Why should I enter the Digital Contest?
Of course we like to be recognized for having created a beautiful, unique, or memorable image. But more important than recognition is the opportunity to learn, to receive feedback from other photographers about what they like – and what they don’t like – about our work. Most members feel that competition has helped them learn how to become a better photographer.
Do I need a fancy camera?
Your image will be judged on Impact, Composition, and Technique. The judges will not know (or care) what kind of camera was used. Award winning images have been created with all brands of Digital SLRs (including the latest professional full frame models as well as 10 year old 6 mp bodies), mirrorless cameras, point and shoot models, and film cameras. You can even use the camera on your phone. It’s really not about the gear.*
What kind of image should I enter?
Grab your camera and take pictures of things that interest you. Flowers, animals (wild or domestic), landscapes, barns, sunsets, people, things (large and small), whatever you like. But give it some thought (judges don’t usually like to see “snapshots”). Think about the composition. Is there a subject? Is it in focus? Is it interesting or tell a story? Does it have a “wow” factor? Show us your best work, images that make you proud to say that it came from your camera. The image could come from your backyard or from your once in a lifetime trip to Timbuktu. Visit DMCameraClub.com and click on the “Competition Results” tab and browse the Image Galleries to see what has been entered in the past. Spend some time looking at the Digital Results to see the scores and remarks. Can you figure out why the award winning photos might have won?
Does it matter if I don’t know very much about Photoshop?
Some of us feel that we spend too much time in front of the computer and not enough time actually taking photos. Still, post-processing can be an important part of the “magic” in creating a memorable image, and many images can be improved by careful adjustments of exposure, contrast, and sharpness. Members use all types of image editing software, including Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, etc. If you have specific questions about post processing, find another member who is familiar with whatever flavor of software you use, and pick their brain.
How does the actual judging work?
Entries are emailed to the Digital Contest Coordinator by 11 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org . Over the next few days, the images are sorted into categories (Novice, Advanced, Master) and uploaded to a Smugmug image gallery. Judges then receive a judging scoresheet along with a link to the gallery and do the actual judging in the comfort of their home. Scoresheets are completed by the following weekend, giving the coordinator time to compile scores and to determine if there are any ties that need to be broken. The coordinator then prepares a Powerpoint slide show that is presented during the meeting held on the 2nd Tuesday of the month. Complete results and all images are posted on the club website within a few days following the meeting.
I loved the images that I submitted, but didn’t win any awards. What should I do next?
Don’t despair, use this as an opportunity to learn. Look at the judges scores to see if there is a pattern, ie, did you get high scores on Technique but low scores on Impact? Read the judges remarks. If the judges thought that the image should be cropped or that the exposure was a little off, consider whether you want to make those changes. If your entry did not win an award, you can re-enter that same image later. Decide whether you want to incorporate some of the judges suggestions or, if you think the image was perfect in the first place, you can enter the same image again without making any changes. A different panel of judges sometimes yields a different result. You can also ask any club member for feedback or advice. Camera club members are a friendly group and are almost always willing to share their opinions and offer advice.
I still have questions, who can I ask?
Ask another member. Chances are they know the answer and it’s also a good way to get to know one another. You can also contact any of the current Board members, most of whom have been in the Camera Club for a long time. Some of them have probably forgotten more about photography than the rest of us will ever know. You can find a list of board members and their contact information on the club website (DMCameraClub.com) You can also contact the Digital Contest Coordinator for assistance.