Evaluations

While we used to host monthly competitions, we felt it was far more important to view the process as a learning experience rather than a competition. We therefore suspended selecting first, second, and third place winners and asked guest judges simply to provide comments and assign scores to all entries. To stress the teaching aspect over the scoring, we now refer to the process as evaluations from evaluators.

Evaluation Meetings are typically held on the second Wednesday of the month during the club year from September to June, with no sessions during July and August.

Prints must be handed in the night of the evaluation, before evaluating begins. Projected entries must be emailed no later than midnight of the Monday prior to the Evaluation Meeting to give the projectionist time to set up the program correctly.

Specifics on submitting prints and projected entries are detailed in separate information sheets. To be eligible to participate, a member must be in good standing with dues fully paid. It is not necessary to enter photos, though having your own work evaluated greatly enhances your learning experience. And submitting the maximum number of entries in the year (30: three for each of ten meetings) provides the participant with the highest cumulative score by the end of the year.

Typically, a guest evaluator is invited to critique the entries and assign a score. Keep in mind that, while the best assessments are objective, the evaluator’s previous experience is bound to come into play. You may not agree with an evaluator’s comments—take away what YOU consider important and try to avoid taking the rest too seriously.

Member Groups
Participants are divided among three groups based on their level of experience, both in camera club membership as well as photographic know-how:

  • Level 1Beginner, the least experienced in terms of camera club membership and/or photographic skills.
  • Level 2Intermediate, more advanced photographers who have belonged to this or other camera clubs previously and/or have a higher level of photographic skills.
  • Level 3Advanced, the most experienced group, having demonstrated the highest photographic skills.

Added thoughts for visitors and new members to keep in mind:

  • According to one of our longer-term members: “I have found it to be incredibly instructive to observe other members’ photos and to hear the judges’ critiques of all the photos in the contest, not just the ones that I submitted.”
  • Also: Club members have commented over the years that they have seen “great improvement in the photographic skills of those who regularly participate in competitions.”

There are two categories:

  1. Assigned Subject: Photos entered as Assigned Subjects must clearly fit the category as described in the Assigned Subject list. The subject must constitute the majority (over 50%) or be the primary theme of the image. These entries will also be evaluated for composition, technique, and impact.
  2. General/Open: Photos entered as General may be of any subject (including altered reality or obviously manipulated work).

Each month, members may enter three images—prints or images for projection—distributed in any combination. An entry may be color or black and white.

About Altered Reality/Creative Edit: Submitting altered reality photographs is encouraged. Entries may deviate from reality in any way, clearly manipulated in the camera (zooming the lens or shaking the camera) or in the computer (using filters, colors, added objects in the frame, and similar departure from reality). These images can be entered in either category, Assigned Subject or General.

Critiquing Versus Scoring
While scores remain meaningful and can be fun, what the evaluator says is more important than the number. The evaluator is asked to be as specific as possible, considering all aspects of the photograph: impact, composition, and technical characteristics such as exposure, sharpness, distracting elements, clarity of colors or range of whites and blacks, etc.

Our Scoring Guide
We use a fourpoint scoring system that spans a high of 9 to a low of 6:

  • A “9” is an excellent picture, having impact and needing very little, if any,
    improvement.
  • An “8” is a strong picture in terms of subject, composition, exposure, etc., but
    needs minor corrections.
  • A “7” is an average or OK picture, which needs corrections and/or lacks impact.
  • A “6” is reserved for seriously flawed images.

For teaching purposes, we ask the evaluator to comment on aspects that make the 9 images especially strong.

For the 6, 7, and 8 photos, we ask the evaluator to suggest ways to improve these pictures.

Scores and ranks are recorded monthly for Levels 1, 2, and 3. In September, the member (or members) whose cumulated score is (are) the highest in Levels 1 and 2 is (are) invited to move to the next higher Level. Starting September of 2020, the end-of-year cumulative score for Level promotion purposes will factor in the number of images submitted.

