The judge for November is Melanie Lewert

 Taking pictures since she received her first camera in 1969, a Kodak Brownie Holiday, she became enamored with capturing the world on film. In college she purchased her first 35mm camera—Minolta 370—and found that she had a great eye for black and white. Until she moved onto a digital camera, years later, all of her work was in black and white—enjoying the use of contrast and shadows to tell her story. Since going to digital she has found a photographic voice that is unique unto her. She has won a number of ribbons and has shown her work in several shows, outside of her club’s annual exposition. Photography is more than a hobby for her, it’s a passion—the way she can capture and celebrate life. 

Melanie is a member of the Photographic Society of America (PSA), Milpitas Camera Club (MCC), Fremont Art Association Digital Photographic Group (FAADPG), and Fremont Photographic Society (FPS). 


When I look at a photograph I wonder why the photographer took the picture and what they wanted to say—what’s the “story” behind the picture? There are a lot of photographs out there, but most don’t make you see or feel what the photographer saw and felt when they took the photo—a good photograph does all that and more. 

The judge for December is Gloria Fraser

 Gloria has been shooting photographs since her teens. What got her really serious about photography was the purchase of a professional photographers camera gear, complete with a Macro lens. Her first photo class was with Ernie Braun. Next level of learning came from Gloria photographing extensively in Southeastern Colorado but was disappointed with the results. After the gift of photo course from her husband, her Colorado photos improved markedly which led to a success in selling her enlargements and cards in Colorado, and bulk purchases of her cards in San Francisco and Marin. She has done a number of one woman shows in Marin. A member of the Marin Photo Club for about 10 years, Gloria has been at the Master’s level and won many prizes including Nature , Travel and Creative pictures of the year and a blue ribbon for best color print at the Marin County Fair. A member of a small group of photographers, “The Creative Group” Gloria enjoys stretching her creative vision.

PHILOSOPHY: Members submitting photos have put a good deal of time and energy into their submissions. As a
judge, I will share my insight into what is good about the photo and what can be improved. Although it is nice to win
prizes I believe we all want to learn from judging; my intention is to further that process.. Rules of composition are
important to know but also to know when and how to break them for a more unusual and creative photo.

The judge for February is Lisa Rigge

Lisa believes that beginning photographers need more encouragement and less criticism from a judge.
Encouragement is given to inspire and motivate the love of photography in the neophyte. Critique focuses on the
details in the image itself, speaking to areas that are working well and to address areas that could be improved. The
balance of her judgement between beginners and advanced club members is to encourage the beginners without
being overly fussy, and to do a more in-depth critique of images in the advanced groups as their images are usually
already well-thought out and executed. Both can be fine lines to walk. Lisa also believes that photographers view their photographs as a means of self-expression first, and any need to impress others, especially the judge, be secondary. One must please oneself first in order to develop one’s personal style. Once that’s developed, impress away!

In the late 1970’s, Lisa began taking photography courses at the MIT Photography Lab which had been founded by
Minor White, in Cambridge, MA. She studied at the lab for 2 years before moving to California. Once in CA, she
continued her studies at Chabot College in Hayward and at UC Extension Santa Cruz. In addition, she took week
long classes at Anderson Ranch Arts Center near Aspen, Colorado and through the Santa Fe Workshops in Santa Fe,
NM. She attends an annual meeting of photographers who meet in King City or at a CA Mission to view the attendees’
portfolios. She’s attended this group, started by Al Weber (a renowned photographer and friend of Ansel Adams),
for almost 30 years.

Lisa began her teaching career by teaching Photography at Pleasanton Adult Ed in the 1980’s. She received her Full-
Time Clear Adult Ed Certification a few years later. Her teaching experience extends beyond photography to jail education and to teaching English as a Second Language. Teaching is her passion. Lisa is proud to have won 1st Place in the Texas Photographic Society in 2004. Her image, a solar plate etching titled “Father Serra’s Last Room” came in first from over 1700 entries. In addition, this image and other photo etchings were published in a 2005 edition of ZYZZYVA. Most recently, her portfolio “Sacred Pause” was chosen for publication in LensWork: Seeing in Sixes 2019.

The judge for March id Len Cook

Len Cook is a career professional photographer with a photojournalism degree from San Jose State University, 1971. From magazines in Los Angeles, to newspapers in Omaha, NE (Len was on a Pulitzer prize-winning team there) and back to the SF Bay Area, Len focused on photojournalism, becoming chief photographer and director of photography managing the color film output of 13 staff photographers. During his film days, Len exposed and developed more
than a quarter-million of his own images. Len later migrated to information technology, managing the software and applications platform for 16,000 workstations at PeopleSoft in Pleasanton until 2006. Part of the job was managing
the Adobe relationship, so Len earned his Adobe Certified Instructor certificate for Photoshop.
He leveraged his film and digital careers as an instructor at Chabot College for 7 years teaching
silver- and digital-based photography, and Photoshop. Over a 25-year period Len also operated a commercial studio at 2 different locations in Fremont. From 2010 to 2017, prior to closing the studio, Len offered classes there through and had more than 2,000 members in his Meetup group. Len continues to teach a range of photo subjects to hundreds of students as young as 6 years old (!) to adults during 12 years of teaching and summer camps as a current employee of the City of Fremont Recreation Department.

Philosophy in judging: Images offered for critique or competition are postcards from journeys
into the love of photography. They mark a photographer’s progress on that journey and give
those who view them an opportunity to share the photographer’s viewpoint and to offer
appreciation and encouragement for the result. I wish to offer such encouragement, as well as
an informed but impartial comment on what I consider noteworthy about the image, for good or
ill, in content, composition, and technical execution.

The judge for April is Ouliana Panova

I have only been photographing with artistic intent for a bit over a year and a half, but in that time I have become utterly enamored with the process. I shoot film and digital both, with a general preference for landscape and abstract compositions, but I am very fluid with my choices of lenses and apertures and focal lengths - and my poor spine is truly making me pay for lugging all this gear up mountains and into woods. Currently, I am on a deep dive into infrared photography, as I am fascinated with the effects of blending various spectra and capturing light

unseeable by the human eye. I am fully self-taught, but my graduate education and current work in electron microscopy have provided me with a strong technical and theoretical background on the optics and image processing aspects of the craft. I have joined and am now running a small but growing online community of photographers focussed on discussion, mentorship, and critique. I have truly launched myself into this art with unbridled enthusiasm and curiosity! You can find my work on instagram, @panovanator.

Judging philosophy:

To me, the success of an image lies in the efficacy with which it relays the artist’s message. I first focus on the effect of the image as a whole, be it emotional or cognitive, and then proceed to distill the contributions of the visual elements - color, composition, tone, subject... - to the intended (or resultant) response to the piece. I believe that all creative efforts are valid and deserve consideration, and thus I endeavor to take the time to give each piece placed in front of me valuable critique - emphasizing the positive, and potentially providing careful suggestions on how, in my opinion, it could be improved. I have a very open mind when it comes to alternative processing, off-beat coloration techniques, unusual angles and other creative explorations - seeing as I partake so often in those myself - but appreciate and value the classical guiding principles of aesthetics as established by centuries of human art. I am a champion of varied and precise semantic expression, and solemnly swear to use my verbosity for good.

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