Club Competitions: the 'Why?' and 'How?'

Why?

Competitions are an excellent way of improving one's skills in photography. On the night of the competition, every entry is scored by a panel of 5 volunteer members, and the work will be critiqued by a qualified judge who gives opinions as to how improvement might be made. Competition nights are well attended because most members seem to enjoy hearing such stuff!

PLEASE don't think that as a new member or a beginner that you can't or shouldn't enter our competitions - it doesn't matter how good you are or what kind of equipment you use - you stand just as much chance as the next member. Also - if this bothers you - you will not be identified as the author of an image unless you have really impressed the judge to the point of being offered a commendation or even a place in the top three, and the buzz you will get from hearing your name associated with a 'place' is very gratifying! Simply put - you will get considered critque and a score which helps you to discover your level compared to other members.

How?

We run a dozen or so competitions spread across the year: themed; open subject (i.e. anything goes); inter-club battles, etc.. Details of these are shown in our programme. Media supported are: Prints: 2 classes - Colour & Monochrome, Digital projection images (DPI): 1 class, which can be either colour or monochrome. The separation of prints into two classes is a throw-back to the days of 'wet' prints produced in a darkroom - the two variants were quite different in the difficulty of production, mono being the easiest to process by far. DPI is the modern equivalent of the old 'slide' or 'transparency'.

There are 6 competitions per year which we call the 'Set' competitions: these are all open class and comprise 3 print and 3 DPI (Digital Projected Image) compeittions. The scores for entries to these are assigned by a panel of 5 volunteer members (any member is elligible to join this panel) and are totted up to define who is graced with receiving some silverware at Awards Night at the end of the season in May.

The club now has separate levels of entry to the 'set' competitions: 'General' and 'Advanced'. This is so that less experienced members are not completely overwhelmed by those who are demonstrably more so - it would be discouraging for a member who has only recently entered the fray to feel that he/she doesn't stand a chance against the 'old hands'. The assignment of members into each group is based upon a number of factors, including success in previous competitions (whether inside or outside the club), the perceived skill level of the member (a photographic qulaification or distinction?) and also taking the member's desire into account. The process of separation is overseen by the chairman who is always happy to discuss the principles and the decisions based upon them. The intent is to create a level playing field in which all members can develop and achieve the best they have to offer.

Incidentally, we realise that the cost of producing a print is fairly obviously considerably more than the near-zero cost of generating a digital image, so please note that there several members who possess good photo-printers and who are always happy to provide prints for you to enter into competitions. Typically, these members will charge only for the cost of the materials making the production of prints very affordable. Of course, you are entitled to get your prints made anywhere you like but it is fairly sure that 'trade' processors are not going to give you the precise output you would like to see at a price you'd like to pay!

Set competitions can often be over-subscribed: however, we need to give the critic enough time per image to give sensible and meaningful feedback, so this means that 80 to 90 entries per competition is about the limit. If there are more than that, the entries will be cut back.....see further down this page for more details on how this is done.

Entries to all competitions
...are made by means of our on-line submission system, whcih can be accessed here (but only if you're a member, of course).

Full details of image format regulations are shown inthe rules but this is a summary:
Prints:
All prints for a competition MUST be mounted. There is no minimum or maximum size of mount, or any rules as to HOW you mount (e.g., bevel cut aperture or simply stuck down flat) but it should be neat, support the print and NOT adhere to the adjacent print in the stack! This latter requirement is VITAL!! In the past, prints have been ruined because members have decided to use the cheapest, nastiest sticky tape which then peels off in transit and becomes oh-so-firmly attached to the face of the adjacent print. PLEASE NOTE that prints found to have peeling tape will be disqualified from the competition without notice. THE CLUB SELLS AT A LOW PRICE A GOOD QUALITY TAPE WHICH WILL NOT PEEL OFF IN THIS WAY, BUT WHICH CAN STILL BE DELIBERATLEY REMOVED.
Colour and Monochrome
Each print competition allows you enter an arbitrary mix of four 'C'olour and 'M'onochrome prints - i.e. 4C, M+3C, 2M+2C, 3M+C or 4M but only four in total. It's a good idea to even these out if you want to stand a chance of achieveing a 'consistency' award - see below.

