Now that everyone is out there shooting away to make images to enter in the various photo contests, I'll give you a few tips to help your images be the best they can be.
First, slow down and look around you. The best photos don't have to have been taken in exotic places, sometimes they can be right in your own backyard. Look for interesting things that most people wouldn't notice in just passing by.
When you find a subject, look at it from all angles, high, low and all around until you find the view you like. Make sure you fill up the frame. By that I mean make sure only what needs to be in the picture is in the frame. You don't want anything to take people's attention away from the main subject in the photograph. A good picture can become a great picture simply by stepping closer to the subject or using your zoom lens to fill up the frame.
Don't even think about shooting an image through the car window. If it's worth photographing, it's worth stopping the car, getting out and doing it right. The only time you should shoot an image through the car window is if a wild animal is attacking your vehicle and you need to take a picture because nobody is going to believe it.
After you get that great shot, you need to have your image printed. The way your picture is printed is one of the most important steps in making your print stand out from all the others. A lot of people try to print pictures at home and that's fine if you know what you're doing. Some people get very good results, but most do not. A professional printer has equipment that is color calibrated to make sure you get natural colors and your image has the proper brightness and contrast.
Last, you will need to have your print mounted and matted. Again this can be done at home but a professional can really give you the edge on the competition. A professional framer can help you choose the right color mattes to compliment your image and make sure it is ready to hang for competition. This might be a good time to mention that Foto 1 is a professional photo lab and can do all the things I've just mentioned.
Good Luck, we look forward to seeing your images.
(Brent Kepner is the owner and photographer at Foto 1 Pro Photo in Elkins. He is a Master Photographer as well as a Certified Professional Photographer.)