Photo contest thoughts

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Boy its a huge number of pictures this year!
There was something mentioned in the Sandy thread so I thought we'd start a new one for the topic, here.

Have you looked? What are your general thoughts?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Gita said:
I kind of like the process...of elimination, once you have chosen your favorites.
When it gets down to your favorite 4 or five--it gets hard.

I have so many pet peeves about the Contest entries--I could write a book on what
NOT to do to your pictures. Might be an interesting idea for a Thread...

Like--STOP spraying your roses with water and then posting---
"Such and such Rose after a morning shower". UGH! That gets me...Dah! The leaves next to it are dry!

"Stop posting these super macros of the inside of the Rose bloom"--other than
proving it is good close-up photography--to me it is an automatic "Skip this one".

I agree in that I am looking for something unusual many times. The Pets category is always fun to look at but as for contest winners I am NOT going to pick anybody's same ol slightly out of focus, adorable cat. Yes I know she is adorable to you, but not a contest winning photo.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

But I have been known to vote for a pic when I know that its by someone special to me, AND is a very good photo too!

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I also really prefer if there is a caption, over a photo with no description at all.

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Major pet peeve if the pic is out of focus...HELLO!!! It's a photography contest!
Or if I see the person's fingers holding whatever subject they are photographing

When I look at the pic I look at it with the thought, do I want to look at that pic for 30 days?

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

I started looking at the photos yesterday. I initially went with the first option of displaying every picture one at a time, but soon switched to the second option of displaying all thumbnails in the category at once and then selectively picking individuals. With so many pictures in each category, the second option is an easier way to get started. Since I am not much of a photographer, I think I tend to focus on the content vs the quality of the photo. I only notice the quality after I've liked the content if it is obviously bad or looks better than others, even to my untrained eye. I haven't selected any yet though. Can you vote for more than one in each category?

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

You end up picking the best 3 in each category.

Hey Jen I hadn't thought of it that way.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Glad you ran with my suggestion on this Thread. I just hope all the photographers read it....

Each category will end up with you choosing 3 pictures as finalists from all the "favorites" you saved.
Your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choice. DG then will choose the best, or most seasonally appropriate,
of all the winners (1st choices) to be printed in the calendar.
When I really like a picture, but it is very long vertically, I tend to not choose that one as i envision
it NOT fitting on a rectangular page in the Calendar. It would have to be cropped, and then you lose
part of the picture. Just another category I consider....

I look at the full page pictures, as then you can notice a lot more detail. My eyesight is not so great
that i could use the Thumbnails and correctly choose my likes and dislikes. Like--it would be hard to see if
some part is out of focus or if there is a small critter in the bloom..
As I scroll through each picture--my decision is often instant--and in my mind I say the reason.
Many times it is like--skip...skip...skip...skip...etc...If I pause--there must be a something about it.......

A picture has to, instantly, grab my attention for some reason. It has to "speak to me". There has to be
An appeal to my eye, clarity, focus on the main object, well cropped (visually), good perspective, etc.
Being somewhat artistic--I look for stuff like that.
I have done almost half of all the categories by now. It is time-consuming, but also kind of fun.
I leave it as the last thing I do, to fill an hour or so, before going to bed.

SO! here are some comments re my dislikes and "flaws" (to me) in judging the Photo Contest.

--Many nice pictures--several--really? Why post something out of focus, or sideways?
Us viewers have NO option to rotate it! What are people thinking?

--STOP sprinkling water on your Flowers and Rose blooms and then posting---"Such and such Rose
after a morning shower"....DAH! The leaves around the bloom are all dry! You think we cannot tell?
There is a big difference between a natural dew--and big globs of water on your Rose.

--STOP taking these super Macro shots of a bloom and entering it in the category.
What the heck can I see? Half the time, one cannot even tell what it is. it just proves you can
take a decent macro photo and have a good camera. How can a shot like that fit into Annuals or perennials?
There are also several pictures of an extreme close-up of someone's dog's face. HUH?

--IF you photograph a most beautiful bloom--but the top of it is cut off--I ain't voting for that!
It needs to be complete.

--If someone's hand is in the picture--or for that matter, if someones cute kid is part of it--Gone!

--If you did not rotate your entry so it is right side up--WE cannot do it either. Gone!

--Try not to enter a very long, vertical shot. I always try to imagine it on that Calendar page.
How on Earth will they fit it on a rectangular page--if your shot is 2 screens long???

--For that matter--if you are taking a shot of a very long flower, like a Foxglove, but only
photograph a part of the stem--I will not choose that...A close up of the blooms--or the whole stem is better.

--DO NOT post out of focus pictures. Do you think you have a chance of winning with them?

--DO NOT pose your animals in wheelbarrows and under pillows, and some such--that is a set-up.
Cute to YOU!--but I will seldome vote for these--I like a natural setting.....

--There must be 50 boring shots of someone's dog or cat--which is ONLY precious to YOU!
What is so "cute" in a picture of your dog laying on his back in the driveway?

--If you take a beautiful scene but leave 1/3 of the lower part as grass or some other frontal material--
that is NOT a well cropped picture. Learn to visually crop your shots before you press the button.

--Think about WHAT you want to photograph--and then compose it in such a way that your eye will
be drawn to that object. Like--think perspective--think what you want the focus to be! Choose the main object
and make sure it is clear and visible. "Framing" it with other existing surroundings correctly
is what can make or break your photo.

I have more than half of the Categories to go yet--will make more notes of what I could comment on.


Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Hoo boy. I just looked at Tropicals and Garden Art . I've already gone to looking at thumbnails and just going through those that really grab me, for a closer look. I just can't spend the time looking at every one in large view. I'm feeling like people who cast actors for movies. "NEXT!"

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

I think I recognized Ric's hypertufa container in the "Container gardening" category.
At least I think it was the one he/she made.

I voted for that as one of my choices....just wish the tree/evergreen in the distance was not right behind it.
It took away from the impact of the planter just sitting there....But--it was pretty....

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

My aged computer is just not up to the number of entries to be gone thru! I started with the smallest category and of course with thumbnails.

From the thumbnail pages I decided I would like a "color" calendar: orange, red green. blue...etc with a collage of pics in each color for each page of calendar.

Then I was drawn to the multiple cedar waxwings in "Birds" and the tall water fountain in "water"

"Seasonal" had little in it to attract me. Wish the fox and kit pic with gourd was in "wildlife"...instead of miscellaneous.

Saw some 'kitch' appeal in photos with people pets etc scattered through out categories.

Wished the "personal" gardens were richer and more , well, personal.

Maybe there needs to be some general voting to get down to say ten per category and then another vote for top winners.

One good thing for me is that several of my pictures over the years could be contenders!!!

I'd like to create my own version of DG calendar from the items submitted and then buy that! How picky am I?

Think I recognized one of VaWildRose (Karen) pics..the woodpecker feeding babies! ??

Crozet, VA

I am seeing lots of talk about the contest and really ought to set aside some time to take a look myself. I find all your comments interesting and helpful in terms of what I need to be looking for in terms of something that like Jen says, I want to look at for thirty days. Great one Jen.

Thank you Sally for starting this thread. Will make for some good thought.


central, NJ(Zone 6b)


I actually took time and looked thru all pics by the full size method, kids offered their opinions too, LOL

(Zone 4b)

I am not from the mid-Atlantic but saw the topic. I would like have a power slide option that would automatically move to each image until finished. I too started looking at full images which quickly went to thumbnail images which quickly went to picking and choosing only some images to view and vote.

I eliminate pictures of botanical gardens or hotel landscapes. I prefer seeing and voting on personal work and accomplishments of DG members.

Thanks for letting me post.

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

Hello Rockette - thanks for joining in the fun. I too prefer the personal gardens. The botanical gardens are nice, and the professionals that run and maintain them do an amazing job, but I like seeing the accomplishments of DG members in their own gardens. I guess it just means more to me because for most of us, it is a hobby that we do in our spare hours away from our full time jobs. I love to see the wonderful things the DGrs come up with.

Jen, how many hours did that take? WOW... Sounds like you had fun with the kids joining in.

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

Don't know any of the ins and outs of this, but think it would be so cool if some of our Daves Garden proceeds form calendar sales or ??? could go to "Disaster Relief" or support of some botanical gardens or??

