2020 Photographic Competitions | Reflections

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This was my sixth year competing in photographic competitions. I usually think about what images I may enter throughout the year and then narrow down my favorites and try them out in Professional Photographers of South Carolina's annual print comp.  I was feeling pretty confident coming off a bronze medal in 2019 (all 4 of my images merited at IPC).

Following Professional Photographers of America's guidelines, this was the first year there was a special wedding category. The point of separating weddings into their own category was to have separate wedding-specialized jurors that take into consideration the pressures of making beautiful portraits during an actual wedding. I decided to try out a few wedding images from past years along with my old standbys of landscapes.

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Titles: The Best Man, Dropped the Ring Already

These scored a 77 and 79, respectively - the "Above Average" Category. (80 is what's needed to receive a merit.) 

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I was excited to enter my first underwater image. Title: Underwater Wonder. There was a lot of discussion by the judges and most of them appreciated how difficult it is to make images underwater with ambient light only. This one did well - 84, Deserving of a Merit. 

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Title: Long Day at School

My frog images have always done well in competition, so I thought this one was a shoo-in.  Alas, it scored a 77. 

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Title: Hunter Museum of Art

I've always liked this image of the art museum in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  I thought it might be good as a night time architecture piece. It scored a 78. 

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Title: Electric Sky

I made this photograph at 11pm in the parking lot of Ellis Creek Fish Camp.  I was driving home from Columbia, SC and there was an intense lightning storm near the coast. I did not have my camera and tripod with me, so I was driving fast to get home, all the while trying to figure out a good foreground for the lightning. I was also mad at myself for not buying  a lightning trigger, which I had been thinking about for a couple years. It turns out I didn't need one because the lightning was so frequent I could just do a long exposure and capture several strikes. The judges liked this one  - it scored an 85. 

Since I only had two images that merited at the state level I had to come up with 2 more for the International Photographic Competition (IPC). Districts didn't happen in 2020 due to COVID. In the end I edited Electric Sky and Underwater Wonder by removing some distracting elements and took one last stab at Long Day at School.  Then I went back and edited one that previously did not merit at IPC. I adjusted the crop to include a sliver of sky and lightened some of the rocks. 

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Title: Around the Bend

I captured this in 2018 on a trip to Arizona and Utah. It was sunset at Horsehoe Bend, but if I had to do it again I would go at sunrise - fewer people and better lighting in the canyon. 

IPC Results:

Electric Sky -  Imaging Excellence (Loan Collection)

Underwater Wonder - Not a Merit

Long Day at School - Not a Merit

Around the Bend - General Collection

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Overall, it was a good learning experience (always is!) and I was excited to have another image in the prestigious loan collection book. I'm still sad about the underwater image - maybe I'll revisit it again the future. Thanks, PPSC and PPA for organizing great events again this year.  Congrats to the makers!

South Carolina Photographer  |   Sarah Goldman Photography

Charleston, SC

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