Jan 302013
  • CRITERIA FOR WINNING COMPETITIONS (Part 2):  Professional association judges look at 12 different criteria when judging a print. In my humble opinion that is twice too many, but if you want to do well, pay attention to these items.
  1. Composition is important to the design of an image, bringing all of the visual elements together in concert to express the purpose of the image. Proper composition holds the viewer in the image and prompts the viewer to look where the creator intends. Effective composition can be pleasing or disturbing, depending on the intent of the image maker.
  2. Print Presentation affects an image by giving it a finished look. The mats and borders used should support and enhance the image, not distract from it.
  3. Center of Interest is the point or points on the image where the imagemaker wants the viewer to stop as they view the image.  There can be primary and secondary centers of interest. Occasionally there will be no specific center of interest and the entire scene collectively serves as the center of interest. More next week.
  • USE POLARIZING FILTERS:  A polarizer is a filter that attaches to your lens. They have three main uses: to remove light from your lens (like a neutral density filter would, but adding a color cast);  to remove glare from water, glass, metals or other reflective surfaces; and to enhance or deepen color saturation in outdoor scenes. When used to intensify skies, the strongest effect occurs when you shoot at right angles to the sun. By using a circular polarizer (one that can be rotated when mounted on a lens) you can control the strength of the effect. To properly diminish reflections (glare) look through the polarizer and rotate it until the reflections diminish. Use with care because too much can result in high contrast unseemly photos.
  • COMPOSITION – SHAPES & PATTERNS: Patterns and shapes appeal to many people. They can be used to create strong, dynamic images – if you know how to “see” and capture them. Patterns are simply repetition of objects, shapes, lines, or colors, e.g. a row of street lights, a series of rectangular windows in the side of a wall, converging lines such as railroad tracks, or a meadow full of black eyed Susans, respectively. When you find patterns or shapes, photograph them from different angles to see which ones are the most interesting. Try turning subjects into silhouettes if they are backlit – that way you can make a shape from an object.
  • SATURATE NATURALLY IN CAMERA!: Instead of cranking up saturation in post-production, or even using the VIVID / VIBRANT setting in your camera, try natural saturation by increasing the duration of your exposure. See last week’s tips for info on Neutral Density filters, which can help you do this in good lighting.
  • LEARN FROM YOUR PHOTOS: Use the EXIF metadata written into your photos to learn what settings to mimic when you achieve good images, and which to avoid when you mess up. This data includes ISO, aperture, shutter, lens focal length, shooting mode, flash state, exposure compensation, flash exposure compensation, white balance and more. In most cameras you can view this info when you preview your image on the LCD screen. You may need to turn on view settings, particularly on Nikons. Most software editors let you see this info as well.