As many of the nature and photo club members out there we want to improve the quality of our work. One way to measure the quality of your images is though your photo clubs and international photo salons. I am new to the world of photography salons, but decided to try my hand this last year on the local and international photographic salon circuit in an attempt to get a better understanding and feeling for which images make it to the top.
So far I have had mixed results within the Nature and Monochrome sections with my images entered in the nature category (birds and mammals) doing much better than those in the monochrome category. I entered a variety of different images in 13 International and local salons and enter a maximum of 4 images in the Nature and on occasion in the Monochrome categories. Out of these entries I received 48 Acceptances, including 1 PSSA Silver Category winner, 4 Certificates of Merit, 1 Salon Honorary Mention and 1 FIAP Honorary Mention. Is this acceptable? I have no idea yet as I am feeling my way through the process but by getting some acknowledgement for the images entered an encouraged to try and improve. Most of the images I entered were taken on the various CNP Safaris and a few taken while on personal safaris to the Kgalagadi.
So how are the salon results influencing my nature photography? Well I am more critical of what I enter in salons and photo competition as I am looking for images with higher visual impact and action as well as story telling value. What I have leant through experience is that a great sighting does not always equal great photography. You may have been witness to the most incredible scene, but the photographic value of the scene could be zero and will be reflected as such in your salon points. You need to be able to take your own emotion out of the images you plan to enter and look at them coldly as a judge would and based on the photographic quality of the image, and then decide if it is worth entering. I believe that taking part in these salons is one of the elements, which is helping me to measure my own images and so doing improve my own photography and photographic appreciation of a good image.
Take your results achieved in the salons and really compare your images against those images which did well in the salon. Then ask yourself how you could have improved on that image. Is it a technical issue i.e. Depth of Field, ISO, Shutter speed or could you have done something with the perspective or angle of light. Whatever you decide detracts from a better image, is either something you could have managed while you were shooting the scene or something totally out of your control like the background or where your subject was positioned. If the latter, then take your shots and know that it is a record shot only. By doing this post salon review you start to build a frame of reference upon which you can draw whether you are in the bush or studio and which will stand you in good, stead in the future.
You need to appreciate that only a small number of images make it to the Acceptance level in a salon. Even if your image is technically correct, it may on the day not make it against a set of images, which the judges deem to be better in terms of technicality or story telling value. That same image may do very well in another salon on another day so do not give up when your results are not what you expected.
What is most certainly helping me is the 5 star rating system we use and teach our clients while on a photographic safari with CNP Safaris. This rating system provides a clear “filter” which you use when you look at a scene and how you shoot an image.
Good luck and keep on taking part in your Photographic Clubs and salons as it is only when you measure yourself that you know what and where to improve.
CNP Safaris can most certainly help you get your nature photography to the next level by adding many high quality images to your personal portfolio. CNP does through the fantastic destinations it frequents, the unique photography “platforms” it uses and professional guidance while on safari with us.
Contact us today for more information.