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AGS Shows: Artistic Section Classes

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Started by: Jon Evans

Explanation of the artistic class descriptions, with examples

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Contribution from Jon Evans 11 March 2013, 16:41top / bottom of page
General Observations

I have received a number of enquiries recently about what is required / expected for the different classes in the Artistic Section at the shows. The following notes are intended to provide further explanation and examples for new and potential exhibitors, and for judges who are not familiar with our show classes, but the schedule in the Shows Handbook remains definitive; if an entry satisfies the requirement there then it is a valid entry. In particular these notes should not be taken to rule things out by omission; just because I don’t mention something it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily forbidden.

The first thing to note is that this is an artistic competition, not a plant competition, and provided the plant portrayed is acceptable as an alpine, no merit will be attached to its rarity, difficulty, or difficulty of access. A primrose has equal merit with the rarest of South American rosulate violas. That said, the condition of the plant may well be taken into account, at least indirectly; poor plants tend to make poor pictures.

The definition of an alpine plant should be taken from the show schedule (Rule 14, page 11), and queries about whether a plant is admissible should be directed at the Director of Shows, or one of his Show Coordinators.

Images in the Artistic Section may only be entered once at each AGS Show. Images which have been entered at the same AGS Show in previous years are not eligible. This is probably easiest to manage as an exhibitor by choosing a set of images to use in the shows for each calendar year, but allowing yourself to use the previous year’s images at any shows you didn’t manage to send them to the previous year.

The front of each entry should show the name of the plant, and, for photos, the place where the picture was taken, but not the name or signature of the exhibitor. The back of the entry should show the exhibitor’s name and address (I use sticky backed address labels), and the class the picture is entered in.

All photos and artwork should be mounted, either in a 'window mount' or front-mounted.  When mounting pictures for competition, I always spray-glue my prints to a piece of card (I use cereal packets), before taping to the window mount. This backing card gives them a bit more durability against the rigours of shows, and transportation between them.

At most shows, pictures are hung on boards using Velcro. Please leave blank areas of mount on the back in the corners to accept Velcro; if this has to be stuck to the back of mounting tape it is difficult not to pull the mount apart from the picture when taking the entry down. Images should be stored and transported face-to-face, to protect the pictures from the Velcro on the back of other images.

Images may be brought to the shows and staged in person, or posted to the show secretary. It is sensible to post your pictures first-class signed-for, well in advance of the show date; one year my pictures took six weeks to get to Dublin, and arrived after both the Dublin and Ulster Shows. If you contact me (jon.evans@agsgroups.org) I can arrange to transfer your pictures between the shows in England, which a) saves postage costs and b) is the only sensible way of making sure the pictures get from one show to another when shows are on successive weekends. I will return your images when requested, or at the end of the season. Sending your pictures to or from Ireland is something you will have to organise yourself – talk to the show secretaries there to find how best to manage it.

Photography

In all classes, photographs will be judged on technical qualities (focus and depth of field, sharpness, colour accuracy, exposure etc) and artistic qualities (composition). Minor adjustments in post-production to improve print quality are allowed in all classes, including the removal of minor distracting elements from the background, but not the addition of material from other images, or the removal of major components of the image - separate classes exist for this sort of digital manipulation.

Size limits: Photographs must be mounted and must measure at least 15cm × 10cm excluding mount, and at most 40cm × 30cm including mount. No glass or framing please. 

Regarding size of photos. A maximum size is stated including mount, but not a minimum. Most entries made are mounted A4 prints, but smaller prints are permitted. Judges will not take size into account explicitly. However, you should be aware that it can be difficult to determine technical quality e.g. sharpness in a small print, and to explore the details of the image. Where two images are very close in technical and artistic quality, the additional impact which a larger image has can sometimes carry the day.

Classes 200, 201 and 258.

Entries for these classes should consist of a set of 3 images of the same species of plant, taken in the wild. In class 200 two sets of images of 2 distinct plants are required. It helps if the same specimen appears in all three images but that is not an absolute requirement. The three images should be

a) A photo of the plant in its habitat. The subject of the shot should be the plant surrounded by its habitat (a dramatic landscape is allowed but not necessary). What we want to see is the conditions under which the plant grows and associated vegetation. The plant subject should be prominent and identifiable but not too large in the picture.

b) A portrait of the plant. Here the subject of the photo should be the plant; we need to see the whole plant (or in the case of big or straggly, awkward plants, at least enough of it to show its habit in the wild). The background should not draw attention away from the main subject.

c) A close-up of the flower(s). Note that plants without flowers are not eligible, even if they have seeds, berries or interesting leaves.

Classes 200, 201 and 238.

Finally, an example picture of the plant in its habitat.

Classes 202, 203, 204, 250 and 251.

These classes are for 1, 3 or 6 portraits of alpine plants (the plants must be distinct - either different species or at least visibly different forms), taken in the wild. Again, the subject of the photo should be the plant; we need to see the whole plant (or in the case of big or straggly, awkward plants, at least enough of it to show its habit in the wild). The background should not draw attention away from the subject.

Classes 202, 203, 204, 230 and 231.

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