FAQs – PLEASE READ THIS PAGE THOROUGHLY

1. When does the competition open?

The competition opens on 4th. November 2019.

2. When is the closing date?

The competition will close at midnight on 2nd December 2019. No entries or image uploads will be accepted after this time.

3. When does the judging begin?

Once the competition has closed, the preliminary judging begins. Judging stages takes place between December and January.

4. How can I check the status of my entry during the judging phases?

You can check your status via your Submittable Account (see 4.2). All entrants will be notified by email so it is your responsibility to look out for emails and especially monitor your junk folder.

The Submittable system – what is it and what does it do?

The Competition uses a 3rd party management system called Submittable. When you enter the Competition, you create an account on the Submittable system where you can upload your images into the Competition. We can see the images you upload for the judging process and we can delete images that are not successful and send you emails but we cannot retrieve your password, we cannot see your personal details and we cannot provide any technical information. These issues are dealt with by Submittable support.

4.1 I lost my password, what should I do?

Please use the password recovery link at https://manager.submittable.com/account/forgotpassword  For any other issues with your submittable account, please log a support ticket with Submittable.

4.2 – HOW TO CHECK ACTIVITY ON SUBMITTABLE

During judging phases, you can check activity in your Submittable account as per the instructions below:

To view any activity, log into your account then click on your 4 digit submission number. All activity is recorded on the “activity and messages” tab (see images below). When the judges have started viewing your images, the status will say “IN PROGRESS”.

submissionsactivity

4.3 If there is no activity on your entries, please do not contact us or panic as we may not have reviewed your submission.

NOTE: Once the first round judging round is complete, we will post a notice on our website and/or social media pages.

4.4 During all judging phases, we delete images that have not been awarded enough marks to qualify for the next rounds.   If you see images being deleted from your account, please do not email us asking why.

5. Judging has closed but I didn’t receive an email?

Every email we send out is backed up in your Submittable account, and the Submittable system confirms that the email was received by your email provider, therefore we cannot accept any claim that an email was not sent by the Competition.

Please do not contact us until you have made the following checks:

1. Check your spam/junk folder – in almost all cases, the email will be in your spam folder.

2. Log in to your submittable account and do this:

  1. Click on your 4 digit submission number
  2. Click on the “Activity and messages column”. The notification email will be listed here. Please read and follow the instructions in this email.
  3. repeat the above steps if you have multiple submission numbers.

If after performing the above checks and you still have no email in either your email account or your Submittable account, please email us to let us know.

Note: In some rare cases (after the competition has closed), there may be images left in your account that have not won a prize. This may be due to the following reasons:

  1. you had difficulty uploading your files and you informed us. In this case, we will mark your account with a special tag and your images will not be deleted and kept on record for a period of time after the competition has closed.
  2. your images may be of interest to a sponsor who has notified us to look out for images of certain subjects or locations. In this case, your account will have been marked with a special tag and your images will not have been deleted. The interested sponsor will contact you directly if they wish to make an arrangement with you to use your images.

In all cases, regardless of images left in your Submittable account, the winners list published on the day of the official announcement is the final result.

5.1 Help – I lost my password?

If you cannot log into your Submittable account or have lost your password, please use the password recovery link at https://manager.submittable.com/account/forgotpassword  For any other issues with your submittable account, please log a support ticket with Submittable.

5.3 Help – I can’t see my shortlisted images?

To view your images please do this:

  1. Click on your 4 digit submission number
  2. Click on the “Content” tab to view your shortlisted images.
  3. repeat the above steps if you have multiple submission numbers.

5.4 Uploading your files for shortlist & final rounds

If you are successful in making the shortlist or final rounds, the notification emails give notice of approximately one week and provide links to an upload page to send your files. We will ask you to provide your Hi Resolution jpg/tiff files – it is your responsibility to have these ready.  For the Overall, Landscape and Seascape categories we may ask you to provide your original camera RAW or original camera Jpg files so you should have these ready too. If you shot your images on film, we will ask you to send in your original scans. Please note: DNG files will only be accepted if they are the native file of your camera. Original RAW files that have been converted to dng files will not be accepted.

