Independent Canadian book publishers working in Dominica, W.I. specializing in coffee table books of architectural treasures and lush gardens. We also promote fine artistic photography. This blog contains unofficial reports and comments from our various trips, photo sessions, and jobs – an unofficial scrapbook of our travels, explorations and photo-related work. See “about” for more.

Posts tagged ‘art prints’

Our 5th International Photo Salon

Dear friends,
To break with our routine and hurricane related things, this post is about something else – although surely hurricane Maria still plays its role in many aspects of life – this one included.

Some of you may remember that every year we organize international photo competition under patronage of such important organizations as RPS, FIAP, PSA and others. This year was no exception – although it was totally different and we will remember it for a long time.

The hurricane Maria made our 5th edition of Ozone Zone International Photo Competition much harder to run. Originally scheduled for November, judging of submitted photos had to be postponed.

One juror had to be emergency evacuated to another island as her family member required immediate medical treatment of hurricane inflicted injuries. Another juror had to bring family out of Dominica – also due to hurricane impact. And another juror along with Salon’s chair person – Derek and Margaret (which is us) lost their newly built house, many personal belongings, and were living in their Subaru car for several weeks after. Not the perfect scenario for finalizing a prestigious photo salon.

We rescheduled closing of the Salon to end of March, but even that proved to be a real challenge.
Although all jurors had a chance to meet and work together after sorting personal matters, it wasn’t exactly smooth.


Eight months on we still have no internet (to post this or deal with online salon submissions we need to travel to another town in hope of finding a spot with reasonable connection). The house we used for judging is badly damaged and leaks with every rain. We reviewed photos on a smallish monitor and a laptop (computer and big screen used before were damaged) using generator as the source of electricity, without running water or any other conveniences.

Reviewing all photos submitted from all corners of the planet while we felt cut-off from the rest of the world had been almost surreal experience. Seeing so many really fine photographs was uplifting and inspiring, reminding us that there is still room for creativity and beauty in our world – and that daily chores do not need to always end with using chainsaw or any other tools we used so extensively to survive the past months.

It was a good edition of our Salon although we nicknamed it “the Hurricane Edition”.
Now we are just finishing off all related duties such as sending medals and awards, reports to FIAP, PSA and other photo organizations, and so on.

We want to share with you a few best photos in hope they will give you lots of viewing pleasure.
You can see much more on competition’s website www.internationalphotocompetition.com on page WINNERS. This year’s categories were OPEN, LOVE, PORTRAIT and NUDE, MONOCHROME.
Enjoy, and until next time.

Derek and Margaret

Please note – all images are copyrighted, no usage without authors’ written authorization.

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Last Few Months (and more)

A.Brouwer Paints His Tavern Scenes. From left: Herman Surkis, Tom Gore, Dasty Hughes, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley, Carl Constantine, Mike Hebdon, Aleta Eilasen, (+ Sally The Dog). Makeup aleta, props - Derek, Costumes - Dusty + Disguise The Limit, lighting consultation - Jon Hoadley.

A.Brouwer Paints His Tavern Scenes.
From left: Herman Surkis, Tom Gore, Dasty Hughes, Derek Galon, Jon Hoadley, Carl Constantine, Mike Hebdon, Aleta Eilasen, (+ Sally The Dog). Makeup aleta, props – Derek, Costumes – Dusty + Disguise The Limit, lighting consultation – Jon Hoadley.

The last few months after returning from the jury session of Al Thank Awards in Austria, were interesting for me in one particular way – I received more medals and awards for my Painterly photo series. Namely – eighteen more of them, received at such salons as the German International DVF Photocup, 7th International Photographic Salon Varna, 8th International Emirates Photography competition, PIPA (Photovivo) 2014 Singapore, and several others. It is always great to receive medals and awards, as it assures one that he is on the right path with currently created images, but the nicest award for me are comments of people who enjoy seeing my photographs, and I received several of these too.

