Competition Tips

WDCC Photographic Competition Hints and Tips

Competition Hints and Tips

These Hints and Tips are collected from the constructive and helpful comments made by the external Lancashire & Cheshire Photographic Union (LCPU) Judge on viewing our internal WDCC Photo Competition entries and are provided not as a comprehensive list of what to do and not do but as a guide for new Club members wanting to start putting in their own photos for Competitions.

General Hints and Tips:

  • Don't enter two (or more) photos of a similar (perhaps unusual) technique as one will always be preferred by the Judge over the other(s) and the other(s) will almost certainly be discarded in the first round.
  • Do not include your Name or Photo title on either the Photo itself or the front of the Mount.
  • Don't make your photo title too obscure or convuluted - the Judge doesn't have time to look at the photograph and try to figure out the link between the photograph and the title.
  • If using a cloth background, ensure it is ironed with no obvious creases.  Also, make sure it is kept smooth with no wrinkles on the ground (particularly underneath the model's feet).

Composition Hints and Tips:

  • If entering a Landscape/Scenery style photo, ensure there is something either in the Background or the Foreground that is a 'focal point' for the picture - something to draw your eye into the picture and pause on that focal point.  It gives a stronger interest to the photo.
  • When framing vehicles moving across the image, ensure there is room for the car to 'move' in the picture with space not just at the front (where there should be slightly more) but at the rear as well.
  • If submitting Portraits, eye contact with the camera is important.

Post Production Hints and Tips:

  • Sharpening:
    • If applying Sharpening to a photo, do not sharpen any large plain coloured areas (e.g. a blue sky) as sharpening can introduce 'artefacts' (basically digital noise) into the picture, particularly if overdone.
    • Only sharpen the main focus of the picture, not the whole picture.
    • If sharpening, use a small pixel radius.
  • Make the focus point of the picture stand out by lightening it, or increasing the saturation ... but don't overdo it!.  Also consider blurring the background to reduce distractions using a High Pass filter.
  • If grass in your picture shows up as very bright or verdant, this can be toned down by desaturation (but he added that Green doesn't desaturate well, try Yellow instead).
  • Darken distracting areas of light in the background (or clone them out if possible) to reduce it drawing the eye away from the main focus of the picture.
  • If your picture shows colour aberrations (i.e. colour 'fringing') at boundaries of colours, try and clone it out or if the aberration has been produced by sharpening, undo the sharpening and then repeat it but without sharpening right up to the edge of the abrupt change in colour.

Printed Photograph (inc Mounts) Hints and Tips:

  • Do not use sticky tape anywhere on the exposed front or back of your photograph mount - if the sticky tape comes loose or curls up, it could stick to (and damage) any mounted photographs stacked below it.
  • Ensure it is obvious which way up your photograph should be displayed by labelling the picture on the back of the mount with your Name and Picture Title in the same orientation as it is on the front (i.e. top on the back is also top on the front).  Also, you could write "TOP" on the back of the Mount in the right place!
  • Be wary of using coloured mounts for your Printed photographs as it can distract from the photograph - the Judge suggested using white, antique white or black only.
  • Sometimes with Colour prints, grey can show up with a very slight magenta cast if the printer colour calibration profile is not correct, or the printer has a small range of colour inks.
  • If printing a mono (i.e. black and white) photograph on a colour printer, the printer can sometimes give a colour cast (on printers with only one black cartridge) because the printer can be confused into mixing colours to try to make black - the possible fix being to print a coloured border round the print to give it something to do (which can be trimmed off) and this lets the black cartridge get on with the main job!

Competition Mounts

Competition Photo Mounts

Presentation of images is a skill which presents your images in a good light and protects your prints / enlargements from damage.

comp mount 01

 Example 1 - A 'double mount'

Any prints entered in a club competition must be mounted (but not framed!) using card of some kind. Mount board is a good choice and can be purchased from art shops. Ivory (off white) or black are good choices as most prints will not compete with either of these colours. The simplest mount is simply a piece of card slightly larger than your print that the print can be mounted on. Make it at least 1 inch larger on all sides and attach the print using spray mount or a little contact adhesive. To cut the card use a mount cutter or a steel ruler and a sharp Stanley knife. For example with a photo not for Club Competitions, a 7x5 inch print could be mounted on a 10x8 inch piece of mount card. However, if entering Club Competitions, the Mount must be the correct size - See the 'Competitions' page for details.

A window mount is a piece of card with a rectangular window cut out for placing the print behind. Where two window mounts are combined this is termed a 'double mount'. Example 1 shows a corner from a double mount of Ivory and Ivory card.

comp mount 02Example 2 - A double mount using contrasting colours

Here a blue toned print has been paired up with a double mount with an inner colour of electric blue. This brings out the colour in the image.

