Editors' Picks in
the 2008 Photo Contest
by co-editors Bob Alman and James Hawkins
layout by Reuben Edwards
Posted August 16, 2008
Croquet World's photo contest, in its third edition, is now a fixture of the
mid-year croquet calendar, and this year's crop may be the best yet in their
overall quality and variety. On the other hand, readers should know that the
video part of our contest did not yield a satisfactory result; so we're
deferring a report on the video results for later in the year while our expert judges
prepare an on-line primer on how to produce short croquet videos - including
their own productions. Once again, the final judges for the still photos are
co-editors Bob Alman and James Hawkins along with layout editor Reuben Edwards,
who selected the category finalists and arranged everything for permanent
online display. The judges beg not to be judged too harshly, themselves, for
their picks, and for being unwilling to choose an overall winner from among the
excellent category winners. Can you blame us?
"Okay, everyone line up, tighter on the right, hold the trophy a
little higher, now look at the camera, smile, and...." These
instructions produce some really good pictures, some of which were
sent to us, but we didn't choose them because it's hard to notice an
exceptional photograph among the thousands of others with similar
subjects snapped after the final peg-out of every tournament.
One of the judges suffers a deep aversion to "improved" photographs of
any stripe; another to "arty" subjects obviously manipulated to
resemble paintings; another to photographs of cute kids with mallets.
At least one of the judges will not shrink from saying, "I don't know
anything about photography, but I know what I don't like."
Our judgments are thus a compilation of subjective opinion, but with a
single intention: showcasing photos we think are worth looking at
- images that communicate something of the variety and glory and fun
of a sport that is still, in this age of mass communication, much
misunderstood and under-appreciated.
Most of the 100 qualifying photos were submitted by amateur
photographers, a few by professionals. We chose not to distinguish
them by categories of expertise: the images themselves rule our
verdicts. Here are our favorites.
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, or ask us for the photographer's email address if you don't have it. Click to "2008 Photo Contest Images" to view all the qualifying photos for this year, "2007 Photo Contest Images for last year, and "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.
REFEREE ON CALL
|There’s a vogue this year for images of the “von Schmeider sweep
shot”, and these two pictures together are a fine example. Ian Wright
took these excellent photos with a zoom lens, in which
WCF President David Openshaw both plays and referees the stroke. The
only after-work was cropping and sharpening. Openshaw is on the right
in both pics.
Here’s our first category winner, with Samir Patel’s clever framing.
Samir describes the situation, in England's Spencer Ell "Eight",
September 2006: "The player is David Harrison-Wood, being refereed by
Richard Dickson on lawn 3 at Nailsea. The mallet is being squeezed
between the hoop upright and David's left foot. Richard's face, while
focused on the refereeing job in hand (under the old laws), just gives
away the slight amusement of the crowd during the lengthy period of
David's preparation. He hit."
|Jeff Soo photographed his wife Eileen refereeing Marge Cramer during
the 2007 North Carolina Club Teams tournament held in the North Carolina
mountains - unprocessed other than standard color and exposure
adjustments and sharpening.
|"Let me explain the game..."
|"Life imitates art"
|Heinz Hackl sent this superb spectator photo to us by
professional photographer Brigitte Breznik, from Obersdorf, Austria, complete with a resident "expert" explaining the on-court action.
|A first place rosette to Andrew Winn for this bit of whimsy from the
Wrest Park July advanced tournament, 2008. A pair of white-clad
figures seem to mock each other, echoed by other pairs of white balls
and yellow clips. A irresistible opportunity well captured, but it’s a shame not to have Photoshopped out the ball-holder in the foreground.
|This heavily and beautifully cropped horizontal has David Goacher on his
belly lining up a rover peel to win his match with a triple in the Inter
Club final between Bristol and Bowdon. By John Bevington.
|Cameras love the ground positions, and so does American champion Jerry
Stark, taking no thought of grass stains as he sets up what appears to be a
very long rover peel in the Championship Final of the 2008 Meadowood Classic
in California's Napa Valley. Congrats to Adrian Wadley for a winning
|"Full body English"
|"The male half-pointe at apogee"
|The body language seems to hint at either a narrow miss, or a narrow
hit. We can only guess at what Stephen Mulliner is thinking, in what
appears to be an extreme balance correction after a follow-through. By
Brigitte Breznik, Austria, submitted by Heinz Hackl.
|Photographer Tim King refuses to reveal the identity of the player,
who on his follow-through achieves the half-pointe position often
executed by male dancers, but seldom seen on the croquet lawn.
