SDMB Monthly Photo Competition - rolling discussion thread

Welcome to the SDMB Photography Competition. The goal of the competition is to give Dopers a chance to take and share photos on a particular theme, or share photos from their collection. Taking photos to a brief is a wonderful way to get the creative juices flowing, and sharing them in a friendly environment is a great way to learn and improve.

No special equipment or skills are needed to take part - if you have a device that can take digital photos (or an existing archive of digital photos that you can plunder) then you’re good.


The competition will run monthly. Each month, I’ll open a new thread announcing the theme along with the deadline to submit an entry. There is no limit to how old the photo can be, but it must have been taken by the entrant.

It’s OK to post-process photos, but please remember that this is a photography competition and not a digital art one. It’s a fine line, but as guidance, if you’ve added significant elements to a picture that weren’t there when you took it, you’ve probably crossed the line into digital art. For the avoidance of doubt: cropping, adjusting white balance, exposure, saturation, contrast, fixing geometry, removing minor distractions etc. are all fine.

To make it easy to review and judge the photos (and to compile the list of entrants for the poll), those monthly threads will be strictly for the photos themselves (and captions, if you want, in the same post) - no discussion. For clarity, that means each entrant should post in the monthly thread exactly once. The discussion thread (this one!) is for chat about the theme and the photos. Note that it will be considered OK to discuss each other’s photos and provide feedback in this discussion thread; all discussion must be friendly and constructive.

Once the submission date has passed, voting will open in the monthly thread. Voting is open to any Doper, not just entrants. Entrants cannot vote for themselves. See below for more details on the voting process.

Once the voting has closed, votes will be counted and a winner will be announced. There are no prizes of any kind, other than the respect of your fellow Dopers and the right to choose the next theme.

Note that since this a new thing, there’ll be a process of “ironing out the kinks” - the format and timescales may be tweaked as we learn what works and what doesn’t.

Voting and getting to choose the next theme

Once the deadline for submissions has past, I’ll set up a poll in the monthly thread. Everyone will get three votes and can vote for their favourite three photos.

The photo with the most points when voting closes is the winner. In the event of a tie the honours will be shared, and the joint winners will get the chance agree a theme between them.

To keep things on track, there will be a deadline for the winner (or joint winners) to pick the next theme. If a theme isn’t picked by the deadline, then I’ll pick one to avoid delaying the next round.

If you’re the winner, congratulations! Please PM me (@TwoCarrotSnowman) with your choice of theme - I’ll then create the next monthly thread which will include the theme, submission deadlines, etc.

Choosing Themes

The winner of the previous round gets to chose the next theme. To ensure this remains fun for everyone, please consider the following guidelines.

Themes should:

  • Be broad enough that they can be interpreted in different ways. A lot of the fun is in seeing how people interpret the brief.
  • Avoid repetition of previous themes, or at least spin them in a different way.
  • Comply with the considerations listed below - this means candid or street photography is probably not going to fly.

Themes should not:

  • Require specialist equipment or skills. It should be possible to take a photo that meets the brief with a smartphone camera.
  • Require access to particular places, items etc.

As guidance, “macro photos of insects” would be a bad choice of theme, since it is narrow in focus (heh) and would be difficult to do with a smartphone. “Animals” is much broader in scope and it would be easy to meet the brief with a smartphone (while still allowing you to break out all that macro kit if you have it).

“New York” would be a bad choice of theme since it excludes those of us who don’t live there. “Cities” is much broader in scope since most people will find themselves in a city from time to time (and allows for a wide range of interpretations).


After discussions with the Mods, there are some particular considerations that I’d like to draw your attention to:

  • Since we can’t host photos directly on the SDMB, you will have to host the image elsewhere and link to it in your submission post.
  • If you host your image on a personal Google Drive account or similar, you may expose personal details when you share the image - please be aware of what info you’ll be sharing before you post your submission. Please also consider whether your photo has GPS location data embedded.
  • All of the usual SDMB rules apply. Don’t post photos that would encourage illegal activities. Don’t post anything that would potentially cause a lawsuit (for example don’t post a photo of a person without their permission).

Lastly, your friendly organiser hasn’t run anything like this before. A bit of kindness and understanding would be very much appreciated!

Have fun, and happy snapping!

Here we go then. I’ll create the first monthly thread shortly. As noted in the rules above, please keep discussion to this thread. :grinning:

And we’re off! The inaugural competition thread is over here.

I deliberately went for a theme that offers a wide array of options, and can be interpreted in many different ways. The theme is “Outdoors”.

This is officially the December competition, but since it’s the first one, and we have Christmas coming up, I figured that it would make sense to start early. I’ve slightly compressed the amount of time for entries to get the voting done before Christmas. In general, I’ll try to get the new topic up on the 1st of each month and look to have around three weeks for entries and five days for voting.

I’ll stop updating this thread and let someone else comment now, because Discourse is tutting at me… but before I do, a shoutout to @Bootb who becomes our first ever entrant!

Love @commasense’s redwood photo. I’ve been to the Muir Woods and trying to capture the sheer immensity of the trees in still images (or anything else large in scale) is really hard.

Stupid question: I don’t have an Imgur account, but I’ve placed photos on that site and linked to them via posting on the Dope. Since I don’t have an account, will photos stay on that site indefinitely?


This page (which I can’t vouch for other than having found it on Google :grinning:) suggests that photos stay up forever.

Lots of great photos already!

Man! You guys rock! These are all so beautiful!

I, for one, had a hell of a hard time trying to pick just one photo to submit. Something from the California coast? Or from the amazing trip I took to East Africa back in 2016? Or just some wildflowers? I ended up picking one of my more recent ones, of redwoods taken last fall.

Good choice

I’m blown away by both the quantity and quality of the entries so far. Thanks everyone! Feel free to discuss the photos (yours or others) in this thread.

One point of interest: I noticed when comparing @Telemark’s photo in the thread to the version hosted directly on Google photos, the pic displayed in the thread is significantly cropped. Not sure if that’s the case for everyone, but it happens on both my iPad and my desktop monitor.

Sorry about the chit-chat in the other thread! I’ve been meaning to get around to reading this one as well, but…

Yeah, I noticed that too. That’s my usual hosting platform for pictures here on SDMB, but it’s a pain if they get cropped.

It looks like that happened to @commasense’s photo as well, although they did say to click the image to see it in full. It seems like it’s something specific to pictures hosted on Google Photos.

Yeah, I know it’s not part of the requirements, but I’m going to try to use photos only from the past year. I just uploaded my archive to a new online storage host, and there were over 200,000 images from the past 20 years. It’s easier to just use the past year.

Just as a potentially helpful point, cropping also happens on imgur, but only if the link you post is to the image library, which is the first and most obvious link. But if you navigate to the actual JPEG (in Firefox, “display image in new tab”) and then use that link, the full image displays. I don’t use Google Photos so I don’t know if the problem there has a similar solution.

Question for @chela regarding the photo of the barn:

Do you know if that is a hay bale conveyor/elevator on the side of the barn? It’s been years since I’ve seen one of those.

No worries! I can see how that pic would be distressing for a @Dung_Beetle :grinning: