With hundreds of entries and over 5000 views, the NYI Centennial Photo Challenge quickly became a popular thread with our forum members at forum.nyip.edu. We received images from students, graduates, and photographers all over the world. Each entrant was asked to submit his or her favorite photo that was taken in the prior year, so this contest was quite different from the others we've judged in the past. Instead of the usual sunsets and flower close-ups, we were pleased to see a wide variety of subject matter. Entries included sports, portraits, wildlife, scenic, macro, black and white, photojournalism and more. With so many wonderful submissions to choose from, narrowing it down to the top 100 was not an easy task.
The hard work was worth it. In celebration of NYI's 100 years of "teaching photography to everyone" we came up with an outstanding collection of contemporary photographs to celebrate current imagery. While the contest was open to everyone and the winners were picked without checking, after the judging we learned that about 80% of the winners were by students in NYI's Complete Course in Professional Photography.
Here's how we judged the contest:
Over the course of several weeks, the judges studied each photo for a number of qualities. First, we looked at the subject of the photo and how well it was exposed. Images that were grossly under or overexposed were eliminated early on. Next we looked at the focus. With portraits, we wanted the eyes to be sharp. After studying enough images, it's easy to recognize which photographers used a tripod, and which were hand-held. Part of the focus equation also depended on the depth of field. If a wide aperture was used, we asked ourselves if there was enough depth of field to keep the entire subject in reasonable focus. For landscapes we checked to see if the image was sharp from near to far. We took notice of the shutter speeds that were used. When the shutter was too slow it resulted in slightly blurry images. Photographers who used fast shutter speeds were able to freeze the action nicely. We also saw several creative shots that were made with slow shutter speeds. From there we moved on to the composition. We studied what the photographer did to draw attention to the subject of the photo. Some used the rule of thirds beautifully while others worked with the leading lines technique. Of course we understand that compositional rules are meant to be broken, but generally images with centered compositions were lacking in impact. All of the images that made it through this round were advanced to the next stage of judging.
Part two of the photo evaluation process became more critical. We paid special attention to the quality of light in each picture. Harsh shadowy areas and flat lighting from on camera-flash were generally not advanced. Outdoor photos that were taken early or late in the day took on a warm quality that stood apart from those taken mid-day. We were also interested in the post production of the image. Some photos suffered from exceptionally high levels of noise, or grain, and lacked clarity due to high ISOs. These images could have been improved through the use of a Noise Reduction program such as Noise Ninja or Neat Image. While digital darkroom techniques are a matter of personal preference, we generally decided against over-saturated, and excessively sharpened photos. Also, as part of the original contest rules, any image without a (c) Copyright text was not included. After this second pass, we were able to narrow our selections down to 100 strong images.
The final step was to secure model release forms for the qualifying portraits. For more on model releases, check out our previous Ezine article here. The entire slideshow was then put together on an iMac using iMovie. The music is by Kevin MacLeod, and was used with full permission. Even if you were not one of the lucky 100, we want to thank you for entering our Centennial challenge. We encourage you to show your school pride, and share the slideshow on your own website, blog, Facebook wall, Twitter feed, etc.
Here is the embed code.
The direct link is:
Without further ado, we present the NYI Centennial Photo Challenge Slideshow. Enjoy!