What’s on Your Mind?

The Most Frequently Asked Questions

We at Light and Composition want to thank you for showing interest in our books, articles, the most prestigious award, and our university education. Here are the answers of most frequently asked questions we get every day.

What is the meaning of completely unaltered?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word unaltered means remaining the same; unchanged. Then you need to add the word “completely”, which means totally; utterly. For this award, a photograph should be straight out of your camera. Even when we mention completely unaltered, this often does not make any sense for many, as they are lured into the world of post-processing to such an extent that they cannot understand that it is possible to take a good photograph without doing any alteration. So for these people, we mean a photograph without doing any post adjustment, brightness, saturation, contrast, white balance, and so, not even minor ones. For some, it is also hard to grasp the concept of photography standards.

Can you please explain how I can submit a photograph without any processing or alteration, as I believe, all RAW photographs require some level of processing; even taking a RAW image and making it a JPEG breaks your award rules.

We do not support any kind of alteration. It is a very common misconception that all RAW photographs require some kind of post processing. It appears you may have applied for the award before reading any of our publications. Some of our best selling books explain how to get the perfect exposure without any kind of alteration. We have been using these books as textbooks in many universities, field trips, and workshops for decades. Please visit our publication section: https://www.lightandcomposition.com/publications/

Please collect The Essence of Close-up Photography book here https://www.lightandcomposition.com/store/the-essence-of-close-up-photography/ This is a step-by-step technical guide for getting the perfect true color tone exposure without any post-processing.

Please note, 95% of images in this award do not have any alterations and photographers submit us the RAW file. There may be several images that may appear to have been processed, these were taken using film with an analogue camera, then later imported to digital. In this instance, the photographer is required to submit the sequence of that photograph to our experts for verifying that the submission is authentic.

As an example, see the Photo of the Month for the 33rd month. All of the winning photographs are without alteration and directly from the camera. The photographers provided the raw file: https://www.lightandcomposition.com/photo-of-the-month-33rd-month/

Yes, if you convert the RAW to JPEG with any post-processing software then it will break the award rules. This is why we always suggest photographers shoot in Raw+JPEG mode. However, if you think JPEG files are processed in the camera then please read the next Frequently Asked Question.

I believe JPEG files are processed in the camera; doesn’t this then break the award rules?

This is another big misconception that people have about JPEG. Back in 80’s and early 90’s, the Joint Photographic Expert Group (JPEG) developed the image compression algorithm, in order to create a compressed image file. In that the original image is passed through a series of sub-algorithms and data structures. The entire system creates an output file with enough information to recover the highly compressed image. It has four key steps, or sub-algorithms.

The first step is to extract an 8×8 pixel block from the picture. The second step is to calculate the discrete cosine transform for each element in the block. Third, a quantizer rounds off the discrete cosine transform (DCT) coefficients according to the specified image quality. And the fourth, the coefficients are compressed using an encoding scheme such as Huffman coding or arithmetic coding. The final compressed code is then written to the output file, which is now known as JPEG.

As you can see, the steps are designed to reduce the image file’s size in a way so the quality is not compromised. There is no connection with a JPEG and image editing or adjustment (brightness, contrast, clarity, highlights, and shadows), which photographers use to enhance an image so that it is better than the original.

As most people do not understand the JPEG data structure, this has become a common misconception spread by image editing software makers to market their products. Once you start believing that the camera processes the file to enhance the quality and appearance then you no longer believe it’s different to using post-processing software. Whilst, the JPEG definitely looks better, this is because of a different reason; you must study color space or study our Books bundle – Mastering Photography, which has 2 books and 3 chapters’ explaining color and color space: https://www.lightandcomposition.com/store/mastering-photography/

All my photographs are opened in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop at some point, which doesn’t mean they are altered, just part of my standard workflow. How then can I submit photographs so the EXIF does not display as opened in post-processing software?

You are absolutely right. Opening a photograph in image editing software like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop does not mean they are altered. However, without seeing the original file, how can L&C determine that you did not do any alterations? Anything is possible in Photoshop, how can we trust this?
The award rules are the same for everyone and everyone needs to submit the original file for this award.

With regards to using Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop as part of your daily workflow, it is not good practice to allow Lightroom to import photographs directly and convert these to native format. Unless instructed, Lightroom never opens any file. You can simply copy files from your camera to your local hard disk and then sync that local disk/folder with Lightroom. Unless you export a photograph from Lightroom, the EXIF does not display Lightroom details in the properties. Thus, providing you shoot in Raw+JPEG mode, your JPEG will be intact.

Is it allowed to submit Black & White photographs that were converted from color?

