Tag Archives: vibrance

Desert Monsoon by T.M. Schultze

Skipping The San Diego Fair Photo Contest

Skipping The San Diego Fair Photo Contest

I have decided to skip the 2016 San Diego Fair Photo Contest.  I was a little hesitant to write this post, because I don’t want to take away the hard work done by the contest judges, or the many participants and ribbon-winners each year.  I did feel I needed to share my thoughts though.

With the advent of digital media and the incredible popularity of photography in this age, the contest has become incredibly popular.  There are usually over 4,000 entries across 34 categories.  The photo contest at the San Diego Fair is both prestigious and accessible to photographers of all types and experience.  This is a great thing!

There are major issues though.  My frustration began with the first year of digital entries (2011), where many of us were elated to find out our images were accepted into the fair only to find out 5 hours later a mistake was made.  Most of us received 2 fair tickets that went unused and a “sorry for the inconvenience.”

Desert Monsoon

Oh cool, I paid $ 72.00 so a few of my friends said they saw it on the wall at the Fair. Sigh…..

It costs $ 20.00 per entry (used to be $ 18.00) so turning in 5 images would incredibly, cost $ 100.00.  This is listed as a processing fee, which is just astounding because it may be some of the most expensive data storage in the entire technology industry.

If your entry is accepted, then the costs don’t end there.  You are given a 16 x 20 surface area for your print, never mind that most of the photography world has permanently converted to a 2 x 3 aspect ratio.  The artist is essentially asked to crop an image they never intended to crop, or they have to use a black bar or other shadowbox effect to fit their image in the size allotted.  And incredibly, I have read one of the judges criticize artists doing this!  The contest itself created that problem.

I have also read judging critiques that seem to show a level of animosity and hostility towards digital work, processing, and modern artistic aesthetic.  While I dislike gaudy HDR tone-mapping as much as anybody, I also don’t believe that film is inherently superior.  I reject many of the arguments that I see that are condescending to digital photography.  The vibrance and saturation sliders are not evil.

Monterey Cypress Birds

This image was accepted into the Fair in 2011. For five hours. Thanks guys. And to think, this was even shot on film!

Your accepted entry also confirms that this is really a photographic print contest, not a photo contest.  There is no doubt that your work is judged on composition and artistic merit, but I have seen articles online of judges criticizing print quality, incidental scratches or other marring that were probably due to mishandling, dropping, or any other issues bound to happen as your work is presented at the reception and during the fair.  Somebody accidentally scratches your print?  Well I hope you don’t mind losing out on a ribbon.

Because of these issues, most people resort to mounting their print to gatorboard or another rigid surface to try to keep the print as pristine as possible.  This is pretty expensive.  My last one cost $ 54.00, bringing my costs up to $ 72.00 for a single image!  On top of that, the gatorboard makes your print virtually impossible to use in a frame in the future, so it is next to impossible to sell the print and recoup your costs.

If you work during the day, you also have additional ways to lose out.  The hours to drop your work off are not easy if you have a day job, and while they do have late afternoon hours, the Fair just happens to be located at the epicenter of some of the worst traffic in San Diego County.  If you are trying to make it home after work at a reasonable hour and don’t happen to live in Coastal North County, it just doesn’t work.

This problem also exists for picking up the gatorboard mounted-work you can’t sell after the fair.  I was fortunate enough to have somebody drop off my work when my last entry was accepted, but incredibly, they refused to allow that same person to pick it up for me!  I was out of town, and as a result, my $ 72.00 investment into the fair was thrown in the trash.

This contest is broken.  The concept and the prestige make it very attractive to the local photography community.  But it needs to be re-engineered and conducted in a way that is challenging, but much less expensive and with better accessibility to artists of all walks of life.

Do you want to try your hand at other contests?  The local PPA club of SD County charges $ 15.00 per image for their contest, and that is pretty steep.  Not recommended.

Poly Photo Club has an array of contests and you only need to be a member.  Same goes for Darkroomers and both of those are highly recommended.  I have several friends who have been guest judges and have said working with those clubs have been worth their time.

