Eastern Maine Camera Club

Developing Photographers

  1. Who may enter a club competition?
  2. When are the competitions held?
  3. What are the general competition rules?
  4. What are the assigned competition topics for this year?
  5. Are there any definitions for the topics to avoid disqualification?
  6. How should I prepare my photos for the competition, and what size should they be?
  7. What are the rules for digital photographs?
  8. How do I enter my photographs into a competition?
  9. How are the photographs judged in a competition?

(Note concerning Digital Photography:  In 2004, the Eastern Maine Camera Club formally accepted digitally produced photographs into our monthly competitions.  Photographs from digital cameras or from film cameras that are scanned to digital files may be entered into the black & white  or color print competitions, or into a new category devised specifically for digital images called “digital projection.”  See the digital photography rules, below, for more details, or click here for the complete statement of our acceptance of digital photography into competitions.)

Who may enter a club competition?

Any club member whose dues are paid up for the current club year (September to May) may enter photographs into one of our competitions.

Back to Top

When are the competitions held?

Seven times each club year (September to May), on the third Thursday of the month, the EMCC holds its intraclub photo competition.  The one exception is when we have a Christmas party on the first Thursday in December, with no second meeting and no competition for that month.  The meeting and competition schedule will return to normal in January.  See the club calendar for a meeting and competition schedule.

Back to Top

What are the general competition rules?

  1. All members may submit photos in each of the following categories: up to two color prints, two black-and-white prints, one color projection image file and one B&W projection image file. Film slides have been discontinued for now as we have not had enough slide entries to give out awards. We will, instead, have a separate slide show at some selected meetings for those who are still shooting slide film to have a chance to show their work.
  2. Photos must be taken by the member. If the member can't attend, his or her photos may be submitted by another member.
  3. Competition topics—The subject matter for each competition will either be "open" or an assigned topic. "Open" means that any subject matter in good taste is acceptable. The assigned topic will be on specific subject matter that is determined by vote of the membership and will vary from year to year. The assigned topics for the following year will always be announced near the end of the current club year. An image that does not fit in the assigned topic will be disqualified from the competition, but may be entered in another competition at a later date. Topics in the past have been things like Farms, Landscapes, People, Flowers, Still Life, and Fall Color.
    1. Black & White print and projection competitions each month will always be open, regardless of the assigned topic.  However, you are welcome to submit images in the assigned topic if you wish.
    2. Color Print and Color Projection Topics:
      1.  The first and last competitions each year (September and May) will always be open.
      2. The topic of the second competition each year (October) will always be "nature."  Images submitted in the nature category should not show any evidence of "the hand of man."  This includes, but is not limited to, such things as cut grass, cultivated flowers, bird feeders, roads, buildings, or jet contrails in the sky.  Exceptions are banded birds and animals whose natural habitat are man-made structures; e.g. barn swallows.
      3. The November competition will always be Animals.
      4. The February competition will always be People.
      5. The topics for the remaining two competitions each year will vary from year to year.  Club members will have the opportunity to vote on the variable topics at the end of each club year.
  4. Photos of pictures (paintings, lithographs, photographs, etc.) that represent the entire or predominant subject of the composition are not eligible .
  5. Entrants are encouraged to submit photographs taken recently (within the past two years), but since great images are truly timeless, any period is OK.
  6. Photographs may not be entered for intraclub competition more than once. Different compositions of the exact same subject are discouraged, but not expressly forbidden.  Exceptions to this would be photographs that show, for example, seasonal changes or aging of the subject.
  7. The same photograph may not be used in more than one format, except for black & white.  For example, an image that is entered for Color Projection may NOT also be entered as a color print, or vice versa, but it could be converted and used as a black & white print or in B&W Projection.
  8. Black & White and color prints may be printed either by the photographer or by a commercial lab.
  9. At this time, digitally produced slides will NOT be allowed into competition.
  10. No text, title, photographer's name, or information of any sort may be added to the front of a print image area, print mat, or to a projected image. Images containing a sign or carving that are part of the actual subject, not added by the photographer, are the only exception.
Back to Top

What are the assigned competition topics for this year (and their definitions)?

You can view the topics for the current club year by clicking here to see the club calendar of events.  You will also see definitions for the topics at the bottom of the calendar, or by clicking on the topic names in the calendar

Back to Top

How should I prepare my photos for the competition, and what size should they be?

(Click Here for an Adobe PDF file with more detailed instructions for Digital Projection that you can print out and keep by your computer. Click Here for a PDF of the Image Preparation Workshop Power Point Presentation.)


  1.  All prints must be mounted and/or matted. No frames! The name of the photographer must appear on the top of the back of the print. An ID number for each print will be given to the photographer prior to the competition and must be written in the upper left corner on the back of the print.  No writing should appear on the front of the print or mat.
  2.  The minimum dimensions for prints (the photograph, NOT the mat) is 5X7 inches. The maximum size is 16 X 20 inches INCLUDING the mat, if any. Panoramic images must also conform to the maximum long dimension of 20 inches.


