Musings about competitions and displays

A week or so ago, I came across this exchange on a photography forum:

Contributor #1: “… the biggest problem that can arise at club level is when the judge assesses the images at home on anything from a properly calibrated screen or projector to any old gear including lap tops and screens way past their prime. A number of times, I have heard a judge say “….this looks far better here than it did on my computer …but I’ve made my decision so I’ll stick to it.” Frustrating when some one has spent hours getting an image just right. For this reason my own club now only invites judges to carry out cold judging on the night. That way all the images are projected for judging on the club’s properly calibrated (sRGB) projector.”

Contributor #2: “So true.

I became so disillusioned with “competitions” and all of their associated politics, bias, and incompetence that these days the only competitions that I enter are the ones where customers vote with their dollars. …”

Two thoughts occurred to me:

1.    How many club members have calibrated and profiled their monitor to standard colours?  A straw poll:  when you put in Projected Images for competitions do they:

(a) always look just like they were at home

(b) occasionally look like they did at home

(c) never look like they do at home.

If your answer is (c) do you expect them to be different? Why? or why not?

2.   The second thought I had was prompted by the second contributor.

Are any of our members disillusioned with “competitions”? If so, why? What other activities could/should the club mount if we were to have fewer competitions?


7 thoughts on “Musings about competitions and displays

  1. Belinda Pratt

    This is interesting. I entered my first projected image at the last competition. I must admit I was a bit disappointed to see it on the screen. I had no problem with the colour (I am calibrated) except for the fact it appeared quite desaturated compared on my home computer screen. I think this may be due to usually viewing my images on a retina screen. I entered a projected last time as I wanted to get something in, but left it too late to get a print. I think in the future I would be more inclined to enter a print so there is no disappointment.

    1. Tim McMahon Post author

      It is interesting Belinda. There are some members who only ever enter projected images, and some who only ever enter prints. I’m personally confident of being able to control the colour and tone in my prints (although I’ve no idea what lighting conditions judges look at them under). Projected images are a whole ‘nother story. I have no idea how many club members regularly calibrate and profile their displays, let alone what judges do. I have profiled the projector in the clubrooms several times in the past, but we can never guarantee that the calibration settings have not been altered from one meeting to the next. It’s something we need to keep on top of!

  2. Bruce Levy

    The North Shore Photographic Society & The Auckland Camera Club have only ‘cold’ judging. Why delete ‘projected’ images? I have been confident that my own images appear pretty much at judging time as they do at home.

    1. Tim McMahon Post author

      I think you’re safe, Bruce. The club would get pretty small, pretty quickly if we were to do that.
      However, you said “…my own images appear pretty much at judging time as they do at home.” Pretty much? How different? What’s your theory on why there may be a difference?


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