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Submitting Calendar Photos

General

We are now using 28 photos for each of our three calendars each year, so we are constantly in need of new photos. We usually like to see a snapshot-sized photo first. If we think we can use a photo we will ask for the negative (or slide) or the unretouched, raw digital file, and make our own enlargement. We return all prints, negatives, slides, CDs, etc. at our expense.

We pay the photogropher for photos we use and provide him or her credit. We involve the photo subject in writing the caption and provide both the photo subject and photographer a complimentary calendar when it is printed (usually in early August of the preceeding year -- for example the 2006 calendar will be printed in July 2005).

We choose photos for the following year's calendars in February/March. Keep that in mind when sending photos. If you send a photo in July and want it returned before the following March, let us know and we will make a copy for our files to view when making our choices.

Equipment

The camera should be a 35mm camera (or larger) with interchangeable lenses which must be manually focused or which are automatically focused by the camera. "Point and shoot" 35mm cameras which have fixed-focus lenses are fine for snapshots taken at short or medium range, but they do not generally produce negatives which are sharp enough to be enlarged and printed. Photos taken with cameras which use 110 film, polaroid film, or disc film cannot be used as they cannot be enlarged satisfactorily.

The film can be either slide film or negative film. Negative film is more forgiving of exposure errors. It is also very difficult to get a good print from a slide, unless a negative is first made of the slide. We prefer shots taken with negative film, but can use either. When we shot conventionally, we almost always used negative (print) film. We tended to use Kodak Gold 200 film unless it was very gloomy out, and thenwent to 400 film. Films faster than 400 do not generally give negatives that can be enlarged satisfactorily.

We have begun shooting exclusively in digital format as the technology has improved and accept digital submissions. Send your best shots on a CD or email them to us. A low res image is sufficient for proofing purposes. If we like it we will ask for the high res original file.

When sending materials by mail, send to Mischka Press, PO Box 2067, Cedar Rapids 52406. When sending by other means, use Mischka Press, 5995 Berry Rd SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403.

Lighting

The basic rule of thumb is to always have the sun behind the photographer. This puts the light on the subject. When the sun is in front of the photographer the subject is shaded, and detail of the subject is lost.

Photos taken when the sun is out are more interesting, brighter, and more colorful than those taken when it is overcast or gloomy. Usually you might just as well forget about it if it is a gloomy day.

Backgrounds

Unless you are shooting a scenic shot, backgrounds should be uncluttered. Cluttered or busy backgrounds distract from the subject. A different camera angle or moving to a different spot can often eliminate a bad background. If the background cannot be eliminated try using a telephoto lens -- this will tend to throw the background out of focus.

The Subject

There are basically two type of photos, scenics and subjects. On a scenic photo the horse is a relatively small part of the photo, and the countryside (flowers, mountains, fall color, etc.) are what make it a good photo. We use a few scenics, but not very many.

Most of the shots we use are closeups of the horses. The most common mistake photographers make is to be too far away from the subject. It is very important that you "fill the frame (viewfinder)" with the subject in order that there is enough detail on the picture to make it interesting.

We are looking for candid shots, not posed shots. We seldom pick a shot where the horses and/or the people are standing, looking at the camera. Instead we like to use photos where the horses and people are going about their business, unaware of the presence of a photographer.

Technical Considerations

The photo must be focused properly and exposed properly. Photos which are out-of-focus, blurred due to camera movement, or are improperly exposed cannot be used.

It's not easy to get a good shot. I know -- I'm trying all the time. That's why it is important to take several pictures. I'm happy when I get just one good shot on an entire roll of film. I usually take several rolls of film in each situation. That way I have a better chance to get a shot where the ears are forward, the legs are together, the light is right, etc. And when everything comes together, it's lots of fun. Good luck!

Bob Mischka

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