FAQs – PLEASE READ THIS PAGE THOROUGHLY
1. When does the competition open?
The competition opens on 10th September 2018.
2. When is the closing date?
The competition will close at midnight on Tuesday 15th October 2018. 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 November to January. See below for more details on judging processes.
4. How can I check the status of my entry during the judging phases?
Judging for the first stage is due to complete in early December and all entrants should be notified by this stage. Judging takes time, so if you have not heard anything during this period, please do not panic or contact us requesting updates on your entry. We do not monitor emails, website or social media during judging stages so these will go unanswered.
All notifications from the competition are sent via email so it is your responsibility to look out for emails and especially monitor your junk folder. Backup emails are recorded in your Submittable account.
To view any activity, click on your submission number then on the next page, click on the “activity and messages” tab (see images below).
4.1 If there is no activity, please do not contact us or panic as we may not have reviewed your submission. Every year, we get “panic” emails from entrants who have not read these FAQs and because of this, it sets back the process for everyone else. If there has been no activity on your submission, or you have made multiple submissions and received an email about one of your entries but not the others, please do not email us asking for an update or asking if we have missed something. We are still assessing your entry and the triple blind judging system means we cannot discuss any individual entry during judging.
4.2 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.
Note: The Submittable system is not the judging system. It is an information exchange only.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
Please note: 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. E&OE
5. Email notifications
If you are successful or unsuccessful in reaching the next or final rounds, we will send out an email notifying you of this. When each stage is completed, we publish this on social media. NOTE: You should keep your notification confidential and do not disclose this on social media.
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. If there is no notification email in your spam folder, please log in to your submittable account and do this:
- Click on your submission number (under the title column)
- Click on the “Activity and messages column” – the notification email will be listed here. Please read and follow the instructions in this email.
- repeat the above steps if you have multiple submissions.
Note: if you have trouble accessing or understanding your submittable account, please do not contact us asking for instructions. Log a support ticket with Submittable who will answer any questions. (We do not provide support on the Submittable system.)
5.1 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) If you were shortlisted but missed the deadline for uploading your files, we regret to say that we cannot give extensions for any entrant. 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) PLEASE NOTE: 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 – i.e. Calmac, SNH, John Muir, Historic Scotland etc. 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?
Please note that contacting successful photographers is a very time consuming process and takes approximately 2 weeks. We cannot respond to posts on social media asking for updates as this causes delays for everyone. 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 2018 competition will be published in early February 2019. 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.
Please note: We and our sponsors put out press releases for the media and do our best to promote all photographers in the competition, however, we have absolutely no control over which images/photographers the media choose to print or when they will publish any article. Therefore, please do not ask us for updates about when to expect media articles to be published as this is something we clearly cannot answer. Also, we cannot not be held responsible for any entrant’s disappointment, hurt feelings or otherwise if their image has not been published in any publication.
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. We use an anonymous judging system which means the judges do their own scores seperately and never discuss images with other judges. This is to ensure fair and unbiased judging. If you did not win or do better in the competition, it is because you did not receive enough votes from all the judges.
This section provides a more detailed account of how the judging process is carried out.
It is often said that entering a competition is a either a “lottery” or those that do win competitions are the type of photographers that are apple of the judges eye (biased in other words). Whilst this may be true of some competitions, we assure you that this in not the case with the Scottish Landscape Photographer of the Year competition. On the contrary, we are a fair and unbiased competition is all regards and we firmly believe that we are the fairest competition in existence.
Before we set up this competition, we were aware of the negative things being said about certain high profile competitions, and that judging photographs was a purely subjective process. So, we spent 3 years researching all forms of bias and testing methods in order to develop a new system of judging that we call “triple blind” judging and this is explained below.
It is a widely held belief that photography is purely subjective, however, we learned from our research that photography is far less subjective when working within a set of rules. For example, take studying for a degree in photography at a University where students follow a curriculum (rules), and are awarded degrees (prizes) by lecturers (judges). In basic terms, this is similar to a photography competition. If photography is truly purely subjective, then test would show that a group of judges would all have different preferred images. However, from the results of the tests we did, we discovered that when judges work in a “blind” process, they all more or less agreed which the best images were and that means that photography is not purely subjective.
In some competitions, they employ “sift judges” who browse the initial entries to produce a shortlist. The reason for “sifting” is to provide a shortlist which saves time and makes life easy for the final round judges. The big problem with this method is that lots of images that could win prizes are never seen by the decision making judges, which is unfair and this makes these competitions like a lottery. In SLPOTY, we do not use sift judging and the head judge sees all the images in the first round, and all other rounds.
