Photo Contests YOU Can Enter, and They are Biggies!
I know it seems a bit audacious or even presumptuous to enter photo contests of this caliper, especially some as prestigious as the Smithsonian or National Geographic Photo Contests. But don’t let these big names scare you. Read on and see why.
They are both magazines in which I have admired the photography for many, many years. The work is so good and really intimidating if I stop to think about my own abilities.
You might have even heard of, or read about the competitions of one or both, as both have been going on for years. But the contests are open to all levels of photography and the amateur work is pretty darn nice too. But first, a little background why I like the online sites of the magazines.
Why I Like the Sites
The online sites offer photography tips in addition to the gorgeous work of their field photographers. They take you to the most beautiful locations to show you why the shots are successful and give the how to’s. Helpful tips from some of the best!
But Nat Geo has something interactive to interest me. I don’t mean their really cool puzzles made from images that we submit, (look familiar above?), but a way to showcase our own work, and not in pieces either.
National Geographic has a web page on their site dedicated to you the readers and photobugs. You can upload your most prized images and Nat Geo might feature them on occasion. I have seen some amateur photographers featured. You get your own page too! See mine below.
The page is entitled My Shot and I have subscribed to the site and displayed a few of my photos. The link will take you to the main MY Shot page and you can join from there. Your uploaded images get placed on the main My Shot page and gets replaced as others upload their images. But for a time, my photos can be seen by a lot of folks. Just take note of just how many members, let alone those that are the casual looky loos, like I used to be. Your images can be selected as Editor’s Choice Photos, which seems to me, a pretty nice honor. No, not that lucky yet, I just joined so in the future, maybe….
How it Works
You can see my image of the squirrel has just been loaded on the main MY Shot page. People can then pick your image and give it stars. My peacock got 4 stars by one viewer. If any of the images you see catch your fancy, you can click on them for a larger view and additional information.
Honestly, this would be a great idea for a Blotanical tab. Hear that Stuart? That way, when a post has a selected image displayed in this way, it entices a viewer to see more and maybe, just find a new blog to follow. But more importantly, everyone’s posts get a showing for a short time, not just those getting picks. Hey, just thinking out loud here.
I only just started loading images, and when I get a chance, will go through to find some that are my very best to show. I loaded four just as a trial. I want to use this site for all my shots of Niagara Falls, since I have seen very few of the Falls so far.
Now On to the Contests
I thought to pass along this information to you photo aficionados. The contests both have a good selection of professional and amateur work and I have perused the entries, current and past.
Some of the amateur work is every bit as good as the pros and I found that some of what is entered is not unlike what many of us garden bloggers are photographing. And there are nice macros of flowers uploaded too, so garden bloggers listen up, it does not only have to be pictures of critters, people or places. Just take a peek at the My Shot page above. Lots of plants and bugs.
The image below is somewhat typical of the amateur work. It has mood, the bird has expression, and the background is important (but not distracting) in character, depth and makes a nice foil to the vibrancy of the Cardinal. I may use this one sometime in a competition. Click to see it bigger and tell me if you think it should be cropped and is worthy. I just love opinions and constructive critique.
I have added the links at the end of this post for you to enter your work. National Geographic has a small entry fee for their Photo Contest, but Smithsonian is free. You are allowed to enter multiple images if you choose in both contests. Smithsonian has five categories—Altered Images, Americana, the Natural World, People and Travel.
Altered is for an image that is more than typical editing. “Photographs manipulated for artistic purposes by applying digital and/or traditional special effects (i.e. colorizing, toning, collage, photo composites, HDR, etc.)“
I really should do this one because creating a scene like this is what I can do best with Lightroom and Photoshop. The image above was for a Green Apples 5 minute tutorial and is what would be considered Altered. But give me a week and my entry would be pretty nice. You can see above the discrepancy in lighting direction, but it was done for a down and dirty quick tutorial. You are allowed minor improvement in the other categories, but your image must remain ‘real’ looking. In the Altered category it can be dream-like if you wish.
The images in this post had only slight sharpening and cropping, so any of them would be admissible in the other four categories.
Nat Geo has three categories I believe – People, Places and Nature. I may enter Places with a winter shot at the Falls. They highlight non-winners under each category. You can see past contest winners from Smithsonian and past winners from Nat Geo to gauge what you feel is worth entering yourself. I bet you click these links! It is worth the blog hop.
Oh, and make sure you submit images in the right format and size. I did enter one too large, yet I received an email that it was accepted. But don’t take that chance.
Just to let you bloggers know, your images are not linked back to your site, Facebook, or Flickr. You retain rights to your photos, but the magazines get the right to use them without further or future compensation. So you professional photographers take note, but just imagine the exposure if your images are used in print and credited to you.
What I entered is one male cardinal, one female cardinal, one grasshopper, one dragonfly, and of course, my favorite….. one squirrel. None of the images shown in this post are those I entered in the Smithsonian Photo Contest, but they all came from their respective photo shoots.
My shot of the male Cardinal is a strange capture, above. In the left of the photo is an icicle in the extreme foreground. It looks like the little red bird has his eye on it for some reason. Maybe I am reflecting through it to him.
The entries cannot be on any other server in the Nat Geo contest. I am not sure what they mean by this as the Smithsonian has stated this as an answer to a FAQ: “Is it OK to enter a photograph that has been on my website? Yes, your photograph is eligible for submission. However, photographs that have been published (except online) are not eligible.“
The images that I picked for entry in the Smithsonian Photo Contest are better than those I have shown here today but I did not want to post them, although I am allowed. I did not enter the Nat Geo contest as of yet, because they have numbers in the thousands. But I surely plan to enter next year. Enter early too, so you can be part of the Viewer’s Choice contest. Early, allows you the opportunity for the most votes.
I really wanted to enter birds in flight, but I don’t have any really very good. You should see the snowy owl in flight on Nat Geo. What an amazing capture and one I would like to see win. I am just learning how to get better focusing and exposure on the mobile birds and hope one day to get a good image of a Golden Eagle at the farm, or Red-Tailed Hawk at the gorge. Here we settle for a Black Capped Chickadee from the winter photo shoot at the Falls.
And again, my favorite nature photographer writes a helpful and timely post. As I was lamenting my inability to capture birds in flight in preparing this post, does Galen not come along with Birds in Flight Part 1. My bird photos are going to improve now…..
Still Time Folks
The National Geographic Contest ends November 30, 2011, 9:00:00 a.m. US Eastern Time.
“The Grand Prize Winner will receive $10,000 and a trip to National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., to participate in the annual National Geographic Photography Seminar in January 2012: A behind-the-scenes experience like none other.“
The Smithsonian contest is open for entries until December 1, 2011 at 2:00 PM EST.
A Smithsonian Journeys trip to Yosemite National Park, or the wholesale cash equivalent (approx. $3,000).
The winners of each of the five categories will receive $500.
The winner of the online Readers’ Choice award will receive $500.
Winners may receive additional noncash prizes.”
The bold, italicized text is taken from their respective websites to let you know what you can win and answer a few questions. Like the GGW contest, I like it for the exposure of my photographs and what I learn from others to help improve my work. Seriously not expecting a prize, just the fun of being a part.
My next post is The Month in Tens – November, on November 10, with the theme, It’s the Simple Things. This theme will continue the whole month with a daily look of the simple pleasure of each day. Then… be on the look out for my Nat Geo entry. I will post images similar to what I want to enter. It is all for fun, since the competition is frighteningly incredible, but judging from past winners, not impossible.