Photo Contest Tips from Past Showcase Winners, Part 2

“Silverback Mountain Gorilla Portrait," Bwindi National Park, Uganda, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Mammals © Hector D. Astorga.
“Silverback Mountain Gorilla Portrait,” Bwindi National Park, Uganda, Showcase 2021 Judges’ Choice, Mammals © Hector D. Astorga.

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

Many NANPA members look forward each year to the Showcase photography competition. NANPA’s 2022 Showcase competition is open now, with entries accepted until 11 p.m. EDT, September 20, 2021. That’s tonight, if you’re thinking of entering, now’s the time to get busy! You can find all the rules, information, entry forms, and more on the website. But, we also asked some photographers who have received multiple Showcase awards to share some of their best tips for photo contests (see part one here).

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True Affects: Using Special Effects to Realistically Affect Reality

Daylilies with Radial Blur Filter (Spin mMethod) Applied © F. M. Kearney
Daylilies with Radial Blur Filter (Spin mMethod) Applied © F. M. Kearney

By F. M. Kearney

A friend of mine once showed me a movie trailer on YouTube for a foreign-made film called “B-14.” It’s about rival drug gangs, featuring an assassin with superhuman powers. To say that the special effects are ridiculously over-the-top would be an extreme understatement! This movie wasn’t meant to be funny, but I laughed more during this 1-minute trailer than I have during some 2-hour actual comedies. It seemed as though the producers just discovered special effects the night before and were determined to use all of them in this film – no matter how poorly executed, or whether the scene called for them or not. But what about special effects in photos of nature?

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True Affects: Using Special Effects to Realistically Affect Reality

Daylilies with Radial blur filter (spin method) applied
Daylilies with Radial Blur filter (spin method) applied

Story and Photos by F. M. Kearney

A friend of mine once showed me a movie trailer on Youtube for a foreign-made film called “B-14.” It’s about rival drug gangs, featuring an assassin with superhuman powers. To say that the special effects are ridiculously over-the-top would be an extreme understatement! This movie wasn’t meant to be funny, but I laughed more during this 1-minute trailer than I have during some 2-hour actual comedies. It seemed as though the producers just discovered special effects the night before and were determined to use all of them in this film – no matter how poorly executed, or whether the scene called for them or not.

Personally, I think special effects work best when they enhance existing attributes within a photo. If you can discern a distinctive pattern within a subject’s color or shape, or the overall composition of the scene, chances are there’s an effect that will accentuate it. 

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