Pan, Bacchus, and Ceres.  Bacchus, Pan, and Ceres - medalist at London International Salon of Photography 2013, in UK, and Gold medal winner at 151st Edinburgh International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography 2013, in UK.With lighting assistance by Jon Hoadley. All models from Victoria, Canada. Top left: Chrisscreama, Standing Center: Walking dreamer, Bottom left: Aleta Eliasen, Daniel Corbett, Michael Ward, Derek Galon (me!), Chrisscreama again (far right), Model in front: Kim Brouseau

Pan, Bacchus, and Ceres. Bacchus, Pan, and Ceres – medalist at London International Salon of Photography 2013, in UK, and Gold medal winner at 151st Edinburgh International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography 2013, in UK.
With lighting assistance by Jon Hoadley.
All models from Victoria, Canada. Top left: Chrisscreama, Standing Center: Walking dreamer, Bottom left: Aleta Eliasen, Daniel Corbett, Michael Ward, Derek Galon (me!), Chrisscreama again (far right), Model in front: Kim Brouseau

The whole “Painterly” series is a continuous challenge, pushing me to explore new techniques and learn more and more about lighting. Thanks to generous help of my friend and a fine photographer Jon Hoadley, I am lucky to use his ProFoto lighting set. The B1-air strobes and soft-boxes used for my work are highly impressive, versatile, and very reliable. I was just recently commenting to Jon that I am seriously impressed with these lights – when by an unusual coincidence the ProFoto people found my “Painterly” series  impressive too, and offered me a spot on their prestigious blog about select professional photographers and artists. I could not turn such opportunity down, and the result of it had just been published: “Derek Galon Recreates a Classical Painting with a Clever Use of Flashes and Softboxes”.    Thank you, ProFoto, it is an honour to be profiled on your fine blog!  Have a look by CLICKING HERE!

What else?   Well, it is nice to see  our books get more and more popular in UK and Europe, as our British distributor orders them now quite frequently.   We just visited several fine gardens in Victoria, during the Open Garden program. If there are any nice photos, I will share them with you soon.  Exotic Gardens of the Eastern Caribbean - more news!

What else? I just wanted to quickly update you on all our activities, feeling a bit guilty about my long silence. Ah, yes! We are preparing for another shooting trip to the Caribbean. Dominica – one of our most favourite islands will be the place of my first Caribbean aerial photo and video work. Yes, I am bringing my flying camera Phantom 2, and I am eager to share with you results of this trip!
For these who did miss my first official aerial video, here it is again – Flying Over Abkhazi Gardens and Tea House, in Victoria, BC, Canada.   Just click on the image below, and video will start to play.

I am so happy I decided to learn this flying system. It is not easy, but gives amazing new possibilities, and captures fantastic, immersive images. You can’t get such feel when shooting from a “regular” helicopter or a small airplane. Why? You are never so close to the subject, and  a tele-zoom lens won’t reproduce that unique feel of overflying a place at a close range. Just have a look at this video.

Well, this is all at the moment, I will post something when we land in Dominica, and then – after return, when I will have a ready, edited video – you will be the first to see it!
Thanks for stopping by, Margaret sends regards  (she is working on a new book, spending hours alone doing some research).
Cheers! If you like it – please SHARE!
Derek

All photos and video copyright Derek Galon and Ozone Zone Books.

 

Preparing photos for fine photography competitions /salons – juror’s tips – part 5 (and last).

 

Jury at work. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.

Jury at work. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.


It is time for my last major tip, which can make the vital difference in the success of your image submitted into a major photo salon.
#4 – Take your time to edit your images the best you can.
I’ve seen it many times, and as a juror I did it many times; I rejected images at the first screening due to their technical shortcomings.

If you just jumped here without reading previous parts, here are direct links to them:  Part #1,   Part #2Part #3Part #4.

