Photography FAQ

Table of Contents

How do I enter a photography contest here?

  1. Firstly, you need to have an account before you can enter contests. Register for free using the registration tab.
  2. Place read through the FAQ so that you know the basic rules of the contests.
  3. Find a Photo contest you would like to enter by checking under the 'Contests' tab. All open contests are listed there.
  4. Read through the contest description carefully and be sure that you understand the rules of the contest you have chosen. Please take care, not all contests have the same rules.
  5. You may enter a photo taken specifically for the contest, or one that you've been saving (shoeboxed), unless stated in the contest description.
  6. Click on the ''Submit'' button. Enter the required information and upload your entry.
  7. Entry to all contests is FREE. If you wish to contribute please buy and award BLING to show your appreciation. Find the 'Doubloon' sore under your account tab, buy Doubloons and spend them on BLING. All contributions go into running the site, nobody here takes any personal payment.
  8. Choose whether you want fellow members to be able to comment on your entry or not. We recommend allowing them since comments can be very helpful in the learning process. Mean comments are not tolerated and will be removed.
  9. Please don't forget to vote and leave helpful comments for others too.

What contests can I enter?

New users can enter any contests they're interested in, except for Brawls and Corsair Challenges - which require signing up before hand

What sort of editing is allowed in contests?

All Advanced contests here have the same post-processing rules, except for the Bonus Contests and Freestyle Contests held on the Photo Deck.

Advanced post processing should always be about adjustments that bring out the best in your shot. You may use post processing to enhance what is already there, but not to add new pixels. Enhancement may include color and exposure adjustments. Complete list of Advanced Post Processing Allowances.

The allowances of Bonus Contests and Freestyle Contests are much more flexible and give the photographers more artistic freedom.

I got a disqualification (DQ), what should I do?

  1. Check your Dagger Bay mailbox to find the disqualification mail which will tell you the reason for disqualifying.
  2. Please note that no discussion will be entered into of your defense of your submission.
  3. If the contest is still open for entry, you have the option to replace your entry with a new one. To do that, go into your portfolio and choose ''edit''. You can then upload a new photo, which will replace the old one. Next, a Quartermaster will need to have a look at your entry before reinstating it. All Quartermasters are unpaid volunteers who have different jobs in real life, so make sure you allow enough time for them to a have a look at your entry before the voting starts.
  4. Of course, if time is short, and you don't mind a DQ in your portfolio (which is visible only to you, but you can delete them should you wish to do so), you can also enter the picture anew through the main deck.
  5. If the contest has opened for voting, then unfortunately there is nothing to be done (or to worry about!). Even the best of us get DQs at some point, so don't get upset, just learn from it and try to be careful that all of your entries meet the theme and the contest rules.
  6. Finally, please remember that none of the QMs enjoy having to DQ an entry, it is never personal and it is never done without careful consideration.

Note: We may DQ entries of extremely poor quality in Advanced Contests, this is very rare and remains at the discretion of the photo QMs

Who can I talk to for a critique or advice?

If you want feedback or critique with any of your entries once the contest is finished we have an excellent Critic's Corner where you can get feedback from your fellow photographers. Don't post entries from contests that are still open though, instead ask for critique privately via PM.

Who can I turn to if I need help?

  • If you need help with anything concerning an entry of yours, the Photography Quartermasters are happy to help you.
  • For questions about the site in general or the community, feel free to contact any quartermaster.
    Should you have a general question, you're welcome to start a thread about it in the forums where all community members can feedback.
  • If you want to bring an image or comment to the attention of the quartermasters, please use the report function, and we will have a look at it as soon as we're able.

I don't think I'm good enough to enter, should I?

Definitely! Contests are all good fun and we're a friendly bunch. Critique is fair, constructive, and offered in a supportive environment. If you want to develop your skills and become a better photographer, this is a great place for you. :)

I don't feel comfortable commenting on entries, should I?

Definitely! Most artists value constructive feedback, and the ones that don't, have the option to remove the comment box from their entries. Comments not only help the person receiving them but also the one who makes them, as it makes you think about photographic aspects. By commenting you help yourself define what a good photograph is, and help the photographer to see their own photo from your point of view at the same time.

Do my photos stay mine after I enter them?

Yes they do. Dagger Bay does not take away any of your rights to you art, we only reserve the right to display it. If you're interested in finding out more about what Dagger Bay is allowed to do with your works, please have a look at the Terms of Use.

Someone made a mean comment on my photo!

