May 1st-31st. The contest will be split into 3 age groups – 11 and under, 12-17, and 18+ – and three categories – Nature/Landscapes, Black & White, and Texture/Macro. Submit photos with the information listed in the rules to firstname.lastname@example.org. Public judging begins June 1st and ends June 14th. The winner will be announced on June 15th.
Landscape Photography: Landscape photography focuses on the scenic beauty of our world – mountains, forests, fields, lakes, beaches, the ocean… Landscape photos are generally horizontal – the better to show of the vastness of the area being photographed. When photographing landscapes, wide angle lenses are helpful – these lenses can capture a big field of view while keeping all of the details in sharp focus. A wide-angle lens in the 18-20mm range is a good start. Alternatively, some photographers use telephoto lenses for their landscapes. A telephoto lens enables you to zoom into a scene by physically adjusting the lens on the camera rather than zooming in through the camera’s software (optical zoom versus digital zoom) which leaves you with a clearer picture. Want to take landscape photos in low-light situations like sunrises or sunsets? You’ll want a tripod to keep your camera steady as you wait for a slower shutter speed to capture the image. A good, sturdy tripod is worth its weight in gold. Shooting in Aperture Priority Mode on your camera is the best choice, though more advanced photographers can of course do more experimenting. Typically, landscapes will keep everything in frame in focus, so shooting in f/11 and up will make your depth of field wide and will help you accomplish this. One of the most important aspects of photography is light – and in landscapes be sure to be creative with the way you use natural light. Be patient and experiment – backlighting and side-lighting can add a whole new dimension to your photos. Framing is always important – if you place your subject dead center, well that can be boring. Visually, it can be much more interesting to place your subject to a side, following the “rule of thirds.” Some photographers supplement their landscapes with filters, such as an Neutral Density (ND) Filter which is tinted grey and keeps some light from reaching the sensor, allowing photographers to use slower shutter speeds on sunny days. A circular polarizing filter can be used when photographing water, skies, or in urban photography to remove reflections and glare. With lakes, you can use one to see through the water to the rocks underneath.
Black & White Photography: Black & White Photography is one of the most classic forms of the art. Textures, lighting, and the contrast between elements in the frame make or break this style. Shooting without color forces the photographer to think about their composition differently in the way that working with limitations in any creative field will force the artist to become more creative. Black and White photos can also change the mood of a photograph – something previously bright and joyful in color can become more serious in black and white or can evoke a sense of nostalgia. While it certainly is easy to take a photograph in color and then decide later that you’d prefer it in black and white and edit it in Photoshop, the best black and white photos are done with the style in mind from the beginning. Experiment with the interplay between light and shadow, as well as clear differences between subject and background – many successful black and white photos have a lot of texture to them while minimalism makes others stand out.
Texture Photography: The best photographs have depth; they pull you into the time and space the photo was taken and can draw you into the world it represents. A flat photo can lose an important dynamic that helps connect a photograph with a viewer. Using texture in a creative way in your photos will help give them the depth they need. The human mind loves patterns and photos featuring good textures give our brains a reward! Texture can also be used as a source of contrast in your photos – a textured subject juxtaposed to a flat sky really makes your subject shine. Concrete, rocks, wood grains, fur, grass or moss, and even wrinkles make great sources of texture! (Taking a black and white portrait of someone who has wrinkles is a photographer’s dream!) Pair texture use with leading lines to add an extra sense of depth, movement, and vitality to your photos!
Macro Photography: Macro photography means close up photography; sort of. Its more than that. With macro, you’re not just getting close to something, but rather you’re taking something small and making it look large in your photo’s framing. Most photographer’s use a lens specially suited to macro photography, but in a pinch other lenses can work decently enough. Using a tripod is a very good idea – you’ll want your camera steady when taking shots of small things. Most macro photos have a shallow depth of field (the subject is clearly in focus but the background is blurred – smaller f-stops such as f/5 will achieve this effect). This style of photography can be exciting because it can subvert our typical expectations of objects or animals – you can make a bee look larger than life or make a dime seem the size of a mountain! Having a single point of focus will help your macro photos – you want to direct your viewer’s eye to a single spot without distractions.