Here is an example from the Al-Thani Awards once again. There was an image telling a powerful, sad story. A very emotional one, showing a very sad dog sitting patiently at the bedside of an old, sick lady in hospital. It was strong and moving – and we all were impressed. What a moment to catch. However, the photo was really of visibly poor quality, like an unedited snapshot. A bit milky, not sharp, with blown whites – it was just too poor to accept, and we all reluctantly had to say “no”.  These really poor edits will usually be rejected at the first chance (typical problems for such instant rejects would be for example a slanting, uncorrected image with vertical lines of a landscape falling to one side, over-sharpened images, images with a very high noise level, photos with all whites “blown”, or taken with camera flash and showing the “red-eye symptom”. However, I assume you know about such basic technical problems and we won’t discuss it here.  Your photo, matching well the salon theme was seen by jurors who decided it has freshness, tells a story, and is worth keeping. It is kept on side with a number of other entries, awaiting final judgment. Will it win?


Well, that depends. Now, with just a handful of images in each category, jurors will have more time to see your work in more detail, and to convince each other WHY their favourites should be voted better than other excellent and competing images. Once again jurors will consider composition, crop, the story or message of each image, their artistic, journalistic or documentary values. But quite often the final aspect deciding about the winners is the technical quality of a print or digital file.
While all images kept for the final stage are really very good, jurors can take a closer look and pick the most perfect, flawless work. A telephone pole far away on a hill in otherwise serene landscape photo – you forgot to clone it out. A composite image showing jagged outline on elements pasted from other photos – you didn’t clean it meticulously enough. Quality of the print – did you optimize your image for printing? Or it looks too dark, or perhaps it has some tiny bright spots “blown” showing paper without ink coverage? That would look bad in a  printed catalogue, showing that you are not the master deserving the top award.  Is the lighting on your image at its best? All what needs to be sharp – is it sharp – but NOT over sharpened – a common sin among photographers? Over-saturated? Cropped well? Did you use the best type of paper to highlight features of your image? All that – matters a lot now. Your print or digital image needs to show you are really at ease preparing your images – you are the master deserving to win. I am myself sometimes guilty of skipping on fine tuning, thinking – it is “good enough”.  Sometimes I don’t want to waste yet another sheet of a fine paper, or I am short on time.  But it can ruin all your efforts. So, make sure you edited your image at your best, leave it for a few days and look again. If you are still happy – then go ahead and submit your work.

Jury at work. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.

Jury at work. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.

 

What I said in these posts are no magic bullet to win. Winning competitions with thousands of entries takes some fine work  – and also a bit of luck. Having to sometimes reject some great photos, I know the luck aspect well. But by preparing your entries the best way, deciding what to select and how to edit it – you will help your luck a lot! Now all it takes is to try. Good luck, then!

Thank you for reading, please Follow and Like this blog, if you find it helpful. I hope my comments can make your competition entries more successful, and you can prepare your works with more confidence. All the best!
Thank you!
Derek Galon

Derek Galon, MA, ARPS,  is an art photographer with over 40 years of experience. His multi-awarded works are available as limited edition prints on his web site and from Photo Art Gallery Vibrante. He is available for talks, workshops, jury work, and as a freelance photographer for hire.

The Jury job is done! And, the winner is... (well, for that you will need to check web site of Al-Thani Photo Awards after the new year, sorry!

The Jury job is done! And, the winner is… (well, for that you will need to check web site of Al-Thani Photo Awards after the new year, sorry!)

Preparing photos for fine photography competitions /salons – juror’s tips – part 4

 

Jury at work.  Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.

Jury at work. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.


Tip #3 – Try for your work to be original and unique

I previously shared with you comments about images in special themes, my experience when it comes to judging, and also my recommendations as to selecting and printing your photos. 

If you just jumped here without reading previous parts, here are direct links to them:  Part #1,   Part #2, Part #3

Selecting your work for a fine photo contest can be a hard process and you should have no sentiments when picking your works. The fact that you like an image, or even the fact that the image is objectively good – may still be not enough for it to be accepted by a jury or win.  Sitting in a jury, one can see thousands of images, see what’s popular this year, and see trends. There are amazing amounts of very good photographs. They all are good enough to sell proudly to your customer, display in a local camera club,  or share on a social site. Good enough to be printed in a magazine looking for that specific scene you have, or good enough to win a small-scale, local  photo competition.  As I say – I’ve seen thousands of impressive, quality works. Yet, a jury of international photo salon has the difficult task of selecting just a handful of winners from these fine entries. So, which images have best chance to win? Not saying again what was mentioned earlier about sticking to theme, and picking your finest quality works – I have to say this: Unique, striking images will be quickly noticed among others.

