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Dave Mills Tips on Winning a Photo Competition

Monday, April 30, 2018 11:05 AM | Nancy Madacsi (Administrator)

David Mills: Improving your images/photography for competitions. Sparta Camera Club April 25, 2018



  • Identify and use a strong foreground element to bring the eye into the picture.
  • Use a leading line to draw the viewer into the scene.
  • The various elements in the picture should not overlap if possible.
  • Lighting should be warm—early or late in the day is best.
  • Minimize the sky if it is clear or has little of interest in it.
  • There should be no blown out or bright white areas in the picture.
  • Landscape versus portrait.  Verticals are usually stronger images.
  • Look behind you when shooting.  The scene might be behind you.
  • Use sidelight (rising or setting sun/moonlight) to emphasis shadows/shapes.
  • Assymetrical/rule of thirds rather than placing subject in the center.


  • Backgrounds should be clean rather than cluttered.  Muted or blurred if possible.
  • The head position of the bird should be angled toward the viewer.
  • The eye should be sharp and there should be a catchlight in it.
  • Leave room in front of the bird.
  • Be careful of white birds not to blow out portions of the bird.  Easier to shoot in low light.
  • Birds standing in water—leave room for the rest of the leg and foot.
  • There should be good detail in both the lights and the darks of the bird.
  • Wing position should be up or down, not flat out.
  • Tell a story if possible or just do a portrait of the bird.


  • Warm lighting.
  • Use fill flash on water lilies—even works to underexpose and use fill flash.
  • Use maximum DOF.
  • Show part of the stem on the flower so it is attached to something.
  • Get into the flower.
  • Offset flower from center. 


  • Picture should have impact—WOW factor.
  • Edges should be clean.  No distracting items to lead the eye off of the page.
  • Keep the image simple.

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