October salon enteries

Somehow the new year has rolled around without my actually publishing anything here. Time to change that.

First up: October’s Saint Paul Camera Club salon.

This year started off with a change. Last year, each monthly salon had both an open print (rotating between mono and color) and a themed digital component. with members allowed to enter up to three images in each category. That’s changed. Now members can only submit two images in each category. That’s been a big concern for me, as the only images I’ve received awards for were entered as my third choice — in other words, images that I really liked, but didn’t think would win so only submitted along with a couple of others that I thought would be winners. (Obviously I need to get better at selecting images for submission!)

Not to spoil the suspense, but the first competition of the season did indeed prove that I have no idea what the judges look for.

Color print entries for October

Remember, I only get to submit two now!


This shot was taken in Alaska’s Denali National Park several years ago. I’ve always liked the way the active rabbit is moving toward me at an angle perpendicular to the one sitting quietly in the background. It provides a little context and works almost as a study with the two views of the rabbit.

The judge, on the other hand, didn’t think much of the cropping. Ok, I’ll be honest: she hated it and recommended cropping out everything but the rabbit in front.

I thought I would hate her suggestion, but I like it more than I expected.

close-up of approaching rabbit

I still miss the rabbit in the background, but the tighter crop does make the rabbit pop. I’m not sure it makes it a great competition print, but it seems like it might be a really good image for stock photography.

It quickly became clear that the judge really really liked simple images with one point of interest. (A point made about other photos too, not just about my rabbit.) I thought that would bode well for my second image, a close-up of a peony from my garden.

pink peony

Nope. While she liked the single, sharp focus point, she didn’t like that the petals closest to the lens weren’t sharp. It was too distracting. I’m not even sure how to get a long enough depth of field to shoot a close-up of a peony without getting any blurring anywhere. (It’s a lot of depth to keep perfectly still and in focus.) Still, if I can figure out how to do it with the lenses I have, it would be nice to see if it really is less distracting. Personally, I find the sharp area on the lower petal more distracting.

Digital monochrome entries for October

I figured out long before she got to the digital images that she would hate mine. Which turned out to be a good guess.

Actually, she liked my picture of a herd of zebras . . . once she cropped it.

Zebra in Botswana

Zebra herd Botswana - playingwithphotography.com

(She actually cropped it herself to demonstrate how much better it would be. Her crop was something like the above.)

She’s probably right. The trees in back are distracting no matter what, but less so when the zebras are more tightly framed. And there is still enough context for it to make sense. . . although they feel crowded in that tight of a frame.

You can probably guess by now what she thought of my picture of Seven Mile Bridge in Florida.

Seven mile bridge with boat

After a little lecture about how photographers really need to take more time composing their shots instead of just grabbing them as they walk by (FYI: I spent a couple hours at this site over the course of the afternoon), the judge once again recommended cropping and demonstrated how she would do it.

closeup of 7 mile bridge

Or something like that.

It’s funny, but her crop is almost exactly the picture I expected to take at this site. However, once I went through my shots I didn’t think it was as interesting as others. I still don’t, but I can see why she doesn’t like my shot. I’m ok with that, but I was insulted by the assumption that — just because she didn’t like my shot — that I hadn’t spent any time considering what I was shooting! Maybe I didn’t make great aesthetic choices, but they were thoughtful choices.


So that’s how October went.