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Comp Image Prep

Competition image preparations

Editing an image for a photographic competition requires attention to detail and a keen eye for various aspects. Here are a few things to check before entering your image into a competition. For those that do not edit use your camera settings to cover these issues.

  • Quality: The image has to have quality to catch the Judge’s eye - “that will do” will not do!

  • Emotion: If you can introduce emotion into a picture you are onto a winner.

  • Composition: Ensure that the composition is strong and follows basic principles like the rule of thirds, leading lines, and framing. Remember to allow for a frame that otherwise may make your displayed image too tight.

  • Interest: If you have a rule-of-thirds grid from the previous suggestion use it to ensure each segment has interest, with contrasting colours if possible. Check the edges for distractions and, ideally, Make the bottom of the picture slightly darker than the rest of the picture.

  • Exposure: Check for proper exposure, ensuring the image is neither too dark nor too bright;adjust highlights and shadows accordingly.

  • Storytelling: in a photograph involves capturing a moment or scene that conveys a narrative or evokes emotion. This can be achieved through composition, lighting, subject matter, and other visual elements that hint at a larger story or invite viewers to interpret the image in their own way.

  • Colour Balance: Ensure that the colours in the image are accurate and balanced. Correct any colour casts that may be present.  A beautiful colour palette, especially with reflections, will always do well.

  • People: if you have people in the shot make sure you can see their faces AND the face is lit well and not overpowered by other fussy distracting details or locally bright areas. Also with people shots make sure they are large enough and not lost in the picture – especially if they are “the Hero”.

  • Contrast: Adjust the contrast to enhance the visual impact of the image. Be careful not to lose any details in shadows or highlights.

  • Eye contact will almost ALWAYS count whether it’s an animal or person. However, ensure they are not too dark and if possible include catchlights.

  • Sharpness: Confirm that the image is sharp and in focus (Zoom to 100% or more and recheck). Use sharpening tools judiciously to avoid introducing artefacts. Are the subjects' eyes sharp? Eyes must be sharp, with catchlights if possible. Discard the image if the subject’s eyes are not sharp.

  • Backgrounds: Avoid large plain skies and watch your backgrounds.

  • Noise Reduction: Check for any digital noise, especially in low-light conditions. Apply noise reduction if necessary, but avoid losing too much detail.

  • White Balance: Confirm that the white balance is appropriate for the scene. Correct any colour temperature issues.

  • Clarity: Adjust clarity to enhance mid-tone contrast and make the image more visually appealing. Be mindful not to overdo it.

  • Crop and Straighten: Crop the image to eliminate distractions and improve the composition. Ensure that the horizon is straight. Imagine the picture divided into halves or quarters and ensure each has interest, with contrasting colours if possible.

  • Lens Correction: Correct any lens distortions or chromatic aberrations that may be present.

  • Vignetting: Check for unintended (visible) vignetting and correct it if necessary. Vignetting should enhance the image, not distract from it.

  • Retouching: Remove distracting elements or blemishes using retouching tools. Be subtle enough to maintain a natural look.

  • Geometrical structures: work well but watch your Depth of Field.

  • Saturation and Vibrance: Adjust saturation and vibrance to enhance or tone down colours.Be careful not to oversaturate the image. Would the image look better in B&W?

  • Dodge and Burn: Use dodging and burning techniques to selectively lighten or darken specific areas of the image, emphasising important elements.

  • Final Image Review: Take a step back and review the image as a whole, ideally 24 hours later. Ensure that all edits contribute to the impact of the photograph. Consider how others may perceive the image.

  • Titling: Your title should be brief and direct the viewer towards an element of your image.

  • And finally, which paper to choose to print on? Gloss, Matt, Fine Art, Metallic paper? Again, your frame will obscure the edges of your print - have you allowed that to happen?

Remember, the goal is not to make the image look good, but to enhance its storytelling and visual impact in a way that aligns with the theme or message you want to convey in the competition. The filename (image title) should be short, pithy, and direct the judge into your story NOT out of the image.

Knowledge Image 1
Knowledge Image 2
Knowledge Image 3
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