I just said that sitting in various juries I have a chance of seeing current trends. These trends can kill your chances. What was unique and brilliant two years ago will be rejected this year. Why? Because lots of photographers copy others’ ideas. A winning photo of cocks fighting in Indonesia, so strong and story-telling a few years back made numerous people photograph cock fights.  A fresh several years ago, beautiful technique of photographing sea with a long exposure (aka “milky water” in jurors’ jargon) got so many enthusiasts that at the Al-Thani, jurors saw well over hundred such smooth water images. A bit too much becomes a bit boring. Your image, being yet another one done in this style would need to be absolutely striking, or it will risk the “cliché” label and will lose instantly. Same goes for perfectly composed landscapes done as HDR,  images of a girl sitting on a railway, a macro enlargement of a wasp’s head, a glam image of a young girl in studio. The list of “cliché” images is long, touching of lovely sunsets, now badly overpopular “Tuscany style” juicy green fields, black and white portraits of old, often unshaven people,  Asian fishermen setting their nets,  Vietnamese bulls running in wet mud, etc. etc. (Newly emerging trend – penguins! More and more penguins are on submitted photos.)
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All these, when done for the first time were simply stunning. Stunning to such extent that now we have hundreds or thousands of images in their style. All were taken  countless times, and they will still make at least half – or perhaps more of all salon entries.  If you have one of these, but you really believe it has some striking qualities – very well, go ahead. But if your image falls within one of the most popular trends – try harder, and try submitting something fresh, something not copied thousand times around the world.  Even if it shows one of well covered subjects – this can be just a different angle of camera, or a different edit, unusual crop, etc.  But your photo should be something more than a typical calendar shot.  You simply should show that you have YOUR way of seeing things, YOUR OWN concept, not just creating another lovely, but already overdone, trendy pic.  By having a fresh concept for your image you won’t compete against numerous finely edited but “cliché” images which are ought to be submitted to the same salon as your photographs.  By not competing against them but showing a fresh idea or angle, you seriously increase chances of being noticed. You will have what the jury is looking for!

Thank you for reading. Part 4 is coming very soon, please Follow and Like this blog, if you find it helpful.
Thank you!
Derek Galon

Preparing photos for fine photography competitions /salons – juror’s tips – part 3

If you followed previous parts of this series, you know that today we will discuss the tip #2
– Select your best images AND make sure they have enough bang.

If you just jumped here without reading previous parts, here are direct links to them:  Part #1,   Part #2.

Picking winning images

Picking winning images.

So, you have good photos which are great choices for categories you want to enter. Please take time selecting the best ones, and try to avoid submitting very similar shots. Leave your photos for a few days and look again with fresh mind. Ask your friends, colleagues in camera club. Select ONLY the best images, and try to have a diverse selection. It is YOUR job to select your best images. I sometimes see almost identical entries – like 2 or 3 portraits with just a slight pose change – but otherwise identical to the previous entry. Not only you lose a chance to win with another image instead, but you lower the impact of your work. “We’ve just seen that, didn’t we?” – the jury will say, and will not pay much attention to this second and third image. In other words – it will be quickly rejected. Unless you are entering a portfolio of several similar images, a series intentionally selected to tell a story –avoid such repetitions. They won’t give you more chances to win. And, when selecting the best image, keep in mind one VERY important factor – pick the image which has the most “bang”. I mean by that – an image which will have a strong first impression. While some small-scale, local or unknown photo competitions may have few enough entries for judges to spend lots of time discussing all images from the day one of judging – the tendency of international photo salon is to be big. More and more people try to get more recognition, and the number of entries can be enormous.