6. I missed the deadline for uploading my high resolution files for the next round, can I have an extension?

a) No. When the deadline passes, our software is automatically locked and judging begins, and we cannot interrupt this process. This is to ensure fairness and anonymity when judges view the shortlisted images.

b) If you missed the deadline for the main categories, your images will still be eligible for the Sponsor and 4 Seasons categories as these are judged by their respective organisations. If you are successful in any of these categories we will request your Hi Res images. Your image, may also be included in the official eBook

7. When will I know if I have been successful?

Winning and commended photographers are notified in the weeks before the official results are announced. This is to allow enough time to contact each photographer and for them to confirm they accept their prize/commendation. The full list of winners, runners up and commended entrants will be published on the official announcement day.

8. When will the results be published?

Results for the 2019 competition (Collection 6) will be published in late February/early March 2020. The list of winners will be published on this day on social media and our website. If your name is not on the list, then we are sorry to say that you have been unsuccessful.

9. Do you provide feedback on my images? Can you tell me why I didn’t win? Why didn’t I do better?

Unfortunately, we cannot provide feedback.

10. How the Judging process is carried out

This section provides a more detailed account of how the judging process is carried out.

Preliminary round:

  1. First Viewing for initial impression.
  2. 7 day wait period
  3. Second viewing – each image given a Yes/No vote.
  4. Yes votes go through to next round.
  5. No votes – images with a No vote are deleted from the entrant’s Submittable account.

Note: Judging of the first round takes place over a 3-4 week period to ensure each image is given proper consideration.

Secondary round (shortlist)

  1. Images viewed anonymously by all judges (this is the blind viewing phase 2)
  2. Each image given score by judges.
  3. Highest scoring images through to final round.
  4. Lowest scoring images deleted from user’s Submittable account.
  5. Request for Hi Res files and descriptions.

Final round

  1. Request for RAW/Original files and checked against rules.
  2. All images that satisfy rules put forward for prize or commendation.
  3. Files that do not follow rules are eliminated and deleted from entrant’s Submittable account.

First round: When the competition closes, the first stage is an initial viewing of all the images to get a first impression. When we view the images, we do not see any information about the photographer attached to their image. We only see the image and the category it was entered in.  After the first viewing has been completed, we return a week later and view them all over again, but this time we give each image a yes or a no vote. A yes goes through to the next round -a no gets deleted from the user’s Submittable account. It should be noted that we have sponsors providing their own prizes and they do their own judging. Some images that may have got a “no” vote for the landscape category for example, may be eligible for any of the sponsor awards, so we send them a folder of images to consider. This way, the judging is very thorough and very fair.

Second round: For the second round, the images that received a yes vote are viewed again on a computer screen but this time, each image is given a score by each judge. Once again, the judges do not know who the photographer is, they only see the image. When the judges have given their scores, the scores are added up. The highest scoring images go though to the final round. The lowest scoring images are deleted from the entrant’s Submittable account.

Final round. The number of images that go through to the final round is determined by the number of prizes in the competition and the number of places available in the book. For each category, this means winners, runners up, highly commended and commended images. There are also the winners of the sponsors awards.

If your image has made it through to the final round, please note that we do not award the prizes until such times as we have checked the authenticity of your images from the RAW/Original files. We check the raws to ensure the images are within the rules. Note: Each category has different rules. Please refer to the appropriate category for details.

11. Why don’t you use open voting/judging?

The concept of open or “e-voting” may give the impression of being a fair system to judge a competition, but we looked at such systems in depth and tested many out. Quite simply, there are a great many reasons why electronic voting systems do not and cannot work.

12. Which images and what information go into the competition book?

The following images win places in the book. The Overall winner’s portfolio, overall runner up’s portfolio, category winners, highly commended and commended images. Sponsor award category winners also win a place in the book. Information about the image’s location and a short description is included in the book.

12.1 Please note: Whilst we may request entrants to provide links to their websites or social media pages, we may not publish this information in the printed book. The reasons for this are as follows; 1) if any entrant changes their website /social media links (as happened in Collection 1 book) we cannot update these links in the book. 2) several pages of website links means fewer images in the book. It should be noted that website/social media links (where provided) are included in the eBook.

12.2 Camera information is not provided with the images in the printed book (except the overall winner & runner up).

13. Which images go into the competition eBook?

As well as all the winners images, every photographer that has made the shortlist (but not been showcased in the printed book) will have an image showcased in the eBook. Website addresses provided will be published in the eBook.

14. Will there be an awards ceremony?

2020 plans are underway for an opening evening and will be published in due course.