Dagger Bay has a very low tolerance for mean-spiritedness and drama. Should you feel that any comment falls under that category, please use the report function to bring it to our attention.


At Dagger Bay Admins, or Quartermasters all have the same level of authority and responsibility. However, the chief responsibility of administrating and moderating specific decks has been assigned to certain members of the team. The current photography Quartermasters are:

The Photography Quartermasters are mainly responsible for running the Photography Deck and have the final authority on issues concerning the associated rules. Feel free to contact them if you have any questions regarding the Photography FAQ, the rules, or any entry you've submitted.

The Quartermasters are also responsible for overseeing the forum activity and keeping the vibe friendly. They help editing forum posts and entry comments, as well as answering forum questions. The admins also give out bling to show appreciation and recognition of special effort.

New Quartermasters are selected in a democratic process by the existing team. They are selected for their knowledge, helpfulness and long standing participation.

Voting Scale

The whole Photography Deck applies the same voting scale where you map your individual preferences on a scale from one to ten. All entries should be voted on without bias, no matter if you think they're on topic or not. If you think an entry is off topic or doesn't follow the rules, use the report system and tell us why.

The guide below has been created to guide you in your voting process.

  1. Very bad, an awful snapshot with no merit whatsoever. Low quality and seriously flawed. Almost criminal.
  2. Bad, a photographic mess and definitely not competition standard.
  3. Poor, displays weak photographic skills, out of focus, bad exposure, thoughtless composition, but not a total disaster.
  4. Below average but displays basic skills. Possibly has faults such as distracting elements, compositional errors or bad colour saturation.
  5. Average, an entry which is definitely competition standard with no easily identified faults but lacks outstanding interest.
  6. Good. This is above average, displays good photographic skills and demands attention but may lack finesse and personality.
  7. Very good. Well above average and worthy of merit. Shows advanced photographic skills. A great image.
  8. Excellent. An outstanding entry in all respects, professional standard.
  9. Exceptional image. Better than excellent, oh boy, I wish I'd taken that! A very memorable entry.
  10. WOW!! It just don't get better than this. It sets itself apart not only in this contest, but also the entire genre.

What to Consider when Voting

When you're voting, there are three general aspects that we want you to evaluate, namely technical execution, artistry and appeal.

  • Technical execution involves things like composition, lighting, pose, and how well the subject is arranged in general.
  • Artistry is about creativity and how well the picture gets its point across.
  • Appeal concerns how well the photo communicates to you. Bear in mind that this should be given less weight than the two other aspects, as appeal is highly subjective.

No photo should get a low score for failing one of the criteria. For instance, one particular subject, such as cars, might not appeal to you (thus failing to meet criteria no. 3), but that should not lower score if the photo scores well on the other two criterions. The same goes for photos that fail one of the other two criteria. I.e. two out of three criteria can be met without lowering the score of an entry.

How you weigh the criterions should be based on the contest's context. The reason for this is that the purpose of the contests vary, and therefore the criterions do too. For example, if a contest has the theme ''Fire'' the points should not be awarded for ''achieving the most fiery frenzy'', as that is irrelevant. In that case the originality, execution and context of the flame weighs heavily.

When voting, it's important to keep an open mind and consider the intent of each photo. The majority of the contests do not specify a photographic style or context, and a journalist may have a completely different intent from a nature photographer. Therefore, it is important to try to understand the artist's purpose and rate the photo with that in mind.

Entry Requirements

The requirements stated below apply to the whole Photography Deck. Failing to follow these rules may lead to disqualification, withholding of trophies and jackpots or total banning, depending on the severity of the transgression.

Authorship and Ownership

You have to be the one who captured the photo you entered - you must be the person who pressed the button!
You must be able to prove that any photos you have entered are your original works. You should keep the original images with intact ''.exif information'' so they can be verified if necessary.
The use of any type of photographic device is allowed.


Photography is about capturing images using analog or digital media. Though you may edit your photographs, the end result must be strictly tied to the original capture. There has to be a recognizability between the original and the final product, as well as a sense of ''truth''.

Because you are allowed to beautify your work, it could be argued that the process overlaps with the methods used when creating art at the Effects Deck. However, all of the art created at the Photography Deck must be created by the photographer, which distinguishes the works from the Effects Deck. This means that no outside sources or images may be added to any entries on the Photo deck unless specifically stated in the contest rules.
In Advanced contests it is not permitted to merge different photos or elements of different photos at all. Find more info about this in the list of Post Processing Allowances.


