson, his face hidden in shame after losing what must have seemed an unloseable contest.

Here are the category prizewinners:
This year's competition saw three entries from Ken Pao, who took a sequence of bizarre photographs for Palm Beach Illustrated magazine. There's something deeply strange, but beguiling, about this one. My mind's eye pictures the fuming club secretary, just out of camera range, asking the model to cover up, or leave at once.
My antipathy towards children is overcome by the category winner, from Magnus McGee in Christchurch, NZ. A charming picture.

ART SHOTS

The first honourable mention in this year's final category goes to Christopher Fay's still life of sets of balls at the National Croquet Center in Florida. This experiment heads towards the abstract quality of colour and shape. A shame that the chair legs intrude at the top right of the frame, but don't forget: They could so easily be PhotoShopped out and replaced with grass.
The silver medal goes to another picture from the same cameraman, and a much more successful foray towards abstraction. The Day-Glo blocks of colour and choice of subject matter give the image a kitsch appeal.
And so, we finish this year's award ceremony where we started. The final category winner is, once again, Joe Camosy. No apologies for featuring him repeatedly - this last photo is just too good not to share.

As is now traditional in the CroquetWorld Photo Competition, Joe leaves empty-handed. There are no prizes for this event, save the opportunity for competitors to share their masterpieces with the rest of us.

We'll be back next year with our third annual photo competition. We can almost guarantee that there'll still be no prize money, but we know that's not going to stop your submissions. As we award ceremony hosts say, it's your contributions that make these competitions what they are, and we look forward to a bumper crop of fresh pictures in 2008. In the meantime, be warned: Next year we may very well change or sharpen the focus of our world-wide search for exceptional photos of our favourite sport.


Using PhotoShop (Version CS2)

One of few photographers in this year's contest to respond to our invitation to send "processed" images as well as unprocessed snapshots was Joe Camosy - a Palm Beach amateur photographer who has won several awards and contests. We asked him to tell us how you and I might process our croquet photos as successfully as he has done with his award-winning contest images. Here's his answer:

1. Examine the composition for impact and crop if necessary. Composition is critical. I use a grid overlay obeying the "rule of thirds" to judge the composition and decide whether and how cropping would improve it.

2. Make global and local exposure adjustments using a curves adjustment layer and layer masking, if necessary.

Copy layer and use the "Lucis Art" PhotoShop plug-in to perform local contrast enhancement, which gives the image a quality of crispness and clarity. I usually used the Wyeth 1 setting with a 20% to 50% blend. This plug-in is "the secret weapon," but it must be applied sparingly! If overdone, it can cause the image to look too "digital", "processed", or worse!

4. Copy the Lucis art layer to a new layer and perform the "gothic glow" PhotoShop action on the layer to obtain a soft, diffuse glow with saturated colors.

Adjust layer opacity and use layer masking to apply the two effects (#3 and #4 above) to various parts of the image in various amounts. The idea here is that we want these two effects to be subtle - to give the image a special quality, but still have it look like an unaltered photograph.

6. Apply a slight vignette to the image as an eye control element to emphasize and subtly direct the eye to the main subject. I do this using a curves adjustment layer with a layer mask.

The gothic glow PhotoShop action is free. Just do a Google search for "gothic glow". The Lucis Art PhotoShop plug-in costs $160 and is available at http://www.lucisart.com.

For serious photography - and for amateurs who are serious about producing good pictures - there is no alternative to PhotoShop. PhotoShop is a must.


 
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