Note that larger prints generally do better in competitions.





 comp mount 03Example 3 - Multiple images on one mount

This example has a card mount way beyond the L&CPU sizes, so would be too large for these competitions. Limits are imposed for these competitions as all prints need to be transported around member clubs in a box of a set size. LCPU mount sizes are fixed at 500mm x 400mm (very slightly smaller than 16"x12")



There is no reason why you couldn't make a collection of several prints and if sufficiently unique and interesting to a judge, could do well. Example 3 is a collection of still-life images from a bathroom. Be aware that collections of prints on a theme like this may well be judged on the 'weakest image' in the set, it just depends on the judge.

WDCC allows home printed and digital images to be entered into club competitions. These can be commercially printed (if a digital lab is used, prints and enlargements will be on normal photographic paper, giving a life of 15+ years) or printed on photo quality paper at home (generally with a more limited life).

It should not be forgotten that prints for which you no longer can find the negatives can also be scanned and printed, providing you are the author of the original image.

The use of a card mount when using frames can also improve presentation of images. For example a 7x5 inch print could be dropped straight into a 7"x5" frame. However a ready made card mount (available from photo processing outlets like Max Spielman and others fairly cheaply) can enable a 10" x 8" inch frame to hold a 7x5 print with a little more style. Ready made mounts can be purchased in a variety of colours.

Competition Rules

Competition Rules

Version dated May 2017

  1. The number of permitted entries shall be determined for each competition and must not be exceeded.  Unless otherwise stated this is up to 4 images - where a maximum of 3 of them can be digital images (e.g. all prints, or 3 digital and 1 print, or another mix of the two as applicable), per competition.

  2. The maximum permitted mount size is 20" x 16" (please note that this is 508mm x 406mm and therefore exceeds L&CPU guidelines - important if you wish to enter your print to the L&CPU competition also).  We have made this change to allow off the shelf mounts to be used. The aperture size of off the shelf mounts is usually 16" x 12".  The minimum print size is 7" x 5".  Mounted prints should be no thicker than 4mm.  Prints can be trade or home processed.

  3. In order to address the volume of submissions to club competitions, we have implemented a ranking structure.  Please indicate on each image whether it is your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th choice entry (either on the filename if it is a digital image, or on the back if it is a printed image).  If the competition has a very high number of submitted entries, everybody's 4th choice images will be discarded. If this still results in too many images, everybody's 3rd choice image will be discarded, and so on. This ranking structure is per discipline (digital and print) so if you enter 2 images in the print competition, and 2 images in the digital competition, you would indicate your 1st and 2nd choice for both competitions. Should you fail to indicate a preferential order, the competition secretary will make the decision as to which images to remove.

  4. Digital images to be submitted as jpg format, dimensions of 1,024 x 768 pixels at 72 DPI (dots per inch) resolution and in the sRGB colour space.  This is a departure from our previous standard (1,400 x 1,050 pixels) as this is the native format of the club projector, and helps to maximise the quality of the displayed images and reduce any artifacts from interpolation of the image.  Any unused areas of the image canvas must be filled in with solid black or dark grey (as if masking a slide, right-click to download & save-as a correctly sized black mask here).  Files must be titled: authors name, image title, and choice ranking. e.g. J Smith, Sunset (4th choice).jpg. Download a sample image here that demonstrates the masking of the extra image canvas with black.

  5. Prints must be mounted and clearly labelled on the back with the Author's name, the title of the entry, and the choice ranking.

  6. Entries must have been taken for the competition where possible, or have been taken within the last three years.

  7. Technical data to be provided if possible. Note that if images are digital, shooting information is generally recorded as tags within the files EXIF data.

  8. Closing Date for entries to the Competition Secretary is the Club Meeting that precedes the Competition Meeting Date.  Digital images submitted by email will be accepted up to midnight of that same preceding Club Meeting date.

  9. Winning images should be made available for the club to submit to other competitions where possible. eg. L&CPU Annual or Multi-club competitions. 

  10. Images placed in positions 1 to 5 in any Competition cannot be reused in any future Competition. Commended images and non-placed images can be reused.

  11. Top 5 placing images from both categories (Print and Digital) will be displayed on the Club's website, and this is a condition of entry. For print entries, please submit a jpg version of the image to the competition secretary or webmaster following the result so that the Club website can be updated.

Note - If wanting to submit entries by email, please send them to the Competition Secretary as follows: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We will look to create our own video explaining how to create jpgs for submission to club competitions from various different pieces of software, but in the meantime the below video is a good starting point.  Just remember to substitute 1024 for each instance of 1400, and 768 for each instance of 1050.


Competition Dates

About our Photographic Competitions

We usually hold four competitions each year and all paid up members are welcome to take part.  Everyone goes into a single competition; we do not have elitist categories for beginner, intermediate, advanced etc.

Competition Details

Most competitions are on a theme, for example 'Blue', 'Dusk til Dawn' etc.  Where a competition is 'Open', any image can be submitted. Generally the first competition for each club year is an Open category (to get the creative juices flowing!)

All our Competitions are for Printed (and mounted) and/or Digital Images which are projected onto a large screen  (also known as PDI - Projected Digital Images).  Our competition secretary or any of the committee can help if you have any queries about or would like to take part in our competitions.

The top 5 entries are scored, usually by an outside judge, who can provide positive feedback on each entry.  Competition nights are very interesting for all members as the feedback usually includes hints and tips that everyone can benefit from (see below).

