Competition Help Details
Its all about winning...
Our Name – The Lutterworth Photographic Society Co-operative (LPSC)
The Co-operative part of our name is because the Central England Co-op have sponsored LPS for the last few years as a part of their mission to support worthy causes amongst the communities in which they operate. All members are therefore strongly urged to join the Central England Co-op. (It will only cost you £1 for life membership.) In response, LPSC members often put on shows for local groups.
A few basics.
All LPSC members are eligible to enter their pictures into the club’s many competitions, but to keep things fair, your pictures must be “all your own” work, (i.e. no outside help is allowed). If it’s a print you want to enter and you have your own printer, then that’s fine. If you want to buy a machine print from a high street store/supermarket or over the internet, then that’s fine as well. However, you’re not allowed to use any specialized printing service that offers to improve your original work, as then it wouldn't be “all your own”.
We usually call Projected Digital Images, PDI’s. (You may occasionally hear them called “slides”, as indeed they used to be in the old days.) You will find instructions on how to enter your pictures into these PDI competitions later on.
Be it a Print or a PDI, here are a few tips that might help :-
First, the image should be sharp. (Not necessarily all over, but at least where you want it to be sharp.)
Next it should be correctly exposed. (Not unintentionally too light or dark.)
Finally it should be thoughtfully cropped to remove unwanted or distracting elements.
New members are usually bewildered by the sheer number of competitions that LPSC run. So we've put a spreadsheet on the website to help you to find your way around. There are two major competition times in the LPSC calendar. The first is at our Annual exhibition, (usually held in mid-August – alongside the town’s other art based groups) where member’s work is seen by the general public. The other time is towards the end of our program year (around Feb/Mar) where the remainder of our competitions are decided, so even if you join us part way through the year, you should still be able to enter these.
How to prepare Prints for entry into LPSC (or external) competitions.
Always check the size restrictions before entering a print into a competition. Sometimes the size limit refers to the image size, such as “up to 35 sq.ins”. This allows a member to purchase a regular shop processed 7”x 5” print and enter it in competition against others who might print their own. (You may also adopt a different aspect ratio, provided you stick within the surface area limit.) However, even when the print size isn't restricted, you will find that all external competitions/exhibitions will stipulate a maximum MOUNT size of 500mm x 400mm. This is to allow standard sized print boxes to be used for transportation. We request that you stick to this maximum mount size for LPSC competitions as well.
Prints can be pretty expensive to make and they are easily damaged, so it is a good idea to mount them with a protective backing board. The use of masking tape is strongly discouraged - after all, it is designed to be removed - and if it becomes detached it could damage an adjacent print during transportation. The use of proper backing tape is much better.
Some competitions stipulate Monochrome images. This means either a Black & White image or a single toned image (sepia, for example). It specifically precludes, the use of partial toning, such as when part of a black & white image has been coloured to create a special effect - red lips or blue eyes for example.
How to prepare PDI's for entry into competitions.
A PDI file is drastically smaller than a print file, so when creating a PDI it is important not to overwrite your original file - one day you might want to print from it. Many members differentiate their print files from their PDI files by changing the names slightly. You are encouraged to do something similar to help you to easily distinguish different sized versions of the same picture. LPSC, (along with most UK exhibitions) has adopted a PDI image size of 1600 x 1200 Pixels.
Please take note, because many people get this wrong. The 1600 refers to the maximum horizontal size of the picture, while 1200 refers to the maximum vertical size. If your image is square, then it should still be 1200px in the vertical size - because that’s the maximum.
After opening the image in Photoshop, here are a couple of ways to crop and re-sizing it.
Select the crop tool.
Remove any values in the crop tool’s “width” and “height” boxes. (Click the “clear” button.) This will prevent the crop tool from re-sizing your image.
Crop your image however you want. You now have an image of the desired proportions, but it will almost certainly contain too many pixels.
Select “Image size” from the “Image” drop down box.
Ensure the “constrain proportions” and “resample image” boxes are both checked. (We are going to squash the image down to the right size, but we don’t want to alter its proportions.)
Now overwrite the value in the “Pixel dimensions” “Width” box, (not the “Document size” “Width” box) to 1600 pixels. (The corresponding value in the “Height” box will automatically update to maintain the image proportions)
If the new updated value in the “Height” box is 1200 pixels or less, then click the “OK” button – you’re done.
However, if the value in the “Height” box is more than 1200 pixels, then overwrite the value in the “Height” box to 1200. (The corresponding value in the “Width” box will automatically reduce to maintain the image proportions.) Now click the “OK” button – you’re done.
Select the crop tool. This time we are going to use the re-sizing feature, (that may optionally be combined with the crop tool,) to do both the cropping job and the re-sizing job in one go.
If your final image is to be in the landscape format, (4:3 or wider aspect ratio) enter a value of 1600px in the “width” box and ensure the “height” box is blank. Go to step 4.
However, if your image is closer to the portrait format, enter a value of 1200px in the “height” box and ensure the “width” box is blank.
Now click and drag the crop tool. Adjust it and re-position it until you’re happy with the selection and finally press the “Enter” key to apply the crop. That’s it – you’re done.
If you want to confirm that the crop tool did in fact re-size your image at the same time as cropping it, you can select “Image size” from the “Image” drop down box and see the current size of your image.
Now’s the time to use the SAVE AS feature and slightly re-name your image, thus preserving the original file. (If you want to enter an external competition, check their entry form, because different Salons/Exhibititions will likely have their own file “naming convention”.)
To ensure correct colour projection, PDI’s need to be saved as .JPG files in the sRGB colour space, using one of the best JPG compression settings - 10, 11 or 12.
This last point about submitting PDI’s as sRGB images is very important. If you’ve set up your camera to record jpg files in the AdobeRGB format, then you’ll need to convert them. If you don’t, then some of the highly saturated colours will not be shown correctly. Even worse, if you’ve set up Photoshop to work in the ProPhoto colour space and you submit it in this space, your images will be quite noticeably different, (usually much darker,) when projected on standardised projection equipment.
The LPSC “naming convention” for projected image files :-
Give your image a descriptive title. For example, Chalkhill Blue - Male Avoid using special characters, like exclamation marks, etc. because most projection software (as well as the Windows operating system) objects to many of them.
If the competition entry comprises a SET of images that will be projected consecutively (such as the Conservation Trophy) then you should place a sequence number followed by an underscore character before each image title, to define your preferred projection order. For example, 1_Mist in the Valley, followed by, 2_Chalkhill Blue - Male etc
Finally, it’s important that your pictures aren’t confused with anyone else’s, so for a given competition, place all your entries into a folder and give that folder your own name.
There are a number of competition evenings with other local clubs. These usually have both prints and PDIs. These evenings (often called “battles”) are always presided over by an external judge (often MCPF approved) who will score each picture on its merits. A few weeks before such a battle, the LPSC competition secretary will ask members to submit their best prints (typically 3 or 4) for consideration to represent the club. From these, the final selection of prints to represent us will be made. (You don’t usually need to submit PDIs because the comp.sec. will have access to the PDI’s that you’ve previously entered into various internal club competitions, heats, etc. from which to make a selection.)
The club membership fee is currently (2019) £15 / year with a £1.50 / night attendance fee, which includes a drink and a biscuit.
Last but not Least -
When you’ve got a question or need help with something, don’t be afraid of asking another member for advice (we were all newbies once and there’s many a problem solved in the tea-break). In addition, if you have any useful suggestions for us, then we would be glad to hear them.
Finally, we’re all here to take pleasure in photography, so good luck and above all, enjoy yourself.
John Haddon (Sec)