Group judging bias
Another method we don’t use, is “group judging” because this has been shown by science to be biased, which means some competitions that use this method are ultimately popularity or conformity contests – i.e. the winner is a favourite of the head judge and the other judges when scoring images subsequently conform to the views of the head judge. In a group based decision making process like this, the group can be influenced and biased through discussion and this method is unfair in competitions. Bias like this is a problem that has been known about for many years. For example, take students applying for university places, it has been widely recognised that students have been rejected for places based on their ethnicity, or chosen because of which school they went to or even their surname. Methods have been devised to stop this type bias, and we have devised our system to eliminate these type biases in our own judging system. You can read more about group bias here.
In SLPOTY, we do not use group judging. Instead, we developed our “triple blind” judging system where none of the judges ever meet, and each image is viewed anonymously, i.e. without any information about the photographer, the camera, the lens or even the filter used. This ensures there is no group dynamic to influence the scoring of an image (e.g. one judge likes an image because it was taken on a Canon camera) so each image is given marks on visual appeal only.
In addition to this, we do a third step where we invite independent members of the public to judge the images in the exact same way as the judges do. This gives us lots of scores to contrast and compare, and this makes for a very fair judging system.
Judging is done over 3 rounds which are the preliminary, secondary and final rounds. In the event of a tie in the final round, the judges will make the decision based on technical skills and/or field craft. A summary is listed below, followed by more detailed information below that.
- First Viewing for initial impression.
- 7 day wait period
- Second viewing – each image given a Yes/No vote.
- Yes votes go through to next round.
- 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)
- Images viewed anonymously by all judges (this is the blind viewing phase 2)
- Each image given score by judges.
- Highest scoring images through to final round.
- Lowest scoring images deleted from user’s Submittable account.
- Request for Hi Res files and descriptions.
- Request for RAW/Original files and checked against rules.
- All images that satisfy rules put forward for prize or commendation.
- 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. Primarily, electronic voting systems rely on forms to record the votes and this is their Achilles heel. Additional checks are needed to overcome the problems with forms but there are many ways to bypass these and click up multiple votes. It is easy to cheat these using proxies, computer macros, hacks and other methods. However, even if a perfect electronic system were available, open voting can still be biased and unfair. Social media for example could easily influence the outcome of a competition. Someone with a very large social media following could easily canvas their followers and rack up a very large number of votes. We saw this done in other competitions and this is an unfair advantage so this is one of the reasons we do no use open voting systems.
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 inlcuded in the book.
12.1 Please note: Whilst we may request entrants to provide links to their websites or social media pages, we do 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 inlcuded in the eBook.
12.2 Camera information is not provided with the images in the printed book (except the overall winner & runner up). The reasons for this are as follows: 1) Camera and/or photographic brands may be competitors of the competition’s sponsors, therefore brands may be in conflict with sponsor agreements. 2) Despite myths put about on social media and internet fora, it is impossible to tell which camera took an image from a printed page in a book. 3) It is impossible to recreate the same image from camera information. 4) Digital cameras produce standard format jpg files (ie sRGB and Adobe) which are are impossible to differentiate between except under lab testing conditions. 5) RAW files cannot be printed. 6) All files are converted to standard jpg and/or Tiff files which means they are impossible to match with a particular brand of camera and/or sensor.
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?
There are no plans for a formal awards ceremony, but this may change if sponsorship can be achieved. Awards evenings are very expensive to put on because they require such things as food, drinks, venue hire and staff hire to be laid on. Other competitions hold one exhibition and an awards ceremony, but this does not give photographers the maximum exposure. SLPOTY is aimed at promoting photographers over the long term, and not just one evening or one exhibition so we put on several exhibitions across the country and over the entire year. The cost of one award evening could equate to the cost of 5 or 6 exhibitions, so we feel it is more important to hold several exhibitions than one expensive evening. We will however have an informal opening night exhibition. It should be noted that the informal opening night is not a prize giving/awards ceremony.
15. When are the prizes allocated to the winners?
15.1 – Speculation, social media activity etc. During the period of the winners announcement and the start of the exhibitions there is a gap of approximately 3 months where our internet activity may be very limited. This however, is the period when we start preparing for the exhibitions and during this period we are extremely busy. If we reply to individuals requesting updates during this time, the information we provide may be passed on to social media and cause confusion through misinformation. This can cause us delays or even cause other prize winners alarm. Therefore we politely ask prize winners to refrain from speculating on social media or contacting us for updates on why we are quiet in our communications.
