Photography FAQ

Table of Contents

How do I enter a photography contest here?

  1. First, you need to have an account before you can enter contests.
  2. Place read through the FAQ so that you know the basic rules of the contests.
  3. The contests are held on the ''Main Deck''. Find one that is open for entry that you'd like to enter.
  4. Read through the contest description carefully so that you get a grasp of the rules of the contest you've chosen.
  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. You can choose to pay your entry yourself, but you also have the option to leave your entry open for sponsoring. Though be aware that sponsoring is not guaranteed.
  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, and Masters Contests - which require graduation from the Beginner Deck (Beginner and Intermediate contests). Graduating also means that players are no longer eligible to enter the level of contests they've graduated from. Follow the link for info about graduation.

Beginner and Intermediate contests are temporarily suspended, but they will be brought back again when the demand for them rise.

What sort of editing is allowed in contests?

All of the contests here have the same post-processing rules, except for the Masters Contests, Bonus Contests and Freestyle Contests held on the Advanced Deck. Post processing should always be about adjustments that bring out the best in your shot. Therefore, it is not permitted to change the photo in a way that makes it non-photorealistic or to change the picture into something that is significantly different from the original. That is, you may use post processing to enhance what is already there, but not to add new features, illusions or effects.

The allowances of Masters Contests, Bonus Contests and Freestyle Contests are a bit more flexible and give the photographers a bit more artistic freedom. Complete list of Post Processing Allowances.

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 just learn from it and make sure you read the rules next time.

Why do we DQ entries for poor quality in Intermediate and Advanced Contests?

Dagger Bay features three basic levels of contests with increasing demands on the entrant, in order to keep things interesting to players of all skill levels. As you improve you will graduate from the easier contests and move on to harder ones where the quality expectations are higher. For this reason, we encourage less experienced players to start in the Beginner's Contests, which are oriented towards training. Later, as they hone their skills they can move on to harder contests where the demands become increasingly challenging. This way, beginners will be able to pick up medals as they learn and compete at their own level.

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. We have Beginners Contests if you don't feel ready to compete with the big bunch yet and Advanced Contests for when you do. If you want to develop you 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.


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 is created by the photographer, which distinguishes the works from the Effects Deck. This means that no outside sources or images may be added. Nor may elements from different photos be merged together, unless stated otherwise. Find more info about this in the list of Post Processing Allowances.


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.


  • 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 600 x 600 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 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.

Post-Processing Allowances

  • Editing should always be about bringing the best out of your shot. Therefore, it is not allowed to create an entirely different photo from what was there to start with. An effect or illusion may be enhanced, but not created.
  • All results must remain photo-realistic.
  • Selective manipulation techniques are allowed.
  • Retouching/removing minor details 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 light sources, changing day to night etc.
  • 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 Masters Contests, 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 Photography deck is divided into several ''sub-decks'' where different types of contests are hosted. The purpose of this is to hold contests for members with different capabilities and/or interests.

The Beginner Deck is a good place for newcomers to learn, and the contests there are design to develop basic camera skills. The contests are divided into two levels - Beginner and Intermediate - with an increasing difficulty.

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.

Deck Eligibility

The contests held on the Beginner deck may not be entered by those who have already graduated from the contest level in question. Graduating from each level is achieved by earning graduations points. Any Bronze medal or trophy you win in the regular contests (Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced) earns you 3 points, Silver earns you 5 points and 10 points are awarded if you win! When your total amount of points adds up to over 30, you graduate from Beginner Contests, and when you reach 60 points you also graduate from the Intermediate Contests. This system of graduation is fully automated by Dagger Bay, so there's no pressure to keep track of the points, other than for the fun of it. When you graduate you'll get a PM congratulating you on achieving this feat, and a golden graduation cap will show on your profile page in recognition of your skill.

The Beginner Photography Deck

This is just that place for those who are new to photography and want to grow in a safe environment. Here you'll learn how to look upon the world from a photographer's point of view. The contest themes are specially selected to practice basic skills such as composition, color theory, and common photographic problems. You'll receive feedback from more experienced users and develop a photographic eye. This arena offers a supportive and nurturing environment where you can learn at your own pace before moving on and taking on the rest of the bunch on the Advanced Deck.

The Beginner Deck is divided into two levels of contests that apply a learning curve to help you build up your skills. The Beginner Contests are focused around the absolute basics and the Intermediate Contests are a bit more tricky, adding a bit more challenge. Both types of contests are restricted to the players who have not yet graduated, and thus the advanced players will content themselves to enjoy the show from the rigging.

Contest Types


  • The word ''Beginner'' will always appear before the contest's title.
  • The contests are just the place for people who are only just starting out. All entries will be accepted into competition as long as they follow the rules and are in keeping with the contest theme.

Beginner contests are temporarily suspended, but they will be brought back again when the demand for them rise.


  • The word ''Intermediate'' will always appear before the contest's title.
  • These contests are a bit trickier than the Beginner Contests and allow members of varying experience to compete. The restrictions on quality are a bit stricter which makes these contests more competitive, and generally one should consider things like background, distracting elements and exposure more carefully. Your photography may need more planning or thought as to what you want your picture to convey in order to earn a top placement.
  • Entries entered into Intermediate Contests are expected to have higher quality than those entered into Beginner Contests. This means that entries that are low quality risk being disqualified. I.e. effortless snapshots, badly exposed shots etc. The Photography Quartermasters are responsible for making sure quality is upheld and hold the final vote.

Intermediate contests are temporarily suspended, but they will be brought back again when the demand for them rise.

Eligibility and Graduation

Eligibility at the Beginner Deck is decided by the total number of graduation points you've earned, despite the level of difficulty of the contest. Graduation points are gained through finishing in the top three placements in the regular contests.

Dagger Bay has three regular contest levels. These are:

Graduation through the contest levels is measured on a system of points gained. Each time you win a Gold, Silver or Bronze trophy you will automatically gain the following points:

  1. Gold trophy (1st place) 10 points
  2. Silver trophy (2nd place) 5 points
  3. Bronze trophy (3rd place) 3 points

There is no need to keep track of your points. Each time you reach a graduation stage you will receive an automated notice and a graduation icon on your profile. The system will also recognize your achievement and will only let you enter the contests which you are eligible to enter.

You may enter Beginner level contests if you have gained less than 30 points.

You may enter Intermediate level contests if you have gained less than 60 points.

Anybody may enter Advanced level contests regardless of points.

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 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 broader than the ones hosted on the Beginner Deck, 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.

Masters Contests

  • The word ''Masters'' will always appear before the contest's title.
  • In order to be able to participate in Masters Contests, the players must have graduated from both Beginners and Intermediate contests.
  • The themes of the contests are often very broad, allowing the participants freedom to interpret them in their own ways. This allows for even more artistic freedom than in the Advanced Contests.
  • Masters Contests are less restricted when it comes to technique. Combining multiple captures is allowed, as well as texturising, overlays or other artistic post-editing techniques.
  • Bear in mind that the authorship and ownership rules still apply - all images must be your original work.
  • No illustrative elements or text may be added to the entries, though merging a shot of text into an entry is allowed.


With one exception, all players are welcome to participate in the contests held on the Advanced Deck. That exception is the Masters Contests, which require the participants to have graduated from both Beginner and Intermediate Contests. Other than that, all are eligible for participation. Though please bear in mind that entries on the Advanced Deck are held to a higher quality standard than on the Beginner Deck.

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.


This refers to a friendly forum challenge where two participants duel each other whilst participating in regular contests. The victor earns the title Captain of the Ship until beaten by a Mutineer.


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.


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.


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.