Since images will be projected with a digital projector, they will need to be prepared properly for projection. All images submitted for the DP format must have the following properties:

  1.  Color space set to SRGB, not Adobe RGB. If you shot the photo in Adobe RGB, you should convert it to SRGB.  This applies to both color and B&W images.
  2.  Size set to 1400 pixels wide by 1050 pixels high. This means that a photo with a horizontal format should be at most 1400 by 1050 pixels, depending on how it is cropped. If the photo is a vertical format, it should be at most 1049 pixels wide by 1050 pixels high, again depending on how it is cropped. For example, a photo with a typical 4X6 aspect ratio in horizontal format would be sized to 1400 pixels wide by 933 pixels high. The 4X6 ratio in vertical format would be 700 pixels wide by 1050 pixels high.  A photo cropped to a square format would be 1050 X 1050 pixels.  Following is a step by step procedure to resize an image for digital projection in Photoshop:
    1. In the Image menu, select Image Size...
    2. DPI doesn't matter at all, unless you are making a print, so just ignore it for digital projection. 
    3. Leave the Constrain Proportions and Resample Image boxes checked (Scale Styles doesn't matter either in this case).
    4. If you have the choice, under Resample Image, choose "Bicubic Sharper" as the resample type, assuming you are reducing the file size.  If bicubic sharper is not there, just select Bicubic.
    5. In the "Pixel Dimensions" area, for a vertical image, enter 1050 for the Height--the width will automatically scale to the proper width (because you selected Constrain Proportions earlier). 
    6. For a horizontal image, enter 1400 for the Width--the height will scale automatically, but watch out that it doesn't go above 1050.  This can happen if you've cropped the image to something less than a 4/3 ratio.  If this happens, just go back and enter 1050 for the height, and everything should be OK.
    7. Click OK.
  3. All photos submitted must be in JPEG format (.jpg file extension). You should save them at a high quality level of 8 or 9. Jpeg quality is usually presented as an option when you save the file.
  4. The file name can be anything you want, as it will be automatically formatted for the competition slideshow when you upload it to the club website.  However, it is suggested that you include your first and last names and the image title in the file name.  Do not use any punctuation marks, other than dashes (-) or under scores (_) in the file name.


Back to Top


What are the rules for digital photographs?


Several terms that are used in these rules must be defined to ensure understanding of the Club’s rules concerning digital photography, and avoid unnecessary disqualification of images submitted for competition.

“Digital image” or “digital photograph”—For our club’s purposes, this refers to any photographic image that exists as a digital file in a camera or in a computer during any part of its creation, whether the image is ultimately printed or projected.  This includes both images captured in a digital camera and images captured on film that are then scanned into a digital file that can be enhanced or manipulated on a computer.

Image Quality—This refers to two of the criteria that we use in judging images for our competitions: 

1) Composition–The skillful or artistic placement of the subject and related elements within the frame at the time of exposure (i.e. when the shutter button is pressed).

2) Technical–Correct exposure, accurate focusing, sharpness, good use of depth-of-field, color balance, etc.  In other words, for our purposes, image quality is the summation of those image properties that show the skill of the photographer in using his/her equipment, regardless of the subject matter.

Image Content—All of the physical elements within the frame of the image.  This includes the actual subject matter, any extraneous elements, the spaces between each of the elements, the shapes of the elements, and the colors and tones specific to each element.

Digital Manipulation of Images—The alteration of either image quality or image content through the use of computer programs such as Adobe Photo Shop, Corel Paint Shop Pro, etc.  The types of manipulation that will be acceptable in the Club’s competitions will be discussed in the Competition Rules, below.

Formats for digital image competition

Prints—Digital images may be entered to compete alongside traditional film images in the Color Print or Black and White Print categories. You may perform any digital image enhancements or manipulation you wish, EXCEPT for the Nature competitions.  More information about acceptable image manipulation in nature competitions is given below.  Also forbidden in any category or format is the use of clip art or other imagery that is not the work of the photographer.

Color Projection—Images entered in Color Projection will now follow the same general rules as Color Prints.  They must be in color, or at least have some recognizeable color in them.  Images may be partially desaturated, as long as a range of colors is still evident.  It is permissible to use partially colored B&W images, e.g. a black and white photo of a woman wearing a red dress, with only the dress showing a full red color. The topic for Color Projection must follow the assigned topic for the month.

Black and White Projection (BW Projection)—This is a new category, introduced in the Fall of 2013.  Images must be in black and white or monochromatic format.  Traditional B&W toning is allowed, e.g. sepia, blue, silver, etc.  The topic for Digital BW will ALWAYS BE OPEN.  However, you are welcome to submit images in the current month's topic as well.  Otherwise, the rules for BW Projection are the same as for Color Projection.

