Exactly the issues that made this month's challenge the first one I have been able to enter since I started imaging DSOs 18 months ago. I definitely consider myself a beginner. Others may consider themselves beginners even though they have graduated to narrow-band imaging with a monochrome CCD and have much higher-end equipment while still others may consider only those with practically no experience to be beginners.
Unless a more restrictive definition of "beginner" is put forth in the rules, I don't think there's a reason to bar anyone from placing entries here unless they either win the contests, as stated in the rules, or no longer consider themselves beginners. It is, after all, a "challenge" contest and I like to compare what I'm able to do with others using the same level of hardware and experience. I don't consider myself to be competing with the entries of those with more experience or advanced equipment but I like to see what might be possible for me to accomplish with a little more of either.
Considering the timing of this post, I figure it was inspired by my recent victories in the Bright Challenges. But in my defense, I agree with the above quote that a better definition of a "Beginner" needs to be established if it is causing issues with some who feel that maybe they should have won if not for someone "more advanced".
I pretty much just started to use video more seriously as an AP medium this year. After comparing my result with a DSLR and what others were doing through video, I decided to shoot this entire year exclusively with video. I examined other members image posts, I asked lots of question, I experimented on my own, I tried things (techniques) that I would have never thought of if not for some of the more seasoned video imagers. I considered myself a [Beginner] in this area because I had never taken much interest in it before except a few planetary attempts in past years. I didn't have the patience before to figure out why one imager would produce a 10x better picture of Jupiter or Saturn with the same equipment. This year I faced the challenge a made the most of it. Now, having won a surprising three in a row, I will not be entering any more Bright Challenges.
I would encourage more "beginners" to enter the challenges no matter how good or bad you think your entry may be. I have to admit that I was very surprised at my winning of the Lyra Double challenge from August. I thought mine would have received the fewest votes, but it turned out to be the overwhelming favorite. I didn't even vote for myself.
About votes, I think that contestants should not be allowed to vote in a challenge they have entered. Sometimes I wonder if anyone else get embarrassed when they only received 1 vote which was often times self imposed. I sometimes think, "How can that one, get a vote when clearly this other one was so much better?" I understand that everyone has their own criteria for judging but personally I rather get 0 votes than for someone to think that I ignored other entries to make myself feel good.
About entries, I don't think it's much of a contest when there's only two contestants out of so many that browse through the Beginner and Intermediate Imaging forum. I don't think it gives the contestant a good feel of how much they've improved or how much better they are than others to be confident enough to advance to the next level. I know that we can't control how many people participate in each challenge, but those should be freebees just like the uncontested wins.
Now my question to Charlie is: What level is the Widefield Challange? I'm asking because I plan to move on to that one because I want to experiment with camera lenses. I've always had unpleasing result with less than perfect focusing, and weird star effects. Since this will be something fairly new to me and I don't believe that I'm even in the same league as some of the entries I've seen posted, would I be barred from entering if it is also considered a "Beginner's Challenge".
If you were to look at my gallery, many here in this forum may think that I am an advanced imager. But I see it differently. None of those image every won more than one or two votes in the DSLR forum. I have no idea how they vote over there. Even the one that I think should win gets very few votes. That's why I'm here in the Beginners and Intermediate Imaging forum to find out what I'm lacking to advance further to win in some of the specialty challenges.
I hope that I didn't offend anyone with this post because that was not my intention. We are all hear to learn and have fun, so don't get discouraged by lack of votes or criticisms. We all got started one image at a time and then we grow enough to give advice.