Competitions and Exhibitions

I admit it, I don’t understand photo competitions and club judges.  There’s an old camera club joke told by longer serving members:

The Heavenly Camera Club agreed to an inter club battle with Satan’s Snappers.  Saint Veronica’s view was “How can we lose? We have all the great photographers!” 

But as Satan retorted  “We can’t lose — we have all the Judges

Certainly it sometimes feels that way. 🙂  But it would be nice to know what they look for — sometimes it’s infuriating to get comments about one’s photoshop technique when the photo is a highly creative ‘as shot’ image, or remarks about distant sea when the image was shot in the mountains at an altitude od 2000 metres looking down into an enclosed valley.  So all right the photograph has to communicate unaided, but for the same photograph to get a 6/10 one week, after a 10/10 “possibly some commercial value” the previous week. Pfui.

While I’m having a moan let’s add antique, and possibly inadequately calibrated display technology to the set of sitting ducks to take pot shots at.  HDTV 1080i is here (1960×1080), projectors are available from  £999, yet clubs are only just moving to 1460 bits as the standard resolution for competition, Bizarre or what?

Anyway after my first year of club competitions I’m moving toward a few general guidelines which of course can be ignored for particular effect.  I really would like feedback and correction here, so please don’t hold back with your comments.  In no particular order

  • Eyes must always be in pin sharp focus
  • Use high gloss paper.
  • Photos with motion blur must have 1 sharp line across the direction of blur
  • Keep portrait format for prints, and photos that need the sharpening that you get from the massive shrinkage.  Digital projection is low resolution and not subtle.
  • Expect your near whites to be burned out, and near blacks to be black when projected, and to be criticised for these failings of the equipment / environment.
  • Never use more than a hairline to frame a projected image
  • Remember that the bevel in a standard mount frame gives you an edge for your print, and that mount board is available in black core, so you can delimit the edge of a light coloured print
  • When mounting prints, offset the cutout window slightly toward the top of the frame
  • Think very carefully before using coloured mount board, some judges can take that into account, also make sure the edges of the mount are not visibly damaged.
  • The judge is usually within 6 feet of a print.  It doesn’t have to look any good from the middle, let alone the back of the hall.

I feel better for that, but what have I missed, where have I grabbed the wrong end of the stick?  Over to you.

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