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 (2017)

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 Patterns

Stripes, waves, circles, steps, chevrons . . . the list of possibilities goes on. Patterns appear whenever strong graphic elements—lines, colors, shapes, or forms—repeat themselves. The key to emphasizing patterns is to isolate them from their surroundings. By excluding everything but the design, you create the illusion that the repetition is infinite, extending beyond the frame. Telephoto and longer zoom lenses are excellent tools for isolating and extracting patterns by enabling you to exclude extraneous images. For some help with this, and some interesting examples, try Googling “Patterns in Photography.”

Andrew Shurtleff
February The Power of One

The challenge is to photograph a subject or design element in such a way that it stands out in the composition. It is important to avoid distractions in your photographic composition. A clean background that is free of clutter allows a subject to stand out. If you can’t keep background clutter out of your frame, then use a wide aperture to achieve a shallow depth of field, which will blur the background. A subject will also stand out if it is distinctly different from its surroundings and other objects. This can happen because of a difference in shape, color, texture, or tonal value. How do you see the power of one? For some ideas, see: of-one/

Ben Greenberg
March Black and White

Out of necessity, the pioneers of photography expressed their art in black and white. The keys to good B&W images are strong contrast (pure black and pure white somewhere in the image), a subject with strong form, pattern and texture, and lighting that enhances these qualities. This month we challenge you to learn to “see” in terms of black and white (sepia also acceptable according to Rules of Competition). The following website may be helpful. http:// photography--photo-280

Mark Buckler
April Old Paint

Old weathered barns, abandoned trucks and farm equipment, vintage graffiti, car graveyards, antique doors—these are all great places to find beauty in old paint. This assignment might be presented as an abstract, or as a complete object or scene, but must draw the viewer’s eye to the main subject of “old paint.”

Bruce Dale
May Beautiful Blur

Although abstracts caused by camera motion are not usually allowed in the Assigned category, this month we are making an exception. The photo must be blurred either through the motion of your camera or the motion of the subject, not as a result of computer manipulation. Create a blurred background to pinpoint a bicyclist, or keep the background sharp and blur the bicycle—either way will suggest movement and speed. Capture moving water/waves with a slow shutter speed, artistically blur a scene by moving your camera horizontally or vertically, catch an athlete in the midst of a shot . . . We live in a world of motion, and there are endless ways of showing this through photography.Try the following website, or Google “motion blur in photography.” motion-blur-images/

Andy Jezioro
June Flowers

Flowers in the wild, flowers in shops, flowers in your garden. The possibilities for photographing flowers are endless, and not as easy as you might think.Try to come up with something different . . . a field of flowers, one or three flowers, old flowers, buds, macro flowers Since flowers are a favorite subject and therefore commonplace, high-scoring images will require something exceptionally well crafted and creative to the judge. There are lots of online resources available. Here’s one: creative-flower-photography/

Steven Johnson
July Framed

Natural framing is a photographic technique in which objects can be used to “frame” the main element of the image. Consider trees and branches for landscapes, windows and doorways, tunnels, cave openings, etc. Frames are often used to convey depth in your image by creating an additional layer. A frame does not have to surround a subject, although a fully framed image, such as through a window or door, can be very effective. Some good examples and suggestions can be found at:

Brian Zwit
August Shadows

Drama can be achieved in an image when a shadow becomes a major component of that image. Capturing shadows effectively and creatively could mean hunting down interesting shadows that already exist, or it could mean creating shadows that weren’t there. What will you do with shadows in your photography? To see some creative use of shadows in photography go to the following website: http://

Patty Hankins
September Sounds

What we are proposing for this month’s assignment is an image that captures sound: a dog barking, a baby crying, an audience clapping, music, birds singing, babies wailing, a city waking up. Use your imagination to create an artistic image that allows the viewer to both see and “hear” the subject.

October Golden Light

Photography is all about light, and the quality of light can make the difference between an OK and a “wow” image. The golden hour, approximately the first hour after sunrise and the last before sunset, is when the color of the light shows red and orange to yellow or, as its name suggests, a golden or “warm” color temperature. Golden lighting is often soft, diffused and with little contrast, since the sun is low in the sky. This type of light is ideal for both landscape and portrait photography. Try Googling golden light photography for some examples and tips.

Denise Silva

Meeting will be at the Gordon Avenue branch, 1500 Gordon Avenue, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903

November I Saw It In C'Ville

We live and work in the Charlottesville area. Our daily routines may become mundane, but how could the Lawn, the Mall, the Look3 festival, Presidential homes, Foxfield races, and . . . and . . . ever become mundane? Find a shot that tells the excitement of Charlottesville through its architecture, history, citizens, or the events we enjoy. Your photo should be identifiable as having been taken in Charlottesville or Albemarle County.

Ben Greenberg

Next Year's Themes

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.


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.


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


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.)


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:

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.