Categories and Processing/Editing Guidelines

Categories for competitions are:

  • Nature includes landscapes, waterscapes, flowers, wildlife, and similar subjects.
  • Hand of Man includes people, structures, cityscapes and other made-made influences.
  • Creative/Imaginative includes heavily manipulated images regardless of whether the image is realistic or not.
  • Prints include images in all of the other three subject categories.

Nature and Hand of Man

Given the incredible diversity of subjects in our members’ images, we are breaking the basic category for realistic images into two parts. The fundamental difference is whether something natural or something man-made (including persons) is central. Thus, a landscape that includes a barn or a canoe on a lake goes into Nature if the barn or canoe is a minor part of the image; if the barn or canoe is the central focus, the image goes into Hand of Man.

We understand that there will be instances in which it is not crystal clear which category a specific image goes in. This is a friendly competition and the above distinction is not rocket science: take your best guess and leave it up to the judge.

Critiques combine Nature and Hand of Man back into a single category called Realism because there will be fewer entries and no competitive grading.

Post-processing Criteria

At this point in the digital era everyone with even a passing interest in photography is aware of (if not involved in) the ongoing debate of straight from the camera versus software-based post-processing. Without rehashing the discussion here, Club Camera recognizes that computer software processing of images has become an integral component of the photographic process. To that end we are adjusting our criteria for the inclusion of images into categories based on result and not method.

Realism: Nature and Hand of Man

The main criterion for including an image in either of these realistic categories is whether the final image is one that a person could reasonably expect to see in the world we all inhabit. We don’t really care how you got there: it’s the result we’re looking at. Please read the following carefully. They are all acceptable for these categories:

  • HDR (high dynamic range) images whose intent is a naturalistic rendering go here regardless of the number of exposures used to create the final image. Implicit here, of course, is that each image used is the exact same image with different camera settings.
  • In addition to the primary software adjustments such as contrast, color saturation, cropping and the like, any other modifications, such as the removal of elements from an image, are acceptable as long as the essential realism of the image is maintained. Concomitantly, given two identical images (most of us compose an image and take multiple exposures, with or without altering the settings), taking a part of one image and substituting it for its identical sibling in the main image is acceptable.To be clear, you may remove an object from an image if it does not in any way distort the meaning and realism of an image. Similarly, if you have two or more exposures of the same image, you may take an object from one and use it to replace the same object in another (perhaps it’s sharper, for example).But you cannot combine elements from different images into one (for example, replacing the sky in one image for the sky in another).
  • Black-and-white conversions go in these categories, but duotones, tritones, and the like do not.
  • Soft-focus images (such as those often used in fashion photography and portraiture) do not go in these categories. (Perhaps there was a time when you squinted and visualized your paramour through a very real drug haze, but it wasn’t reality then and it isn’t now.)
  • Removing backgrounds to accomplish the same effect you would get shooting an image against a plain background or backdrop is acceptable in these categories.
  • In-studio and outdoor lighting is acceptable based on realism.

This list is far from comprehensive. Issues and questions are likely to arise. Please bring them to the meeting, and go with your gut when submitting an image to a category.


Anything that isn’t realistic goes here (which, doesn’t, of course, mean that it isn’t true).

  • The range of post-processing here is quite wide, going from grunge HDRs to duo-tones and tri-tones.
  • Included here are any images that are collage-like and incorporate components from multiple images, even if the goal is a realistic-looking image.