I Can See Clearly Now
Winners - Prizes - Rules - Entries
The Bob's Rock Shop Specimen Image Contest is open to any interested party, regardless of age, occupation, nationality, or operating system. Even Macintosh users... ;). The objects of this competition are to provide a showcase for talent, reward and promote excellence in imaging specimens, provide content for use by Bob's Rock Shop, and have some fun!
The subject matter is restricted to mineral and fossil specimens. The specimen depicted need not be owned by the contestant, but the contestant must be the photographer of the original image, regardless of its format. Entered images must be free of any third party copyrights and copy permission is implicitly granted to Bob Keller, editor and webmaster of Bob's Rock Shop, upon receipt of entry. All snail mailed entries become the property of Bob's Rock Shop and will not be returned. Entries may be submitted in one or more the following formats:
You may enter a up to a maximum of 6 images in this contest, although no more than 2 entries per contestant will be eligible for prizes. Mail a completed copy of this CONTEST ENTRY FORM with your image(s). Entries must be received prior to December 1st, 1997. The earlier your entry is submitted, the better the chances it will be featured on the Contest Entries Page or shown elsewhere at Bob's Rock Shop. Winners will announced by Monday, December 15th, 1997. Have Fun, and Good Luck!
- Photographic Print: Provided you properly fill the frame with the specimen, even 4"x6" size drugstore variety prints are suitable for scanning by the Shop, although 5"x7" or 8"x10" (maximum) size prints are definitely preferred, especially if digital cropping is needed. Glossy prints are preferred over matte finish.
- 35mm or Larger Transparency: 35mm slides are also suitable for scanning by the Shop. Due to their relatively small size, full framing of the subject is even more important with images on 35mm slides than small prints. If you work in medium or large format transparencies, these are preferred over 35mm.
- Computer Graphics File: If you own or have access to a scanner, use a digital camera, or do frame grabbing for acquisition, you may enter a graphics file. 24-bit (true color) uncompressed bitmaps in TIFF or BMP format are preferred. You may also submit graphics files in JPEG format - see JPEG Notes. Graphics files should be submitted on 3.5" 1.44 MB IBM formatted floppies. Be sure to include your name, email and snail address printed on the label.
Notes from the Judge: Some Hints and Tips for Winners
- Entries will be judged solely on their aesthetic merits, with yours truly as executive judge and bit-bucket washer. I may seek the counsel and opinions of others in the judging process, but the bottom line is: If Bob likes it... I am, of course, uniquely qualified as judge of this contest, having received an A+ in PHIL 435 - Philosophy of Aesthetics from the University of Missouri, and having been graced with the God-given talent of knowing the good stuff when I see it. Of course, being the editor and webmaster of the sponsoring 'zine and the guy who made up the contest rules doesn't hurt my qualifications either. ;)
- You don't necessarily need to image an exotic or high dollar specimen to be competitive. You will want to use a photogenic specimen, of course, but keep in mind that this is a contest for the best specimen image, not the "best" specimen! An outstanding image of a relatively common but challenging to photograph material like a cluster of clear quartz crystals could well be a winner.
- I happen to appreciate well composed, photorealistic mineral specimen images that depict ideal crystal forms for a species, illustrate the fractal nature of mineral crystal formation, or provide an aesthetic contrast in habit or color between associated minerals or a mineral and the surrounding matrix. It's no coincidence that such images are recurring and time-honored themes and motifs in specimen photography. I'm partial to fossil images that exhibit good three dimensional definition and revealing contrast between the fossil and any surrounding matrix.
- If you're sending larger prints or transparencies in an envelope, be sure and protect them with several stiff layers cardboard and clearly mark it Photographs - Do Not Bend! (My mailman seems to delight in bending and cramming full sized envelopes into my apartment-sized, community mailbox.) Or better yet, send large prints or transparencies in a protective box. The US Postal Service provides a nice 11"x13"x2.5" box with 2-3 day priority mail delivery of up to 2 pounds for $3.00 to domestic users.
- If you submit graphics files, high resolution digital images are not necessary. The screen saver will use images with a maximum pixel size of 640 pixels wide by 480 pixels high, and images larger than 800x600 are seldom deployed at the Shop. However, larger is better, up to those limits. A 100x100 thumbnail sized image is unlikely to win or place in this contest...
- Please do not embellish digital images with borders or overlaid captions and text. This diminishes the potential applications for the image and makes resizing it virtually impossible,
so you get points off for ornamentation.
Use the Same Specimen Imaging Techniques and Tricks the Experts Do!
Reading books is not cheating! If you play with specimen photography but feel you still have a thing or two to learn on the subject, Photographing Minerals, Fossils & Lapidary Materials by Jeff Scovil is an outstanding book which covers just about everything you can learn on the subject by reading about it. Published by Geoscience Press, Inc. ISBN 0-945005-21-0
The Mineralogical Record published a Photographic Record column by Wendell E. Wilson from 1973 to 1978, and has published numerous how-to articles on specimen photography over the years. Just a few of them are articles on lighting and film choice for microminerals 1971-V2N4 p151; basics of photography 1973-V4N4 p158; selecting backgrounds 1973-V4N5 p204; lighting equipment and techniques 1974-V5N4 p167; constructing extension tubes 1974-V5N6 p270; and underground photography 1989-V20N2 p100. Consult their 25 year index for others.
- If you use a digital camera that creates and saves JPEG format images only, just send them
as is - converting these files after the fact to an uncompressed format gains nothing, unnecessarily increases the file size, and will necessitate an effective secondary recompression (a bad thing) back to JPEG for eventual display at the Shop and on the specimen image screen saver. To produce the best image possible, be sure to use the "high quality" (lowest compression) JPEG setting available on your digital camera to minimize JPEG compression artifacts and image degradation.
- Contestants submitting JPEG format graphics files only may do so as email attachments to a completed form, which should be cut and pasted from the contest entry form into the body of the email message directed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Use "Image Contest Entry - Your Name" for your message subject line. Don't submit uncompressed or JPEG image files over 200 KB in size as email attachments - Please send larger files on a floppy!
- A good way to loose big points fast in this contest is to convert your 24-bit (16 million color) BMP, TIFF or JPEG images to an 8-bit (256 color) GIF and submit them in that or some other 256 color format. GIF is a line art optimized compression format that is generally unsuitable for photorealistic images! Here's some further explanation on that topic. Inappropriate use of GIF for specimen images is a pet peeve of mine - so, consider yourself forewarned.
Frame Grabbing Notes
- If you've been contemplating a video frame grabber you'll want to check out this Shop FAQ on The Attractions of Video Frame Grabbers. Presented in that article is basic information on video signals, using camcorders and frame grabbers to
generate digital images, home-brew lighting, and assembling a digital studio on the cheap.
Winners - Prizes - Rules - Entries
Table of Contents