Understanding Projection Night

The first Monday of the month is projection night at The North Shore Photographic Society. Most camera clubs do the same, or similar thing. In a nutshell, members submit their images as digital files to be shown at the club meeting through a projection system. The images are then critiqued by a club member or another person who is called in from outside the club. Sometimes both at the same time.

The intention of this process is to help the members of the club become better photographers, regardless of their skill level at this point. And for the most part, it does work.

The goal of this article is to help you understand the process of Projection Night.

I am going to be using the North Shore Photographic Society (NSPS) and their process as the example because it is the club that I am a member of. It will be up to you to adapt the information to your specific club, but, the overall concept will be similar if not the same.

The NSPS uses a star system to help the members have a sense of how they are developing as a photographer. For those of you that have studied martial arts, it is not unlike the belt system that is used to measure the athletes growth. There are 5 star levels that the photographer can move up through. When you first join the club, you are put into star level 1.

It is important to understand that this is not a competition. This is sometimes really hard to remember because on projection night your image is given a score by someone that is being called a “judge”.  So how is this not a competition? Well, the score is to give some indication as to how the print fits into criteria that the “judges” have learned through their own experience and training as well as the criteria of the star level you are in. The image is then given a short critique with the intent of offering suggestions that may improve the image. It is up to you as the maker of the image to see how this information stacks up against feedback you have received previously on other images and learn from that process. You may not agree with what was said or how the image is scored, which is ok. What is important is that you learn something from the process.

So here is the criteria that each star level is being looked at (not judged) with.

1 Star: Correct exposure, subject in focus, and basic composition.
2 Star: Above requirements, plus appropriate depth of field, no distracting elements, competent use of composition, and suitable light.
3 Star: Above requirements, plus critical depth of field, creative use of light.
4 Star: Above requirements, plus creative photographic technique, attention to detail.
5 Star: Above requirements, plus high artistic merit.

At all star levels, the images will be looked at for technical and compositional elements.

When your image is reviewed by the “judge’s” (I really do not like that word for this process but I don’t know of another one that will work), your image will be assigned a score based on the criteria discussed above. Here is a breakdown of the scoring at NSPS.

1 point:         No award – a poor projection
2 points:        Bronze – a fair projection
3 points:        Silver – a good projection
4 points:        Gold – an excellent projection
5 points:        Certificate of Merit – an outstanding projection

Your image score is then recorded and those points go towards moving up to the next star level. (When there is more than one judge, the average of the scores will be used.)

You will move from one star level to the next when you meet the following criteria.

Move from Star 1 to Star 2:  Gold Awards/Certificates of Merit Plus Total of 20 Points
Move from Star 2 to Star 3:  6 Gold Awards/Certificates of Merit Plus Total of 40 Points
Move from Star 3 to Star 4:  12 Gold Awards/Certificates of Merit Plus Total of 60 Points
Move from Star 4 to Star 5:  20 Gold Awards/Certificates of Merit Plus Total of 200 Points

Please remember that this information applies to the North Shore Photographic society but most clubs will have a similar system in place. The important thing to remember is that the purpose of projection night is to help you become a better photographer.

Happy shooting

Len