Jurors often have  just couple of seconds per each image at the first selecting run. They have trained eyes, and can quickly decide if a shot is well done or has some noticeable flaws. Also they will decide if your image is interesting enough to go to the next round or judging or not. All that within two or three seconds.

To help your luck, pick the most impressive images you have – help your image being instantly noticed.  Once your image got noticed, the jury will examine it for more detailed flavours, artistic and technical values. But your image should shout its story, or have a fine composition, colours – it  has to stand out and be striking. And this brings us to the tip #3 – Try for your work to be original and unique.
But this will be posted tomorrow…

Ah, here is another tip – entering many salons myself, I often wondered – should I send glossy or matte prints? should I print them close to maximum allowed size?  And, sitting in this jury and seeing thousands of prints, I can say – size does not matter. Lots of smallish prints were much more appreciated than large ones. Quality matters a lot, size – not so much. And use the paper most suitable for the given picture – be it gloss, metallic, mat – whatever shows your work at its best. There is no preference as to the paper type getting more jury attention.

Thank you, cheers!

Derek
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Chairman of Al Thani Awards, Dr. Chris Hinterobermaier gives us opening briefing.

Chairman of Al Thani Awards, Dr. Chris Hinterobermaier gives us opening briefing.

Preparing photos for fine photography competitions /salons – juror’s tips – PART 2

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Judging process at Al Thani Award for Art Photography in Linz, Austria. Photo by Faizal / Mia Besari.

As promised, I will share with you all detailed thoughts and things I learned about judging process, based on example of my experience as a juror at the Al-Thani Awards for Art Photography 2013. Why this one? This salon have had the number of entries close to 10,000, very high overall quality of entries, and was judged within a very limited time – two days – which as my colleagues-jurors confirmed – is now quite a standard procedure. We like it or not, high volume salons do not allow for much time spent on each image at the first screening, and rely on jury’s ability to quickly decide on the first round. So, this salon is a good example of a large-scale, very efficiently organized competition.

There are a few points worth discussing, so let’s start with naming them here: 1) Stick to the theme of category you enter. 2) Select your best images AND make sure they have enough bang. 3) Try for your work to be original and unique. 4) Take your time to edit your images the best you can.

Above points may seem obvious, but they are vital and I saw many entries clearly  ignoring them. Even most tiny weak points could make the difference between the final “yes” or “no” for your image.

Let’s begin with talk about the “Stick to the theme” aspect. While most photo competitions or salons have  an “Open” theme – there are sometimes special or leading themes. They can offer you a higher chance of winning – IF you stick to these themes well. If you don’t – you may actually harm your chances of winning. At the Al-Thani Awards for Art Photography we had several categories, and a main, special theme. On top of Open Color Prints, Open Monochrome Prints, and Open Digital Images, the special theme was “Discovering the World”.  If you think of it quickly, you may think it calls for travel or nature photos. But such themes need to be thought of a bit deeper if you hope to win.  Keep in mind that in today’s world the number of photographs taken everyday, and number of people travelling are enormous. Therefore, to be better than other competitors you really need to show your creativity, understanding of the theme, and stick to it.

We had thousands of photos to judge, and some fantastic images had to be rejected from the main category because they did not adhere to the theme. All jurors were reminded over and over by the chairman to think of the theme when voting. “Does this image help us discover the world, or shows us someone who really grasps something new in his understanding of the world?” – we were asked. And we had to take some tough decisions to select finalists and winners. We had to pick photos showing us the most unique and unusual places and situations, or action showing convincingly that persons on a photo really do discover the world.

To give you some examples we faced  – would you decide between a fine, artistic photo of a butterfly,  a fine long exposure photo showing  the grand canal in Venice,  a small boy in a class learning geography with a globe, or perhaps a slightly less refined image of climbers on a remote, little known peak of  exotic mountains? 

