The Outlaws scoop club silverware at Rushcliffe’s Richard Balter Challenge

A thrilling Richard Balter Challenge, hosted by Rushcliffe Photographic Society, saw 11 clubs from across the East Midlands – from Arnold to North East Lincs – battle it out under the rapid fire scrutiny of seasoned NEMPF judge Tony Pioli, who cast a critical eye over images from 55 different photographers.

After all 5 Outlaws prints made it safely through to the second round, it was “time to get more discerning” said Tony, as he whittled the images down to a more manageable 32 prints. Chris Rickels’s outstanding Kyloe (highland cow) which romped to 1st place in a recent professionally-judged Outlaws competition was an unexpected casualty while Rick Martindale’s Happy Couple, though safely through to Round 3, was already being marked out as a little avant-garde for the judge’s tastes – oddly condemned by his early observation that this is just the sort of gritty image that you see in exhibitions!

Outlaws started Round 3 with Brooklyn Bridge (Scott Wilson), Sophie (Anne Bone), Dunstanburgh Dawn (Ian Pinn) and Rick’s Happy Couple intact, before the judge hacked through the remaining pack to get to his final dozen.

By this point, it was clear the judge was sending the Happy Couple for an early bath, but one-by-one the others were put safely through to Round 4 and the chances of overall club success teased into sight when it emerged that Outlaws were the only club with 3 images remaining in the competition.

Scott’s nocturnal Brooklyn Bridge print bowed out in Round 4, followed by Ian’s ever-popular Dawn shot – which won the NEMPF Digital Image of the Year last month – so all eyes on Anne’s lovely mono portrait Sophie, which succeeded in making it through to the final 3 (Round 5), where Tony Pioli proclaimed all three merited a winner’s trophy.

All credit to Melton Mowbray who took the individual print title for a wonderful shot of some sheep under glorious Christmas morning light overlooking Rutland Water.

But (drum roll please……!) it was our very own Outlaws who won the overall club comp after a dramatic tie breaker with Derby, both clubs ending the 5 rounds on 18 points. Step up Chris Newham with Ross Beach, hereafter known as “super sub” which went head to head with a shot of a golden eagle.
Comparing the shots, Tony said it was an easy decision to give the Club Shield to the Outlaws!

Great result for the club and for Anne individually – a real testament to the strength in depth that we are now taking to external competitions. The Shield is still in the 2009 winners’ trophy cabinet… When we have it in our possession, we will arrange a photo for the website.

The eleven clubs taking part were Arnold & District CC, Barton CC, Beeston CC, Derby City PS, Grantham PS, Long Eaton CC, Louth PS, Melton Mowbray PS, North East Lincs PS, Nottingham Outlaws PS and Rushcliffe PS.

Thanks to Rushcliffe for hosting such an entertaining competition and toTony for his remarks throughout.

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