Photo Shootout Contest

The photo contest for the 2013 Black Hills Photo Shootout will be announced after the holidays. ¬†But it’s not too early for you to be looking through all of your images and picking some of your favorites now. ¬†You will receive an email with all of the details once the contest is active. ¬†Happy Holidays!

*Please note: all contest rules, image categories, prizes, and other details are from the 2012 contest and will be different for the 2013 contest.


How does the Photo Shootout Contest work? What makes this photo contest different is it is a bracketed head-to-head competition.¬† Think something like that big college basketball tournament thing that we aren‚Äôt allowed to use the name of…

To kick off the competition, we will have an open entry period, where you can enter your images in one of four categories.  Once the entry period comes to a close, round 1 starts, where our judges will pick up to 128 images to go head-to-head, with a maximum of 32 in each category. At this point, let the Shootout Contest begin!  We will have an open period  where the public gets to vote between each image.  Each of our judges will also weigh in, casting their votes.  Once the votes are tallied up, the winner moves on to the next round.

The competition will continue like this until we have a winner for each category.  The judges will then pick an overall grand prize winner from these four. Speaking of prizes, the prize packages include piles of gear and other goodies from Vanguard, ThinkTank Photo, Outdoor Photo Workshops, and Zenfolio.  We have tripods with heads, camera bags, monopods, laptop bags, gift certificates, camera backpacks, and more!


What can I win?

Grand Prize

Grand Prize Winner: Eva Bareis, Rapid City, SD!

1st Prize Category Winners

4 total winners – 1 for each category – people, places, animals and close-ups

People Category Winner: Eva Bareis, Rapid City, SD!

Places Category Winner: Elizabeth Brooks, Woonsocket, SD!

Animals Category Winner: Terri Dermody, Des Moines, IA!

Close-Ups Category Winner: Alison Bents, Saint Paul, MN!

  • Alta+ 235AB 50 aluminum tripods with ball head* (courtesy of Vanguard)
      • *Whoever wins the grand prize will receive an ABEO aluminum monopod (courtesy of Vanguard) instead of this tripod since they will receive a different tripod as part of the grand prize.
  • 15″ Laptop Case (courtesy of ThinkTank Photo)
  • CK6N1 lens cleaning kit (courtesy of Vanguard)
Prizes for Voters
There will be one winner selected from all entries received for each round of voting to win a gift certificate or other prize.  One entry per person per round.  A new entry must be submitted for each round.

Dates & Deadlines


Contest Entry Opens РOnline entries can be uploaded starting November 1st, 2012 at 8:00 am Eastern Standard Time.

Contest Entry Closes РDeadline for submitting entries is November 11th, 2012 at 11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time.

If your image makes it into the bracketed portion of the contest, you may be asked for additional information and to provide a high resolution version of your photo(s) anytime on or after 11-15-2012.


Public voting for each round winner will be held for at least a one week period.  There is a limit of one vote per person for each head-to-head photo pair.

Round 1 -Voting for Round 1 begins November 18th, 2012.  Voting ends on November 24th, 2012 at 11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time

Round 2 –¬†Voting for Round 2 begins November 26th, 2012. ¬†Voting ends on December 2nd, 2012 at 11:59¬†pm Eastern Standard Time

Round 3 –¬†Voting for Round 3 begins December¬†5th, 2012. ¬†Voting ends on December¬†11th, 2012* at 11:59¬†pm Eastern Standard Time *Extended until the 12th due to technical difficulties.

Round 4 –¬†Voting for Round 4 begins December¬†14th, 2012. ¬†Voting ends on December¬†20th, 2012 at 11:59¬†pm Eastern Standard Time

Round 5 –¬†Voting for Round 5 begins December¬†29th, 2012. ¬†Voting ends on January 10th, 2013 at 11:59¬†pm Eastern Standard Time *Extended due to holidays.

Winners Announced

Winners of each category will be announced at the end of Round 5 voting.  An overall  Grand Prize Winner will be selected from the four finalists by our 2012 keynote speaker, Rick Sammon, and announced by January 18th, 2013.

*Note:  We reserve the right to adjust any deadline(s) as the result of causes beyond our immediate control.