  • We prefer that entries be web-sized, i.e. do not upload shots without compressing or resizing them - keep your uploads to 1 Mb or less.
  • Keep your entry to a minimum of 800 x 800 px - your photo has to be big enough to be judged.
  • Bear in mind that all entries wider and/or taller than 2400 x 2400 px will be resized to those measurements. I.e. the longest side will be 2400 px.
  • You are not allowed to have any visible dates, timestamps, signatures, web addresses or watermarks on your entry.
  • The entry Title, Author's Comment or the Keywords may not display your name or username.
  • Linking to or quoting your website address, or any other URL that reveals your identity in the Title, Author's Comments, or Keywords is not allowed.
  • Linking to any other version of your photo in the Title, Author's Comments, or Keywords is prohibited.
  • Keep borders simple. You are allowed to be creative and use things such as facsimiles of cardboard cutout mats or grungy photo film borders but the border should never overshadow or distract from the photograph.
  • Text or illustrative elements may not be added to your photo, unless stipulated in the contest write up.


  • The Dagger Bay rules concerning nudity, pornography and vulgarity etc. will be followed. Anything that is not safe for work is not allowed.
  • A maximum of FIVE entries may be submitted into the contests hosted on the Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Decks.
    Any extra entries will be removed (disqualified) in the reverse order of upload.
  • Each photo may only be entered once in each Dagger Bay contest, and it may not be reused in any contests held later. The exceptions of this rule are disqualified photos, which may be used in another contest, provided they follow the rules and other stipulations of that contest.
  • Entries which are recognizably similar may not be submitted into the same contest or other contests. This applies to entries with similar setting, composition and lighting (known as Outtakes).
  • Incorporated posters and other 2D art may only be used in your entry if they are elements of a larger composition. They must provide context to the art rather than being a direct representation of that art.
  • You are allowed to use photos you have previously posted in Dagger Bay's forums.

Advanced Contest Post-Processing Allowances

  • Editing should always be about bringing the best out of your shot. It is not allowed to create an entirely different photo from what was there to start with. Pixels may not be added. Color and exposure adjustments are allowed.
  • Images should remain photo-realistic insofar as they should be consistent with the software capabilities of a modern camera or imaging device.
  • Selective manipulation techniques are allowed.
  • Retouching/removing minor details by cloning is allowed e.g. removing skin flaws, dust, scratches, and minor distracting scene elements.
  • Illustrative elements may not be added.
  • Drastically altering the lighting is not allowed. This includes adding major light sources, major software generated lighting effects or added pixels . You may change existing pixel color and exposure but you may not introduce new pixels.
  • HDR shots and panoramas are allowed, but you may not combine completely separate photos, such as textures or overlays.
  • Double exposures are not allowed.
  • Major scene elements that were not present in the original context may not be added, removed or replaced i.e. you are allowed to bring back a blown-out element, but only if it is the same as in the original capture.
  • All entries must conform to the editing allowances of the contest they are entered into.
  • Some contests such as Bonus Contests and Freestyle Contests may override the standard editing allowances, giving the participants leave to use texturising techniques or add text elements. If so, this will be stated in the contest writeup.


The Advanced Deck is open to everyone, beginners and veterans alike, though the contests held there are more challenging and competition is fiercer. This is the place for those who wish to hone their skills and push themselves further.

The Brawl Deck is where the members themselves are allowed to devise contests and set rules of their own.

The Corsair Challenge Deck hosts annual challenges and tournaments that require the participants to sign up before hand.

The Advanced Photography Deck

The goal on the Advanced deck is to present a message through photography. This is achieved through careful execution and post capture editing. At this level, skill is not only about the capture itself, but the enhancements made to it that brings out its best qualities. Though, one should not be a crutch for the other and the advanced arena is about the balance of the two - the capture, and the post editing.

Contest Types

Three main types of contests can be found on the Advanced Deck.

Advanced Contests

  • The Advanced contests are for people who have conquered the basics of photography, both when it comes to camera skills and the post editing.
  • The contests are open to everyone, but bear in mind that higher quality is expected.
  • The themes of the contests are often broad and the participants are encouraged to make creative and artistic interpretations within the confounds of those themes. This means that competition is focused around idea, presentation, technique, skill, mood and impact.

