Photographic Competition

A few tips for taking photographs

In September each year the Society holds its annual photographic competition.  We wish to encourage members to enter photos in the classes in which they will be judged.  The competition is intended as fun, so here are a few hints from the judges.

Taking photos

The Society's Newsletter in May/August 2016 will promote the annual photographic competition so now's the time to start taking your photos or even improve your technique.  

Firstly, get to know your camera and its controls.  Maybe look at the guidance leaflet that came with the camera.  If you wish to use the controls set at Auto, that's fine, but you'll take better photos if you try the other controls.  We don't expect members to have the latest or most expensive cameras as all models of digital cameras take terrific shots.  It's the photographer that takes the photo, not the camera with lots of features.

For practice, take lots of photos of anything, it needn't be a fuchsia at this stage, as we just want you to follow our guidelines.  Take shots from slightly different positions, move nearer or further away, and try the zoom control.  Avoid distractions in your photos like bright colours, windows or door frames, posters, etc., that aren't needed in the photo.  Now look on the camera's screen, and see the difference this makes.  Delete the shots you don't want, this could be most of those you've taken, but it shows you are improving.  Only keep your best photos.

Now try photographing plants, use the guidance notes above, and see how much better your shots have become.  To help you, there are always books and magazines on photography in charity shops, and elsewhere.  During the Society meetings, look more closely at slide shows to see how photos have been composed.

Printing photos

Photographs can be in either portrait or landscape format, with or without a border.  The photo should be well exposed, in focus, not cluttered by other material, but with the subject taking up most of the available space.  To make it "look right", the subject does not need to be in the centre of the photograph, as it may include a group of flowers.

If you have your own printer, use the paper size advised in the NDFS Newsletter.  Photo paper needn't be expensive, why not buy at a Pound shop, Aldi, or Lidl, you'll be surprised how good your photos can look.  If you wish, use the 'compatible' ink cartridges specified for your printer to avoid paying for the more expensive branded inks, but read the guidance notes for your printer.

If you prefer to use commercial printing, such as at Boots, etc., they will be printed on first class photo paper, but check that they offer the paper size you need.

Selecting photos for the competition

Having a selection of photos gives the opportunity to show your best shots.  Again, see the first paragraph under 'Printing photos' above for hints, and be certain your photos meet the requirements included in the NDFS Newsletter.  Enter your name and Class number on the back of the photo.  If you wish, write the details on a sticky label that can be removed.  Hand your photos to the judges before the start of the meeting.  Entry is free to members.

How the judges judge

It makes our job more interesting if there's a good selection of photos to be judged, and the modern digital camera makes it easy for everyone to have a go.  

Although judging is largely subjective, we apply the guidance notes shown above to each photo.  Is the photo in the right class, is it well exposed, is it in focus, clear of clutter, the minimum of distraction, does it use most of the space in the photo, and generally 'looking right".  

You are not limited to entering just one photo, or in just one class.  And we don't expect 'perfect' photographs that would only appear in photography magazines.  At the NDFS meeting, once the winners have been declared, we will both be available should you wish to discuss the techniques in any photos.  Even if you don't win this time round, it is still a valuable experience to enjoying taking photographs.

And finally ... good luck with your entries.

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