"The Guardian"- Merit Image, 2014 PPOC National Image Salon, Limited Edition Print.
So what makes a Merit print? According to Professional Photographers of Canada website:
~~ About Image Salon: Submitted images are judged by a group of very highly qualified, trained judges, all of whom have already achieved their PPOC Craftsman of Photographic Arts or Master of Photographic Arts designation. They have completed a PPOC Judging Clinic to prepare them for the process of objectively judging the images without any personal bias. This is not an easy task and PPOC is constantly striving to nurture and develop a strong group of qualified members to take on this difficult and taxing responsibility.
From those submitted images deemed worthy of inclusion in the final Salon, there are tiered levels of acceptance. The first level is simply known as "Accepted" and denotes that the image is of a high enough level to warrant being displayed in a prestigious national display of photography by the members of PPOC. The next level is known as "Merit" and indicates a clear step above the first level of Accepted. The highest level is known as "Excellence", which really says it all. Excellence images are a very small and elite group of images that have risen to the top. These are simply remarkable images. ~~
In the following photographs I will demonstrate that there is more than just pushing a button on a camera when it comes to creating great images.
First, my subject had to catch my eye. Late in the afternoon on Sept. 1, 2013, while strolling with my husband on Long Beach just outside of Tofino, BC, I spotted him, all golden and wet. I called to him but he wouldn't look at me. He had a job to do. His eyes were fixed on the crashing surf, waiting patiently for his owners to return to gather their belongings that he was guarding.
I left my images alone for two weeks, then chose this one to tweak a bit. First I auto-corrected the raw file to my liking by lightened the image, then dodged and burned his fur and the shoes and cleaned up the sand a bit then cropped it to to a more pleasing size, eliminating the distraction of trees at the top. I tweaked him some more by flipping the canvas horizontally, making the colour more harmonious and removing the leash by his feet.
After I cropped the image, I moved the sandals closer to the shoes, and flipped it back to it's original position and called the image "Watchful Eyes". I created the final image in the proper format, 2560 x1440 px, and entered it into our PPOC-BC Northern Branch Fall Salon.
It was an Accepted image, meaning it was of good enough quality to hang in the Salon. I was happy with that. Comments from the judges such as too much negative space in the upper right corner and his eyes weren't looking at you, so the title wasn't the best one would be helpful to me later. Then during the awards, I was surprised to receive a Judge's Choice ribbon for "Watchful Eyes".
Although "Watchful Eyes" was Accepted at our Northern Branch Salon Competition, I wanted to improve to at least a Merit level. So I went back to the original image, enhanced the colour by dodging and burning as I saw fit, cropped it, removed the leash that lay at his feet and moved the shoes closer to him. I noticed that if I followed the rule of the golden spiral the focus was on the dog's behind! So flipping it again, I removed the negative space from the upper right corner to the upper left.
Still negative space, so I added two different textures at different opacity, and copied the layer. I enlarged the copied layer and moved it to appear more central in the background and dropped the opacity way down.
I then vignetted the image. Now it was looking more like a Fine Art piece and I was happy with it. To prepare for Provincial Salon, I created the background mat in the standard size required (2560 x 1440 pixels), added the colour and texture, placed the image and created the key line and second lighter mat.
Now my image was ready for submission. I called him "The Guardian". I entered the new image into our Provincial Salon. This time it received two Judge's Choice ribbons and a score of Merit so I decided to enter it into the National Salon held in March 2014. It received a Merit in the National Image Salon.
There are four possible scores an image could receive at the PPOC National Image Salon - Not Accepted, Accepted, Merit, and Excellence. This image was one out of 850 to be judged in 2014 and it received "Merit" as a score. I didn't have to wait long to find out that this image gave me the final print points I needed to obtain my Craftsman of Photographic Arts! This image is part of my Limited Editions collection.
Terrill Bodner, MPA is an Accredited Professional Photographer living in Prince George, BC, specializing in Family Portraiture, Lifestyle, Headshots, Real Estate and Fine Art photography. Terrill is a member of Professional Photographers of Canada, accredited in Fine Art/Photo Decor, Animals, Wildlife, Nature, Ornithology/Bird, Botanical, Pictorial/Scenic, Travel Illustration, and Night Photography and holds the designation of Master of Photographic Arts from Professional Photographers of Canada.