People РThis category is for any image where the main subject in the image is a person.  It can be a portrait, it can be an action shot, it just has to have a person in it as a main focal point of the image.  We are looking not only for images that are interesting, but go a step further in terms of creativity, setting a mood, telling a story, etc.
Places – This category is for scenery, landscape, or architecture shots taken during the shootout. ¬†You may include other elements in your image like people, buildings, animals etc., but the focus of images in this category should be on featuring a scenic location, telling a story about the location, and conveying a “sense of place”. ¬†What is “sense of place” you ask? ¬†To us , it’s a photo that portrays the¬†characteristics that make a place special or unique, fosters a sense of attachment, or elicits an emotion in the viewer. In other words, shots that make us go “wow”.
Animals – Any photo where the main subject is an animal, wild or domestic. ¬†Images in this category can include people or “hand of man” objects, but the main focus of the image should portray an animal. ¬†Whether its a portrait, action shot, or other creative interpretation, we are looking for images that feature an animal’s beauty, character, spirit, or emotional impact.
Close-ups РThis category is for close up images, including macro photography, patterns, still-life, intimate landscapes, etc.  This category is probably our most wide open, get creative with your submissions here.  It just needs to have a close up of some element in the photo.

Rules & FAQs

What can I enter pictures of? Any picture taken during the Black Hills Photo Shootout is eligible for entry.  Images must be captured during the three official days of a shootout event, and we reserve the right to verify that the shot was in fact taken during this time.

You can enter in one of 4 categories; ¬†People, Places, Animals, and Close-ups. ¬†See the “Categories” tab above for more info.

One more note, entrants must not infringe on the rights of any other photographer or person, or submit images that involve the willful harassment of wildlife or damage to the environment by the photographer. These are rule breakers and will be dealt with as outlined below.

Each Shootout participant may enter a maximum of 10 images in this contest, there is no minimum number required.  Images can be entered in any or all categories (you can enter all 10 in one category or spread them out among whichever categories you want). Judges reserve the right to move a photo to a different category.

Who Can Enter? Any previous attendee of the Black Hills Photo Shootout may enter images from any of the three previous years Shootouts in any of the categories (2010, 2011, and 2012).

Current year attendees will receive a voucher good for ONE free image entry into this year’s competition.

Sorry young people, but you need to be 18 years of age to enter. We’ll also keep it fair by excluding ourselves, our kids, spouses, instructors, and anyone else working for OPW or the Shootout.

And the legal stuff РThe contest is open to all participants regardless of residence or citizenship, so long as the laws of their jurisdiction allow participation.  By entering the competition, you agree to all of the Legal Terms and Conditions for the Shootout.

What are your image specifications? Your images should be saved as low-resolution “.jpg” files no larger than 1mb, at 72 ppi.¬† The dimensions of your images can vary, generally they should be between about 700 and 1000 pixels on the longest side.¬† Don’t send us “tiny”, don’t send us “huge”, send us “just right”.

If your image is selected as one of the top 32, we will require you to send the original high resolution image to us.¬† Directions will be provided to you in an email on how to do so.¬† If you are unable or unwilling to do so, your image may be removed from the contest at the judges’ discretion.

What can I do to the Image? We are big believers in getting it right in the camera, we want to see your photography skills, not your Photoshop skills! All photographs should accurately reflect the subject matter and the scene as it appeared in the viewfinder. Nothing should be added to an image, and aside from dust spots, nothing should be taken away.  Photos that have been digitally altered beyond standard optimization (removal of dust spots, cropping, reasonable adjustments to exposure, color and contrast, etc.) will be disqualified.

HDR and focus stacking are permitted as long this form of manipulation is disclosed upon entry. ¬†The long and short of it is HDR is allowed but we want the photo to look like a photograph…not a painting. ¬†If the result looks too surreal then the image may be disqualified. ¬†The result should always be to make as realistic a photo as possible. ¬†I know this is a gray area but the easiest way to judge is if it looks like a photograph.

Images that do not meet these requirements may be removed from the contest at the judges’ discretion. Submissions may be watermarked if desired, but the watermark should be unobtrusive, such that it will not interfere with the judging of the photo.

A note on cropping, we do allow some cropping to improve your composition.¬† However, you must retain about 90% of the original pixels in your shot.¬† In short, this isn’t a farming contest, we don’t want to see what big crops you have!

What Information do you need? Who, What, Where, How, and When… Photo captions must accompany all submissions, and should include the Title/Subject of the image,¬† a brief description of the image including any interesting information about taking the picture to go along with it, and the settings and equipment you used.¬† Once you have uploaded your images, you will go to checkout, we will need additional information there such as email, billing address, etc.