15. When are the prizes allocated to the winners?

Prize allocations: Prizes for the main (non sponsor categories) are sent out after the first day of the exhibition at Ocean Terminal. Entrants will be contacted directly via email and allowed 14 days to respond.

Cash Prizes: In line with UK money laundering regulations, prize winners must present confirmation of their identity before prize money is transferred. Identification must be presented either in person at an exhibition or via email upon request. If a prize winner is supplying identity information by email, we may ask for additional information.

When identity checks have been completed, prize money is transferred to the prize winner’s Paypal account. Please note: We cannot stress enough that prize winners must ensure the Paypal information they supply is with is accurate (i.e. no typos). If incorrect details are provided and money is transferred to someone else’s account, the Organisers cannot be held responsible or provide additional prize money to cover such errors.

15.5 – Sponsor prizes: Prizes provided by sponsors will be allocated direct from the sponsor. After the first day of the main exhibition at Ocean Terminal on 1st July 2019 has taken place, your details will be passed to the relevant sponsor who will then make contact with you directly. We will also provide contact details of the sponsors providing prizes.

Please note: The Competition and its Organisers are not responsible for allocating sponsor prizes and we are unable to tell you when you can expect to receive your prize from any sponsor. In the unlikely event that a sponsor does not provide a prize, the competition will not provide an alternative prize.

16. Which images go into the competition Exhibition?

All the commended and winning images from the hardback book will be on display at an exhibition during the year. Details will be published in due course.

17. Will any images be shown on a big screen?

In the event that some venues have large screen displays, then both the winning images from the book and the shortlist will be displayed on big screens.

18. Who is allowed to enter?

The competition is open to anyone from the UK and across the world including amateur and professional young and adult photographers. Photographers entering the adult categories must be over 18 at the date the competition closes. Photographers entering the young photographer category must be under 18 at the date the competition closes. Those directly involved in the competition, sponsors and judges are not eligible.

19. Is the competition open to photographers from overseas?

Yes. Photographers from any country are eligible and welcome to enter.

20. Can young photographers enter the adult categories?

No, photographers under 18 years of age must enter in the youth category.

21. How do I submit my images?

Images should be submitted via the competition website. Details will be published on this at http://www.slpoty.co.uk/how-to-enter/ and/or via the “Enter Now” links published throughout the website.

22. Can I send my images by post?

No

23. What type of images are allowed?

i) Images must be of the Scottish mainland, Scottish coast or any of the Scottish Islands.
ii) Images from digital or film are permitted.
iii) Images from traditional prints are permitted – e.g. images dodged and burned in a traditional darkroom are permitted.
iv) Images from all alternative processes are permitted – e.g. sunprints, cyanotypes, pinholes, daguerreotypes etc.

For images from film, traditional print or alternative processes, please see the image preparation page for further information – http://www.slpoty.co.uk/image-preparation/

24. Are digital adjustments allowed?

Yes – digital adjustments are allowed, but are limited in some categories (e.g. – overall, landscape, seascape etc). Please refer to the individual category for permitted digital adjustments.

Note: Digital adjustments are permitted for scanned images captured on film, traditional print and alternative processes. Again, please refer to the appropriate category.

25. Will I have to provide my RAW file?

Yes – (or your original camera jpg), but only if your image is shortlisted for the final rounds or for a major prize. Please note, we do not ask for RAW files for all categories. Some categories do not require this so please check the appropriate category for more details. Please note, if you are asked to supply your RAW file then it must be the original RAW file and not a converted DNG.

26. Why do you need my RAW file?

We need your RAW file to ensure your image is authentic and that any adjustments comply with the rules for that category. We only ask to see your RAW files for the Overall, Landscape, Seascape, Four Seasons & Weather categories and if you are in the running for one of these prizes in the final round.  Please note: RAW files are not required for the Urban, Monochrome, Living Landscape and Your Vision categories.

27. Why don’t you accept DNG files?

DNG files that have been converted from original camera RAW files can be used to hide digital editing outside the rules and “cheat”.  Without exception, we must ensure the authenticity of images in the final round, therefore we will only accept original RAWs. We will only accept DNG files if they are from a camera that uses the DNG format, or a scanner that outputs – e.g. Leica,Epson Scanner. If your original RAW filefrom your camera (such as a Canon, or Nikon) has been converted to the DNG format in a program such as Lightroom for example, we are unable to check the authenticity of your file and whether any digital adjustments are within the rules.

