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!