It can be quite demoralising to enter an image in a competition and have it not accepted.
Sometimes this can come down to a judge's personal preferences and there's not much you can do about this, but often, images fail on technical grounds that you could often pick up on and correct yourself before submitting an image. Going through this check list with each image before you submit it won't guarantee you merit or honours, and won't always prevent you from having an image not accepted, but it should greatly improve your chance of gaining at least acceptance, by ensuring that your image is at least technically correct.
- Is the horizon level? (If should be unless you are intentionally aiming for an unusual angle.)
- Is detail sharp? (It should be unless you are intentionally aiming for some sort of motion blur or impressionist effect etc.)
- Is their a key point of interest for the eyes to focus on (and only one. Multiple points of interest can be distracting)?
- Is there adequate contrast and tonal range (and not too much)?
- Have you cropped out or de-emphasised any distractions from the subject(either in-camera using shallow depth of field and/or composition, or in post processing)?
- Is the image free of blown highlights? (If the image is high contrast Black & White this may be OK, but will generally look bad in colour.)
- Is there sufficient detail in shadows?(unless you're intentionally aiming for a silhouette effect)
- Will someone who knows nothing about the story behind the image understand the title? (Clever titles can be good, but only if the judge understands them)
- If the image is set subject, does it adequately capture the theme?
- Is the image free from dust spots?
- Is the image free from excessive noise?
- Is the image free from obvious editing artefacts? (eg banding in gradients, halos or jagged edges)
- Is it sized correctly?
If you don't understand any of the terminology, you should be able to find explanations with Google, otherwise feel free to ask one of the more experienced members of the club, or in the club Facebook group.