Moving up is not required, but people are encouraged to move in fairness to those in each lower level as well as in recognition of their increasing skills.

Regardless of their scores, anyone in Level 1 and Level 2 may request and be granted promotion to the next level. This choice should be considered carefully since the competition is keener in each progressive level and, once promoted, a member may not return to his former level for a full club year.

Photographs garnering a “9” in the digital competition are sent automatically to the webmaster. Those who garner a top score of “9” in the print category are asked to upload those images to Dropbox for the webmaster to include on our website by the end of the weekend following the competition. Thank you!

Evaluators

First, we would like to thank you for accepting our invitation to critique entries during our monthly Evaluation Night. We look forward to your comments!

For those who have evaluated our work before, this is a reminder as well as an update on some changes we have made. For new evaluators, this aims to inform you of the various aspects of our competitions.

Participants are divided among three groups based on their levels of experience, both in camera club membership as well as photographic know-how:

  • Level 1 : the least experienced in terms of camera club membership and/or photographic skills.
  • Level 2 : intermediate, more advanced photographers who have belonged to this or other camera clubs previously and/or have a fair amount of familiarity photographing.
  • Level 3 : advanced, the most experienced group, having been camera club members for a while and having demonstrated a certain amount of know-how in the photographic arena.

We would like to see our guest evaluators score easiest on Level 1 entries, knowing these were taken by photographers with less experience. Scoring can be tougher on Level 3 entries, because these members have the most experience and, to put it bluntly, “should know better.”

Members may enter three prints OR three projected photos in any combination of our two categories :

  1. Assigned Subject: As with most clubs offering this category, photos entered here must comply with the subject assigned for that month, constituting the majority (over 50%) of the image or the primary theme. While clearly fitting the category, these entries must also comply with considerations that constitute strong images; it is not enough that they simply fit this month’s subject. These are evaluated separately within each experience level.
  2. General/Open: Any subject other than that assigned (including altered reality or obviously manipulated work). These are evaluated separately within each experience level.

These are shown within each experience level starting with the least experienced (Level 1), first the Assigned then the General. You will be told the level and category when each new grouping is presented.

Submitting altered reality photographs is encouraged. Entries may deviate from reality in any way, clearly manipulated in the camera (zooming the lens or shaking the camera) or in the computer (using filters, colors, added objects in the frame, and similar departure from reality). These creative images can be entered in either category: If dealing with the Assigned Subject, they should go into that category. Otherwise, the altered images should go into the Open/General Category.

While scores are meaningful, we view this process as a learning experience: What you say in your review is most important. We wish to remind the evaluator that people are entering images they consider their best work at the moment appropriate for the category; being a somewhat sensitive area, it is always best to find positives about the image before voicing problems. While true for everyone, this would probably be most evident among the less experienced photographers/club members in Level 1. Please be as specific as you can, avoiding generalities such as “I like it” or “This is nice,” considering all the aspects of the photograph: subject, composition, and technical characteristics such as exposure, sharpness, clarity of colors, range of whites and blacks, etc. Because guests and relative newcomers to the world of clubs may not be so familiar with terminology, it will be an added bonus if you briefly explain such terms or processes (examples include burn and dodge; negative space; and rule of thirds). Thank you for these considerations.

It is also important for you to know that, while most clubs prohibit conversation during the process, we encourage our members to ask questions if there is something they do not understand. Because we consider these evaluations a learning process, we are hoping you are willing to answer possible member questions regarding your comments on the pictures immediately after you score them. This is not intended to challenge your critique, but rather to enlighten members, especially those less experienced in clubs, when they do not understand something. Feel free to decline if you are not comfortable with this aspect of our evaluation process.

We use a four point scoring system, spanning from a high of 9 to a low of 6. Please try to use the full scale, especially because the range is so limited:

  • A “9” constitutes an excellent picture having impact and needing very little, if any, improvement.
  • An “8” represents a strong picture in terms of subject, composition, exposure, etc. but needs minor corrections.
  • A “7” is an average or OK picture, which needs corrections and/or lacks impact.
  • A “6” is reserved for seriously flawed images.

