Stephen Bay's Photography Blog

San Diego Fair Photo Exhibit 2019 - Part 2

Note: This is part II of a series of blog posts describing my experience submitting images to the 2019 San Diego County Fair photography exhibit. You can read Part I here.

Today the San Diego fair sent out notifications for Tier 1 in their photo competition. In Tier 1, you submit a digital image of your photo and if it gets accepted you proceed to Tier 2 where you provide a physical print. Tier 1 is the big hurdle as the judges don’t eliminate many prints in Tier 2, usually they just kick out entries if the presentation isn’t up to par or there are technical issues which didn’t show up in the digital file.

Before I discuss my results, I will give you a bit of background and some statistics (I was a data scientist in a past life!).

  • Overall there were 4367 total entries in 34 different classes
  • There were 1478 photos accepted (33.8%) accross all classes. These images will proceed to Tier 2.
  • 897 photographers submitted images with a median of 3 entries and a mean of 4.87.
  • 24 photographers submitted the maximum of 20 images. Somehow two managed to submit more than 20 which shouldn’t have been allowed.

This is the first year that the Fair posted a summary of the rejected photos. Previously they only reported accepted images. This is wonderful, from a data perspective, because that provides the information to compute acceptance ratios.

Doing some basic pivot tables yields the following summary by class:

Summary of Tier 1 acceptance by class Classes 015 to 018 are black and white.

The acceptance rate ranged from 24% to 52%. My natural inclination is to assume that the categories with lower acceptance rates are more competitive but I hesitate to conclude that without seeing the actual images submitted – photographers self select and maybe the people submitting to birds (50% acceptance ratio) are all pros with 500mm f/4 lenses.

My Results

I had 9 of 12 images accepted into Tier 2:

Accepted Tier 1 Images

I also had three images rejected:

Rejeced Tier 1 Images

Of the three images rejected, I think I probably submitted the color one to the wrong category. I sent it to Class 028 - At the Fair but in hindsight perhaps I should have sent it to Class 023 - Abstract. I can always resubmit it next year (entries that do not hang can be resubmitted).

Next Steps

The next step is to print and mount all of my images. The photos need to mounted to a lightweight 16x20” board. The fair hangs the photos by velcro and they will reject anything heavy that might fall off. Most photographers have their images on on 316” foam core usually with a mat but some only have a paper border. A smaller minority of photographers submit metal prints. Canvas and acrylic face mounted prints are very rare.

I also plan on going back and revisiting my documentary shot of bioluminescent algae off Torrey Pines beach (bottom right image of those accepted). My shot was very noisy and I didn’t want to stack because of the news value of the photograph (anything that might be disseminated widely in a news context I try to keep as a single exposure). So I will be testing out a number of different noise reduction filters to see if I can improve on what I have.

You can read Part III here.