Alameda Photographic Society
Competition Definitions


Almost all of us join a photography club with two primary objectives - to improve our photography skills, and to have fun. Alameda Photographic Society (APS) competitions offer members an opportunity to learn from experienced judges about the strengths of their images and areas for improvement. Members find that they are able to build their knowledge and skills not only from the feedback they receive on their own images but they also learn from comments on the photographs submitted by fellow members.

Competitions are organized by image category (see below). Each category is judged against its corresponding set of criteria.  Members are encouraged to learn by competing in a full range of categories. APS conducts all competitions using projected images; there are no print competitions.  Three to five categories are selected for each competition night. The mix is different each month. Categories fall into two broad groups:

Images emphasize visual interest,impact and creativity. Images focus on providing factual information and conveying the story about the place, events or natural phenomena or behaviors
  • Pictorial
  • Monochrome
  • Creative
  • Travel
  • Journalism
  • Nature

To help you better understand the criteria being used to judge images in each category and to help you decide which category works best for your image, we have provided:

  • General Guidelines that apply to all categories (except "Cash for Images").
  • Definitions for each category based where applicable on those used by Northern California Council of Camera Clubs (N4C) with which APS is affiliated.
  • Specific Expectations or Restrictions for each category as related to post processing, titles, sequences and judging.


All images, regardless of category, must meet the following requirements:
  • Images may be in color or monochrome.
  • Titles are considered an integral part of the image and are included as a factor in the judging, especially in the Storytelling categories. Keep in mind that the title of each image is read aloud during the competition.
  • Do not add your name, watermark, copyright or other identifying text to the image itself.
  • By virtue of submitting an entry, the photographer certifies the work as his/her own. No clip art, digital art or photographs other than those made by the entrant may be used in whole or in part in any portion of the image.
  • Images may only be manipulated as noted in individual Category Definitions.
  • When graphic elements, such as borders or shapes, are used in an image,
    • They must have been created by the maker - using photo editing software
    • Photographic content must still dominate the image overall
  • Where sequences are allowed, the total number of images is limited to four. The sequence should either show a chronology of activity or help to tell a story. No composited images are allowed when creating a sequence.




Pictorial photography is the use of the photographic medium as an art form. The emphasis is on interest, visual impact, composition and technical excellence. Images in the Pictorial category are not confined to any particular subject, type, or style of photography.


Monochrome refers to an image in black and white (grayscale), but also includes images made of tones of a single color. For example, sepia images, which display tones from light tan to dark brown, or cyanotype images (‘blueprints”) are also monochrome.

Judges look for appropriate dynamic range and areas of under or over exposure. Monochrome images follow all of the same guidelines that apply to pictorial.


Creative photography is an image produced through the use of imaginative skill or originality of thought, including the altering of reality. No image should be eliminated from competition simply because it looks realistic, provided it shows originality of concept.

Images submitted under the Creative category may include unusual points of view, imaginative use of subject matter or lighting, or any other presentation that begins with the maker’s photograph or collection of photographs.





Travel images express the feeling of a place and portray the distinctive features or culture of a land in its natural state. There are no geographical limitations. The travel value of the photograph shall be valued over pictorial quality.

Close-up pictures of people or objects must include a recognizable sense of a unique culture or place.


Journalism entries shall consist of pictures with informative content and/or emotional impact. They can include human interest, documentary or spot news.

The journalistic value of the photograph shall be valued over pictorial quality. The primary objective in this category is to make story-telling and/or newsworthy photographs.


Nature photography is restricted to the use of the photographic process to depict any branch of natural history, except anthropology and archeology, in such a fashion that a well-informed person will be able to identify the subject material and certify its honest presentation.

The informative and nature story telling value of a photograph is weighed more than the pictorial quality, while maintaining high technical quality.

Images entered in the Nature category can have landscapes, geologic formations, weather phenomena, and extant organisms as the primary subject matter. This includes images taken with the subjects in controlled conditions, such as zoos, game farms, botanical gardens, aquariums and any enclosure where the subjects are totally dependent on man for food.