Thanks for asking. This is in fact, one of the most frequently asked questions we receive every day. Visualization is the key in black and white photography. One needs to visualize how the end photograph would look in different shades of grey not the vice-versa. Now the question is, it is allowed to convert photographs from color to black and white. Let’s put it in a broader context. Have you seen those amazing three dimensional paintings? How they use perspective and tonal scales to create illusion. They are not only stunning, they are colorful and have depths. That splendid form of art is not old, this is in fact from this era, but you will not find a single three dimensional street artist, who willingly wants to convert their finished colorful arts into something black and white. And if we go back to some earlier form of painting – oil, watercolor, acrylic, and whichever characteristic the painter wants to work with, such as viscosity, miscibility, or solubility, they chose the medium first, and then work in it. That is the artistry of an artist. It is not some lucky blunder, intended but at the same time not always intentional. That is why for any kind of visual art, artist has to envision it first. If Leonardo da Vinci had wanted to make Mona Lisa just as a sketch, it is for sure that he would not have painted Mona Lisa first and then converted it to sketch. No offence, but no painter would ever do such thing!

Like sketch, black and white was the basic and earliest form of photography. And as like the first drawing of human civilization, the black and white photography came to us through a series of human inventions, to be specific, the technology that we had at that time. The world was never black and white, our technology was.

In the early age of photography, the concept of visualization was influenced for black-and-white print values. Photographers of that time made serious efforts to learn to view a subject that is rich in color, yet visualize it in the values of black-and-white. They studied the subtle to dramatic tonal ranges, complete with the ranges of gray. They had learnt to feel only three tonalities of colors: black, white, and gray and their luminance. They are the pioneers, who established this category, showed us how beautifully this world could be captured in the shades of grey. And if you want to capture a photograph in their medium, in their category, then you should visualize in the medium of black and white, whither it is in film or sensor, four thirds, full frame, medium, or in large format, in single lens reflection or in rangefinder, it should be same for all.

Visualizing a photograph in black and white is not as easy as converting from colors, because not everyone can visualize what they want before the shutter releases. Some seem to absorb it viscerally after going through thousands of rolls of film and spending years with their camera, some with appropriate training and proper guidance, like we provide through our books, articles, and university education. The bottom line is, one has to understand each of the mediums separately, enjoy learning, study them, and must make photography a passion. Yes, we do accept black and white photographs that were converter from color, but one must submit the original color photographs alongside the black and white version.

May I know the reason, why my profile, award, or interview is not yet published, even though I’ve submitted it for a while?

From the beginning of 2014, with the opening of the Department of Language and Linguistics in Light & Composition University, we are strongly against publishing a profile, award, or interview that’s written in poor English. In many cases those interviews, award descriptions, or profiles, which are not yet published, do not make any senses at all. Either they are written with the help of an online translator, or there are sentences that constructed poorly and are completely irrelevant with the rest. In either of these cases, an email already has sent to you to correct your submission highlighting your mistakes, or a member of our support team has already informed you to correct them.

In the case of Photographer’s Profile, if you do not follow the clear guidelines given on the right side of the Photograph’s Profile page, then it will not get approved. Furthermore, a profile might not get approved if the photographer haven’t yet submitted photographs for the award.

In the case of Award, please make sure you follow each and every steps mentioned in the selection email. If a photograph does not comply with the award rules, then we strongly suggest you’d better not submit that photograph. To make the procedure fastest, always follow the award rules.

Remember, we are always there to help you to express you creativity, however if any of these issues arise please contact with our 24/7 support team to resolve the issue.

When I signed up for Light and Composition award, my membership was lifetime. Why that has been reduced to 1 year subscription?

We would love to give lifetime membership if you are one of the old members who registered before February 2015. However, to achieve that you have to be an active member and submit at least 3 photographs per month for the award.

If you are an old member and is not active for more than 6 months, your membership will automatically change to 1 year subscription. If you haven’t submitted any photographs in last 6 months, please contact our support team to reactive your account. Keep submitting photographs and your account will be upgraded to lifetime membership automatically.

If you are not active, you can still keep your membership with the current award submission subscription plan: $19.99 for a Year.

If you registered after February 2015, is it possible for you to join our lifetime membership only if you are active and get yourself into the top 100 photographer list. Please read the criteria of getting into the top 100 photographers list.

Can I win Photo of the Month as a Guest Photographer?

Submitting and winning Photo of the Day Award as a Guest opens the door for amateur as well as professional photographers to participate in the most prestigious photography award. However, keep in mind that we do not award Photo of the Month to any guest photographer.

If you already won a Photo of the Day award as a guest with a promising award score (above 65), you have a good chance of winning Photo of the Month and should get registered straightaway from award registration page.

Please know more about Photo of the Day Month and how you can give your interview from – https://www.lightandcomposition.com/the-canvas-is-yours/

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