Melvin Nicholson – Expert Photography Judge for Photocrowd


For those of you who are unaware, I am currently an Expert Judge with the online competition website Photocrowd. I joined Photocrowd several months ago and regularly judge photography competitions for them, mainly within the landscape genre as this is my speciality.

On Wednesday (1st August 2018) I judged the ‘Bokeh Nature Photography’ competition which had over 1200 images entered although many of the competitions I judge have 4000+. The quality was varied as expected but once I had selected the images that went through into the final round, trying to decide on a first, second and third place, plus the rest of the top ten and all of the images that would receive a Commended distinction, was incredibly difficult. The standard of some of the work was outstanding and my job to select a winner is never easy and I spend some time deliberating before settling on a first place image.


In this particular competition, I awarded first place to a gorgeous capture of a Pearl Bordered Fritillary Butterfly by Neil Burnell. I do not know in advance of judging the photographers names, I only get to see the images themselves. So HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Neil on a truly stunning photograph. It captured my attention as soon as I immediately saw it. Here is the review I gave Neil’s image on the Photocrowd website.


“Firstly may I say what an incredibly difficult decision it was having to whittle down so many stunning images with such a varied range of subjects, to just ten and ultimately just one for the winner but here it is. Why did I select this image from the 1200+? Well, I am a full time landscape photographer who is constantly found seeking out the most evocative light and wonderful colours not to mention strong subjects and this capture has all of those qualities and more.

The main thing that drew me into the image was the beautiful warm early morning orange light that surrounds perfectly the butterfly and grass. That light allows the butterfly to become semi-translucent with some gorgeous detail being shown on the wings. The bokeh is just divine too, circular in shape without being too distracting and the overall tone and light is superb. The image appears in focus and sharp too.

Overall a truly fantastic image and to my mind, wins by a hair’s breath such was the competition. Congratulations to the winner.”


Please CLICK on the link below to view the entries and their final placings.…/bokeh-nature-p…/expert-choices/

Pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly by Neil Burnell, Photodrowd £inner
Pearl Bordered Fritillary Butterfly by Neil Burnell, Photocrowd ‘Bokeh Nature Photography’ Winner – August 2018

I awarded second place to a fantastic photograph of a Fruit Fly by Eric Ladbury. My review of Eric’s image is as follows;


“There were so many insect images of varying quality but the real difficulty came when I had a dozen or so to decide on and which ones made the top ten. However I could not have this stunning capture of a Fruit Fly finish anywhere other than in the top three. There is much to commend the photographer for with this image.

Great colours that are plain, sharp and vibrant with some wonderful textures in the leaf in the foreground. The fly is razor sharp and perfectly focused. It’s simply an outstanding image that immediately catches your attention and thankfully it has enough quality to hold the viewer in for some time. Amazing capture. Congratulations to the photographer.”

Fruit Fly by Eric Ladbury
Fruit Fly by Eric Ladbury

And I awarded third place to a beautifully composed and captured photograph of a ‘Leopard Up A Tree’ by Tracey Graves. My review of Tracey’s image is as follows;


“Why give this image third place? Well, firstly it is so refreshing to see these fine creatures capture from a different angle for a start. This has the image stand out in the first instance but the composition to include enough of the foliage in the background at a lovely drop off in focus without being harsh in light and colour is a big plus point for me.

The Leopard is pin sharp on the whiskers too. Overall a stunning capture of a fabulous creature. Congratulations to the photographer for capturing it so well.”

Leopard Up A Tree by Tracey Graves
Leopard Up A Tree by Tracey Graves

A HUGE THANK YOU from me to everyone who entered. I genuinely enjoyed looking through all the images and I am delighted to be able to assist Photocrowd in judging their online competitions. I must point out that my role is voluntarily and I do not get paid to judge. So why do I choose to spend almost an entire day sifting through 4000+ images at a time? Well, I have a genuine love in helping others develop and I really enjoy being part of a big group of people who share my passion for photography and I hopefully make a small difference to those who appreciate it. I also really enjoy looking at the work of others and that I feel it helps me develop as a photographer in areas of composition and seeing how others see the world. Ideas are planted in my mind that at some point in the future on location, might well seed into hopefully a really pleasing image.

When I use to be a member of Preston Photographic Society in Lancashire (2007 – 2015), I enrolled to become a judge for the Lancashire and Cheshire Photographic Union (L&CPU) which is one of fifteen member federations within the The Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (PAGB). The L&CPU is an umbrella organistion that takes care of almost one hundred camera clubs and societies within Lancashire and Cheshire. The L&CPU provides camera clubs and societies with competition judges who are also members of camera clubs. I, along with several dozen other camera club judges, gave our time freely to attend camera clubs in the evenings and judge their competitions. I loved that role and took it very seriously and it lasted two and a half years until 2015.

In the print competitions, I would ask for the print entries a week or so in advance so that I could look over them with a careful eye before giving an in-depth, honest and hopefully helpful feedback in how the photographers could improve their work. The digital submissions would also be looked at very carefully, sometimes using Photoshop to help me rate exposure levels, sharpness etc. I felt that the role of judge was important in assisting people to improve but mindful that criticism on its own could be detrimental to the photographer’s enjoyment of their photography so I always tried to give constructive criticism so that they could go away and put into practice some of the suggestions that I put forward. I was firm but fair.

So in light of the fact that I am no longer a camera club member, I cannot judge for the L&CPU and as such, find online competition websites like Photocrowd a great way for me to ‘keep my hand in’ in the photography competition world while being able to do so in the comfort of my own home and at a time that suits me, which is normally between running landscape photography workshops and 1-2-1 private tuition days.


Although I no longer judge competitions for camera clubs and societies, I do however lecture and present talks for very reasonable rates. I really enjoy presenting my work from the various places that I visit around the world and with a few humorous stories thrown in from my travels and experiences along the way. Here’s a photo of me having presented a talk recently at Rochdale Camera Club back in May 2018. I really enjoyed that evening and hopefully those attending did so too.

Evening Lecture at Rochdale Camera Club - May 2018
Evening Lecture at Rochdale Camera Club – May 2018

If you are a Syllabus or Program Secretary at a camera club within the UK, please get in contact if you would be interested in having me attend and present a lecture. You can call me on 07813 950378 or email me at

For those interested, here is a list of my upcoming camera club talks for the rest of 2018. If you would like to attend, normally clubs welcome you with open arms although in some cases, there may be a very small fee charged. Contact the club for further information. I hope to see many of you at my talks in the future.

Friday 31st August 2018: Culworth Camera Club, Banbury, South Northamptonshire – Contact John Emmett 01295 768285
Monday 3rd December 2018: Grange and District Photographic Society, Grange-Over-Sands, Cumbria – Contact Lee Kitchingman via their website ‘Contact Us’ page
Wednesday 5th December 2018: Ashbourne & District Camera Club, Derbyshire – Contact Wendy Beasley via their website ‘Contact’ page
Monday 10th December 2018: Northallerton  Camera Club, North Yorkshire – Contact Miles Langthorne via their website ‘Contact Us’ page

Have a great day everyone and many thanks for reading this blog. If you would like to leave a comment below, please do so and I shall reply to each and every one left.

Best wishes Melvin

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