Be sure to prioritise your entries using the 'sort order' facility when registering them on the on-line upload system - the image(s) with the HIGHEST sort order numbers from all members in either or both categories may be removed from the competiion - see 'cutting back entries' below. A (DPI format) digital copy of the print must be supplied via the club's competition upload system prior to midnight on the 'hand-in' date of the competition, which registers the entry and which will provide a judge with a preview. (See below for details on this) HOWEVER, you don't have to hand in the physical prints until the club night which is a week before the competition, by which time the competition secretary will have decided and announced by email whether or not to 'cut' the entries back - this means that you won't have to print something that doesn't get entered.

Incidentally, according to the PAGB rules, a monochrome print is defined thus:

"A black and white image which has been modified by the addition of a single tone to the entire image is defined as a Monochrome Print."

...whilst...

"A black and white image which has been modified by the addition of partial toning or by the addition of one colour to any part of the image is defined as a Colour Print"

So, a print which is (say) sepia toned over its entire image area is monochrome, but (e.g.) a B&W image with a pillar box picked out in red is a colour image.

Digital Projected Images (DPI):
JPEG files, please, of maximum dimensions 1920 pixels horizontally and 1200 pixels vertically. I.e., a portrait format image MUST NOT EXCEED 1200 pixels high, which will mean that it uses less than the 1920 width. Images should be supplied to the competition secretary by the 'upload' method on this site prior to midnight on the stated hand-in date, or in exceptional circumstance the internal competition secretary may allow the delivery of such data on physical media at his/her discretion. Help can be given to members who might have difficulty in complying with this need. If you want a simple way to down-size a batch of images, the club provides software to do this which runs on Windows PCs - you can download it here. It is free of nasties, so if your Nanny Windows or anti-virus warns you about it, you are quite safe to run it. We do not have a version for Apple Mac, sorry.
Cutting Back Entries:
Well-subscribed competitions may require that the competition secretary reduces the number of entries, so that we stand a chance of getting through them in one evening. So PLEASE be sure to prioritise your entries when registering them via the upload system - the fourth and/or third numbered image(s) from all members in any or all categories may be removed from the competition. This causes no hardship for members where DPI entries are concerned but to preclude unnecessary cost regarding the production of prints, you don't have to hand in the physical prints until the club night following the submission deadline, by which time the competition secretary will have decided whether or not to 'cut' the entries back - this means that you won't have to print something that doesn't get entered. Entries that are 'cut' are classed as not having been entered and may be re-submitted to a future competition in the same season..

Winning entries:
Anything that gains a 'commended' or 'highly commended' distinction cannot be entered into another club competition during the same season. Anything that gains a 1st., 2nd., or 3rd., can never be entered into any futureclub competition, which in the spirit of things should be read to include 'cross-media' entries (e.g. the image of 1st. placed print should not be entered into a DPI competition and vice-versa).

The Competition Upload System is our unique means for you to submit your entries into club competitions. The system is used for all media (Prints and DPI) and the specifications for the images to be uploaded are given above. The software was designed by us and created for the purpose by past-member James Joyce: it is simple to use and has shown itself to be very robust. Instructions for use are almost unnecessary due to the intuitive operation. It suffices to say that you MUST confirm each entry when you are invited so to do by the software, and you can be certain that an entry is registered if you are able to see the images when you inspect 'past and present competition entries'. If you experience any difficulties, don't leave it to chance - get in touch with the competition secretary, either personally or by email. DO REMEMBER TO PRIORITIZE YOUR ENTRIES BY ADJUSTING THE 'SORT ORDER' FUNCTION!!

Remember - if you're wondering how to manage resizing your images for the upload system, or are fed up with the effort involved with your current method, why not try our resizing utiliy - very simple to use and free to download from here .

The Charlie Williams Memorial Trophy

This Competition is designed to push members' image making skills ever onward and upward. Starting in August each year, it comprises ten, themed, monthly on-line competitions to which members can submit one image. The entered images are then judged on-line by all (and only) the members who have entered the competition. When the scores are in, there is a de-brief meeting where individual critiques are offered prior to the winner being announced. The member with the best 8 months' aggregate scores out of the ten competitions is awarded the Charlie Williams Trophy. Entries are made and scored by using our submission system and more details can be found on the members' forum here

External Competitions

We encourage our members to enter external competitions, all of which help the profiles of both our club and its members. A number of these are club-based whilst others are designed for individual entry. Some are free to enter, others bear an entry fee. Our External competition secretary keeps a close eye on what is going on, and will post notices, warnings, calls for images and results in the 'Competitions and Exhibitions' forum.

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