For teaching purposes, we ask the evaluator to comment on aspects that make the 9 images especially strong. For the 6, 7,and 8 photos we hope the evaluator will comment on how to improve these pictures. Each submission should be rated on its own merits—we do not do runthroughs! Please also try to assign scores consistent with the critiquing. In other words, it is confusing if an evaluation is strongly favorable but the score is low.

Digital Submissions Guidelines

As explained in the instructions About Our Competitions, paid club members in good standing can submit either three prints or three projected images in each competition.  The two mediums can be used interchangeably across the club year, with, for example, all three projected entries substituted for three prints in months when a member cannot be present at a club meeting.  (Members who do the latter, especially snow birds, can ask another member to record evaluators’ comments and scores.)

All projected digital entries must be in JPEG format, using 72dpi.

Following is a simplified explanation of image size, hopefully sufficient for our purposes.  If you need more details, you might Google the subject.  Two measures are involved:

There is only one sizing instruction because the club has switched from using a digital projector and screen to using a TV set:  The pixel dimension or number of pixels per side (in prints this is measured in inches):

  • For projection with our equipment, the longer side must be set at 1920 pixels, with the shorter side allowed to fall where it will, dependent upon the shape of your photograph.  A square format therefore would measure 1920 x 1920.

If you are using Elements:

  1. Click on “Image” (third menu at top left), then
  2. Select “Resize” from the dropped menu, then
  3. Choose “Image Size” to work in the window that opens
    1. Make sure that all three items under that are checked
    2. Go to “Pixel Dimensions” at top of window and type 1920 on either width or height, depending on which side is longer; the shorter side will adjust to keep the ratio of your sides identical to how you had them.

There are two categories:

  1. Assigned Subject:  As with most clubs offering this category, photos entered here must comply with the subject assigned that month constituting the majority (over 50%) or obviously the center of interest of the image.  While clearly fitting the category, these entries must also comply with considerations that constitute strong images.  These are evaluated separately within each level.
  2. General/Open: Any subject other than that assigned for the month (including altered reality or obviously manipulated work).  These also are evaluated separately within each experience level.

In a given month, members may enter three prints OR three images for projection, distributed in any combination (all three in one, or one in one of the categories and two in the other).  Neither category is required—participation is totally the member’s choice.  Any entry may be color or black and white.

Submitting altered reality photographs is encouraged.   Entries may deviate from reality in any way, clearly manipulated in the camera (zooming the lens or shaking the camera) or in the computer (using filters, colors, added objects in the frame, and similar departure from reality).  These images can be entered in either category:  If dealing with the Assigned Subject, they should go into that category; otherwise, the altered images should go into the General/Open Category.

Your digital images must be titled with only two pieces of information (no spaces in between):

  1. Your membership number (available on your name tag as well as the website score sheets if you do not remember it); and,
  2. The initial identifying the subject category:
    1. A for the Assigned Subject
    2. G for General/Open
      1. Examples: 955_A or 978_G

If you have in some way manipulated or clearly altered the realistic view of the subject,   please so identify it by adding a “C” to your initial identifying the subject category.

  • Examples: 955_AC or 978_GC

Each month all entries must be emailed as attachments to the person organizing the projected competition; the Board Member responsible for this important activity is Robert Lyon.

Images must be emailed no later than midnight of the Sunday before the evaluation.

  • A maximum of three make-ups (of three images each) are allowed in a club year, but no make-ups can be allowed for the assigned subject of the month being made up.  Because scores are accumulated only within the club year and start anew each September, there is no such thing as a make-up in September.

  •  Make-ups are limited to one month at a time, that is, if the member missed two months and needs two make-ups, these must be entered on two separate Evaluation Nights.  Put yet another way, a given member can enter a maximum of six images in one given month.