If your original RAW file is embedded in the DNG file, you should be able to extract the original and send this to us. Please note that we cannot extract the file on your behalf or perform any other technical aspects to bring it to its original state. This must be performed by yourself.

28. What happens if I cannot provide my original RAW or jpg files?

You cannot win a major category and your entry may be withdrawn from the competition.  At our discretion, your entry may still earn a commendation.

29. Will my images be printed?

Yes – but only at the final round stages so if your image is chosen at this stage, it is advisable that you test your image as a print to avoid the dark print phenomena. It is common for people to edit their images on a computer screen that is too bright. This means that when the image is printed, it can appear dark. If your image is too dark when printed in the judging stages, it may not win a place in the book. This is because we do not edit any of the images once they have een entered into the competition.

30. Is there a limit to when a photograph was taken?

Yes. Images should have been taken no earlier than 3 years from the competition closing date. There is no time limit for images into any of the sponsors categories.

31. Can I submit multiple entries?

Yes, you may submit as many entries as you wish.

32. Can I enter the same image in multiple categories?

No, the same image may not be entered into multiple categories.

33. Can I enter images that I have entered, won or had commended in other competitions?

Yes, you may. Our view is that if a movie can win a BAFTA & an Oscar, then a great image should be worthy of winning any competition and shouldn’t be penalised. We cannot however accept images if you have signed away copyright or assigned an exclusive use license to your images. Please be aware that some competitions do not allow images that are commended in major competitions such as SLPOTY.

34 Can I submit images that were taken on a photographic workshop?

As per rule 14 (ii) entrants must ensure that “they are the sole author of each entry and it is their own original work;” If you have captured images at a workshop, you were clearly under some form of guidance to achieve that image. In the case of 1-2-1 courses, you would clearly be under the guidance of a tutor. e.g. be taken to locations, given guidance from the tutor’s expertise. For the purposes of the Competition, images captured at workshops and 1-2-1 courses cannot be considered sole work or original because it casts doubt in the judging process e.g. are they the result of collaboration between tutor and student? Who deserves credit? etc. (This is explained in more detail below)

For all sponsor awards, the monochrome, 4 seasons, the Scottish weather awards and  commendations: Yes, as these categories are judged independently of the Competition.

For the overall title, landscape, seascape and urban awards: No, but may be given a commendation.

This rule has been in place since the inaugural Competition in 2014 and the application of this rule in respect of images which were captured at workshops or 1-2-1’s has been practiced since the first Competition.

The Competition wishes to make it clear that we do not reject images from the Competition that have been captured on workshops or a 1-2-1. On the contrary, there are commended and highly commended images known that were captured during workshops. The issue however has a greater significance when it comes to the judging of the overall title, as is explained below.

In the final judging stages for the overall title, there may be only 3-5 finalists and the quality of their portfolios is of an exceptionally high standard. That said, the margins in the judging process at this stage are extremely fine across each portfolio, therefore the judging has to be exceptionally critical and everything supplied is taken into account, e.g. RAW files, written accounts & captions etc. (Note: written accounts and captions supplied by entrants are assumed to be honest, true and do not deceive, disguise or misrepresent)

When an entrant declares that an image was captured during a workshop, that influences the evaluation and assessments made in some of the judging criteria we apply (e.g. field skills). It is a well established practice that workshop leaders take photographers to locations and tuition takes place. In a 1-2-1, that tuition is significantly greater, where an instructor may go as far as setting up set up compositions, camera settings etc.

For example:

A complete novice comes to photograph Scotland but knows no locations. He/she pays a tutor to take them on a 1-2-1 and through the input of the tutor, they capture an award winning calibre of image. This clearly raises the question of who deserves the credit – the novice or the instructor? Even if the novice asserts to the Competition that it was all their own work (i.e. they went off on their own), they cannot prove nor disprove that to be the case. The photographer’s image is therefore removed from the final shortlist but is still eligible for a commendation or sponsor award.

Please note: Some workshops and courses have it written into their T&Cs that you may not enter images taken at their workshops into a photography competition. For those reasons you must check with the workshop T&Cs to ensure you are permitted to enter into a photography competion.

35. Can I change the category of my image after it has been submitted or I make a mistake?

You must ensure you enter your images in the correct categories at the time of submission, however we understand that errors may occur or some images may be considered seascapes rather than urban or landscapes for example.  If you have accidentally entered your image in the seascape category when you wanted to enter in landscapes, you may withdraw your entry from the Submittable system then re-enter this with the corrections made. Please do not ask us for instruction in this regard – all such enquiries should be submitted to the Submittable support system.

