Capturing a prize with a lens

January 29, 2009|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE

The judging for the Cumberland Valley Photographic Salon played out like a dance.

From the large stack of entries, each volunteer picked up an entry, sliding it in front of the lights positioned in front of the judges' table.

After the judges were satisfied, the volunteers then swept past the public who had gathered to see the entries.

Once the photo had been viewed, it was placed on a separate table. Then the whole dance started again.

This year marks the 76th year that Washington County Museum of Fine Arts has hosted the photography contest, which is open to amateur and professional photographers from the Tri-State region as well as Washington, D.C.

Judging took place on Jan. 16, with the exhibit opening on Jan. 31 and running through March 22. An opening reception, sponsored by Conservit Inc., will be from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15 at the museum.


According to Amy Hunt, museum educator, the museum usually sees between 200 and 250 entries. This year's there were 291 entries.

Photographs in both black and white prints and color are judged in the categories of landscape/architecture; still life; portrait; figure; abstract effects; digital effects; and wildlife. Slides are also judged in the same categories with the exception of digital effects.

Each entry is judged on an numerical score, Hunt said, with the highest scoring photograph will be in the exhibit. Winners received cash prizes ranging from $50 to $150.

"We try to select judges from outside of the area, but have a really good background," Hunt said. Using two judges helps to "even out attitudes of photography and try to get people with differing backgrounds so that the exhibit doesn't feel one-sided at the end."

This year's judges were Tom Beck, chief curator at the Albin O. Kuhn Library & Gallery at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, as well as Robert Caputo, award-winning photographer and writer for National Geographic magazine.

"One of the first things I always look for when judging photographs is the quality of the craft," Beck said. "The way the technique is utilized and how well the craft explains what the photographer is trying to accomplish. Does the photograph successfully yield symbolic forms."

Beck, who has sat at many judges' tables at similar events during his 40 years involved with photography, said the Cumberland Valley Photographic Salon is "a little like the 'American Idol' of photography." "People previously who are not well known gain recognition and some well-known people continue to show the quality they've become known for," he said.

About 20 members of the public came at the beginning of the day of judging for what would be a day-long event. Keith Markham of Hagerstown was one member of the community who decided to stop in and watch the judging,

Markham picked up a camera about two years ago. "It's the new golf for me," he said.

Last year Markham had entered some of his photography for the salon, with his photo being selected Popular Prize Award, which was voted by those who attended the exhibit. This year he entered four pieces of his work. "I really wanted to see what it takes to win Best of Show," he said.

Hunt said next year the salon is looking to take a step forward in the digital age and request digital images from all entries. Slides will be judged as slides.

Beck said going digital isn't a bad choice. "Digital is a natural transformation, which is always been occurring in photography," he said. "... It's still a lens-generated image."

If you go ...

WHAT: Cumberland Valley Photographic Salon

WHEN: Saturday, Jan. 31 though Sunday, March 22; museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays though Fridays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays

WHERE: Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, City Park, Hagerstown

CONTACT: Call 739-5727 or visit

MORE: Opening reception from 2:30 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15

The winners

Best of Show: Perk Hull of Hagerstown for a color still life, "Keffer's Pear."

Best photography by a Washington County resident, sponsored by the Washington County Arts Council: Perk Hull of Hagerstown for a black and white landscape, "The End"

Photography by Dale and Dr. and Mrs. Robert Hobbs Best Digital Effects in Black and White or Color: Tom Clark of Myersville, Md., for his color photograph, "Two Room Schoolhouse"

Reginald Holladay Best Slide Award: Heather Holman of Hagerstown for "Shaina"

Jurors' Choice Award: Robert Keating of Germantown, Md., for his black and white landscape, "Rocky Falls"

Jurors' Choice Award: Clayton Garthwaite of Chambersburg, Pa., for his color architectural entry, "Supreme Court Pillars"

Jurors' Choice Award: Don C. Johnson of Gaithersburg, Md., for his color abstract, "Iguana Eye"

Jurors' Choice Award: Joseph Mikus of Winchester, Va., for his color wildlife entry, "Feeding Time"

Curator's Choice: Christopher C. Davis of Martinsburg, W.Va, for his digital black and white photograph, "Hatteras"

Director's Choice: Hali Taylor of Shepherdstown, W.Va., for her black and white portrait, "Richard, Joseph and Antoinette"

The Herald-Mail Articles