Before you click “Submit”

Photo of finger touching water in nature by Fredrick Suwandi on Unsplash

Photo by Fredrick Suwandi on Unsplash

By Darren Wiedman

Our February contest judge, photographer Luke Edmonson, offered some great tips on how to check an image for obvious flaws. Perhaps his advice — and a little more from the internet — will give us a better chance of winning contests.

Turn it upside down

This is one that Luke Edmonson mentioned in his critiques. The eye is usually drawn to the brightest part of a photo. To see what that is objectively, turn your image upside down. The bright spots will suddenly jump out. Keep them if they are important. If not, tone them down or crop them out.

Eliminate distractions

Ideally everything in the shot should have a reason for being there. This is a tip best heeded while you’re shooting because it may be difficult to remove distracting elements in post. But if you can, do.

Flip it

Another one from Luke: try flipping the image so what’s on the right moves to the left. Sometimes this will make a big difference in the composition. Obviously this won’t work if there are words in the image.

Falling water

Be sure your horizon lines are level. You may have noticed this in your friend’s vacation
photos from the beach. Everyone is having fun in the shot, but your eye keeps going to the tilted ocean in the background.


The main subject of your photo needs to be sharp. Seems like an obvious point, but it’s amazing how often this comment is made by judges. Remember to view your images at
100% or closer to be sure the key part of your image is sharp.

Chromatic aberration

This is a fancy term for colored fringes around edges of high-contrast subject matter, e.g. rocks against a blue sky. This can happen with lower-grade lenses and a lot of post-production work on the image.

So what?

Yet another tip from Luke, “be bolder in saying something (as the photographer) versus just simply declaring.” Does your image tell a story or show something in a unique way? Are you rewarding the viewer for taking the time to look at your photo? “Find something … and present it in a way that if you had not, perhaps no one would ever see its beauty.”

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