Our competition year runs from May 1 - April 30. The End of Year Competitions take place in June. The Annual Awards and Appreciation Banquet is held on the Education Night in June.

General requirements - All images

  • Images may be color, infrared, or monochrome. 
  • All images used must have been taken by the maker. (For example, do not use a sky provided by Photoshop if you use the "Sky Replacement" tool.)
  • Clip art or other vector art is not allowed.
  • Images generated by artificial intelligence are not allowed.


Projected Images

  • Images must be in jpeg format, no more than 1920 pixels wide, and no more than 1200 pixels high. If you aren't sure how to resize your image, check out the SPS-Digital-File-Export.pdf
  • The recommended color space is sRGB.
  • Dodging and burning, spot adjustments, HDR, and other common types of post processing methods are allowed in all categories (although they should be used very sparingly in Nature.)
  • Frames and vignettes may be added in all categories.
  • "Creative" filters may be used in Creative, Open and Themes, but not in Nature.
  • Composite images belong in Creative.

A member may submit two images total among the Categories of Creative, NatureOpen, and Themes. Click on the name of each Category below to go to a page with a more detailed explanation with examples. 

Creative (includes Abstracts / Patterns / Altered Reality / Composites) - This Category is for more "experimental" or "specialized" images. While usually all of the images that are entered into this category could also be entered into Open (with the exception of Composites,) historically they might not score as well against more traditional images. This category gives them the space to shine.

  • Abstract - The subject may be an abstract image consisting of shapes, colors, and/or textures.
  • Pattern  - The subject of the image may be a design or pattern.
  • Altered Reality - The image may no longer be a true or realistic presentation of the subject due to obvious use of filters, composites, or other techniques to produce a special effect that no longer matches reality.
  • Composites - combinations of images taken at different times and/or places

Nature - Images should be of natural landscapes, plants, insects or wildlife as they are found in a natural looking environment. Animals in zoos are acceptable, if the man-made environment is not obvious. In other words, photos of flora and fauna are about their life, taken where they live it. Cut flora or preserved fauna (such as mounted specimens) belong in the Open category.

There is a photojournalistic spirit to the Nature Category. It is about “telling a nature story” as accurately as possible. So while dodging and burning, spot adjustments, HDR, and other common types of post processing methods are allowed, they should only be used very sparingly. Editing techniques should not be used to change what you saw when the image was taken.

For images that are not allowed in Nature, view this gallery. For examples of images that are allowed, see this gallery.

Open - The Open category is the broadest and most general Category. Composite images belong in Creative. Other than that, there are no restrictions on subject matter, technique, or digital editing as long as the image meets the basic requirements for all submitted images.

Themes - Every month we will have a different "Theme." The purpose of these Themes is to encourage technical and creative growth. It is preferable, but not necessary, that the images be made during the current competition year. Images submitted into this Category must fit that month's Theme. There are no restrictions on digital editing. Cloning, filters, composite images, etc., are all allowed.  



Prints - Images may be color, infrared, or monochrome. All images used must have been taken by the maker. There are no subject categories or restrictions.

Prints must be matted or mounted so that they can stand up on their own, but not framed or covered by glass. Each print must fit the following size restrictions:

  • Small Prints have a minimum print size of 4x6 inches and a maximum print size of 8x12 inches.
  • Large Prints have a minimum print size of 8x10 inches and a maximum print size of 16x30 inches.

All prints have a size restriction (including mat) of no smaller than 8x10 inches and no larger than 30 inches wide or 24 inches tall (to fit on our display board). Note that 8x12 images can go into either the Small or Large category. It is the maker's choice.

Prints will need two cards for judging and comments taped to the back of the mat. You can fill in and print these out ahead of time using this template - Print Night Card Blanks.

While judging and voting for People’s Choice will happen at the meeting, you are also encouraged to enter a digital version of the image for displaying the winning images on the website. The deadline for submitting these is the day after the Print meeting.



Awards and Certificates

At the End of The Competition Year, numerous awards are given. The Merit Award, Total Points Accumulated Award, and Highest Average Score Award are based on scores awarded by judges.

  • Merit Points are awarded to the maker of the image in each Category that scores 39 points or above and receives 1st place (in Print) or 1st and 2nd place (in Projected.) There may be multiple winners, and all will receive one Merit Point. Merit Points accumulate over the lifetime of the member. Merit Awards are given for every 5 Merit Points accumulated. 
  • Total Points Accumulated Award - given to members with the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd highest total scores in each Category for the competition year. (Ties are possible.)
  • Highest Average Score Award - Presented to members with average scores of 39.0 and above during the competition year, to acknowledge their consistent achievement. (Ties are possible.)


The People's Choice Award is based on votes by members.

People’s Choice Points -

  • This is simply the image(s) that were your favorite(s) in each Category that night. The image(s) receiving the most votes will receive a People's Choice Point. Each At the end of the Competition Year, a People's Choice Award is given for every 5 People's Choice Points a member has accumulated. Points accumulate over the lifetime of the member.


For more information, visit the End of Year Competition page.



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