Please note:  the judges wish to be as helpful as possible and do not wish to exclude images if they appear to be in the wrong category. Only if time allows, the judges may decide to move your image to another category if it fits that category better in their view. For example, if you entered an image as an “Urban” photo, but the judges consider it to be more akin to a seascape or landscape, it will be moved into the appropriate category for judging.

36. I made a mistake naming my image file name. Can I rename my images after they have been uploaded?

No – Images must be named on your own computer as they cannot be changed once uploaded to our secure server. If you make a mistake and your submission is in “draft” mode, you can delete your image and re-upload it with the correct name.

37. Why do you charge a fee to enter?

The SLPOTY competition is a not for profit organisation. All judges and admin is performed on a voluntary basis and no one is paid any fees for doing so. All funds from fees go towards the running, maintenance, promotion and prizes offered.

The aim of the competition is many-fold, but in general: to promote photographers, responsible photography, our Scottish national trusts, promote tourism, conservation and support local businesses.

How do the fees promote photographers? By funding exhibitions, and producing the Competition year book. It is beyond the reach of most photographers to either fund an exhibition of their own, or publish a book. We are able to do this from the fees on a “collective” basis. The fees pay for the prizes, the prints for exhibitions that take place across Scotland, and what is left goes towards the costs of producing the hard-back book.

What are the costs? The Competition has costs from running the judging software, the website, transaction fees from Paypal etc., but the biggest costs are from the exhibition prints and the production of the year-book. The cost of the prints is extremely expensive as we produce around 150 prints for the exhibitions which have to be either mounted or framed. The prints themselves can be damaged, finger prints, spillages etc so this adds to the running costs. We also have sponsors providing prints which offset a great deal of the costs, and without the generosity of sponsors, we would not be able to put on the majority of the exhibitions we do. For the exhibitions, there are 150 large prints we print that go out to various galleries, cafes and shops. The prints have to be mounted on foamex board or in frames, as well as paying for hanging systems. A typical print for an exhibition can cost between £40-70 and we print up to A1 size. Prints are subject to wear and tear, and as sometimes happens, prints get damaged and have to be replaced. It should be noted that SLPOTY puts exhibitions on in a variety of venues so we can promote as many photographers as possible, and this means we can produce around 300 prints in total. Some competitions, like the Wildlife Photographer of the Year who in addition to an entry fee, charge visitors to view their exhibitions. All our exhibitions are free and we put on around 6 exhibitions in various venues.

The book is our biggest expense but should be noted that there is often little or no money left from entry fees to fund production of the book. As the Competition is not run as a business, this means it does not have credit terms or a trading history, so the book has to be paid for up front. The Competition’s founder, Stuart Low provides the money to pay for the book in advance and he is repaid once the book has sold. The books also have to be stored in dry storage, because being made of paper, they absorb moisture and can be ruined if stored in a garage for example.  The profits from the book itself are put into prizes for the awards, however, it should be noted that the profits from the book (as is often rumoured) are very small. The profits are small because the Competition only produces oine book a year and it does not qualify for the same volume discounts as a commercial company would. The book is sold in bookshops and those bookshops keep the profit they make from sells. This promotes local businesses as well as promoting the photographers showcased. In return, the bookshops give the Competition free space to hold exhibitions and they allow photographers to sell their work and keep their profits from their own work.

The book is also sold in trust bookshops such as the John Muir Trust, National trust etc and the profit they make from the book sales goes towards supporting the work they do – e.g. building paths, maintaining forests etc. The book is also sold on Amazon but they take fees, reducing profit. It should be noted that book printing across the world has been in decline for several years. so each year book printing is getting more expensive. This year, the effects of Brexit and the effect on the exchange rate has pushed the cost of raw materials up, and this has meant a 30% increase in the cost of this year’s book. As a result of this, we had to reduce the number of pages in the book by 16 pages, but the good news is that we have managed to keep the same retail cost of the book the same at £25, however the increased costs of production reduced the potential margin.

Last year, the money raised from the competition and book sales funded 6 major exhibitions across Scotland. This raised the profiles of photographers considerably, and resulted in sales of work for many of those photographers. The exhibitions also boosted tourism and helped support local businesses and conservation trusts.