The late Yousuf Karsh, one of the 20th century's greatest portrait photographers, was a regular contributor to the Edinburgh Photographic Society's shows, and at this year's exhibition, his favoured black-and-white medium is still being used to stunning effect.
Perhaps the most exuberant example is Water Babes by England's Steve Smith, which won a Fiap (Fédération Internationale de l'Art Photographique) ribbon. It captures two semi-clad black boys revelling in a water spray. Smith's use of monochrome gives the photograph an earthy, naturalistic edge, and imparts a timelessness to the boys' elemental joy. Selector Ann Miles said: "It's digital monochrome at its best, with a full range of tones and excellent definition."
Among the black-and-white portraits, Young Hoodie, by the Scottish photographer Hunter Kennedy, was highly commended for being warm and humanising, in contrast to the usually threatening images of anonymous hoodies.
The medium is also well suited to the play of light and shadow on the snow in the superbly atmospheric landscape, Midnight Ascent, Greenland 2000, by the judiciously positioned Welsh photographer Tom Dodd.
In Racing, Yong Xiong Ling, of Australia, shoots both a colour and a mono photograph of a BMX race in which the main rider, spurts mud up (and over the frame) as he leads a hazily seen pack through a muddy field. The colour image has a painterly feel, but it is the highly commended black-and-white shot that captures the gritty drama.
Junkman, by Dimitrios Markoglou of Greece, cleverly fuses colour and mono to mark the passage of time and to inject a sense of the bizarre into a shot of a beret-wearing man sitting in an orange armchair in a black-and-white junk shop. It's a well-choreographed image, in which the subject seems to have travelled back in time, and was one of three Fiap gold-medal winners, the others being Tree and Window by Ann Miles of England, and La Danseuse by Peter Paterson of the Channel Islands.
The importance of good positioning cannot be overstated, and, together with a bit of opportunism, helped Scotland's Brian Wilson win the gold medal for Hand in Hand, which looks down from on high at a strolling couple. A good perspective is also achieved by Sophie Matthews-Paul in Little People: Nazare, along with a fine eye for patterns. The image features people on a stretch of beach, singly, in pairs, and in clusters, their footprints forming pinprick patterns in four different hues of wet brown sand, set against a turquoise and foaming white sea.
Other excellent photos include the highly commended Off Ground, by Wolfgang Schweden of Germany, in which one can almost hear the horses' hooves crashing down; and a razor-sharp, frame-filling wildlife shot, Mandril, by England's Brian McCombe.
An impressive entry once again, though the total of 2,734 photographs submitted was down on last year.
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