NSS Print Salon
GENERAL CRITERIA [Rev. 6/21/06]
The following types of entries will not be accepted
for judging or display:
• Not related to caves or caving. Images should be taken in or of caves, or have a strong connection to caves. Images obviously taken in sewers, studios, or outdoors with no caving connection may not be accepted. Exceptions can be made if humor is the intent of the image.
• Prompts unsafe caving practices, such as caving without a helmet in a wild cave.
• Depicts practices flagrantly violating cave conservation ethics, such as where the model and/or photographer are off trail, touching formations, or in any way risking the cave.
• Depicts practices flagrantly detrimental to landowner relations
• Nudes, unless the caver depicted has a good caving reason for being without some clothes, and the caver's "privates" are not visible.
• Pornographic images and images in bad taste.
HOW PRINTS ARE JUDGED
Prints are judged by a panel of judges, who are generally all cavers. They may also be photographers, artists, newsletter editors or have some other relevant expertise. Judging usually takes all of the first Monday of convention. Before judging, they familiarize themselves with the following criteria. There is no discussion among the judges during the judging process, but questions may be asked. The judges can award a maximum of 50 points per print - namely up to 15 points for Technical, 15 for Artistic, 10 for Impact/Originality and 10 for Caver Appeal. In years were the number of entries is very high, the judges may choose to score either Technical or Artistic, and either Impact/Originality or Caver Appeal.
A print should be in focus, correctly exposed and well-lit, unless the subject matter demands otherwise. Prints in the digital category are more strictly judged for technical excellence.
Sharp, crisp details (5 points):
All prints should be in focus - especially digital prints, which can be razor sharp and show incredible detail. Judges can allow some latitude for depth of field limitations where they are truly unavoidable. Situations where the focus is soft because the photographer did not have enough light do not qualify as "truly unavoidable". The judges may also allow latitude if a soft focus on parts of the print is appropriate for the subject. Generally, soft focus and blurring is considered to be a defect.
Exposure / Lighting (5 points):
In a correctly exposed print, all the details are visible and the skin tones and colors are true. Computer technology makes this easy to achieve in digital prints. Incorrectly exposed prints are too dark or too light, or have areas that are over-lit or under-lit, making the details hard to see.
Lighting should be appropriate for the subject matter. Documentary-type prints are enhanced with even lighting, while dramatic subjects favor more contrasty lighting. Generally, lighting is improved with multiple flashes - especially a fill flash and a back flash. Lighting should enhance the subject of the print. Light trails, flash flares, hot spots, dark areas and inappropriate lighting are considered to be defects.
Saturated colors/full range of grey tones
Colors should be true and saturated. Prints with an unnatural cast caused by poor film, bad printing or unbalanced lights are considered to be defective. Exceptions are when the photographer uses colored gels for an effect appropriate for the subject. In Black & White category, the prints should display the full range of grays, and true blacks and true whites, unless the subject matter demands otherwise.
To be considered artistic, the elements of the print should work together effectively to communicate the strong reason the photographer had for creating the image.
Title (4 points):
The title of the print should work with the image creatively to communicate the idea that is central to the image. Hype, exaggeration or a title that promises more than the print delivers is considered to be a defect. "Say what you mean, and mean what you say". Titles that communicate only the name of the cave and/or caver are considered to be uncreative and will not earn points. Titles which are obscure or hard to understand do not score well. Titles that are meant to be funny but are not, are penalized, as are over-used ones like "Beam me up, Scotty!"
Cropping / Rule of Thirds (4 points):
A well-cropped print has the subject occupy most or all of the space in the print and has no "dead space" or irrelevant "junk". Photographers are encouraged to crop their prints and enter images of various proportions - such as square, tall and narrow or low and wide where appropriate. The use of a horizontal format for a vertical subject (and vice versa) is considered a defect.
Ideally, the subject should be located a third from a horizontal side and a third from a vertical side of the print. To place the subject in the middle of the print, or too close to an edge is considered a defect.
Composition & center of interest (4
The ingredients of the image should be interesting and work together to reveal the purpose of the print - "why did he/she photograph this?" If a model is used, it should help the subject and make it stronger. A poor model is posed, not a part of the subject, included only "for scale" and is too dominating or unnoticeable for the subject. The background should not be distracting. Objects not germane to the photo should be excluded.
Mounting / Presentation (3 points):
The size, shape and color(s) of the matte should compliment the print and enhance the subject. Ideally, the color of the matte should highlight a color in the print, which needs special notice. The choice of glossy or non-glossy paper should also be appropriate to the subject. The titling should be neat and legible to earn points. (Note: Rules say lettering should not exceed a quarter inch in height) Prints that look bowed, dog-eared, or damaged, may loose points. The size of the print should be appropriate to the subject.
3. IMPACT (10 points)
Here the points are earned for
• being original and creative
• thinking outside the proverbial cube
• good ideas with strong visual impact
• being interesting
• being humorous in an original way.
• Provide an unusual point of view or perspective
• Make a statement
• Stimulate viewer’s imagination or invoke an emotional impact such as “aw shucks!”, “cute!”, “Oh, no!”
• Communicate a message
• Use an unusual technique to achieve an original image.
• Make the audience laugh!
• Image is boring
• Models are posed, "look wrong", are not in harmony with the subject, but, instead, are looking straight at the camera.
• Print is similar to others entered in same salon, or in previous years, or in other salons.
• The subject has been photographed so much that it is cliché.
• Straight portraits of people/group shots, which the judges feel are unoriginal and egotistical and have limited appeal to the caving community. (Subjects looking straight at the camera).
• The photographer has tried an unusual technique, but it has not worked.
• The image documents a special interest - may be appropriate for a text book on geology, biology, archaeology etc.
4. CAVER APPEAL (10 points)
Here the subject matter of the print is judged. Subject matter must reflect caves, cavers, caving or speleology in an entertaining and appealing way. "This is what caving is all about." "This has my attention." The judges look for prints that embody the spirit of cave photography.
• Audiences like to see the caving environment portrayed convincingly - exciting, beautiful, mysterious, dynamic, imaginative, true-to-life, or humorous.
• Prints depicting water, cavers on rope, humor or outstanding beauty are popular.
• Generally prints that show people actively caving are more appealing than static people looking at a formation or at the camera.
• Exceedingly beautiful or unusual formations can be sensational - especially if photographed in an unusual and original way.
A so-so cave or an unremarkable moment.
Subjects that have been photographed many times (e.g. caver looking at a formation).
Cave formations, rooms etc. that have been photographed many times (e.g. Snoopy, the Clansman, Neversink)
Subjects are not relevant to caves or caving - boring!!
Tourists in a show cave.
Models not dressed for caving. (see note about helmets above)
Humor entries that are not funny. In jokes. Overdone jokes.
Vanity pictures, portraits, group shots, of interest to subjects and photographers, but not a large audience.
If you are confused by any of the above, or would
like clarification, please contact the Print Salon Chair, Wm Shrewsbury, at email@example.com. He will be happy to answer any Print Salon questions you may have.