The Delaware Photographic Society

Events | Reflector Online | Member Gallery | Contacts | Home

  The Reflector - Online

Dec. 2002

President's Message

Photo FAQs

Article:"Photographic History 101"

Article: "Picture Pointers"

Picture Pointers

- Herb Gustafson, Hon.PSA

The following Picture Pointers, was contributed by Herb Gustafson, Hon.PSA, FPSA. Mr. Gustafson is PSA Director of Exhibition Standards, Photo Travel Division.

Are your slide or print entries doing poorly in Club or council competition? Here are a couple of sure-fire suggestions to help boost your contest scores and elevate your position in the standings.

The first suggestion involves pin-pointing your picture problems through improved self-evaluation of your picture taking efforts. Visualize each transparency or print as though it were mounted on a tripod, with each leg supporting a specific picture quality deemed necessary in producing successful photographic art˜qualities which are mentioned repeatedly by every salon judge during the course of competition commentary.

Composition: Simply stated, a pleasing arrangement of the center of interest in relation to other lines, form, and mass within the chosen format area. The following detailed outline provides adequate coverage necessary to identify the stated values for this aspect of picture quality.

  • Let your picture express a single idea or motion of strong universal appeal.
  • Let motion be (generally) from left to right, as in reading, with a strong lead-in line focusing attention upon the center of interest.
  • Let your eye circulate within the frame, enjoying harmonious blending of colors, pleasing lines, shapes, and mass, then effectively allow settling upon the isolated image.


  • Clashing, disharmonious colors.  Tipped horizon lines.
  • Distracting shapes and lines that tend to allow the eyes to stray out of the picture.
  • A picture divided into equal halves, forming a static and boring point of view.
  • Center of interest being too centered, forming an unwanted bull's-eye effect and static view.
  • Bright areas, especially at frame lines, that distract from the center of interest.
  • Divided center of interest, with equal emphasis given to two prominent subjects.
  • Cluttered foregrounds and backgrounds, a messy looking presentation.
  • Figures of people or animals cut in two by margins.
  • Large masses of uniform color, which are monotonous.
  • Subject matter merging with the background or allowing background objects to produce distorted images.
  • "Busy" pictures, complicated by numerous centers of interest.
  • Lack of base for subjects requiring sufficient mass to stand on or grow upon.
  • Large area of unused space, unfilled frame.

Technical Quality: The amount of picture sharpness (focus), the degree of intensity of light (proper exposure), and the quality of the light (contrast and balance) to achieve or create a desired effect or mood.

Impact and Interest Value: The power to attract and hold viewer attention regardless of the subject matter being presented.

If close examination of your slide and print files reveals a pattern of ineffective picture support, similar to your contest-rated entries, then the next suggestion will do much towards solving your picture making difficulties. Of course, the extent of improvement hinges entirely upon YOU, the only logical key to its success!

What is this photographer‚s panacea for increasing the merit and acceptance of your slide or print work? The answer is simply ACTIVE PARTCIPATION in the various instructional programs and activities available to every motivated individual member of the Delaware Photographic Society.

Copyright © 2002 Delaware Photographic Society. All Rights Reserved.
All photographic images on this site are copyright © protected. Any unauthorized
use of any image on this site will be considered an infringement
of those copyrights.