Monthly Competition

Members of the Charlottesville Camera Club are divided into "B" (beginner) and "A" (advanced) classes. Each month, members are encouraged to enter images for evaluation by a judge. Images are evaluated on a five point scale. Up to two images may be submitted each month with no more than one in any of the following categories: 1) Assigned (see topic, below), 2) Open (photographer's choice of subject), and Innovative. In the Assigned and Open categories, members compete within their class. In the Innovative category, entries from A and B members are judged together. For both the Assigned and Open categories, only limited photo editing is allowed, while images that have been artistically modified are reserved for the Innovative category. The amount of editing acceptable for images in the Assigned and Open categories is described in the Rules of Competition. The "Innovative" category allows members artistic freedom through the use of any available camera or digital manipulation including image capture using a scanner. A FEW THINGS TO THINK ABOUT BEFORE ENTERING A COMPETITION:

  1. Is my craftsmanship as good as it can be? (Is the image perfectly sharp, well exposed, not over-sharpened or over-saturated, etc.?)
  2. Are there any distracting or unnecessary objects in my image? (Remember: If something doesn’t help your image, it hurts it!)
  3. Is any part of the background brighter than my subject? (If so, find a way to eliminate or at least darken it.)
  4. Are any parts of my image too close to the edges of the frame?
  5. Is my subject or horizon right in the middle? Am I sure that’s the best place for it?
  6. Am I being objective about the subject’s appeal? (Your pet or grandchild or garden may mean everything to you, but a judge cares only about the quality of the image.)

This Year's Themes (2018)

All Assigned images will be projected and Open may be submitted as a print or projected (photographer's choice). Need help submitting your images for projection? Read Gerry Bishop's Instructions for Uploading Images to PhotoContest Pro.

January RED

Your challenge this month is to photograph something red. The color red symbolizes power, strength, passion, and vitality, yet it also represents danger and hatred. Examples are everywhere: red leaves in the fall, fire engines, tomatoes, flowers. Whether you choose to fill the frame with red or create a composition around a red subject, the viewer’s eye should be immediately drawn to this strong and powerful color.

Greg Holden

There is power in an object once useful and needed, now discarded and ignored. Tell a story with your image. Allow the viewer to feel the nostalgia and to imagine the past life of a broken tool, a torn piece of lace, a tattered teddy bear, a worn pair of boots. These bits of a forgotten past can be found in your own homes, antique or second hand shops, old farms or tool sheds, junk yards—and just about anywhere else. Keep your eyes open and you may find you have more possibilities than you can use.

Andy Jezioro
February Exhibition Committee Meeting

Not every color photograph translates into a good monochrome. Before being able to produce great images, a photographer needs to learn how to “think” in black and white. The three most important aspects to look for in an image are contrast, shape, and texture. Try going through some of your own work to identify pictures that convert well. For some great tips on camera settings, etc. see

Jim Steele
March Exhibition Committee Meeting

Curves are a great compositional tool for leading your eye through a photograph. They are dynamic and can add energy, motion, tension, and balance to an image. They might be in the shape of an arch, an S-curve, or maybe even a circle. Consider a curvy road, a spiral staircase, a rainbow, or the roundness of some fruit. Once you start looking for them, curves are everywhere!

Brian Zwit

Shoes may be smart and stylish, old and worn, large or small, in groups, lines, pairs or piles. Try a close up or abstract of a shoe or a boot, create an image of shoes with a purpose, or an artistic arrangement. Other ideas might include a shoe store display or the messy floor of a closet—use your imagination and turn a mundane subject into a work of art. Try googling “shoes in photography” for some great ideas.

Jamie Konarski Davidson

Rocks are everywhere, but how can you turn them into a good photo? You could take a close-up approach, and look for interesting patterns, textures, and colors. Rocks can also be seen as micro-habitats, providing a solid surface for mosses and lichens, a soil-filled crevice for a flowering plant to take root, or a cozy spot for a lizard or insect to bask in the sun. On the other end of the spectrum, you may find rocks that dominate a landscape, such as a graphic tumble of boulders on a mountain slope or a colorful pattern in the strata exposed in a road cut. Consider river rock that has been shaped and smoothed over years, or collectible minerals like the peacock rock, geodes, malachite, jasper, and crystals. This subject provides lots of opportunities to play with lighting—to bring out colors, texture, or sparkle.

Ken Conger

Abstract photography, like abstract art, focuses on shape, form, color, pattern, and texture. It seeks to show the subject’s essence, not the reality. This lack of context in which to evaluate an image is one of the reasons abstract photography can be so challenging. Photographers will generally emphasize lines and curves, colors, textures, geometrical forms, and their relationship to, and interaction with, one another. The internal structures and intrinsic forms of an abstract photograph are often difficult to capture, but they also can make that same photo hard to forget. Go to to see some examples of abstract photographs.

Matthew Schmidt

Fruits and veggies are more than good things to eat. Their shapes, textures, and colors have inspired artists for hundreds of years, and they’ll do the same for any photographer who takes the time to see them as more than food. You can search for subjects in the produce aisle of your supermarket or the tables at a farmer’s market. Or you can visit a vineyard or apple orchard, discover a cluster of wild blueberries in a meadow, or capture a bunch of cherry tomatoes in your own garden in just the right light. Show yourself—and all of us—what beauty can be found in some of our most common edibles. (Since “fruit” can mean the seed-bearing structure of any flowering plant, please limit your images to those normally eaten by people.)