15.2 – Exhibition dates: The exact dates of each exhibition will be confirmed approximately four weeks beforehand. Please do not ask us for updates if an official announcement has not been made. Exhibition dates will be published on our social media and website pages. 2018 dates are published on this page: http://www.slpoty.co.uk/2017-exhibitions-scottish-landscape-photographer-of-the-year/
15.3 – Prize allocations: For the photographers that have won prizes, those collectable prizes from the competition (i.e. signed books, branded prints, vouchers etc) will be allocated on the opening night of the first exhibition which takes place at Ocean Terminal during June 2018. If prizes cannot be collected on the evening, then they will be allocated at the next exhibition. Alternatively, they can be collected in person out-with the exhibition opening evening by prior arrangement.
15.4 Cash Prizes: Prize money is deposited into the Paypal account of each photographer a few days after the opening night exhibition. Please note: Before money is deposited into your Paypal account, we need to confirm your identity, so if you are not present at the opening night, you will be asked to provide additional information confirming your identity at a later date. Your prize money will not be transferred until we are satisfied you can be identified correctly. It is the responsibility of the photographers to provide correct details of their Paypal account and it should also be noted that if incorrect details are provided and money is transferred to the incorrect 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 opening night exhibition which takes place in June 2018. Sponsors providing prizes will contact prize-winners directly and inform them of any updates and how their prize will be issued. After the opening night exhibition has taken place, your details will be passed to the relevant sponsor who will then make contact with you. If you have not heard from a sponsor within 21 days of the opening night exhibition, please inform us and we will contact the sponsor on your behalf. Please note: We are not responsible for sponsor prizes. In the event a sponsor has not provided a prize, the competition will not provide an alternative.
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. However, none of the galleries (unless stated) will display the entire collection of images in one exhibition, therefore, the images are split and rotated between galleries across Scotland. This means that each commended photographer will have had their image(s) on display at an exhibition at least once over the course of the year. The overall winner and category winners will have their images displayed at most exhibitions.
At some exhibitions, we have advance and/or private viewings. To be as fair as possible, and due to limits on numbers, we draw names at random for invitations to the opening nights.
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?
Yes, images can be sent by post but this is only for those who do not have access to a scanner, or for other reasons they cannot be sent electronically. Prints should be sent registered post, signed delivery to SLPOTY, C/O Breeze Media Ltd, 8 Albany Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3QB. Please enclose a cheque or postal order for the fee you choose. Cheques should be made out to “Breeze Media Ltd”. Images should arrive with us before the competition closes or be postmarked with a date before the closing date.
Images should be submitted on CD-ROM or as print no greater than 20 inches on the longest side. Please note, CD-ROMS, prints etc will not be returned. Images will be disposed of after the competition date.
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 proccesses. 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?
As we are giving away cash and other prizes, 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 6 years from the competition closing date. There is no time limit for images into any of the sponsors categories – i.e the Calmac, Loxley, SNH, IOHD, HES and JMT awards.
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 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.
35. 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.
Please note: If you have uploaded your images and completed your payment, but realised you named them incorrectly, we cannot rename your images for you. Please do not worry however. We realise that mistakes can be made and this will have no effect on your images during the judging stages . All images are viewed anonymously during the first and second stages so the filename is not seen by the judges. If your images get through to the final stages, you will be asked to upload a HiRes and/or RAW copy of your image and you will be asked to include any technical details and a description about your image at this stage.
36. Why do you charge a fee to enter?
The SLPOTY competition is a not for profit organisation. All judges and admin is doen on a voluntary basis and no one is paid any fees for doing so. All funds from fees go towards the running, maintanance, 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 prints for exhibitions that take place across Scotland, and go towards the costs of producing the hard-back book.
What are the costs? The Competion 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 alone accounts for all the money taken in from entry fees. We produce around 150 prints for the exhibitions which have to be either mounted or framed. We also have sponsors providing prints (Loxley Colour & Fotospeed) which offset ab 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. 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. 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.
The book is our biggest expense but should be noted that there is no money left from entry fees to fund production of the book. Instead, the book is paid for on credit terms and once sold, the profits from the book are put into prizes for the awards. It should be noted that the profits from the book (as is often rumoured) are very small. Bookshops and places like Amazon that stock the book are given discounts so this reduces the profits from the book even further. 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 menat a 30% increase in the cost of this year’s book. The good news, is that we have managed to keep the same retail cost of the book the same at £25 but the bad news is that it means less profit form sales and less money for prizes.
Last year, the money raised from the competion and book sales funded 6 major exhibitions across Scotland. This raised the profiles of photographers considerably, and resulted in sales of work for many. The exhibitions also boosted tourism and helped support local businesses.