Competition Category Definitions, SPRING 2020

Please note that in many cases the judges or competition chairman cannot tell if the definitions have been rigorously adhered to, particularly with respect to manipulations used, hybrid plants, etc.  Therefore, we must depend on the integrity of the competitor to follow the category definitions and competition guidelines and keep our competitions fair.


  • Print Categories:  Open, Nature, Scapes and Monochrome 
  • Digital Categories: Human Interest, Open, Nature, Monochrome and Travel


Open: (Print, Digital) Any image is eligible for the Open category.  Image manipulation of every type is acceptable in this category. 

Nature: (Print, Digital) (Note: the Grand Photos “Nature” definition is NOT the same as the current ACCC or PSA definition).     Nature photography depicts landscapes, wild (not domestic nor feral) animals, and non-hybrid plants in a natural habitat. Unless the Chair is convinced otherwise beforehand by the submitter, all roses and tulips will be assumed to be hybrids and disqualified or scored low by most judges.  The accurate record of the subject and natural environment is the prime factor.  Evidence of “hand of man” in any part of the image is not allowed.  One exception to this rule is that scientific bands on animals in zoos or in the wild are acceptable.  Photos of zoo animals are acceptable only if the zoo setting replicates a natural setting with no man-made objects such as cage wire or feeding dishes in the scene.  Photographs of hybrid plants, formal floral arrangements, domestic and feral animals (including all horses) and mounted specimens are not acceptable.

Only limited post-processing modifications are acceptable for Nature images.  These would include cropping and adjustments to sharpness, contrast, brightness, color and saturation.  Even techniques such as HDR, helicon focus and panoramic stitching are permitted but the resulting image must be a true representation of the actually observed scene.  Removal of items that are part of the scene, such as posts or wires, through any selective process such as cloning is not permissible in the Nature category.  Borders or strokes are prohibited in Nature with the following limited exceptions:

Digital “Nature” images may optionally include a white stroke on the perimeter of the image to set it off from the black projected background.  The stroke may be a maximum of 5 pixels wide and must be included in the maximum width and height pixel dimensions.  Nature Prints may be mounted with a maximum of 1/4 inch of the white unprinted paper on the perimeter of the image.  While borders are allowed in other categories, the competitor is advised that some judges may consider them detrimental to the image, which could negatively affect the scores awarded.

Scapes: (Print) Images for this category should be sweeping, wide angle views of scenery, landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes, etc., such as you would capture from a viewpoint.  Such images may include living things and man-made objects often referred to as the “hand of man”.  Images may be horizontal or vertical.  Images using “panoramic stitching", “photomerge”, HDR and helicon focus software to combine multiple overlapping images of the scene are allowed as long as the result honestly depicts the actual scene as it appeared at the time it was photographed.  Cloning is allowed, but only to remove items that are not normally part of the image, such as trash, contrails, and similar items.

Monochrome: (Print, Digital) Monochrome is defined as a black and white image which contains only various shades of grey.  The optional addition of a uniform tint of any single color to the entire image is permitted.

Human Interest: (Digital):  Human Interest images depict a person or persons in an interactive, emotional, or unusual situation.  Sports action, as the main subject, (recreational or organized sports activity) is not allowed. Setups (posed, staged, or otherwise contrived images) are not allowed.  The image may be color or monochrome.  Judging will be based on the image telling, depicting or illustrating a story while maintaining high technical quality.  The image must have a significant impact on the viewer.  Examples of human interest entries by clicking here. 

Travel: (Digital): Photo Travel images must express the feeling of a time and place, and portray a land, its distinctive features or culture in its natural state. There are no geographical limitations.  Close-up pictures of people or objects must include distinguishable environment. Techniques that add to, relocate, replace or remove any element of the original image, except by cropping, are not permitted. All adjustments must appear natural. Conversion to full monochrome is acceptable. Derivations, including infrared, are unacceptable. PSA has recently issued a special guide for images being submitted for this category.   This guide can be found by clicking here.


A. Becker


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