View Full Version : Getting Ready to Submit for PPW

03-21-2008, 11:14 PM
Well, I had my images printed through Miller's. I am even more nervous now that I am looking at them because they are SOOOOO DARK! Miller's prints for competition density, but certain parts of the image went completely black... at least to my eyes.

Is this normal, or am I in trouble? I have never seen a print under competition lights and I can't be there for the judging so that will make me wonder even more. Can what looks totally black to me bring back detail once put under the lights?

Thanks for any thoughts, if just to stop my mind from racing about this.


03-21-2008, 11:27 PM
best thing to do is to put it under some bright photofloods and see how they look.

03-21-2008, 11:39 PM
Hi Julie;

I view mine under 7" parabolics on my Photogenic Powerlights and the modeling lights turned all the way up.

Set your light meter for 100 ISO for 1 second at F16. That is judging brightness.

03-22-2008, 12:17 AM
What he said. They really need to be printed down. And if they pride themselves at all, they would have done this prior to telling you they were ready. Otherwise... P.M. me.

03-22-2008, 03:47 AM
Thanks - I will take a look at them with my strobes and see if I can get the modeling lights bright enough.

John, I'm not sure I understood your comment. I knew Miller's prints at competition density.... I just wasn't expecting them to come back as dark as they did. This being my first time printing for competition I don't have anything to compare to.


03-22-2008, 08:37 AM
Another thing to keep in mind when you're viewing your prints - yes - set the lights for 1 second at f16 on ASA 100, but be sure to use a gray background for viewing. If you use a white or black background it will fool your eyes into believing that the print is too dark or too light depending on what background is behind them when you view them.

03-22-2008, 01:00 PM
Hi Rick;

That is a good point. In most judgings, there is either a roll of grey background paper or a grey cloth material hanging down from light stands with a hole cut out for the turntable to display the images. Julie ... the print committee will often put a few images on, one at a time, so the panel gets their eyes attuned to the set up ... once again, the grey background providing a neutral area around the turntable so the prints stand out.

Hi Julie;

When you do display the images in your studio (hopefully with corners and ribbons ... crossing my fingers for you) I suggest you either have picture lights above each one or track lighting to properly illuminate them. I have track lighting and it shows off my comp. prints nicely.

03-23-2008, 05:22 AM
D. Craig brings up an interesting point. Would anybody find it unethical or contrary to good practice to make a second print afterward to display under more typical lighting? The same image, but printed to represent what earned the award, but as viewed in a non-judging environment.

Perhaps for another thread, what about the difference between the prints we submit for competition and those we actually sell to our clients? Digital step mounts, gloss (multiple layers), full-bleed -- the contents of the case I send for judging looks a lot different from the prints that actually hang in my clients' homes and offices. Image vs. presentation -- are we drifting too far away from the actual photo/capture during the evaluation/judging procedure?

Food for thought....

03-23-2008, 06:58 AM
I see no ethical problem with printing another image somewhat lighter for display in your studio under more subdued lighting. Few of us have our studio display lights set to judging standards - it's a bit too bright for the displays in a typical studio. Since subdued lighting tends to relax people and bright light tends to wire them up, we all want our clients to relax, so we turn the lights down a bit. It is, after all, your art and it is your right and responsibility to display the print to its best advantage. If the image needs to be printed lighter to be displayed under your display lighting, that is your decision, since the image is the same, just printed lighter - and besides, if it goes Loan, you have to print it again anyway, since PPA keeps the print for exhibition and you don't get the print back.

I believe that photographers in general tend to stretch their abilities when it comes to competition images, but that doesn't mean that you can't sell that stretch to your clients. I have competion prints displayed on my studio walls (most of my competition images are "for-client" works) and I find that quite a few of my younger clients are asking for the type of finishing look that they see in the competition images on the walls. They are asking for the color coordinated matted look of a "step-mounted" image, and are even asking for the off-center matting in many cases - some just feel that the off-center matting and the high gloss finish look is "really-cool" and "artsy" (I never thought that I would ever hear the word "cool" ever used by the younger crowd again - thought that went out in the 60's). Most of my older clients still want the full bleed print, since they feel that by going with a "step-mounted" look, they are getting a smaller image. Many clients specifically ask for the "step-mounting" since in many cases it's easier to purchase a larger print with the matting photographically added than to have it done in framing. If we add the mats on the image, then the mats are the exact color that they want for the image and they don't have to settle for just the closest color that's offered by Crescent in their choice of mat board colors.

03-23-2008, 07:10 AM
Actually, this year's loan book is all reprinted with corrected density. The problem with the old loan books was that the images came out "competition darker" in the book. This year, they requested that all loan image recipients submit an electronic file for printing.

This year, we printed almost all of our images in-house. The advantage of this is that you don't get the judgement of the lab to print it darker, and sometimes too dark. We print and evaluate under our lights to see if it it needs to go darker. To do a blanket "20%" darker is not necessarily correct.

03-23-2008, 07:49 AM
I don't know what Marathon did with the files, but my Loan image came out much DARKER in the Loan book - and - much flatter and in a different color tone than was the original print.

FYI - this was the first year that file submision was required by Marathon. In the past, Eddie Tapp would come to the judging and set up a copy system. We would bring him the Loan and Showcase prints from the judging rooms and Eddie would photograph the prints for the book.