by Jane Conner-ziser Published 01/06/2015
4. If you're not a retouching expert, hire someone who is. Poor cloning, blurry skin, overly sharpened eyes, poor edges and composites made from multiple images of varying resolutions significantly count against you. On the flip side, beautiful retouching and image enhancements can buy you a lot of points. It is said that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but with the capability of today's imaging software, I beg to differ. Retouching isn't just for touch-ups and smoothing skin anymore; it's a powerful medium for taking images way beyond what a camera can capture, even if no actual retouching is required.
5. Sweat the presentation. The presentation should enhance the composition, colour harmony and style of the image. If the image is soft, the presentation should also be soft. If the image is sharp, the presentation should match the mood. In addition, the presentation should stay in the background with no element that grabs attention away from what you want the judges to focus on. If the judging is digital, and most of them are these days, try to find out what the screen background colour will be. It's usually black or grey but it's important to know because if you will be using a black underlay and the screen is also black, your underlay will disappear and you won't have the benefit you achieved with your image placement. You can add a minimal inner glow to the underlay, white for black screens, black or white for grey screens, so the judges will know where your image actually ends in these cases. Ask questions so you won't be unpleasantly surprised.
6. Titles can give you points, take points away or just lie there and do nothing for you. Titles should be short and to the point. Try to come up with titles that enhance the feeling of your image rather than going against it or bringing in something that doesn't belong. For instance, if there is a lot of wind, choose a title that feels windy. If there is no wind, don't include the word wind in the title or the judges will start looking for wind. One image that comes to my mind is the title Just the Two of Us for an image in which there were a total of six people. It threw the judges off. Titles can also explain things that a judge might not like, for example, if a 'Portrait of a Group' entry contains people who are not relating to each other, consider a title that explains why. Don't be afraid to change people's names in order to make the image more appealing. Funny titles can buy you points but don't guarantee a Gold on images that otherwise don't deserve it ... but in a pinch, it's worth a try. And finally, rather than use your title to present a personal or political opinion, choose a title that pertains to the subject and let the viewer form their own opinion based upon it.
7. Prior to uploading your entries, sleep on them for a couple of days and then re-examine them to make sure you haven't missed anything. You want to feel confident that you've achieved the very best image execution at every level. The judges will form an opinion within about three seconds, so everything you do must point in the same emotional direction in order to garner maximum impact.
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