Not permitted in the Nature category:
  • Photographs of human created hybrid plants, cultivated plants, feral animals, domestic animals, or mounted specimens.
  • Human elements shall not be present in the image and are ineligible except:
    • in situations where wild animals have been tagged with scientific bands, tags or radio collars;
    • in situations where nature subjects (e.g. barn owls, storks, eagles etc.) have adapted to an environment modified by humans, and these human elements

Authentic Wildlife is a subdivision of the Nature category. Alameda does not hold any separate competitions for this subdivision but N4C does. To qualify for Authentic Wildlife at the N4C level, an image must be labeled Authentic Wildlife on submission and must place first, second or third in the Nature competitions both at the club level and at the N4C Interclub level.

Authentic Wildlife Definition: One or more extant zoological or botanical organisms free and unrestrained in a natural or adopted habitat.

  • Landscapes, geologic formations, photographs of zoo or game farm animals, or of any extant zoological or botanical species taken under controlled conditions, are not eligible for labeling as Authentic Wildlife.
  • Wildlife is not limited to animals, birds and insects. Marine subjects and botanical subjects (including fungi and algae) taken in the wild are suitable wildlife subjects, as are carcasses of extant species.

Category-Specific Expectations or Restrictions

ARTISTIC photographs focus on interest, visual impact and creativity. All post processing techniques are allowed
  Sequence OK? Post Processing Titles Judging Notes
Pictorial No No restrictions No guidelines Judged for Pictorial and technical merit
Monochrome No No restrictions No guidelines Judged for Pictorial and technical merit
Creative No No restrictions No guidelines Judged for Pictorial and technical merit
STORYTELLING images convey the facts of a story. Post processing is very limited.
  Sequence OK? Post Processing Titles Judging Notes
Travel No
  • All adjustments must appear natural
  • Monochrome is OK
  • No set-ups just for the purpose of photography
  • Manipulations are limited to cropping, contrast and minor tonal and color adjustments
  • Techniques that add, relocate, replace or remove any element of the original image, except by cropping are not permitted
  • Identify the location
  • Support the travel story
Travel value more important that pictorial quality
Journalism Yes
  • All adjustments must appear natural
  • Monochrome is OK
  • No misrepresentations of the truth
  • No set-ups just for the purpose of photography
  • Manipulations are limited to cropping, contrast and minor tonal and color adjustments
  • Techniques that add, relocate, replace or remove any element of the original image, except by cropping are not permitted
  • Support the news story
  • Include the who what, when, where and why
Journalistic value more important that pictorial quality
Nature Yes Permitted
  • All adjustments must appear natural
  • Monochrome is OK
  • Techniques that enhance the presentation of the photograph without changing the nature story or the pictorial content, or without altering the content of the original scene, including HDR focus stacking and dodging/burning
  • Manipulations are limited to cropping, contrast and minor tonal and color adjustments
  • Techniques that remove elements added by the camera, such as dust spots, digital noise, and film scratches
  • Stitching to complete the natural image
  • Monochrome
Not Permitted
  • Any form of manipulation that alters the truth of the photographic statement
  • Techniques that add, relocate, replace, or remove pictorial elements except by cropping
  • Infrared images - either direct-captures or derivations
  • Keep the title factual & descriptive
  • Scientific names are encouraged but not required
  • Humorous titles are viewed as distracting
Informative and nature story is important that pictorial quality



Club members submit up to 20 images on a theme, selected by the winner of the previous Cash for Images contest, paying a fee determined by the Club Board for each image. Images MUST have been captured SINCE the most recent "Cash for Images" contest. One winner is selected (Places and Honorable Mentions are allowed). First place receives half of the money submitted by contestants, the Club treasury receives the remainder. Other than date of capture and size, no other restrictions apply to images in this category, as long as the image is original or derivative in a way that would make it eligible for copyright by the maker.

 Date 09.09.2020

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