Competitions form a central activity in which ESPS members participate. The competitive process allows members to hone their photographic skills, learning from each other's efforts and from the comments of visiting judges. Even if a member never enters a competition, the various hallmarks of a winning photograph can be absorbed simply by seeing what others have done. Applying these principles to one's own work is a useful path towards taking better photographs.
Each month, members can submit examples of their work in a friendly but structured competition. In alternate months the topic is either "Open" in which images of any subject may be entered, or a set topic for all entries to broaden members' experience. Although the competitions are a fundamental core activity of ESPS, there are members who simply enjoy the spectacle rather than actively participating.
Members can submit small prints, large prints or digitally projected images, in colour or monochrome. In addition, two skill gradings ensure that the less experienced entrants are judged separately from those more experienced. This ensures that newer photographers are not forced to compete directly with the more competent.
Judging is conducted by independent judges, mainly from other clubs. Their comments and assessments help members to take better photographs, and also illustrate how different judges will bring different perspectives to what constitutes a "good" photograph. It is not so much a matter of the "best" photograph winning because the concept of "best" is ultimately a matter of personal preference. Rather, it is an indication of which photograph fulfils the requisite standard at a given point in time to a particular judge.
In 2008 ESPS established a liaison with the Koonung Woodturners Guild where ESPS members provide quality photographs of the entries to the Australian Woodturning Exhibition, and ESPS receives some financial support in return. ESPS members also benefit from the opportunity to photograph three-dimensional sculpture in controlled lighting conditions. One ESPS monthly competition is devoted to an aspect of craft, for which the Guild provided a perpetual trophy for the best photograph in that competition. Responsibility for the exhibition has passed to the Whitehorse Woodturners Inc, and more information can be obtained from awtex.com.au.
In addition to the monthly competitions, the "Berris Stokes Memorial Award" (Nature) Competition is conducted annually. The competition topic is "Nature" and the goal of the competition is to present an image which demonstrates the behaviour and/or characteristics of the subject beyond a museum catalogue record. Any manipulation or modification of the image during processing must not alter the content of the original scene.
More detailed information is available in the Competition Rules which can be downloaded here. Expand the Competition information and Rules section.
External Inter-Club Competitions.
In addition to the internal competitions, the Society also participates in competitions between ESPS and other photographic clubs. The ESPS Competition sub-committee chooses images for competition from entries submitted by ESPS members during the year. These entries are then entered on behalf of the club competing against photos taken by members of 3 or 4 other local clubs. Entries are judged on a similar basis to the internal competitions. The primary difference lies in the increased standard of entries and the nature of the competition which is "Open" rather than a "Set Subject". From time to time in the history of the Society, other external competitions have also been arranged, and the potential to do so remains if circumstances and demand exist. Interclub competitions are governed by the VAPS Interclub Rules, which can be downloaded here.
Audio Visual Competitions
In past years, ESPS engaged in Audio Visual competitions via a now outdated system of slides and amplified sound. The advent of digital technology rendered this activity somewhat redundant and A/V competitions faded from the range of club activities. However, in 2009 a new form of A/V productions began to emerge involving sophisticated computer software and more complex production techniques. These A/V productions are now conducted by a number of camera clubs throughout Australia and show potential as being a new and interesting avenue for enthusiasts to pursue. ESPS is venturing down this path also and has already produced A/V productions for those members attending the General Meeting nights. ESPS follows the VAPS Rules for A/V competitions, which can be downloaded here.