Saturday, June 14, 2014

Getting an Image Ready for the Fair

I'm a fan of our state fair, which I've attended almost every year since I was a child. In recent years I've been entering baked bread in the baking competitions with some success. My wife usually enters some of her craft work, too. And my mother, now 91 years of age, enters both stitched and baked goods.

The first day of the fair is usually dedicated to visiting the buildings where our entries are on display and seeing what ribbons we've won (most years at least one of us gets a ribbon, some years, all three). After that it's on to the Education building, the 4H building, Fine Arts Building, and then to wherever time permits. It's not unusual to attend on a couple of days, as there's a great deal to see.

One of my uncles was a painter (as I hope to be some day) and managed to get his work displayed in the Fine Arts building on a couple of occasions. He never won a prize or mention, though, which I think irritated him a little. To carry on with his tradition I'm going to submit an astrophoto this year.

In the past there's been some astronomy presence in the building. A local painter has entered her impressions of astronomical objects, and there's usually at least one picture of the Moon. Last year was a particularly fruitful year, with these on display:

At top are two star trail images, lower left is an aurora, and bottom right is art with a fairly realistic depiction of the northern sky (note the big and little dippers). Obviously my pictures don't do justice to the works!

Seeing these got me thinking that the judges might be receptive to other examples of astrophotography. So I'm submitting my M31 image from the South Dakota Star Party:

While I'm not suggesting that it's great astrophotography, it's one of my best to date, and I like it. I've had a test print made using the services of National Camera Exchange in Burnsville. It looked good and faithfully reproduced the image I submitted, but for the full-sized print (11x14 inches) I changed the yellow-blue balance a little, which nicely brought up the blue. I'm also going to print it on metallic paper, which is said to enhance the vibrancy of the color. The print will be ready next week, and then it's off to the framing shop.

The Fair requires that the image be framed with a glass or plastic cover, and I'll go with glass. Registration requires submitting an image of the art that is about 1,000 pixels on the short side. 

Judging takes place in several phases; Phase 1 is where they cull the entries based on the submitted image and is completed by July 13. Phase 2 is where the jurors do the hard work and decide what will be displayed and how awards will be allocated.

Between now and the end of registration on July 7 I need to decide if I will offer the print for sale. The price would be set by the cost of printing (a modest $14) and framing (probably not as modest) plus 20% to cover the Fair's cut and a few bucks so I can say I came out ahead on the whole thing. 

There are cash prizes awarded, and the dream would be to land one of those, sell the print, and do this over again next year with a better image. At this point reality says: Let's just see if I can get past Phase 1.

I'll post more about this as the process rolls on.

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