Rules for the Nature Trophy Competition
- Nature Photography is restricted to the use of the photographic process to depict all branches of natural history, except anthropology and archaeology.
- The image can include landscapes, geologic formations, weather phenomena, and organisms (plants and animals) 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. In all cases, the image must look natural and not appear to be influenced by humans. Scientific bands, scientific tags or radio collars on wild animals are permissible. Tethers on captive birds are not acceptable.
- Note: specimens photographed in zoos, farms, or gardens must have no visible human influence or evidence of a captive environment (i.e. no fences, cages, or plants in ordered arrangements)
- Human elements (Hand of Man) shall not be present. Photographs of human created hybrid plants, cultivated plants (such as crops), feral animals, domestic animals, or mounted specimens are ineligible, as is any form of manipulation that alters the truth of the photography.
- The story telling aspect of Nature Photography is an important consideration, so natural habitat and natural behaviours should be considered for nature images. Realism and a “natural look” for images are essential features.
Allowable Techniques or Modification for Images
Images for the Nature Competition can be modified, but only in a limited way as described below:
- Sharpening (over-sharpened images will produce an unnatural look, resulting in disqualification)
- Dodging and Burning (the result must look natural)
- Photo (focus) Stacking
- Dust spots, digital noise and other camera-introduced artifacts may be removed
- High Dynamic Range (HDR) images are allowed
- Black and White images are allowed
- Slow shutter speeds are allowed, but the result must look natural (for example, night sky photography with slow shutter speeds is allowed as long as no star trails are visible. Images of the Milky Way must appear natural, as seen by the naked eye, with no star trails.)
- Northern lights (Aurora borealis)
Non-Allowable Techniques or Modification for Images
The intent of Nature Photography is to produce an accurate and natural presentation, so many types of digital manipulation are not allowed.
- Adding, removing or changing elements (no cloning)
- Composites, infrared photos, vignettes
- Creative filters
- Panoramic stitching or photo stitching
- Softening or blurring backgrounds using post-processing
- Long exposures that give unnatural looking results (e.g. milky water, blurred clouds, or star trails)
Human Elements (Hand of Man) that are not allowed
Nature Photography focuses on things that are not influenced by humans, therefore any aspects of the image that show the influence of humans are not allowed. Specific things to watch for are listed below:
- Sky – No: cables, telephone/power lines, jet streams, aircraft, light pollution from human-created light sources
- Land – No: man-made structures or paths, concrete, man-made stone, telephone poles, fences, posts, domesticated or cultivated plants/food, cut grass, organized or systematic laying out of planted trees.
- Elements – No: cut trees or branches or stems, tree stumps, man-made food or objects. No digital frames or borders.
- Sea – No: boats, ships, piers, docks, posts in the water
- Titles for nature images are traditionally governed by different rules than pictorial or photographer’s choice categories. For nature competitions, the title of the photograph must identify the subject by its common name. Do not use “pictorial” or “cute” titles such as “Little Green Plant” or “Jolly Green Giant.” “Bald Eagle” is better than “Eagle” which is better than “Bird in a Tree”.
Reviews and Disqualifications
- Images that are determined, by the Nature Competitions Chair, to violate the rules will be disqualified from the Nature Trophy Competition, but they may be submitted in future club competitions. Examples would include disqualification because of the presence of human elements (Hand of Man), or if an image does not appear natural due to processing issues such as over-sharpening.
- Images that are disqualified due to cloning infractions (i.e. removing elements) will not be allowed in future club competitions.
- No image substitutions will be allowed after the deadline (no exceptions). Members are responsible for ensuring compliance with the rules prior to submission of their images. Consultation with the competitions committee prior to the deadline is acceptable, although last minute consultations may not be possible.
- Finalists for the competition will be requested to submit the original image file in order for the Nature Competition Chair to evaluate the submission for compliance with the rules. Please ensure that you have the original files before you make your submissions. Failure to submit the original file by the requested deadline will result in the disqualification of the image and it will not be eligible for submission to any future club competition.
- The Nature Competition Chair has the final decision regarding eligibility of images and will be the final arbitrator regarding the natural appearance of images.