The photos I’m NOT entering in the 2019 New York State Fair photo competition…

No.  Yes.  No.  Yes.  That yes became a no.

Such is my concern this year with entering my pictures in the New York State Fair’s 2019 Photography Competition.


My last photography ribbon at the New York State Fair occurred in 2015.  Since then, only one image has appeared on the walls of the Harriet May Mills Art Center, with my work getting completely excluded in 2014, 2016 and 2017.  That can give a guy a complex.

Now, of course, I’m happy that my photos are receiving their due in other avenues of Competition Season … but the fact that I’ve been shut out in Syracuse is bugging me to no end.

This year, in an effort to increase the number of photos displayed, the Photography Competition’s supervisors have reduced the physical size for photo entries – instead of 16×20 images, they’re now requesting 11×14 sizes.  The maximum number of entries, however, remains unchanged at six.

So for the past couple of months, I’ve whittled down my entries – dismissing this one, putting it back in, taking another one out, deciding whether an image looks better in black and white or in color – that kind of thing.

So I had sixteen images ready to go.  No, I couldn’t submit ten of them under assumed names, it doesn’t work that way.

Two weeks ago, I submitted my entry form.  Meanwhile, my pro lab of choice, McGreevy Pro Lab, has been printing and foam-boarding my six selected entries.

But what of the ones that didn’t make the cut?

Well, some of them may appear in other venues, or might get saved for 2020.

But I honestly couldn’t keep everything.  So some images have to step aside.

So that you understand what I’m doing … here are the several images that I felt just didn’t make the cut for Syracuse.  This way, when I reveal my six finalists later this week, you can say to me, “Chuck, why did you cut this perfectly acceptable picture (A), to send this piece of junk (B) instead?”


Anyways … the images that are on the sidelines include –


Roses and Vichy. NIMSLO camera, AGFA Vista 200 film, four images in lenticular capture. Photo (c) 2019 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

I wanted to enter a lenticular print into this show.  Really I did.  And I had hoped this would be the winner.  But I pulled it out of the mix – partially because it wasn’t as strong as I had hoped, and partially because the bottle’s label might set off a copyright issue with the State Fair (I’ve seen images with trademarked logos get disqualified, and even though I know that Saratoga Vichy isn’t being sold any more, how do I know that the judges aren’t thinking the same thing?)


Last Morning of a Dandelion. Nikon Df camera, HELIOS 81-H 50mm f/2 lens with extension tubes. Photo (c) 2019 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

I had so many different dandelion macro pictures to select, this was almost entered in the mix.  But I had a second dandelion picture that I thought was better, and I’m not going to submit two different dandelion pictures in the same competition.


Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens with ring flash. Photo (c) 2019 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

The Fortune Teller, also known as The Hidden Kitten, is a nice little tulip photo.  And … well … that’s all it is.  A tulip photo.  There’s nothing spectacular or exciting about it, it’s just a picture of a tulip.  That’s not what I want.  I can’t go back to the mantra of “just good enough,” or my sainted high school English teacher Bonnie Diefendorf, God rest her soul, would slap my head off.


Ladies’ Entrance. Leica M3 camera, Red Dragon redscale film. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

I thought about entering this as a last-minute submission, but … I couldn’t do it.  I just couldn’t do it.  Especially since the NYS Fair bounced last year’s Ladies Make Their Own Entrances, and my submitting this picture might look like a “cram-job” attempt (keep photographing the same subject until it breaks through).  Granted, I could save it for another competition.  But not for Syracuse.


Rexleigh Bridge Christmas Eve B&W. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 lens. Photo converted to black and white with Google Nik Silver Efex software. Photo (c) 2018 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

There’s some great concepts in this picture, but there are also some head-scratching mistakes.  Like when I tried to boost the exposure INSIDE the bridge – to show the wooden beam construction inside – but my photo-processing software boosted the snow that crossed the bridge opening, making the picture look as if the bridge is snowing inside and not outside.  Oops.


It’s definitely a stunning image.  Don’t get me wrong.  But it’s not the image of the Jericho Drive-In neon signage that I wanted.  And I’m not going to submit something that – well – isn’t want I initially conceived.


CP Holiday Train over Cohoes-Waterford Bridge 2018. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 lens. Photo (c) 2018 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

What a nice image.  What a serene picture.  Too bad you can’t really tell that it’s a train – all you can see are some neon lights and water.  And there’s that blue cast on the right side of the picture, from a lighted boxcar that isn’t in frame.  Resolved – I will get a much better picture of the Holiday Train in 2019 … a photo so amazing, that Canadian Pacific will send me a nice warm tuque in appreciation.


Half Moon and Full Rainbow. BlackBerry camera phone. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

This picture would have a smoother response in Albany than it would in Syracuse.  In Albany, you would know that the weathervane atop the SUNY building is a replica of Henry Hudson’s Half Moon sailing vessel.  You might not know that in Syracuse.  It’s a nice photo … but it’s not good enough for what I want here.


The Double Dipper. Nikon Df camera, Nikkor 55mm f/1.2 lens, four photos stacked and flipped to black and white by Silver Efex software. Photo (c) 2019 Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

It’s a decent picture, don’t get me wrong … but it’s not strong enough.  And I’ve tried entering atmosphere shots in Syracuse before, and they’ve never gone through.  And my friend Robert Burger noted that if I did enter this picture, it might get dinged because technically a water reflection is never as bright as the sky, so someone might cut it on an atmospheric technicality.


The Beemer. Rolleiflex Automat MX camera, Infrared CIR 120 color film with yellow filter. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

I may actually save this for next year, in case I  have a need for an infrared picture to get some sort of love.  But it’s too late to put it in Syracuse this year.

So yeah, these are the many pictures I rejected from the list.

Tomorrow … I’ll show you the six I chose as my entries.

I hope I made the correct selections.

And I hope I didn’t cut a ribbon-winner to replace it with a dud.

There’s a #Syracurse that needs to end.