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 judges.

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.

Photo entries must be uploaded to Dropbox no later than midnight of the Monday prior to the Evaluation Meeting to give the presenter time to set up the program correctly.

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 (36: three for each of 12 meetings) provides the participant with the highest cumulative score by the end of the year.

Typically, a guest judge is invited to critique the entries and assign a score. Keep in mind that, while the best assessments are objective, the judge’s previous experience is bound to come into play. You may not agree with an judge’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 3 images, distributed in any combination of Assigned Subject and General. 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 judge says is more important than the number. The judge 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. 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.

Digital Submissions Guidelines

  • Paid club members in good standing can submit up to 3 images in each competition (or up to 3 additional images [make-ups] if they did not submit all 3 the previous month).  Members who submit images but cannot attend an Evaluation Meeting can ask another member to record evaluators’ comments and scores.
  • Since we are now meeting via Zoom and not in person, we are not accepting printed images for evaluation. 
  • All digital entries must be in JPEG format, using 72dpi.
  • Each photo must be at least 2000 pixels on the longer side. (If you don’t know how to ensure this, please ask a member for help.)
  • Because we are submitting images via Dropbox, there is no upper limit to the size of the image.

There are two categories:

  1. Assigned Subject:  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 member level.
  2. General/Open: Photos entered here may be any subject other than the Assigned Subject 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 3 images for evaluation, distributed in any combination (all 3 in one, or 1 in one of the categories and 2 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.

So that your Evaluation Meeting images can be sorted correctly for judging, they must be labeled with only 5 digits, with an underscore after the first 3 digits. (You can label your Workshop images any way you like):

Label your Evaluation Meeting images with:

  1. Your membership number (available on the website score page if you don’t remember it)
  2. The initial identifying the subject category (A for Assigned Subject, G for General, and M for Make-Ups)
  3. The number 1, 2, or 3 to further identify the image 
  4.  DO NOT add a photo title—we’d like our judges to assess your images with their own interpretations

    Examples:
      1. For two Assigned and one General: 812_A1   812_A2   812_G1 
      2. For three Generals and one Make-Up: 812_G1   812_G2   812_G3   812_M1 

Each month, all entries for Workshops and Evaluation Meetings must be submitted via Dropbox. You do NOT need a Dropbox subscription to use Dropbox.

Before each meeting, you’ll receive an email that includes the Dropbox link. (For Evaluation Meetings there is a different link for each member level.) 

Images must be submitted no later than midnight of the Monday before the Workshop or Evaluation Meeting.

  • 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.  
  • Make-ups can only be submitted for the month after the month that was missed. In other words, if you submitted only 2 images in March you would have to submit the 1 extra make-up image in April. 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.

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.

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