Rachel Z. Wilson

Albemarle County alone offers a plethora of fences for you to photograph, from old and decayed to carefully kept. The walls of old barns and city buildings can put a whole new twist on the topic. And don’t forget graffiti! Fences and walls may be used to lead the eye into the image, as a way to emphasize an element of your composition, or as the main subject of your photo. For some ideas and examples you can try the following two websites: or


Darkness lends itself to a completely new set of photographic opportunities. City streets come alive at night, as do country fairs and fireworks displays. But even quiet and lonely places—cemeteries, back alleys, and moon-lit shorelines—can surprise you with what they have to offer. At night you will need to ensure that you capture sufficient light by increasing the length of your exposure, by adding light (flash or light painting), or by increasing the sensitivity (ISO) of your sensor. But to maintain the feeling of darkness, be careful not to let a too-long exposure turn your scene into daytime. Wherever you may be headed, grab your tripod and a friend (for assistance, company, and safety) and have fun shooting in the dark. Find nine helpful tips for shooting in the dark at:

Michael Ver Sprill
October to July Colors, Loud and Quiet

Colors can be beautiful in both bold and subtle ways. Great masses of color; quiet hints of color, complimentary colors, clashing colors, colors that make a statement, colors that inspire, excite, calm. How well can you use color to make a photographic statement, loud or quiet or something in between?

November TREES

Almost anyone with a camera has documented the beauty of trees. But the usual photos we’ve all taken may not make much of an impression in a competition. Your challenge is to find something special that trees have to offer. Autumn colors? Sure thing. But what can you do to capture those colors in an inspiring way? Flowering trees in spring? Of course. But what can you do with those blooming branches that you’ve never done before? Even a dead tree, standing alone on a windy ridge or rotting on a forest floor, may offer an opportunity you’ve never imagined.

Mark Buckler

Next Year's Themes

January Walls and Fences

Albemarle County alone offers a plethora of fences for you to photograph, from old and decayed to carefully kept. The walls of old barns and city buildings can put a whole new twist on the topic. And don’t forget graffiti! Fences and walls may be used to lead the eye into the image, as a way to emphasize an element of your composition, or as the main subject of your photo. For some ideas and examples you can try the following two websites: https://www.lightsta... or http://www.better-di...

February Glass in All Its Glory

Glasses to drink from or see through, fractured glass, beaded glass, an hour glass, molten glass, stained glass, buildings, bottles, jars, vases, tubes, fibers . . . the list goes on. Photographing glass requires careful attention to reflections and blown-out highlights. Lighting, important to all categories of photography, plays an especially important role in minimizing or avoiding distracting reflections, although in some cases an interesting reflection may enhance the photograph. However, for this competition, while your picture may include reflections, glass must be the main subject, not just a means of creating a reflection. For helpful information on equipment and techniques search the web on “photographing glass”.

March Tools from the Past

(This can include anything, large or small, simple or complex, used to do any kind of job.) The topic will give you an easy and wide range of subjects to choose from. The trick will be to present the tool in a way that will move the observer. Work at presenting your tool in a way that will tell a story or create a feeling of nostalgia (or possibly relief that you don’t have to use that thing anymore).

April Wonders of Rain

“Singing in the rain” . . . “When it rains it pours” . . . “Don’t rain on my parade” . . . familiar phrases for (most) all of us, each one of which may bring to mind interesting photo opportunities for capturing a moody photograph: A child with a ball and glove looking forlornly through a rain spattered window, people with colorful umbrellas crossing a busy street, a person walking a rain-drenched dog, water gushing from a building rainspout. Just be careful to keep your gear dry! Search “rain photography ideas” for inspiration.

May From Highways to Byways

There are many ways to take photographs of paths and roads. They are a great way to incorporate leading lines into your images. Roads, trails, or paths are inherently leading because they go somewhere, give us a feeling of motion, and the lines often point so far inwards that they reach a vanishing point – the place where two or more lines converge into theoretical infinity. When leading lines, such as roads, connect the foreground to the background of a scene, they help to create depth and dimensionality that draws the viewer into the image. But perhaps you can come up with an original way to photograph highways or byways.

June People at Work or Play

Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker . . . Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy . . . Basketball, Baseball, Games of Chance . . . Gymnastics, Painting, Music, or Dance. Capture a moment that shows someone deeply into work or play. Capture the joy or the pain or the smile or the sweat. Sometimes work is play and sometimes play is work. For some ideas and tips see:

August Keep it Simple

A bare minimum of elements can make a dramatic or moving photo. Photograph a landscape with just a few points of interest; or a simple vase with a single flower. Simplicity is about clarifying your message by excluding useless details. A photographic rule of thumb is to include objects only if they add value to your photograph. But this theme will challenge you to include as few items as possible to create a successful photograph. https://www.picturec...

September Black and White

In choosing a black and white subject you are looking for contrast, tone, shadow, shape, and texture. Click on this website for some good ideas and techniques to produce a memorable B&W image.

October The "Blue Hour"

Capturing the Magic Before Sunrise and After Sunset: The blue hour is the period of twilight in the morning or evening when the sun is far enough below the horizon that the sky takes on a wonderful shades of blue—a color invisible to your eye but revealed by a long exposure with your camera. Long exposures, of course, require a tripod and other tools and techniques you may not be familiar with. The following website will give you some good pointers on shooting during the blue hour: https://digital-phot.... And to help you further, we’ll be offering a workshop on the same subject.

November Leaves

Leaves are everywhere, in all seasons. (Yes, even in winter.) Their colors, shapes, and textures, with intricate veins and interesting texture, are almost unlimited. When shooting, consider different perspectives and lighting. Go from macro to shooting a whole forest.