When I became the President of the San Diego Photo Club, I encouraged our members to enter the San Diego Fair Photo Contest and many followed suit.  I was proud of all of the members who were accepted into the Fair last year, and a number of people who received ribbons.  But was it worth the cost?  I would say it wasn’t.  Even with a first place ribbon, and a very small honorarium, the true winner is the San Diego Fair.  You paid $ 20.00 for that ribbon, after all.

The San Diego Photo Club is working on a Fall 2016 Photo Contest and I think the only requirement will be membership in the club.  I suspect it will be much more enjoyable by the club as a result.

Adobe Lightroom CC Is Here

Adobe Lightroom CC (Or Lightroom 6) Is Here

As usual, the rumors proved to be true, a new version of Adobe Lightroom is here.  The perpetual (pay as you go) version is called Lightroom 6, while Adobe Creative Cloud users are getting Adobe Lightroom CC.  Both are the same software.

Victoria Bampton’s always excellent Lightroom Queen blog has all of the minute details you need about every feature that Adobe has added.  If you want to see it all, it is an excellent read.

Previously, I detailed the features I hoped would be included in the 6th version of this amazing software.  It is important to realize that this version is an evolutionary upgrade.  There is very little that is obvious.

Below are some of my immediate observations:

  •  The software is much faster.  I am running a 2013 27″ iMac on OSX Yosemite (10.10).  Despite maxing out my RAM at 32GB, some processor-intensive tasks took time.  With the GPU boost, things like image previews feel much quicker.  This version of Lightroom is rock solid.
  • The People addition is potentially a time-saver.  One of my good friends has always given me a tough time because he wants me to send all the images I have taken of him over the years, and I have never wanted to go through my entire Lightroom catalog looking.  I am not diligent at keyboarding, so this is potentially great.
  • The new Adobe Lightroom HDR and Panoramic features have promise.  I rarely need to resort to HDR techniques because my main camera body captures so much dynamic range, but it will be interesting to use.  The HDR function may be useful for other composites like fireworks and lunar eclipse images.  The Panoramic feature will help a lot of people, although my process is to take a single shot that I crop to the traditional 6 x 17 format.
  • The Adobe Lightroom modules still need work.  The Library and Develop modules in Lightroom are almost everything you need.  The Map module is still potentially interesting, and I use Nikon’s GP-1A GPS adapter, but I struggle to come up with a real use for it.  The Book module is another good idea begging to be further implemented.  I still don’t know anybody who has ever used the Slideshow, Print, or Web modules.  I know the Web module has some Responsive Templates, but wouldn’t an artist prefer to use WordPress, SmugMug, or Squarespace instead?
  • It appears that you can up the Lightroom image cache beyond 50GB, which helps with extremely large image sets (events, weddings, composites, etc.).
  • We are still using the Adobe Lightroom 2012 image process.  I still think there is improvement to be made in noise reduction, dynamic range, and color retouching that doesn’t result in overuse of the Vibrance and Saturation sliders.
  • There has been no change to the way filters/plugins are used and applied.  I don’t like that I still have to create a separate TIF file to edit RAW files in Nik Software, MacPhun, Noiseware, etc.  I still wish the “layer and layer mask” functionality in Photoshop would find it’s way to Adobe Lightroom.  I suppose there is always Version 7.
  • There is still no automatic dust detection.  Let’s face it, between our sensors and our glass, dust is a fact of life.  Yes, I can individually select each dust spot, and yes, I do appreciate the contrast view that allows me to see them easier, but I would rather Lightroom just did 99% of that work for me.
  • I still want better batch editing tools in the Develop module.  I can save a little bit of time with the Previous button, but edit one thing and you are essentially starting over.

I need some more time Adobe Lightroom CC, but I will post a follow-up soon with additional feedback.  If you aren’t already a subscribed to the Adobe Creative Cloud Photographer’s bundle, you are definitely missing out.

In the meantime, I would love to know what you think about the software and how it is improving your photography and artistic workflow.