Judge not, lest ye be judged


San Joaquin County Fair Adult Photo Show coordinator Mark Findlay puts up photos in Building 4 of the fairgrounds in Stockton (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/40th sec. @ f2.8. ISO: 320).


First place in the “other” category of the San Joaquin County Fair Adult Amateur photo competition titled: “Red Flower with Jagged Wood'”  by Scott H. Muray of Stockton.

I’ve covered San Joaquin County Fair most of my 25 years at the Record and, being a photographer, I always make time to take in the fair’s photography exhibits. There would be times where I would agree with the judge’s picks and other times I’d wonder what he or she was thinking. This year I got the chance to make those decisions myself.

First place in the color portrait category titled: “Watching Over The Orphan” by Yasmin McKemey of Stockton.

A few months ago I was contacted by Mark Findlay, the adult photo show coordinator who asked me it I would like to judge this year’s event. I eagerly agreed.


A photo titled “Jackson Park at Night” by Sharon McLemore of Stockton won 1st place in the night time Open color nighttime photography category.

Findlay greeted me at the fairgrounds in Stockton last Sunday. There were two divisions: One for amateurs and the more advanced Open division. It was up to each entrant to identify which division suited their skill level best. Some photographers seem to have underestimated their abilities, entering pictures in the Amateur division that could have been very competitive in the Open division.

First place in the color portrait category titled: “Portraits” by Kim Romena of Stockton.

Between the two there were a total of 50 different categories. This year’s entries totaled to about 600. Findaly recalled that last year had about 900 and in years past there have been up to 1,100.



Findlay had the judging down to a science. Volunteer James Briones laid out the photos in each category on a table in front of me, I’d make my picks and then Findlay would then record my picks and we would start all over again with another set of pictures. They made the whole experience easy except for the picking part.


A photo titled “Vulture” by Brigitte A. Clough of Stockton won 1st place in the Open color/birds category.


First place in the color landscape category was a photo titled: “Snow Bound”  by Rhonda Schneider of Stockton.

Judging is like photo editing: Sifting out the bad from the good, and then making the hard choice of separating the good from the best. There were a some photos that were just family snapshots and others entered in the wrong category, and were easy to eliminate, but in some categories the overall excellence of all the photos made it difficult to pick the top ones.


First place in the Amateur black and white architectural category was won by Dean Taylor of Stockton. The photo also won Best in Division.

First place in the Open children category was an untitled photograph by Anne Langley of Tracy.

There are some basic qualities that a excellent photo should have, such good composition, lighting, exposure, etc. and most of the photos reached one or more of those criteria. In some of the categories there were just a few clear winners, but in many of the others the margins between the top and the bottom were razor thin.


First place in the color still life category: “Shadow in Bronze” by Helen Betz of Stockton. It also won best in Division and Best of Show/in the Open divison.

First place in the macro/close-up category: “Vine with Water Drop” by Scott H. Murray of Stockton. It also won best of division and best of show in the Amateur division.

In the end, it was great to see the quality of the photos and I didn’t mind the photographers making it tough for me.

This entry was posted in Miscellaneous and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Categories

  • Archives