Nature Trophy Competition (Revised Sep 2022)
The RHCC has an annual Nature Trophy Competition. This competition has strict requirements that are different from regular competitions, so please read the entire set of instructions and rules, shown below, before submitting images. The rules for the 2022-23 competition season have changed significantly from previous years.
General Description of the Competition
- The Richmond Hill Camera Club’s Nature Trophy Competition is open to members of all RHCC members in good standing.
- Images that are substantially similar to, or identical to, ones previously submitted to RHCC club competitions are not eligible. Images entered in RHCC nature competitions will not be eligible for submission in future RHCC club competitions. All images must have been taken within the past 5 years (after September 1, 2017 for the 2022-2023 season). (Note: accommodation has been made due to COVID-19, to extend the allowable time frame for image capture from three years to five years.)
Competition Entries and Awards
- There will be two major trophies for this competition (new for 2022-23); one for the Novice/Intermediate Levels and one for the Advanced/Masters Levels. The original trophy for this competition will be retired.
- The Nature Trophies will be awarded to the members with the best aggregate score of FOUR nature images. Two trophies will be awarded as noted above. The entrants are expected to demonstrate proficiency and knowledge as a nature photographer for this trophy competition. An entry of four images requires diversity in subject matters – Two images may be submitted in a single category (new for 2022-23), but the remaining images must go into separate categories. Each entry, of four images, must include images in at least three categories. For example, a bird photographer may chose to submit two bird images in the Bird Category and then two images in two different categories of their choice. For the two bird images submitted, they must represent two different species of birds. This same rule applies to all double images submitted in any category.
- The entrant may choose from six categories in which to submit their four images:
- Reptiles, Amphibians, or Fish
- Botany (plants and fungi)
- Landscapes and Geology
- Invertebrates (i.e. insects, corals, etc.)
Note:the “Marine and Freshwater Life” category is not available. Images that would have previously fallen into this category should now go into one of the categories listed above.
- Submissions may include less than four images, but only entrants with four images will be eligible for the Nature Trophies.
- Any image that fails to meet the criteria, such as those that include human elements (Hand of Man), will be disqualified.
- Placement points for first, second, third and honourable mentions will be awarded, but only for the aggregate placement, not individual images. Placement points will be added to the members total Advancement Points. More information regarding skill levels is available here.
- Mammals – examples include carnivores, bats, monkeys, marsupials, seals, whales and rodents
- Birds – examples include songbirds, raptors, and shore birds
- Reptiles, Amphibians, or Fish – examples include crocodiles, snakes, lizards and turtles (reptiles); frogs, toads, salamanders and newts (amphibians); fish include both saltwater and freshwater species.
- Botany includes images that portray uncultivated plant life such as trees, flowering and non-flowering plants, ferns, algae, and fungi in their natural habitat. Photographs of domestic plants (house plants), artificially produced hybrid plants, flower arrangements, and cultivated plants (e.g. crops or plants in rows) are ineligible.
- Landscapes include expansive scenery that can be seen in a single view. This category includes seascapes, where an expanse of water or waves predominate. Coastal features or the shoreline may be included, but no human elements (i.e. NO boats, buildings, or motorboat wakes).
- Natural phenomena are also include in this category. Examples include: sunrise/sunset, weather, tornadoes, frost patterns, snowflakes, and volcanic eruptions.
- Invertebrates include insects, spiders, snails, coral and other organisms that lack backbones.
* If you are unsure of which category to use for your image then send your queries to
Digital Image Standards
- Images (jpg) should be saved in the sRGB colour space.
They must be a maximum of 3 MB in size, and either:
1920 pixels wide and no more than 1080 pixels high
1080 pixels high and no more than 1920 pixels wide
- Only digital images (no prints) will be allowed.
- The original image and digital manipulation (as permitted) must be the work of the entrant. The entrant must have taken the original image.
- No image may display any titles or maker identification (i.e. no watermarks) which could serve to identify the maker.
- Potential trophy winners will be required to provide original raw files if requested. Other file types such as jpg, tif, or dng files will NOT be acceptable for final reviews.
- Images (jpg) should be saved in the sRGB colour space.
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. Over-saturated or over-sharpened images will be considered unnatural.
- 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 (Note: the result must look natural, so excessive dodging or burning to hide or modify elements in the original image is NOT allowed.)
- Photo (focus) Stacking
- Dust spots, digital noise and other camera-introduced artifacts may be removed
- High Dynamic Range (HDR) images are allowed, but they must look natural
- 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)
- Lighting that results in very dark/black backgrounds, creating an unnatural appearance
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 “Majestic Bird”.
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. 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 and encouraged if you are not sure about acceptability of images. Last minute consultations may not be possible, so please plan ahead.
- 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. The only acceptable format for original images is raw format. Other formats such as jpg, tiff and dng are open to manipulation, so they will not be accepted as original image files. Please ensure that you have the original files (raw only) before you make your submissions. Failure to submit the original file (raw only) 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 Competitions Chair has the final decision regarding eligibility of images and will be the final arbitrator regarding the natural appearance of images. Please note that advanced digital manipulation tools, such as Topaz or Nik, can give results that may be ruled as unnatural looking, so use these tools cautiously. If the the tool generates an unnatural result then the image will be disqualified.