Judges for the 13th Champaign County Camera Club Photographic Print Competition, which opens today, were impressed with the quality of entries. The vast majority are digital — that’s one reason for their excellence, said club member Chris Main, who chairs the contest. “The instantaneous feedback from a digital camera is a good teacher. I’ve talked to a lot of professionals, and they agree that the learning curve really shoots up with a digital camera.” Here’s more:
1. Judges Ron Sullivan, Darrell Hoemann and Brian K. Johnson, all professionals, selected the winners last week in eight categories, including a youth division. Nearly $2,000 in cash prizes will be awarded altogether. All 350 photographs entered will be on display at Lincoln Square Village, Urbana. Looking is free; the public also is welcome at the judges' critique from 1 to 2 p.m. Feb. 23, the last day of the exhibition. The mall is open 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends.
2. The contest is for amateurs only. "We really spell out clearly that anybody who does this for a living or makes more than $1,000 a year at photography can't enter," Main said. For the 2014 contest, the photographs must have been taken on or after Jan. 1, 2013. Photographs taken with film may be entered in any category but Main believes only one contestant this year used film: Claire Daly, 21, of Champaign. She won first and third in the manipulated category, using an unusual darkroom process.
3. Former Urbana Mayor/club member Hiram Paley started the photo contest in 2001; he died in early 2012. "Actually Hiram was very insistent that we call it the Best in Show Photographic Print Competition," Main said. "He was a good predecessor. I can tell you that everything was in place when I took over." The late mayor also insisted on publicity — every year The News-Gazette publishes the first-place photographs. Look for that article — and the photos — in Sunday's Living section.
4. The Champaign County Camera Club, founded in 1935, organizes the contest and finds sponsors. Anyone with an interest in photography may attend meetings or join the club. "We accept all levels of skill," Main said. "If people start out with not many skills and they come to Camera Club they will learn and get better. We have some pretty skilled members." The group meets twice a month in Room 131, UI Animal Sciences Laboratory, 1207 W. Gregory Drive, U. For more info go to champaigncountycameraclub.org.