What the judges are looking for..

This post is all about what the judges of this photo competition will be looking for in the photographs that you enter remember..

Send your entries, the theme is Spring, to thedigitallightroom@gmail.com and include ‘Photo Submission’ in the subject field.

1. First and foremost, do we like the picture.  If we do, and you can apply this to any of the photographs that you have liked recently, there’s a good chance it ticks most of the following boxes..

2. Point of Interest – Is the subject of the photograph clearly identifiable?  When we look at the photograph is the point of interest the first thing we see or are there lots of elements competing for our attention? In a good photograph, once the subject is identified and the first impression formed, we should then be encouraged to explore other areas of the image before returning to the point of interest.

3. Composition – A strong photograph will give the impression of being well organised and tidy. There are thousands of books out there on composition alone but the nuts and bolts of it are how well-ordered the elements in the photograph are.  Composition ‘rules’ are a good starting point so long  as employing them improves the image.  A case in point might be putting something, anything in the foreground, regardless of whether it enhances the picture..

Here’s a few useful pointers..

The rule of thirds is useful in organising the elements in the picture.  Imagine a tic-tac-toe or noughts and crosses grid (some cameras helpfully have the grid visible through the viewfinder) and try to put your centre of interest on one of the points where the lines intersect.

Fill the frame and control the background. Try and exclude elements in the background that may distract the viewer’s attention away from the point of interest. You can frequently do this by changing your position, perspective or depth of field. I’ve already mentioned that foreground interest can enhance a composition but it mustn’t compete with your main subject but rather compliment it. Use lead in lines if there are any to draw your viewer’s eye to the subject of the picture.

4. Technical Quality – We’ll be looking to see if the focus is sharp and the exposure appropriate.  The centre of focus should be on the subject of the picture. The background may be intentionally blurred (bokeh) of course or the focus may be slightly softer if taking a portrait.  We’ll be asking ourselves:

  • Is the sharpest point in the image on the subject of the picture?
  • Does the focal length or zoom enhance the subject or the message?
  • Does the depth of field compliment the subject, mood or look of the image or does it detract from it?
  • Does the colour help set the mood?
  • If the image is in colour, would it be better in black and white or vice versa?

5. Memorable photos usually have a story to tell that invokes an emotional response.

  • Does the photo make a statement that you can put into words?
  • Can you relate to the subject or the situation?
  • What could be changed in the image to give it a stronger message or story?

6. Lighting – There are whole books written on lighting just as there are with composition but essentially we will be looking to see..

  • If the intensity and colour of light appropriate for the subject.
  • If the light is too harsh, too contrasty, too soft or too flat.
  • If the lighting in the picture enhances the mood and focuses attention.
  • If the light helps convey the overall message of the picture.
  • If the colour is balanced or corrected for light temperature i.e. white balance, giving the picture a natural look and if it isn’t, does the colour cast contribute to the photo.

7. Creativity – We’ll be looking to see..

  • If the photo discloses more about the subject or shows it in unexpected ways.
  • If the photo relates visual elements in unusual and intriguing ways.
  • If the photo is interesting and fresh.

As I said, If we like the picture, there’s a good chance it ticks a good number of these boxes.

We have a couple of great prizes on offer remember – A copy of Topaz Black and White Effects for the winner and a copy of Topaz Adjust  for the runner up so

Send your entries to thedigitallightroom@gmail.com and include ‘Photo Submission’ in the subject field.

The picture below won the January Nikon ‘In Frame’ pro photo competition and was taken by myself, Chillbrook – www.cornwallphotographic.com.

The judges of the Nikon competition remarked on the sky and the mist and concluded that the picture proved a black and white landscape could have just as much impact as a colour one.  I was very aware of the light and how quickly it was changing as the clouds came and went and tried to use it to enhance all the elements in the photograph.  I didn’t take just the one picture but it was the light in this one that led me to choosing it.

I won a Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens with this picture.  If we can make the Digital Lightroom Competition a success we may be able to encourage Nikon and Canon to put up similar prizes in the future so it’s up to you, get those entries in! 😉


Wheal Coates

26mm f/16 1/100 sec. ISO-100

dfi-dmrc-enabled-btn-white (2)


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4 responses to “What the judges are looking for..

  1. Reblogged this on adrianpym and commented:
    Get your entries sorted – a few tips on what we are looking for in your images.

  2. Reblogged this on Mark Simms Photography and commented:
    Here is the latest post from the Digital Lightroom team. Remember that the theme for the first competition is Spring and you have till 8th March to submit your entries…

  3. Great tips to employ for self evaluation of any and all photos, regardless of competition. Thanks!

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