We need quality images, as they will be used for print in your artboard and for publication if you are a winner.
It is suggested that 5 megapixel images are the minimum you need to provide as the image you upload ideally needs to be 2500 pixels on the shortest side, providing you are not intending to crop the photo.
Most digital cameras have a display mode which will allow for a 3 x 3 grid to be displayed on the screen. Use this display to not only frame your shot but to also ensure that levels or uprights in the subject matter are maintained.
Many ‘point-and-shoot’ digital cameras suffer from shutter lag. You can overcome this by pre-focussing the photo by depressing the shutter button to the halfway point while framing the shot you wish to achieve.
When taking photos the professional photographer will often refer to the ‘magic hours’ which are the early morning or the early evening. These are times when natural outdoor light is soft and you can avoid the ‘harshness’ of the midday sun.
Digital photos taken with the camera’s flash on can often produce flat, one-dimensional images. If possible don’t use your flash but compensate with shutter speed or aperture setting.
A tripod will overcome the ‘shakiness’ that can be experienced when the shutter speed is slowed down otherwise try bracing yourself against a wall or other solid object to achieve stability.
If light is low look at bringing in light, either natural light by opening workshop doors or blinds or artificial light to highlight the focal point of your shot.
Colour recalibration to adjust the effect of artificial light will likely be needed as fluorescent light will add a bluish tinge to photos while a tungsten or incandescent bulb will add a yellowish tinge to the photo.
When taking photos outside look at adjusting the white balance in your camera. This can be done by setting the camera to ‘cloudy’ even if the sun is out.
This change will provide a ‘warmer’ image with more vibrancy to the colours which will appear richer.
Consider using your flash for outdoor shots even when bright sunshine is evident. The flash can lighten harsh shadows and reduce the effect of shadows.
Try to avoid distracting elements in the background of your composition. Busy patterns, moving objects or people detract from the image you would want displayed and draw attention away from the subject matter.
For those shots that need to be taken at night for the Illuminated categories of entries, a tripod is virtually a ‘must’. The flash will have no noticeable effect if the subject matter is out of the flash’s range. A slow shutter speed is also must. Odd as it may sound, setting your camera’s white balance to daylight will give you richer colours. If possible take your night time shots in the first half an hour after sunset for the best illuminated sign photos.
Learn how to correctly crop your photo before submitting it so as the focal point is the main feature of your photo. Be aware that in cropping your photo you are reducing the pixel count on one or both boundaries.
If you are planning to crop your photos set your image size to more than 5 megapixels. It is easier to reduce a 12 megapixel photo than retake the shot if it is below the specification required for entries.
The quality of your photography affects your chances of success. Judges consider the composition to a degree but the quality of the detail in the photo/s speaks volumes for the quality of the sign work being entered.
Don’t overlook the value of close-up shots that highlight the detail of the work entered.