  • As stated earlier, if print entrants know in advance that they are unable to attend a meeting and choose not to ask other members to bring their prints, the three images may be e-mailed the previous Sunday as projected entries.  This is an ideal solution for snow birds to maintain their competition status.

  • When you send digital images as make-up, it would be helpful to our projectionist if you so identify this in the text of your email.

Print Submissions Guidelines

As explained in the instructions About Our Competitions, paid club members in good standing can submit either three prints or three projected images in each competition.  While most competition meetings will cover both prints and projected, this is not guaranteed.  Ample notice will be given to all members.  When we offer both, the two mediums can be used interchangeably across the club year, with all three projected entries substituted for three prints in months when a member cannot be present at a club meeting.  (Members who do the latter, especially snow birds, can ask another member to record evaluators’ comments.)

  • The minimum size that can be submitted is an 8”x10” photograph.  Panoramic pictures may be entered in any subject category, with the minimum size of the photograph 10,” on the long side.  The entrant should keep in mind that, while less expensive to offer a smaller print, smaller sizes have lower impact, thus typically do not score as well as larger prints.

  • The maximum outside (mat) dimension that our light box can accept is 24”, making the print measurement smaller, allowing mat to show.
  • Each print must be mounted separately on its own mat; this means that mats containing two prints is not allowed.  Either black or white mat board, considered more “professional” and museum quality, is required.  The print can either be “floated” atop a solid mat board or can be attached behind a professionally pre-cut mat frame with a window appropriate to the amount of photograph the member wishes to expose.

  • Mats/mat boards are to be neatly cut, which is why we recommend buying your preferred size and re-using them if cost or storage space is an issue.

  • Mats and mat frames can be bought ready-made at art supply stores such as Michael’s or Jerry’s Artarama in Deerfield Beach.  (Two on-line sources: jerrysartarama.com and NASCO Arts & Crafts at www.eNasco.com.) They are available in various sizes, individually or in packs.

  • Mats with pre-cut windows and solid mat boards can be re-used if prints are attached to them using artist tape, which can be bought from an art supply store; it looks like masking tape, but with a different adhesive designed for attaching pictures to reusable mats.  An alternative is  painter’s blue adhesive tape, which can be removed neatly without damaging either print or mat if separated slowly on an angle.

  • It is important that no tape be visible because during the competition exposed tape may inadvertently attach to another print, something to be avoided.

  • If the print is “floated,” simply wind the tape on itself, attaching between the back of the print and the front of the mat.  If the print is placed behind a pre-cut mat, make sure the tape is firmly affixed; it is best to attach a mat board backing so no tape is showing.  No frames, hooks, or sticky substances are allowed on the front or back of any part of the presentation.

  • There can be no signature, photo title, or other writing on the front of the print or mat.

All entries must have a label affixed to the back of the print in the upper left corner, providing your name and membership number.  The club will supply these labels at each meeting.  Labels can be re-used on mats that are re-used by simply crossing out the old score.

All entries must be submitted before the start of the evaluation.

If special circumstances arise (illness or other unavoidable circumstances) which prevent the member from attending the meeting, the person can send entries with another member or choose to do a make-up the following month.

  • A maximum of three make-ups are allowed in a club year, but no make-ups can be allowed for the assigned subject of the missed month.  The make-ups are intended for those meetings that a member cannot attend due to illness or other commitments.  Because scores are accumulated only for the club year (September-June), they are wiped clean and start anew in September, so there are no make-ups in September.

  • Make-ups are limited to one month at a time, that is, all three missed entries to be submitted together with regular entries the first month that the member attends a meeting.  Put another way, a given member can enter a maximum of six prints (and/or projected) in any given month.  Thus, if the member missed two months and needs two make-ups, these must be entered on the two separate  Evaluation Nights that the member attends.

  • As stated earlier, if print entrants know in advance that they are unable to attend a meeting and choose not to ask other members to bring their work, the three images may be e-mailed by the previous Sunday as projected entries.