April 2018 Saint Paul Camera Club Salon

By spring I should have a whole stack of things lined up for camera club competitions, but somehow that never seems to happen. So, as usual, I spent the week before the salon entries were due (in mid-March) trying to figure out what I should enter.

Prints: Open color

Heading into Winter at Wind Cave National Park

I considered saving this image for the upcoming Creative digital challenge, since it is so heavily processed. However, like the Blue Bug photo a couple of months ago, I liked the print and thought it made more sense to enter it as a print.

Artistic image of a couple of buffalo

The judge’s response was simple: “Two cows. Bulls are more dramatic.”

Well, that’s true, but I didn’t have an opportunity to shoot any bulls. But it is a good reminder that sometimes my best shot isn’t going to be good enough because others have shot the same thing better. That doesn’t matter when I’m using an image to tell a story on my website, but it matters a lot when I’m competing. Of course, there is no telling what any particular judge will find ordinary. . .

But he did put it in the awards with a score of 8.

The Big Lake Beckons #2

I have two almost identical versions of these tall ships from a festival in Duluth a few years ago.

two tall ships and harbor light

The original was taken late on a hot sunny morning without a cloud in the sky. It was pretty boring. I did some basic editing in Lightroom to soften some harsh shadows and bring out the color hidden there. That made it an acceptable image, but still not a very exciting one – so I started playing with filter settings and colors to bring it to life. In the end, I had two slightly different “morning light” versions that I liked, but I liked this one best. (I wasn’t really sure why I liked it beset, but I figured it out at the salon.

As the judge pointed out, the light hits exactly where it needs to.  And it got a score of 9.

This is another good example of how post processing (editing) can take a blah photo and turn it into something interesting. The original was really boring, but just changing the color and bringing in some extra light made big difference.

Here’s the original edit before I started playing with it:

tall ships leaving Duluth harbor - original edit

Digital: Public Events/Festivals

The digital theme for this month was public events and festivals, described as such:

Including, but not limited to, county and state fairs, local celebrations, parades, political rallies, and carnivals. Must depict the essence of the event.

I threw out a lot of portraits and detail shots because I didn’t think they got at the “essence of the event.” However, like the Artificial Light competition, this is another salon where my idea of what fit the theme was completely different from the judge’s.

As soon as the judge explained what he was looking for (interactions between people that still showed the context of the event), I knew I had entered the wrong images.

I considered entering this image, which (in hindsight) I think it would have scored well.

mother taking a picture of her child posing with beauty queens

But I wasn’t sure it said Cinco de Mayo strongly enough (it could have been at any urban parade) and I had no idea what was considered a good event photo anyway.

(Of course, some of the top scoring images lacked that personal connection the judge said he was looking for, so I’m not sure how important that was in the end.)

Here’s what I did enter. . .

Aztec dancers celebrate Cinco de Mayo

I entered this image from Cinco de Mayo because it was well composed (not an easy thing to do during a parade) and screamed Cinco de Mayo. And I love photographing this dancer. (I’ve seen her at other events.)

Aztec dancers

The judge gave it a low score and dismissed it by saying “Not a bad picture and I like the framing with the headdress, but I’ve taken better ones of these dancers.”

I get that, but it’s not very useful for improving my photos of this type of event.

Dragon Boat Victory in Hand

I’d considered entering this Dragon Boat Race shot in the Action competition some time ago, but thought it might work better as an event photo.

woman on the bow of a dragon boat pulling the finish line flag from the water

It was probably a good call, as I got in the awards with an 8 for the combination of action and clearly showing what the event was. It’s not a fantastic image, but it does capture a key moment in a way that also clearly identifies the event.