Bonus Contests

  • The word ''Bonus'' will always appear before the contest's title.
  • These contests are open to everyone.
  • Bonus Contests sometimes focus on a certain technique in order to help the participants master that particular skillset. They can preset hypothetical and fictitious scenarios such as creating a postcard, a magazine or poster, and the participants are assessed on how well they achieve the desired end product.
  • Bonus Contests may also consist of so called ''Speed Rounds'' that challenge the participant's ability to be creative during pressure. The time limits are short, no shoeboxing is allowed, and for that reason, the theme is usually something that cannot be found in your average shoebox.
  • Sometimes, Bonus Contests may allow you to use methods or techniques that are not allowed by default. If the rules differ from the ordinary ones in any way, it will be stated so in the contest description.

Freestyle Contests

  • The word ''Freestyle'' will always appear before the contest’s title.
  • These contests are open to everyone.
  • Freestyle contests are designed to allow complete artistic freedom of expression. They do not follow the usual editing allowances and the standard Photo deck editing rules are set aside.
  • Blending of multiple images using photo editing tools, textures and overlays, artistic effects including elements of illustration and lighting changes are all allowed. The finished image is what matters and how you achieve that is up to you. However, these contests are Photo deck contests and your photograph(s) must always remain the main subjects, other components are all allowed but should be supportive to the main photographs.
    All component parts, images, textures, art brushes and effects must be entirely your own work. Please do not use any images which were not taken by you or any effects not created by you.
  • All general Dagger Bay site rules still apply. Find them in the FAQ section.

The Brawl Deck

On this deck the players make up their own rules. Here, you are free to set up individual contests with the players of your choosing, or call out to anyone to join you. Have a look at the Brawl FAQ for more details on how to set up a Brawl. Bear in mind that standard editing rules will apply if not stated otherwise, so make sure tell us any changes you wish to make for your brawl.

The Corsair Challenge Deck

This deck is where annual challenges and tournaments are held. Here you’ll find the Calendar Challenge, the Team Tournament and other series of contests that are held on a yearly basis. All of the series held on this deck requires you to sign up before hand. This is done in the corresponding sign-up threads found in the forum. Please note that every series has its own set of rules, which will be stipulated in their sign-up threads. The winners of the contests get special trophies that are very rare, so keep an eye out! You definitely don’t want to miss signing up!


Find some common terms used in the Photography Decks below.


The aesthetic quality of the blur produced in the out-of-focus parts of an image produced by a lens. A photo with a pleasant bokeh has non-focused elements that blend in an aesthetically pleasing way.


Also called ''focus range'' or ''effective focus range''. It refers to the distance between the nearest and farthest objects in a scene that appear acceptably sharp in an image. A narrow DoF indicates that only a thin slice is in focus (e.g. macro photography), and a large DoF means that almost everything in the photo is in focus (e.g. wide angle photography).

Global editing

Contrary to selective editing, global editing is about making adjustments evenly to the whole of an image.


A list of subjects that are not allowed in a contest. Using them means risking disqualification.

Open contest

A contest that is either open for entry or voting, i.e. a contest that has not ended yet.


An unused photo that is recognizably similar to a photo that has been used. Usually from the same photoshoot involving the same subject.


Images should remain photo-realistic insofar as they should be consistent with the software capabilities of a modern camera or imaging device.


Photos taken during the same sitting, all centered around the same idea or theme.


Rule of Thirds. A basic compositional aid. The guideline proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.

Selective editing

The opposite of global editing. The post processing of selected areas of a photo. This includes cloning, marquee-selection tools, and masking. Global changing of colours is not selective editing - there is a difference between choosing ''all red pixels'' (global) and ''those red pixels'' (selective).


An entry that has been photographed prior to the the time the contest theme was revealed, or prior to a previously agreed upon time. This is forbidden in some contests, such as the Calendar Challenge. If shoeboxing isn't allowed, it will be stated in the contest description.


A photo taken casually, without consideration to basic photographic aspects such as composition, or background. Other features involved might include an overly dark photo, a photo with an overpowering flash, an unattractive angle or an obviously non-level horizon.


What Did You Shoot Or Process Today? A non-competitive forum thread where photographers share their latest works for community interest and pleasure.

PotY : (not currently running)

An annual running tally where the photographers earn points through participating in specific contests. The photographer with the most points by the end of December earns the envious title Photographer of the Year.


The Dagger Bay Photography Deck Quartermasters would like to extend their deepest gratitude to the long-time administrators and moderators from Worth1000 who provided inestimable inspiration for these rules and guidelines. Your wisdom lives on.