Photo contests still popular

As the seeding season arrives, so does the annual spring photo contest.

We have run seasonal photo contests at The Western Producer for about 20 years, and while we haven’t had them every year, in recent years it has become popular.

In the old days, we sorted through hundreds of prints and slides, which were mailed in by readers. Our librarian and other administrative staff would lay the entries out on tables in our boardroom or classroom at 2310 Millar Avenue in Saskatoon.

Each photo had the envelope it arrived in, with a return address and a note, generally handwritten, identifying who was in the image and where it had been taken. Some had return envelopes. Generally, I and another editor or two would judge the contest.

The room smelled of photos. Yes, they had an odour in those days, a bit of the lingering essence of the fixer that stabilized chemical-bath processed prints.

And the image quality varied dramatically. Some were eight by 10 inch prints, generally shot with 35 millimetre cameras, but a few were in glorious black and white. Some would be made on medium format cameras by serious photo-hobbyist farmers, while others came from tiny 110 film. Some of that looked as though the camera had been stored on the dash of a pick-up truck for a year or two. The prints had a dreamy, grainy, washed out look, the kind kids today get when they use Instagram to post their images to the internet.

All photos were film-based in those days. The quality of the camera and access to better print making, as well some experience, made a big difference in the quality of the images and who would win the contests.

Today, our photo contest at still does what those of the early 1990s did. It captures the bigger picture of what seeding or harvest looks like in Canada.

The cameras are better and they are now in everyone’s pockets. High quality tools have dramatically improved image quality. Aerial drones add new angles. The number of contest entries has grown substantially, with more than 700 in our 2015 harvest contest. It makes the judging a lot tougher.

We once again look forward to your view of farming.

To enter, send us your best at, tweet #plant16 or @westernproducer or enter on our Facebook site.

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