Just sayin


central, NJ(Zone 6b)

I agree Rockette, I'd rather vote for someone's personal garden

Yep took me a few days to do all the categories a bit at a time

Would be nice for proceeds to go to disaster relief

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

I second the opinion hat pictures of Public parks, Arboretums, and Botanical gardens are
an automatic "Skip it"--even if they are beautiful.

I second what Teri said--what we vote on should be from the gardens of DG members--lovingly
created, planted and maintained. Amen!

Lucketts, VA(Zone 7a)

Definitely agree on the public/private garden issue.

I just went through the birds section and they had some of the best photos I've encountered so far. I wish there was a feature where it would show you how far along you were in a category and how many you had selected to date. It probably takes a lot longer, but I do each category one at a time.

Good idea that some of the profits go to relief efforts.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Hi rockette!

THe birds category might interest me next. Like rockette, I am not finding enough dedication to go through each and every one the way Jen et al did.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I just did a hasty run thru of Containers. Not the most exciting category.
Birds though, looks well worthy of viewing every single one in large format. So many good looking pics there.

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

I love the white horses with watering trough containers!

Middle of, VA(Zone 7a)

Popping in late here...let me just say....taking macros requires as much skill as an action photo. Course I'm biased on this one. But to me a macro is nature giving you a peek into another world. Hugs, Gita - but we can all have our opinion, yes?

As for out of focus are we talking an entire photo or just a section? Could be the photographer wanted a blurred background, for example or someone's using a soft lens...guess I need to look some of the pics tonight. I always get great ideas from other folks!!!

Agree with Coleup re proceeds 'Disaster Relief' - GREAT IDEA!!!

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


Was that Holly and Ric's hypertufa container in one of the pictures in the Container category?

Also--in the Miscellaneous, Weird category--they had a picture of the same plant
(with the black seeds on it) that you showed me at your house.
The person gave a name for it--and i think it was different than what you called it...
I wrote it down on a small slip of paper--but lost it.

Chantell, dear, I never said I did not like macros. They are proof of very skillful photography .
I just do not think that it "qualifies"(in my mind) as a complete Annual or perennial.
Also--way too many people post these super Macros for my taste.
And--as you said--we can all have our opinions.....


Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Yup the horses are cute

no i dont think it is Rics tufa he did not build the tim up i dont think. But the legs are the same
will look at weird later. Mine are Belamcanda or blackberry lilies

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Knocked off another two categories tonight. Just one more to go!
How are the rest of you doing?

A couple of comments now that I have delved through about 6 more categories.

--There is someone (maybe two?) who keeps "framing" her photos. Either in a semi-heavy black frame--
or a lighter, pencil-line frame. I cannot figure out what the purpose of this is???
I mean--it looks pretty--but no one else is doing it.....
I always think ahead of how this or that picture would look on the pages of the calendar.
Would the picture be "framed" on the Calendar page as well if any of these photos would win??

--Second---There are some pictures (by someone)--usually close-ups of a whole bloom of some kind--
that seems that it may have been photo-shopped. Why? All the petals seem to be outlined in some way.
The edges have a very thin, darker outline. Just like super crisp/in focus that does not seem natural.
I do not know much about photo-shopping---but is there a feature that can do this?
Has anyone else notice this???? I have tended not to vote for these....

The one category I have left to do--I will save it for another late, mundane hour before i go to bed...

My favorite "last hour" thing is to play a couple of games of 'Super Mahjong".
Talk about concentration!!! I just tell myself it is god for my aging brain--as it requires a lot of
attention and skill in matching up any two of the same kind of a symbol. Endlessly!!!
It is the music that drives me crazy! I know! I know! I can turn it off--but then it seems that something is missing...
Go figure!!!

Good night! Gita

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

I looked at the Weird category. THat is a very fun one to do full screen. It sure seemed to take a long time though.

I have not seen the framed pics- but am thinking that you never know if they'd crop it for the calender anyway. So many diferent sizes and resolutions probably.

Now I'm curious about those outlined petals.

I've spent hours- days - weeks- on Mahjong and Free cell and Spider solitaire. I can do a four suit Spider. ( ahem!)

