Marla’s winning off track

Tonight was the judging of the Lesmahagow Photographic Society’s monochrome competition and the very first one I’ve submitted anything to.

We submitted four photos each about three weeks ago and the judge came along tonight to tell us what he thought of them. For the beginners class – mine – he explained the changes he’d make and had actually done them in Photoshop to show us the difference. The shots were projected on the wall and looked massive, compared to how we usually see them on a computer screen.

My heart was in my mouth when we started and I have to say it was worse than reading a piece of personal fiction out loud to a group of strangers.

We were all given a sheet with the entries with spaces to add in the marks out of 20 and if he missed any from the list it meant they were in the top three and he was saving them for last.

The first three of mine got 13, 14 and 16 out of 20 respectively and I agreed with all the changes he’d made. I’ll be trying to make them myself when I have a spare couple of hours.

He missed out the last one and I genuinely thought he’d made a mistake till we got to the end and I realised there were only three left. I wasn’t third and I wasn’t second. Before he put the photo up he said that the winner was something completely different and fresh – he’s obviously never been near Facebook in the hours after a bout!

My photo of Marla Mayhem flashed up on the screen. He said that, although there’s a lot of pattern going on what with the tights and the lines, it captures the speed and the atmosphere of the moment. He said he wouldn’t change a thing about it and that the advanced group had better watch out if this was the standard coming from a beginner!


I didn’t have the heart to say that the original is a bit out of focus around the wheels and I was kicking myself for missing her left heel but hey ho! Apparently heavily doctored photos are the in thing in competitions these days and they’re looking for a piece of art rather than a technically brilliant photo. Well guys, I have hundreds of pics where that came from and I intend to put in a slightly out-of-focus, posterised derby pic in every category, even natural history!

Today I have learned:

  • I can take a good photograph
  • to me a photograph is only worth something if I’d give it wall space

Today’s recipe

Minestrone soup


Serves loads of people


oil for frying

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 stalks of celery, diced

1 potato, peeled and diced

1 courgette, diced

1 pack of green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces

2 litres veg stock

400g tin of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

75g short cut macaroni or any small pasta

Parmesan to serve

Method: Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook till soft then add the potato, courgette and green beans and cook for another few minutes. Season.

Add the stock, beans and tomatoes and bring to the boil. Simmer partially covered for 30 minutes. Add the pasta and cook for about 8 minutes until al dente. Add more stock if the soup is too thick and warm through.

Serve with crusty bread and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan.

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