While all four did show us something from our world in an attractive way – we had to ask ourselves– is the butterfly photo really  about “discovering the world”?  Chances are you’ve seen many butterflies in  gardens and on  meadows, or at least on many nature photos. Therefore it is not a real discovery to most of us to see yet another butterfly – however lovely it is, and this would be the first image to go, despite its fine artistic qualities. Perhaps it would stand better chances in the “Open” category – a perfect fit for a Nature category. The shot from Venice can be most fine, but it is a cliché in a way – thousands of people shoot from the Rialto bridge the view at the grand canal, and while the submitted photo may show us a glorious sunset  lighting and a well composed scene, it  still does not have that sense of discovery the theme is calling for. So, this one had to go either. It would do in any Travel category, though.  Now, between the studying boy and climbers – the boy’s face expressed a thrill at learning new things, one could see he tried hard to learn and remember something new about our world. The scene clearly showed the boy “discovering the world” in his small ways.

The climbers were visibly exhausted, yet determined to reach the peak, to expand their limits and succeed in their quest. Not only that, but we all – looking at the photo – had a sense of learning something new, seeing some far-away, remote mountains –seeing their harshness through eyes of these climbers.  Additionally, this shot was done from an unusual angle, giving us a different perspective than typical “calendar-style” mountain photos. So, this image both showed us people discovering something about our world, and also gave the viewer something fairly rare to discover.
Conclusion?  With first two photos rejected without even  considering their quality, the voting would proceed on the two last images. Now it would be seen which one has a better composition, technical quality, and an overall story to tell.  With not hundreds but thousands of images to select from, a jury has no choice but really stick to all rules and use these criteria to select best images without mercy.  By sticking well with themes, you help jury consider your image and make yourself a favour.

Another quick example – something we noticed a few times, and had to remove these entries. If you enter “monochrome” or “color” themes  – know their definition. While a photo done all in tones of blue is a monochrome, adding even one more color to an image disqualifies it immediately. We noticed a few photos entered as monochrome, and they had a touch of extra color. Even if it is just a bit – it breaks the rules, and will have to go.  And, believe me – it will be noticed. If not at the first selection, then when discussing  the potentially winning images.  An unfortunate reason to remove good photos.

Most  of best international photo salons have paid entries these days, and you would be surprised how many people pay to enter, only to waste their chances by not taking real care about themes. Consider this, and you are already better than them, a step closer to winning.

Thank you for reading. Part 3 is coming very soon, please Follow and Like this blog, if you find it helpful.
HERE IS DIRECT LINK TO PART 1 of this article.
Thank you!
Derek Galon

Sorting photo prints for judges.

Sorting photo prints for judges.

 

Preparing photos for fine photography competitions/salons – juror’s tips

This is a multi-part article intended for fellow photographers interested in participating in various international photo salons. Such salons are a nice way of displaying photos in galleries and photo clubs, also getting deserved recognition and often helping get photo distinctions of such fine international organizations as FIAP, PSA or RPS. Winning a medal at a fine salon can be a real honour and a way of gaining international exposure.  However – it is not always easy to win, and I hope my article may help you get a few steps ahead of your competitors.

Over the years I judged various art competitions, mostly photographic ones. That always is a good learning experience giving me an insight as to how a jury can see and evaluate submitted works. _DAG8427

 

I just returned from Linz, Austria,  to where I was invited as a juror of  the famous Al-Thani Photo Awards for Art Photography – one of the world’s most fine and highly attended photo salons offering not only medals, but also very high financial awards.  Being a juror there had been a really unique experience for several reasons:  quality of submitted images was overall very high (making our work most difficult, but exciting), working with co-jurors – highly experienced artists-photographers from around the world – gave me an insight into their views, knowledge, and judging styles, and lastly – the sheer number of submissions being in many thousands,  made me see some fantastic works – sharpening  my eye, and improving my judging abilities.

The process of judging so many images in a very limited time, along with all  aspects mentioned above, allowed me to see challenges of participating in such photo competitions more clearly. We often discussed that  after our jury work, and I want to share what we all learned there,  in a hope this will help you to prepare your submissions in best possible way.

Please Share and  Follow this blog to read next parts of it – I will share with you within next few days all what I learned as a juror of Al-Thani Photo Awards.

Thank you!
Derek Galon

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