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Ack. I just endured what, fifteen minutes? of going thru all the Annuals and Per Flowers full screen ? 300 at one second per, isn't that five minutes? Must be five sec each at the very minimum to load and scroll and move on...I didn't get to all of them, I gave up, but nearly all. I did not save as I went. Now I cannot find one of the ones I really liked, on thumbnail.

I'm sure its much fun to enter a picture. But I don't have the time to go through all of them.

A simple crisp white flower on leaf background is refreshing after so much color.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


The weirdest of weird in this category is the snake, hanging from the gutter and starting to
devour some kind of bird, with long tail feathers, that it had just choked to death.
How did that grab you?

The outlined petals were on Dahlia blooms--and it may just be my misinterpretation---
but I think something was done to them.

FOUR???? suits on Spider Solitaire????? You da woman!!!!
I must admit I just tried it once--and decided I did not want to feel like a failure at a game.
Love Mahjong--to an extent----Two games is my limit per night....
You know what frustrates me??? When I am done with my game--and I want to go back to the
screen where you can click and choose which arrangement you want to plaay next--
there is NO option to get back to it other than ending the game and starting all over.
Can you enlighten me?????

YES! That Annuals and Perennials category is a killer! And it was the first one I did...
How many close-ups of a flower can one tolerate within 20 minutes????...

The category I have left to do is: Butterflies, Moths and....???.....
NOT tonight! I am bushed.....

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

EW that snake from the gutter- I meant to warn people about that! Two times , too.

It could well have been an enhancement done to the Dahlia photo. I use those tools, (brighten, contrast...) but a little can go a long way and a little more can look really weird.

I can't enighten you on the Mahjong question. Mine seems to be a different set up.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


I found my little slip of paper that I jotted down the name of the plant on the
"Bizarre and weird and miscellaneous" category. The one with the black seeds that you
showed me at your house.
The person who submitted the photo labeled it as "Leopard Lily".

Of course, by now, you have already done this category yourself and saw the picture.


Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Hello All, I haven't gotten to the Photo Contest yet and not quite sure I will get the time. Ric was going thru the pics last night when I got in. They sure are a mix of great Photography and good pictures and then those that just make you wonder why did someone post that fuzzy pic in a contest. Even if they are cute pics they just don't belong in this type of a contest.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Yes Gita- Leopard lily must be another common name for it- Blackberry lily, Belamcanda - because of the spots on the leaves

Me too Holly- I have made myself not be cranky about it- it's fun to submit a picture and see it in a contest. If I was doing the judging as a job (Nat Geo) I would be really annoyed.

annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

Sally and Gita, I agree that blackberry lily and leopard lily are on and the same. There is a pic on wikipedia that shows a flower stalk with both black AND orange seeds. See it here

Thumbnail by coleup
annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

I have 10 favorites from "Butterflies/Moths"

Thumbnail by coleup Thumbnail by coleup Thumbnail by coleup Thumbnail by coleup Thumbnail by coleup
annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

And another 5. Just two or three more and I have a calendar full!

Welcome back Holly.

Thumbnail by coleup Thumbnail by coleup Thumbnail by coleup Thumbnail by coleup Thumbnail by coleup
Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

I guess time will tell what that 'thing" Lily I have growing will turn out to be when it blooms this next summer.
I still am trying to compare the seed pod to the one in the picture above.
Even in totally dried state--it does not look a lot like the one I picked.

I know I will just have to accept the majority opinions as to what it is.
I don't know any I have to accept the majority vote...

Once more--here is a picture of the seed pods I picked off this "Lily"....
Just went and looked. The seeds are still bright orange--but a bit shriveled up
as a seed or berry would look like when dry. The pod is still just like in the picture.

The below picture was taken Oct. 7--a month ago.

Thumbnail by Gitagal
annapolis, MD(Zone 7b)

Yep, The plug was pulled before I had a chance to cast my votes. Most of my 'favorites were not among the final winners except my 'white horses' in Containers!

I was happy to see that one of my favorite photographers was a winner. Congratulations to Karen, VaWildRose
Ist Place in Landscapes
2nd Place in Annuals and Perennials
Runnerup in Birds
Runnerup in Tropicals and Houseplants

Y E A K A R E N !!!!!!!!!!

Salem Cnty, NJ(Zone 7b)

Great job, Karen!!!!

central, NJ(Zone 6b)


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