AMATEUR photographers in Bradford have been taking an alternative look at the world around them to enter the Telegraph & Argus Camera Club’s latest monthly prize competition.

The judges – Telegraph & Argus Editor Nigel Burton and T&A photographer Mike Simmonds – had the task of narrowing down dozens of entries submitted via the club’s Facebook group on the September competition theme: ‘abstract’.


Announcing Ian Bale as the winner, Mike said: “Abstraction is all about taking something and turning it into something that, at first glance, is unrelated and yet familiar.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: WINNER: Ian Bale - Conduits

“In this winning image you can clearly recognise ducting and piping, but your mind starts playing tricks as to how big it might be, and which orientation is correct.

“This image makes the familiar unfamiliar and – like so many of the images on the shortlist – starts you questioning what your eyes are seeing.

“Ian’s image is a good example of careful black and white photography, which is more a question of graduations of silver, and no part of the image suffers from loss of detail. A winner from a really tight and diverse selection.”

Ian will be presented with a large canvas print of his winning picture, thanks to Bradford Camera Exchange and ProAm Imaging, as well as £50.

On J Steve Swis’s mimimalist twigs reflection image, Mike said: “This has a very subtle set of tones and a complex pattern of reflection – the effect is striking.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: J Steve Swis - twigs

In David Iwantschak’s image, “the perfect cloud and the ideal sky create a great combination,” says Mike. “I have no idea where it is or even what I’m looking at. Your mind is free to wander.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: David Iwantschak 0409

Claire Powell’s photograph of street lighting refracting through a window captured Mike’s imagination.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Claire Powell - Light diffracted from a street lamp

“We had flowers in this competition, but this is an example of the photographer making something from what they found,” he said.

“Your mind makes whatever it wants from it.”

Jonathan Smith’s spiral staircase image is another shortlisted entry that plays tricks on the mind.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Jonathan Smith 1109

“Now I know this is a set of spiral stairs,” says Mike, “but which way round are we seeing it? It’s a clever image that bends perspective and asks the viewer to make up their own mind about what they are looking at.”

Lisa-Marie Pearce’s entry was taken with a phone camera, proving that you don’t need lots of sophisticated equipment to capture a great picture.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Lisa-Marie Pearce 2309


Mike said: “I enjoyed the colours here. The green pops off the image as much as the blue, and yet we’re treated to a confusing mixture of sky, water, stone and organic, all mixed up in a confusing layered effect, which just invites closer inspection.”

The linear arrangement of the stacked chairs at Bradford Cathedral in Jon Howard’s shortlisted entry appealed to Mike.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Jon Howard - As a verger my life revolves around moving chairs

He said: “Photographers like repeating patterns. That said, if this image was geometrically perfect with each chair exactly lined up and not a single book to see, it wouldn’t be as enjoyable. Simply and effectively captured.”

At first glance, Joyce Simpson’s photograph of tyres piled together looks like woven strands.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Joyce Simpson - Tyres

“The more you look, the more you see,” says Mike. “The textured effect is enhanced by the tread on the rubber giving it an even more natural, organic feel.”

Deborah Clarke spotted an abstract photo opportunity outside her place of work.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Deborah Clarke - work building

Mike said: “It’s so geometric with lines at two different angles broken up with the repeating pattern of the windows. The whole thing is held together by the tiles and the shadows criss-crossing the surface. Baffling but wonderful.”

Joseph Elwood’s striking zebra image is another shortlisted entry where the combination of shape and tone both hide and reveal the subject at the same time, says Mike.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Joseph Ellwood - Zebra

“Abstraction is more than a little about confusion in this example. You can see how it would work to a hunter’s eye.”

On Dawn Marshall’s close up of a flower, Mike said: “It’s taken in a way that removes the flower shape as we would know it and turns it into a repeating pattern of shapes and subtle tones.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Dawn Marshall 0709

The T&A Camera Club has almost 600 members in its Facebook group.

October’s competition theme is ‘Autumn’.