So which (3) pictures made the Iowa State Fair photo salon in 2019?

Dang, this has been bugging me all summer.

Last July, I received the Iowa State Fair Photography Competition’s yellow postcard o’ doom.  The one where they tell you if any of your pictures made the cut – if any won awards – or if none of your entries were accepted.

I was very fortunate this year, three of my pictures were selected for display.  No ribbons, but three on display is pretty dang nice.

But there’s one thing that keeps nagging me.  I submitted four pictures.  Three are going on the walls – but the fourth one isn’t.  Which picture was the fourth one?

Was it my attempt at color infrared New Scotland Road, did that one miss?

Was it my triple-blue photo Washington County, 2:30 a.m.?  Did I guess wrong on entering that one?

Was it my macro photo of three snowflakes, Mittsu No Yuki?  Was that more of hari-kiri than arrigato?

Was it my artistic polar panorama The Bridge to Infinity?  Did I over-reach on that one?

Luckily, my friend and fellow blogger J. Eric Smith was kind enough to visit the Iowa State Fair, as he lives in the area.

And I also made friends with another Iowa photographer, Jami Bassman Ahart, who visits the Iowa State Fair as often as she can.

And their photos will reveal which three of the four images made the cut.


First off, here are the odds.  Getting into the Iowa State Fair’s photography salon is hella tough.  There’s only so much room in the building for the photos, and even then, the judges are extremely tight as to which pictures make the cut.  Not just for ribbons … but for display as well.

The odds for the 2019 Iowa State Fair. Image courtesy Jami Bassman Ahart.

Over 3,100 pictures were submitted for the Iowa State fair.  Of those, only 757 were chosen to make the walls – essentially less than one-quarter of all submitted images.  And of those, only 207 earned silks this year.

Now some people have pulled off the coveted “Commissioner’s Award” – meaning that they had four acceptances and four silks.  That’s tough.  And those who have achieved that goal – damn, you’re good and I wish I was that good.

But here’s what I found out.

For the black and white places and landscapes category, 98 pictures were submitted, 36 made it to the walls, a 37% acceptance rate. Among those accepted – “Washington County 2:30am.”

Fourth wall for this triple blue star! Photo courtesy Jami Bassman Ahart.
Washington County, 2:30 a.m. Photo from J. Eric Smith.

For the Infrared category – 44 pictures were submitted, but only 10 were chosen, and one of my infrared pictures, “New Scotland Road,” made the cut.

New Scotland Road. Photo from J. Eric Smith.
My first color infrared acceptance in Iowa! Photo from Jami Bassman Ahart.

And for this year’s themed category of “It’s All About the 8’s,” 188 pictures were submitted, and only 32 – 17% of all submissions – reached the wall.  Now I don’t know if that included my picture of “A Bridge to Infinity,” because apparently it was relocated to the “Anything Goes!” category – which only took 18 of 59 submissions.  Either that, or I entered it in the Anything Goes category and meant to put it in the “It’s All About the 8’s,” but perhaps I’m just getting senile.  No matter.  The picture’s on the wall, which is fantastic in and of itself!

Never give up on a photograph. Never. Because someday it will give you great pleasure. Photo from Jami Bassman Ahart.
The Bridge to Infinity. Photo courtesy J. Eric Smith.

So this means that my macro photo of three snowflakes, “Mittsu No Yuki,” unfortunately did not make the cut in Iowa.  In fact, Jami sent me a photo of a snowflake macro cluster that did receive honorable mention status, and I have to say, it’s a beautiful shot.  I can see why the judges went with that one instead of with mine.  Still, I do have “Mittsu No Yuki” designated for Syracuse, as well as listing it as a hopeful for the Big E.

So this is all good news.  A great way to start out Competition Season 2019.  My thanks to J. Eric Smith and Jami Bassman Ahart for providing photographs from Iowa for the 2019 salon.

Let’s see how things progress.