How should I name my images? Please rename your image files to include the following; your last name, the photo’s subject, the date taken, and, if you want, a sequence number to keep things organized.

For example if I entered an image of a cowboy taken during last year’s shootout, the filename would be¬† “hahn-cowboy-093011-1.jpg” So your file name should look something like this: lastname-subject-MMDDYY-number.jpg

How do I enter? Entering is easy, just follow the steps below to upload and enter information for each of your images.  Once you have done so, click the add to cart button at the bottom of the page.  This will take you to the checkout page, where you will enter your billing information and payment. Cost is $2.00 per image for the first 5 images and $1 per image for images 6-10, and there is a maximum of 10 images per photographer.  Current year’s Shootout attendees will receive a voucher for one free image entry.   Entries are accepted through our online registration only, no mail or email entries will be accepted.  If you have images from film slides  you would like to enter, we advise you to have the slide scanned so you have a digital version of the file you can enter.  

If you enter only one image, it must be entered in the spot for image 1, if you enter 2 images, they must be in spots for images 1 & 2.  You may not skip entry spots if you have less than 10.

When you get to the checkout screen, if you attended the 2012 Shootout or another workshop with OPW previously, you should already be in our system under the email you registered with, so you should log in using the “Returning Customers” section at the top. ¬†If you forgot your password, don’t worry, there is a lost password button! ¬†If you were at a previous year’s Shootout, please scroll down to the “New” section and fill in your vital statistics to submit your entry.

What are the judges looking for? Shots that make us go “Wow!” Images will be judged on originality, technical excellence, composition, overall impact and artistic merit. ¬† Once you are selected to be part of the top 128 and you move onto the head-to-head competition,¬†the winner will be determined by a combination of the general public voting on your images and by the judges.¬† The combined score will determine the winner of each head-to-head contest.

What if I don’t win, who can I complain to? If you’re image is not picked, don’t get bummed out.¬† Use it as a learning experience, keep an open mind, and look at the qualities of the winning images. Please don’t send us hate mail if you don’t win, this is a friendly competition, with the main goal of being fun.¬† If you’re losing sleep at night over a photo contest, you’re really missing the point.¬† Try meditation or aromatherapy, and check back with us next year.

All decisions made by the judges are final.¬† Seriously, once our minds are made up, they’re made up.

When do I have to enter by?¬† ¬†See the “Dates and Deadlines” tab above for all the important dates throughout the contest.

Do I retain the rights to my photos? In short, YES! You will retain all rights to any photograph you submit.¬† You still own it. By entering the competition, you do agree to grant Outdoor Photo Workshops, LLC ¬†a royalty-free, nonexclusive right, ¬†in perpetuity, to use the photograph to promote the Photo Shootout and any activities associated with it.¬† If we use your photos on our websites, newletters, or other media, we will credit you the caption “¬© Your Name”. We will not use your photos in any other way without your permission.

What happens if I don’t follow the rules? We will take away your memory cards and give you a timeout. Seriously, failure to comply with all of the contest provisions will lead to the disqualification of your entry. Further, if we find out one of your images violates the rules, especially when it comes to disclosure or digital manipulation, we reserve the right to remove all of your images from the competition.¬† In the event that happens, you will not be refunded your entry fee, and may be barred from any future contests at our discretion.

We don’t take ourselves seriously, but we do take photography seriously.¬† So follow the rules, be honest with your images, and join in the fun of the competition!

Got More Questions? We’ve pretty much covered it all here, but if you do have additional questions you can email [email protected].


Voting is open to anyone and everyone, you do not have to have attended a Photo Shootout to vote.

It is one vote per person, per photo pair, per round.  So vote for your favorite in each pair today, and then in the next round, you get to vote for your favorite again.  If your favorite doesn’t win a round, that’s ok, you can pick a new favorite!  Don’t worry, this isn’t one of those contests where you have to vote every day, or hour, or 1.2 minutes, please only vote once per round.  We will let you know when the next round is ready for voting so you don’t miss it.

You may vote in every round.  So, if the photo you voted for wins round 1, you may vote for it again in round 2, and again in round 3 etc. if it wins that round.  Round winners are decided by a combination of public votes and judges.

Not only do we have cool prizes for our photographers, but for our voters as well! Place your votes and then be sure to sign up for a chance to win at the bottom of the voting page.

Vote for your favorites in each category!

Voting for the 2012 Photo Shootout Contest is now done.  Thank you to everyone who entered a photo and to everyone who voted for their favorite photos!

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