Acceptable Digital Image Manipulation for Nature Competitions:

Regardless of the computer program or specific digital tools used, there are two rules of thumb you can consider when trying to decide what is appropriate manipulation of a nature competition image.  Referring to the above definitions; 1) If the manipulation only alters the Quality of the image, it is probably OK, as that does not fundamentally alter the truth of what the image represents or what the photographer actually saw at the time of exposure.  2) If the manipulation alters the Content of the image, it is usually NOT acceptable because that changes the reality of what the image shows and what was in front of the photographer at the time he took the picture.  So, for example, you may improve on the image exposure or sharpness, but you may not “put a moose that wasn’t already there in the middle of a stream.  The only exception to this will be the standard practice of cropping to remove or reposition elements within the frame.  Following is a guide as to what digital tools are OK and are not OK for manipulating images submitted in the nature competitions:

Tools that are OK to use (except as noted):

·         Brightness/contrast adjustments and color balance adjustments may be made, as may selective darkening or lightening of areas of the photograph (dodging and burning).  The emphasis should be on realism and the result should be as true to the original as practical.  You should only use these tools to enhance an image like you would when selecting normally available films, filters used to correct (not alter) color balance, or the application of traditional darkroom techniques.

·         Sharpening tools are OK.

·        Cloning/airbrushing tools may only be used to remove miniscule processing artifacts, such as produced by dust, but not to add features that were not captured by the camera or to move or remove unwanted features that were captured.  An exception to this might be removing an otherwise movable artifact in a location that is unsafe to reach, such as on a cliff or in the middle of swollen stream.

·         Cropping is OK.

·         Stitched panoramic images are allowed in this revision of the rules.

·         High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing is OK.

·         Focus Stacking (taking multiple shots at different focus levels to achieve more depth-of-field) is OK.

·         De-saturating a color image to make it black and white is OK, provided the de-saturation is complete and not selective.

·         Removal of “red eye” as a result of a flash exposure is OK.

Tools that are NOT OK to use (except as noted):

·         Composites of more than one image are not allowed, except for panoramic, HDR, and focus-stacked images, as noted above.

·         Colorizing a black and white image is not allowed.

·         Cut or Copy and Paste tools are not allowed (except for the removal of processing artifacts as discussed under cloning, above).

·         No tools that artificially add artistic effects or otherwise alter the content of the image are allowed.  These include, but are not limited to:

o       Tools that add flare patterns, starbursts, or other artifacts that normally occur in-camera at the time of exposure.

o        Blurring tools.

o        Grain enhancing tools.

o        Tools that change the texture or shape of objects.

o        Tools that add 3-D effects.

o        Tools that add illumination or reflection effects.


Back to Top

How do I enter my photographs into a competition?

Before The Competition

Click on this entry form link to enter your photo information and digital projection images no later than 9:00 PM on the Wednesday night before the competition.  You can also use the link on the EMCC Home Page.

Note that you select the format of your photos (Color Prints, B&W Prints, Color Projection, or BW projection) from a drop-down list on the entry form.  When you enter your print titles in the entry form, the form will display a set of  identification numbers for you to write on the back of your prints.  These ID numbers will be important in identifying the sequence that your images will be shown to the club.  You must write the numbers in the upper left-hand corner on the back of each corresponding print.

Images submitted in the Color Projection or BW Projection formats will be uploaded on the entry form web page.  Your name will automatically be filled in on the entry form, but you must enter a title for each image.  A "Browse" button for selecting the images, one at a time, on your hard drive will be enabled when you select one of the projection formats.  Your image will be automatically renamed using your name and the image title, so your original file names can be anything you want.  Please DO NOT use any punctuation marks, other than dashes (-) or underscores (_) in either your file names or titles.

If you have trouble entering or uploading your images, fill out and send the "Having Problems?" form at the bottom of the entry web page.  If the issue isn't resolved by the deadline, you can bring digital images into the meeting on a CD or thumb-drive.

On the Night of the Competition

Bring your prepared prints to the competition 10 to 20 minutes before the meeting is due to start.

Color prints should be placed on the rails and tables at the FRONT of the meeting room.  Black & White prints go on the tables at the BACK of the room.  Please put them in numerical order per the ID numbers you were assigned on the entry web page. 

Members who are entered in the Projection competitions will usually not have to do anything on the competition night.  Their images should have been uploaded before the competition (see above).

Back to Top

How are the photographs judged in a competition?

1. All members may participate as judges, provided they have completed a short course in “How To Score” given by the recording secretary or another of the senior members.  Score sheets are handed out on the night of the competition to all qualified members who are willing to judge the competition.

2. Judging will be based on the Kodak method of assigning a score from 3 through 9. The idea of this method is to score 1 to 3 points for impact, 1 to 3 points for composition and 1 to 3 points for technical aspects.   The score for a “good” or “average” image would be 6.  Click here for a more thorough description of this scoring method.

3.   Bear in mind, also, the emphasis of the photo to fit the assigned topic of the month.  If the photo is judged to not fit the assigned topic, it will be given a score of DNQ (Does Not Qualify), but may be entered in another competition at a later date.

4.  The Competition Chairman will tally the scores and announce the winners on the night of the meeting. Ribbons will be awarded to 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and honorable mention at the following meeting.

5.   Scores will be recorded for each competition. The winners of the entire competition season will be determined from the cumulative totals of these monthly scores.  Overall winners for the year will be awarded ribbons in these individual categories: color slides, color prints, black and white prints, digital projection, highest scoring photo of the year, most im­proved, and photographer of the year.

Back to Top