Competition Dates for 2018-2019

For this Club year the dates and subjects of the Club Photo Competitions are as follows (remember entries have to be submitted a fortnight before the actual competition):

    • Competition 1 - April 23rd 2018 - Subject is 'Open' (submit by 9th April 2018)

Open - Completely free topic choice

    • Competition 2 - July 12th 2018 - Subject is 'Number' (submit by 18th June 2018)

Number - Your subject, main focal point, or key composition element should be a number (i.e. a numeral / digit - the numeral 3 would meet the criteria, but 3 sheep would not)

    • Competition 3 - October 22nd 2018 - Subject is 'Glass' (submit by 8th October 2018)

Glass - Your images should have something made of glass as the focal point, subject, or key element.

    • Competition 4 - January 28th 2019 - Subject is 'Autumn' (submit by 14th January 2019)

Autumn - Your images should invoke a sense of the season autumn.

Annual 'Photographer of the Year' Trophy

Points are awarded for the top 5 placed images in each discipline, and for those commended by the judge. The scores for each club member from all the competitions during the year are totalled and the club member with the highest cumulative score is awarded the 'Photographer of the Year' Trophy at the AGM.

Check out the previous Warrington District Camera Club Annual 'Photographer of the Year' winners


Studio Nights

Our Studio Nights and Outdoor Shoots

Studio Nights

studio-night (51K)The Club's Studio equipment in use

For our Studio Nights, don't forget to bring along your camera as we will have something or someone interesting to photograph.  No need for a Tripod either as the club has a number of flash heads, backgrounds, reflectors, and a radio flash trigger for use by Club Members at these evenings.  The photo on the right shows our kit in action at one of our Studio nights.

Sample Studio Night Photos

Here are some sample photos from a few of our Studio Nights.

studio-lawry-simm-emily-300px (92K)
Emily by Lawry Simm
studio-andy-gilbert-charlie-300px (68K)
Charlie by Andy Gilbert
studio-mike-lyne-charlie-300px (111K)
Charlie by Mike Lyne
studio-mike-lyne-katie-300px (72K)
Katie Anna by Mike Lyne

Modelling For Us

Being a subject at a Studio Night

We host a number of studio nights throughout the year and we are always looking for interesting subjects.

studio-night (15K)

In the past we have had a number of people join us on a studio or outdoor night in order to model for our members.

These have included:

  • Musicians and singers
  • Dancers
  • Amateur Dramatics Actors
  • Tai Chi instructor
  • Magician
  • Circus Performers
  • Exotic animals and birds of prey
  • A bee keeper
  • Hair and fashion models

Subjects can be of all ages and we have welcomed people aged 16 up to over 80, males or females.

WDCC make no charges for being a subject at our studio sessions and in fact pay your (reasonable) expenses and might be able to provide images and prints after the session taken by our members as a 'thank you'.  If the session takes place in our studio it generally starts at about 6:45pm and lasts until about 9.30pm with a break in the middle.  We meet on alternate Mondays throughout the year.

Alternatively, if requested, the Club can also arrange use of the studio at weekends or out on location by prior arrangement.

If you would like to find out more, please contact us through the "Contact Us" link on the "About Us" menu above.


Use the menu above to access our various galleries. We have a number of embedded Flickr feeds from various members, our own WDCC Flickr Photostream, Photographer Of The Year Galleries, and a selection of external galleries found under the "Other Galleries" Menu.

Photographer Of The Year Galleries

Member Galleries

WDCC Flickr Feed

Other Galleries


About Us

About the WDCC

We are a small club of keen photographers, based in Warrington, Cheshire UK, who all want to improve our skills behind the Camera Lens. Modern digital cameras are portrayed in glossy adverts and shops as cheap, simple, easy to operate (just 'point and shoot') showing wonderful vibrant pictures that have pin sharp focusing and lovely composition. We enjoy those sorts of pictures and want to be more able, and skilled enough, to get close to that standard.

For some people, the reality of a new camera is nothing like those glossy adverts, the digital camera just becomes the means for taking a lot more poor pictures quicker and cheaper! If you want more than poor pictures from your camera, then we can help point you in the right direction. If you find you want to learn more, then please come back and join us!

We are not 'Camera Snobs' who insist you should have the latest and more expensive cameras. It's the brain and the eye behind the camera that can make the biggest difference. Understand your camera, know how it works, it's limitations, and how to compose photographs, and the results will be extremely pleasing. For that reason, we run a varied program throughout the year that includes lectures, practical sessions, social nights, competitions and many other activities.

Don't be put off by the thought of 'competitions', it's not mandatory to enter them! However, you can learn a lot from the photos submitted, hear the judges (constructive) comments, and learn from those for your own benefit. So, sit back and just look at the submitted pictures and after a while, you start to think "I understand what they are saying and I could take a photo like that". You've really got the bug then!

So, please browse around the web site and feel free to contact us using the "Contact Us" page from the "About Us" Menu on the top and we hope to hear from you soon.

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