i love reading the journals, I have learned a lot from the members here them being our big guns or the less experienced. Learned what to do and what not to do. I have kept fish for about 20 years and kept many species but not much in the way of plants and until Joined here I thought the only moss you could get for tanks was Java!
There are some journals on here which are just an awesome read, with trials and tribulations and rescapes. I have a few of them in my bookmarks so I can re read them whenever I want inspiration.
A lot of people don't have DSLR cameras (myself included) but you don't need them to take a decent picture. We are all aquascapers and we know how to be patient which is what you need to take a decent picture, I take about 10 shots but there would only be one I am happy with. All it needs to do is get a message across.
As for the competition side of things I feel that the IAPLC is biased towards the east in my opinion. Some of the tanks that get entered from here are stunning but don't seem to do aswell as we would like them to do. But kudos to those who do enter you do the UK proud.
Love the journals section on here it's taught me so much! The whole forum has but the journals section seems to be the core of what this forum is about, seeing people go through the process of setting up, how to overcome problems and lots of advice from the experts. I've just set up my first journal and it's great to get peoples opinions and advice.