I think there is a fundamental problem with these on-line contests. Many creative, subtle shots never get the recognition they should, because the nature of on-line galleries is such that the winners are often either gaudily over-saturated or bad cliches we've seen over and over again (yes, we get it - you've been to Antelope canyon).
I wish there was a better technology for viewing these, because is these user-voted contest, it really should be called "the best thumbnail award." Especially with how popular contests are now, no matter how many 'next' buttons you put on the page, people are going to scan thumbs, especially when the past few contests have had some 4,000 plus entries. Even at 100 thumbs a page, who is going to give 40 pages of photos an honest look and take the time to open their mind to the beautiful subtly of many less iconic, less supersaturated, but far more creative images?
Because of this, many of the nicer shots (in my humble opinion) are never even rated or viewed in your contest. I often start from the last page and work my way forward - there are many very creative gems in there that sadly don't stand a chance. This is why I don't bother entering anymore.