Definitely a category winner.
|"Escher Does Croquet"
|Honorable mention must be made of John Prince's photo of his own
playful painting indicating what might be the mental state induced by telling your non-croquet-playing guest too much about your favorite
game in one sitting.
|One of two Duncan Hector shots shows hoops in alignment on two
adjoining lawns with the foreground hoop framing a dynamic figure in white at the Letchworth Croquet Club.
|Duncan Hector, with his prize-winning photo of "The Panther," provides a perfect opportunity to demonstrate some of the ways you could transform an "ordinary" image into one that might be created to hang with your favorite paintings. For the first stage, Hector made adjustments to the brightness, contrast and sharpness. The main effect was done using “edge enhance”. Hector commented, "The composition is very satisfying, but I wanted it to be iconic, and I think the adjustments have been successful. I particular like the angles, jaw, elbow, knee all working together - and see how he is supported by his toes, finger tips, and wrist. No wonder they call him Panther."
|"This isn't the hoop we are looking for"
There could almost be a separate category for photos of Chris Patmore and Chris Farthing. Regular readers will recall their win in this category two years ago, wearing gorilla suits. It's another winning photo from Samir Patel. The figures are completely protected from public approbation for playing a game with an image far removed from that of football or hockey - but their suits limit peripheral vision. In addition to its macho character, the superb color palette and tone coordination of this prize-winning photo must also be commended. The photographer explains, "Stormtropper #1 (evidently Chris Patmore) has approached hoop 1 with Yellow, only to have his partner march on court
to point out that the absence of clips would indicate that it’s the wrong hoop.”
|"An embarrassment of riches"
|Photographer Tim King lets us know his photograph missed the full drama, when seconds earlier in the World Golf Croquet Championship 2008, Marcus Evans of England had rolled backwards in expressive disappointment, after walking up level with hoop 13 to discover that Helmi Abdelgayad (Egypt) had - incredibly - run the hoop backwards by just a few millimeters from 30 yards away and thus achieved an unbeatable position in the deciding third game of their first round match in the main knockout. Scorer Val Armstrong has walked over to offer scant consolation.
|This charming pastoral composition, with its painterly quality, could easily be used as argument against a sport in which absolutely nothing appears to be happening. Only croquet players would know that having four balls all together can present an interesting challenge. One can almost see the wheels turning while the stock-still player designs his four-ball break from a standing start. By Liz Wilson, at the Crake Valley CC in July 2006.
Tom Anderson is a gift of a subject, and the category award goes to John Bevington, photographing the Wrest Park August 2007 tournament. He explains, "Tom Anderson had completely missed a short roquet. He does this from time to time." We all do it, from time to time, and when we do it, we feel the same pain.
IN SPITE OF THE WEATHER
|"After us, the deluge"
|Mark Hamilton submitted this picture of himself at Surbiton on the Sunday of the Easter tournament, playing, he says, "just before lunch, when the heavens opened."
|David Turner's oddly delightful portrait of a figure in rain gear was snapped at the Pendle Croquet Club John Beech Memorial Easter Handicap Tournament.
|"Grooming the court"
Another David Turner photo at Pendle over Easter shows Dave Maugham (right center) playing a break while other players are clearing the lawn as he takes his shot. Croquet World readers may rightly infer that England's Easter weather in 2008 was not ideal for croquet.
THE NOVICE IN COMPETITION
Jeff Soo submitted this photograph by his wife, Eileen Soo, which Jeff acknowledges is not technically perfect, shot from across the court with a hand held camera in low light. Neal Deputy, playing his first tournament, has reached the finals in a handicap event at the Stoneridge Croquet Club in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. His intense concentration shines through the low evening light.
THE SPORTING IMAGE
|"James and Peter"
|Photographer John Wall asks, "Which is more compelling: James Death completing a sextuple in the Plate semifinal at the World Champs in Christchurch, or Peter Parkinson driving past in his homebuilt Special?"
|We endorse photographer Samir Patel's generalized title when he says, "I think this captures the sport in a single image - the precision of ball placement required, the isolation and 'you versus the lawn' feeling of a break in progress, and the color, quality and texture of the lawn." The shadow of hoop 3 can just be seen between the legs of Chris Clarke during the World Championship 2008, which he won.
|Yet again, Brigitte Breznik captures the essence with this composition showing Stephen Mulliner's close-up hoop approach in his winning bid to win Austria's 2007 "Wine Cup."
|We've seldom seen the dynamic elements of the roll so clearly illustrated and well composed. This is yet another of the professional pictures of Brigitte Breznik, of Austria, submitted by Heinz Hackl, the player in the photograph.
"Croquet at the Meadows"
A variety of interesting photos of many textures and styles make this category difficult to judge. First place goes to Ian Wright for the brilliant juxtaposition of two different games at "The Meadows," a large park near the center of Edinburgh. In the background, the Scottish Masters is being hosted by the Meadows Croquet Club, while picnickers entertain themselves with a garden set in the foreground. Ian explains, "This was just a quick snapshot taken with my pocket camera on my way home. It required quite a big crop and a great deal of after work: thickening the wire hoops to make them more visible, moving the peg into clear sight, removing extraneous clothing on the ground, enhancing the colors by saturation and using the clone stamp tool at 500%, pixel by pixel. The players in the croquet club were not too easy to see, with a lot of their clothing in the shade, so I made them much whiter using the magic wand tool and levels. Finally, I used another layer to lighten the area at the top, behind the boundary fence, and also to darken the lamp near the top center."